Corruption is an odd name of the game when it comes to World of Warcraft’s new patch, “Visions of N’zoth.” With any form of player character progression, a system that directly influences player gearing and customization has positives and negatives. However, when it weighs heavily on how your avatar functions on a fundamental, it is inevitable to find flaws in it. This week we will discuss Corruption, it’s place in player power, and if the system functions on a pure level.
The first question to address is, ‘What is Corruption?’ Replacing the Warforging and Titanforging systems, Corruption is the new ‘power increase’ mechanic designed to make player-gear more enticing. Functioning similarly to the previous systems, Corruption has a low chance to proc on any gear obtained through drops, such as Raiding or in some rare cases PvP. However, taking elements of the failed Benthic System from Nazjatar Corruption instead carries with it varied powers.
Coming in three different tiers of corruption (From +10 to +40). Each tier has certain effects tailored to it, with the lowest resigned mostly to stat bonuses. The highest, however, have incredibly powerful effects ranging from massive area-of-effect attacks to gushing bleeds. Some weapons, such as Sk’shuul Vaz, feature effects which draw on player’s already impressive stats to magnify their power and throughput.
This Corruption grows over time with the more corrupted item pieces you equip. Starting at zero and potentially scaling infinitely, every twenty levels imparts another greater impediment. Starting at just one corruption, your character will occasionally be halted by grasping tentacles, with later additions creating stunning mirror images. When your corruption maxes out you will not only gain increased power output, but you will rapidly take a deadly amount of damage. Corruption creates a risk-reward system based on what you’re willing to undertake with your current gear choices, while offering mitigation via the new legendary cloak and Heart of Azeroth Essences.
Initially there was quite a bit of trepidation with this system. Benthic gear was notoriously broken throughout Azshara’s Eternal Palace and Nazjatar for its special abilities. Such gear could easily be acquired and powered up while imparting benefits that outclassed even Mythic content loot. Where Ion Hozzikostas, World of Warcraft’s current lead developer, stated that item level should be the indicator on what is superior gear, the mathematics of stat multiplications and resistance increases against certain attacks made Benthic Gear a greater asset than any could dream of. Such is the issue, to an extent, with Corruption.
From its early days of implementation, the system has seen radical and controversial changes. The Public Test Realms saw massive widespread changes in terms of Corruption and number crunching up until launch. Even now, at the time of writing, traits like Infinite Stars dominate the current Corruption Meta. Classes that often underperform, such as Arms Warriors, who lack steady AoE and cleaving in Raid Teams are now preferred for most compositions, as Infinite Stars can proc on high-multi strike abilities such as Bladestorm and during Sweeping Strikes (both of which strike multiple targets rapidly) when coupled with DoTs and bleeds.
This was pushed to its apex of an issue when Corruption received nearly a dozen changes across the various tiers and abilities during the previous reset. This reset, in the middle of the Mythic Ny’alotha race between the world’s top Raiding Guilds, disrupted entire team makeups and individual character decisions. Let me paint for you such an example:
Intending to push your gearing curve you and your friends run Mythic +15 dungeons all week. Like Titanforging, Corrupted Gear only has a pittance of a chance to drop. It is incredibly unlikely, unless you are running multiple dungeons in short bursts and clearing well above the time limit, that you will see many pieces drop. Instead you’ll need to rely on your weekly Mythic+ Cache to deliver the guaranteed loot drop. If you’re lucky enough to receive an item type that CAN have Corruption, you need to hope that it is of the optimal tier within a certain range of Corruption.
Now, suddenly, the next week all of your hard-earned best-in-slot pieces are useless due to heavy nerfs. That is what happened during the Mythic Ny’alotha race, and to many players worldwide.
That is, if you are fortunate enough to avoid a crippling bug that occurred during the patch’s early weeks. Several players (including myself) were ‘locked’ into their loot types from week to week since launch across multiple sources. Some players could only get Trinkets from their Mythic+ Cache (which cannot become corrupted), while others could only get boots from Horrific Visions or pants from other sources. Meaning that, if you were unfortunate enough, you could essentially spin your wheels gearing for weeks and never see a piece of corrupted gear.
While I reached out to Blizzard to deal with my version of this bug, and there are many forums detailing similar instances, this is not a ‘known issue’ at this time. Despite internal team-members suffering from the exact same issue, this currently is not on Blizzard’s radar.
On paper, Corruption is a VERY good system. It rewards creative choices and maximizing what you can do with what you acquire. A greater issue comes, however, at the sheer exclusivity of Corrupted gear. If you have average luck, or especially a streak of good luck, you can quickly find yourself soaring past all barriers to your class’ ability to perform. However, if you are particularly unlucky, you’ll find yourself falling behind in short pacing.
Does this mean Corruption is necessarily a bad system? Certainly not. Most issues here could be addressed with simply making Corruption standard across ALL items, including the option to purge gear. Corruption does, in many aspects mathematically, fundamentally break your class role which is something that has been demanded by the player base since the ability pruning of Warlords of Draenor. That possibility of pushing a class beyond its apex role through gear customization opens a realm of possibilities about how even Tanks, who have an impressive amount of utility already, can change how they fundamentally process encounters.
In terms of fundamental mathematics, Corruption requires some time to gestate. This was a system that, frankly, required another month or two of testing. But given that it becomes more accessible and manageable, perhaps with higher tiers locked behind more difficult content, I want to see it return. N’zoth’s influence across Azeroth, and particularly our equipment, makes not just for interesting storytelling but a fun new way to approach class-balance and utilization. This risk-reward system where numbers aren’t always clear but are instead focused on fun experimentation makes for a more interesting product overall.