Why gear should be more revealing
Gear identifies us. I’ve spoken before about how the many different tier sets look far better when combined. They create the overall intended look, the look that some concept designer came up with a few years before the set was implemented in-game most likely. I can imagine a busy office with a filing cabinet (or most likely these days, computer) with all the concept art stored in different folders pertaining to classes. Or maybe they design them relative to the content (more obvious evidence of this method in ToC and ICC, less so in Ulduar and Naxx). Whatever they do, they always have a complete look in mind.
Trouble is, the complete look is often rather over-done. It’s something we as WoW players get used to over time, often whilst leveling. We start out with dirty rags as Horde or plain coloured clothes as Alliance, and slowly quest our way into Battered Chain Leggings and Worn Robes. Around level 20, you pick up your first shoulder slot items (for a lot of people, this is either the White quality Tailoring shoulders, which are nothing more than a pair of small grey ashtrays, or the Hillman’s Shoulders from Leatherworking, which look better but are still nothing but flat curves.) As we level, we start to pick up a more fantasy look – Helms with Horns, shoulders with spikes and ornamentation, metallic gloves that reach from our shoulders to our fingertips, etc. When the character hits Outland, they undergo a heavy bout of OCS, as I mentioned before. The gear goes wildly flamboyant in terms of colours and curving shapes. But whilst the colours are a bit of a shock to the eye, the overall look is expected by then.
Where it really goes crazy can really be pinned on any of the 3 major endgame raiding waves; 60, 70 and 80. Each time these places had gear sets designed for them, going for an overall look instead of a mish-mash. Since most people will relate to it, I’ll talk about the sets at level 80.
Lets have a look at Paladin T8. Wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I liked it. It has this very definite Robot Forge thing going on, like a cross between Ignis and XT themselves. It barely changed from concept to delivery. If you would kindly ignore the feet on the picture on the left (because the set did have feet to it, for some reason they didn’t render when I took that picture and I can’t be arsed to redo it again. I’ve already redone it once because I realised I’d rendered it on a Goblin by accident) you will notice the only bit of flesh showing is a near letterbox amount of flesh for the eyes to peep through. This makes sense, obviously, a Paladin needs to see what he’s running away from. Ah, but that raises a better question – how the fudge does one run, not just in a skirt, but in a skirt made of overlapping sheets of metal? With glowy lights and runes on it? Any Human would have bruised knees after a few minutes, and even the toughest Draenei would be sporting some serious injuries after one battleground. That’s assuming both races would be able to lift the thing at all…
But hang the physics of it out to dry. This is a game where people throw fire, raise people from the dead, and roll Rogues. It doesn’t have to make sense. It probably has a weightless charm on it. Hell, that probably comes free with half the plate gear out there. They probably have a 2-for-1 deal when you enchant your chest with plus 10 stats that it’ll also become lighter than the shirt you have on underneath it (just be sure to put something heavy on it when you’re not wearing it.)
The overall point it, that is a very, very, very covering set of gear. Putting aside the fact that without magic it would be almost impossible to move in, this gear set is a perfect example of ‘where do you draw the line before trying to consume the player totally by his gear to make him look like something else.’ This gear set is just about as far as you can stretch this idea of ‘This is a man in a lot of heavy armour’ before you stray into the territory of ‘Who let that mob in here.’
Lets face it, the gear may look powerful and interesting, but do we really need it that smothering? Recently in the Cataclysm Beta Files, they have uncovered a new bunch of gear models for the four armour types. I’d bet a reasonable amount of gold that these will be the models used in some way in the 80-85 areas, whether as the standard look for the quest rewards (like Northrend had the Viking look for the plate that was recoloured and used eveywhere) or the models for the dungeon gear of those levels. Whatever it will end up being, here’s a preview of the plate one:
This is by no means as heavy duty as the last thing we looked at. You can see his neck, most of his chest and his forearms. It’s got a bit of a Roman Gladiator look going on, which I kind of like. Some people have said this gear looks way too simple for WoW, I say it’s about time we got a bit of sensible gear.
Most ironically, it looks much less revealing on the female models. You may have come here today to read this post expecting a whine on how the female gear is less than decent. I’ve done that before, and it’s old hat. I’m just talking generally now. If an actual melee class can be wearing gear like the example on the right, then heck, you could probably get away with sleeveless T-shirt and shorts for any of the casters. It would certainly be in line with Blizzard’s general aesthetic of ‘at least make it a little skimpier for the girls?’ Amusingly enough, preview that exact same set on a female model. It’s up on the Wowhead blog. It’s completely covering everything but the face and neck on a female. What people will make of that, I don’t know. Maybe they just wanted to go against the flow for once.
I wouldn’t mind seeing more gear like this, especially for healers and casters. It’d be a nice challenge for Blizzard to come up with a Tier set that looked good without covering the entire model, and that goes for both genders. How about straying away from this ‘All casters MUST BE WEARING ROBES’ idea that you tried for Mage T8? Every set piece comes with Trousers too (something has to go in that slot) and yet half the classes don’t ever see them because they move from one robe to the next. Do gloves really have to go from fingers to shoulder, or wouldn’t fingerless gloves with knuckle-dusters suit a Rogue more? Does a helmet you can barely see out of make sense for a Priest, who outside of PvP would be doing nothing more offensive than standing at the back, healing things and filing their nails? Would the world really fall to pieces if Paladin healers looked a little less like their melee counterparts? Apparently so:
Those are the recently uncovered concept art designs for Warrior and Hunter t11. Cool, indeed, but very very heavy duty. Ah well. Maybe I’ll raid in my Roman levelling gear come Cataclysm.