The Masquerade: Transmogrification Changes

Transmogrification is one of my favorite features in World of Warcraft today, and we’re lucky to have it. This hard-bought capability came after years of player requests for a “wardrobe tab” or similar functionality, yet is not without its detractors — both among our fellow players, and within the WoW developers.

With Patch 5.2 incoming, we are told some of the transmogification restrictions are being relaxed. Namely, weapon types that share animations (2-hand swords, hammers and axes, or staves and polearms) should allow for interchangeable item transmogrification. That means our 2-hand axe from Sha of Fear can be transmogged into a prized 2-hand sword or hammer, for example.

I vote for relaxing these restrictions even further. And here’s why.

Identification by Armor

The days where a player’s level of power is ascertained at a glance are gone. Transmogrification even on a basic level has done away with this — we can easily have a Tier 14 PVE player displaying Tier 1 armor. We wouldn’t know they’re wearing Tier 14 unless we inspect them. At a distance, a Death Knight may be wearing a flavor of a Warrior’s Tier 2 assembled from “look-alike” plate-armor pieces, too.

Furthermore, PVE is not where identification-by-armor is most important. A case could be made that in PVP, it helps to determine player power and race/faction at first blush. However, again, this has been dashed by not only transmogrification… but also the existence of Pandaren in both factions, Horde and Alliance. Also, let’s remember that certain armor types/sets do not grant any remarkably game-altering abilities — it won’t drastically change a PVPers strategy, when he faces a Death Knight with Tier 14 or Tier 15. He’ll be better served by looking for other “tells” to indicate specialization, to know what sort of skillset he will have to counter. And a tooltip or similar UI modification can make faction/class identification easier, if need be.

The bonuses that are granted by various pieces of PVP armor go directly toward survivability. A smart player will already be betting their opponent is outfitted in a healthy level of +PVP Power gear, and not underestimate them.

Set Us Free

So, there we have it. If “at a glance” identification matters more in PVP, and already that is a depreciated method given the landscape of today’s game… what is holding us back from further relaxing transmogrification restrictions? Why not allow a plate-wearer to transmogrify a few of his pieces into mail, or cloth? Are we afraid classes will begin to lose their identity entirely? Ask yourself: do plate shoulders and mail shoulders vary in their appearance that much? How about from 5 yards away? 10 yards? 20? And if someone worked their butt off to get a Legendary item, why shouldn’t they be able to display it more often?

I suspect we’ll always have one manner of restriction or another on transmogrification, but it’s nice to dream. Personally, I enjoy participating in Looking for Raid and seeing a variety of players from a variety of realms in their transmogged gear — often, you’ll find sets that carefully match, with complimenting pieces and it shows that these players put effort into assembling the “look” they are most pleased with. They look good, and they probably feel good about it, too. I think that makes the whole endeavor worthwhile.

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