Runes. They’ve never been the most fun part of WildStar, but Drop 6 totally revamped the system and unfortunately made things worse instead of better. I griped about this a little on Twitter this morning, and realized that I’d be better off venting here where I can vastly exceed the 140 character limit. I will state right up front here that I’m a relatively casual raider. My guild raids twice a week, with a flexible attendance policy, and have not completed GA yet. I can’t even begin to imagine how much more frustrating this system would be to someone who was at the peak of raiding progression. I spent a very long time and a lot of plat (and some service tokens, to my dismay) working on my runes last night and I have a lot of thoughts.
Here’s some issues I have with the current system and some suggestions for how to improve things.
Cost: This is pretty much the biggest gripe that people seem to have right now. The costs for rerolling rune slots and removing runes are being updated, so I don’t have a lot to say or suggest here. Requiring service tokens for these actions and not providing an in-game currency method for them was a terrible idea and thankfully it is being addressed.
Item Level Restrictions: This honestly is the thing that makes me the most unhappy with the new way that runes work. Previously I could get the benefits of some end-game rune sets no matter what kind of gear I had. The new system splits up level 50 runes into multiple different categories depending on the item level of the item you want to slot them into. I can see how this made sense in development, since runes now account for such a huge fraction of your overall stats. But in practice it is incredibly frustrating and confusing. It means checking and double checking that the rune you are making or purchasing is not only the correct element, set, major/minor, but also that it is the highest that you can use for a specific piece of gear. It also means silly things like using multiple runes that are identical except for the ilvl to complete a set, requiring stacking element types that means lots of rerolling and expense. It also means that getting an item upgrade might mean having to completely ditch all your old runes in favor of newer, even more expensive ones of higher ilvl.
Fusion Runes: Fusion runes are the way you add a “special” to your weapon or armor now. Most slots have a selection of different fusion runes available. For me personally the changes to fusion runes weren’t communicated very well. It took a bit of hunting on external sites to find out the details. I actually like how this works now that I understand it. Having leveled a few alts recently I also now see how they are handing you these early on in the leveling process so hopefully people have a better understanding of how the system works. I do wish there were less ilvl restrictions on some of the more interesting ones.
Set Runes: Rune sets were changed from working across all of your gear to only working within one item at a time. For example if you want the 4-piece Onslaught bonus, you need all 4 runes (or 2 major runes that count double) in the same piece of gear. Again I like this idea in concept, but in practice it doesn’t work so great. For most classes there’s just 1-2 sets that are best to focus on. In the old system, you might not have to reroll rune slots so much if you could be creative in how you filled in your different set runes. Now you absolutely need the specific elements for your best set on every single item you have. This is super expensive and not engaging or fun.
Class Sets: The class rune sets all add something that ends up changing the way you play completely. Specific sets are available only at 1 item level. It took me a while to wrap my head around this, but it finally makes sense to me. This is exactly the equivalent of having a tier gear set from raiding, but it lets you choose which item you want to slot it into. Once I understood that it was easier to make my peace with the fact that I’ll never finish any class set outside of PvP. I can’t even use my leftover PvP set focuses to help, because they don’t overlap with the ilevel of the raiding sets.
What I’d Suggest: Ditch most of the ilvl categories. They are confusing and frustrating. Maybe keep 50-100, 100+ if you want to keep a distinction for end game gear.
Ditch ilvl requirements for fusions. Give them a flat bonus or a percent that scales with one of your other stats.
Alternative to the ilvl issues: let rune bonuses scale with the level of the item they are placed in. It gives the gear more of a central focus instead of the rune and it makes the whole thing way less complicated.
Either vastly decrease the cost of rerolling rune slots, or give us better reasons to want different mixes of elements on our gear. Rerolling everything to have 2 earth slots last night was boring and expensive. Fix at least one of those things!
Increase drop rates for rune fragments and set/class foci. I can not begin to tell you how underwhelming it is to go into a raid with 20 people and see one major class focus drop. Worse, just because someone won the roll on that pure focus doesn’t mean they’ll have enough pure rune fragments to even make a complete rune. Winning something in raid and having to run to the auction house and fork over tons of money to be able to use it feels awful. The drop rate for fragments needs to be vastly increased, or there needs to be more alternative ways to earn them.
Final Thoughts: I know some changes are in the works and will hopefully be here soon, but they won’t be enough. I also have no idea how the devs can possibly make things up to the folks who spent 100+ plat on trying to get runed properly at the start of this drop. I hope they are spending a lot of time listening to feedback and figuring out ways to improve this system. As for me, my dreams of raiding with an alt, or learning to heal on my spellslinger will be staying dreams until I can actually afford to rune more than just 1 set of gear.