An Inside Look: Aberrus Loot Changes and the Return of Rare Items

Patch 10.1 and Aberrus, the Shadowed Crucible are less than a week away, and with that comes a handful of loot changes that may affect early gearing and “split runs” in the Race to World First (RWF).

Join us for an inside look at how loot and rare items will work in Aberrus!

Table of Contents

Tier Sets and the New “Omnitoken”

Tier sets are returning in Patch 10.1, offering players an additional way to increase their power level. Tier sets are relatively easy to acquire and can be “created” later on via the Revival Catalyst as a form of bad luck protection.

Things are changing a bit in Patch 10.1, thanks to the new “Omnitoken” from Aberrus and the Dragonflight Season 2 Master achievement. These new systems will make tier acquisition much easier for those who are looking to complete their tier set in the first week or two of the raid.

However, the continuation of rare items in Patch 10.1 may complicate the matter of gearing – particularly for RWF contenders.

Rare Items in Patch 10.1

Although tier sets have become easier to acquire and group loot has diversified the landscape of split runs in the RWF, a new “rare item” system was also implemented in Dragonflight. This system has some similarities to Warforging / Titanforging from previous expansions, which aimed to keep the playerbase engaged in “trivial” (farm) content later into the season. Unfortunately, anyone who wanted the Fire ring from Eranog or the Whispering Incarnate Icon from The Primal Council in Vault of the Incarnates can relate, since there was a negative sentiment behind defeating Eranog and the Primal Council months into the tier if players still had not acquired the ring.

The big question remaining is, were these “rare” and powerful items a feeling of excitement overall, or were they just a greater source of dread and anxiety?

Personally, having a rare item to chase with improved stats is something that I enjoy. It brings with it that “MMORPG” feeling that has gotten lost in a world of split runs and optimizations. However, there is also a large issue with rare loot and that is the fact that it is well…rare.

In today's day and age, gaming is constantly evolving. Long gone are the days of creating a new character and learning it from the ground up. While I am sure that some players (including myself) prefer learning that way, there has never been more pressure to perform in group content once you start pursuing higher-end gameplay.

It takes less than 2 minutes to find a complete guide on your chosen class and what is considered to be its “best in slot” gear. While gearing in the early stages of a patch is more or less based on RNG and luck, the longer you pursue certain items, the higher your chances are of obtaining it, and your character feeling “complete”. This has been the natural course of character progression for many years, but rare items have thrown a wrench into that. A player may very well kill Eranog, Primal Council, or Broodkeeper weekly, but never obtain that rare item throughout the entire Patch. While this is somewhat “by design”, it has left a portion of the playerbase disappointed heading into Patch 10.1, without obtaining their BIS rare item(s), some of which are still BIS for the entirety of Patch 10.1.

Whispering Incarnate Icon: The most sought-after rare item from Vault of the Incarnates

When it comes to Patch 10.1 and Aberrus, the Shadowed Crucible, rare items are here to stay. Items such as Screaming Black Dragonscale, Djarrun, and all of the Neltharion class trinkets are rare, and have increased item levels as well as unique effects, setting them ahead of their more common counterparts.

Echo of Neltharion drops three different class-specific trinkets

Rare items and tier sets share similar power levels. Both offer unique effects which improve the gameplay of your class, which makes the game more enjoyable. The rare items in Aberrus are certainly exciting and, just by reading their effects, it’s easy to see that they will be highly sought after and targeted by RWF contenders. This essentially means that there will be more split runs, and an even larger gap between players who obtain rare items early into the tier, and those who do not.

The largest issue at hand is that there is still no way to target rare items. While the Revival Catalyst is a phenomenal answer for those who are missing their last tier slot or for obtaining their 4-set on alts, it sadly does nothing in terms of acquiring powerful, rare loot. The Puzzling Cartel Dinar system from Shadowlands Season 4 is often mentioned whenever the option of a rare loot system arises. In Season 4, we were able to accrue boss kills (very similar to Badges of Justice in a sense) and, when you had enough, turn in the quest and receive a Dinar. The Dinar could then be used to purchase any raid item from Shadowlands. You were then able to upgrade this item with another currency that was dropped from Heroic/Mythic bosses, to a matching item level. While it might have felt bad going into Sepulcher of the First Ones and losing the roll on Antumbra, Shadow of the Cosmos week 1, we knew that we could also simply purchase it in two weeks for ourselves, essentially checking off that “BiS” item. The Dinar system was a massive success, allowing players to later acquire items that they did not obtain through farm, and removing the burden of being “unlucky”.

Split Runs in the RWF of Aberrus

For those that are unfamiliar with split runs, it is when a raid team “splits” a few runs through the instance between a handful of main raiders, with the rest of the players being either raiders on alts, or players that are brought along to funnel gear. Historically, split runs have been particularly popular in the RWF where raid teams do everything they can to optimize their gear as quickly as possible.

(For a more in-depth explanation of split runs in Dragonflight, please click here.)

In Dragonflight, we saw the return of the group loot system as a replacement to the personal loot system seen throughout the past several previous expansions. In formal settings such as a raiding guild, this functioned as a form of master loot in Vault of the Incarnates where many guilds opted to run addons such as RCLC to have raiders autopass on items and allow a loot council to distribute items.

With a version of master loot having recently returned in Dragonflight in the form of a tradeable group loot, we have seen a shift away from split raids being stacked with users of only one armor type towards a balanced variety of cloth, leather, mail and plate wearers. This is partially since, with the personal loot system in previous expansions, individual loot drops were contingent upon whether the player could use the item that dropped for them – meaning that a raid full of cloth-wearers would only receive cloth items and could trade with one another accordingly. However, with master loot being back in the equation, any armor type or item classification may or may not drop from a boss – meaning that raid teams must diversify their rosters to ensure that items do not go to waste.

With the presence of rare items in Aberrus, split runs may still be less fruitful than RWF contenders might hope. Rare items add an additional layer of uncertainty towards the time investment of split runs since some guilds may receive more rare items than others, giving them an edge on the competition. However, for some players who may not be racing to the finish line in the first week, rare items may offer some interesting forms of player power to strive for throughout the duration of the tier.

Closing Thoughts

With the Echo of Neltharion rare items being class-based Trinkets in Patch 10.1, my greatest fear is that the feeling that my own character will be “incomplete” may be further exacerbated. While I might acquire my tier set early, not having an item that was specifically designed for my class brings with it a feeling of incompleteness. A system similar to the Revival Catalyst, Badges, Dinars or even simply crafting these rare items would go a very long way in relieving those feelings for the entire playerbase. While we might not loot our Class trinket/rare item week 1, we know that we can guarantee it ~week 5 or 6, if we work towards acquiring the right currency or complete the proper questline. It might make the last few weeks of raid farm a bit more uneventful, but that is certainly a better tradeoff than having 4-5 members of our raid group missing what could be their “BIS” items heading into the next patch.

The "Omnitoken" being added to Aberrus will certainly help with acquisition of tier via splits runs, alongside the Dragonflight Season 2 Master achievement. Rare items do bring a sense of uniqueness with them and the system is still in early form. It gives Blizzard a bit more creative space, and they have produced many interesting items that have made gameplay more exciting. Rare items (once obtained) have felt great to play with and have all been pretty well designed. With a bit of tweaking to their acquisition, I believe the system would be much better received as a whole while still keeping players engaged in “farm” content. The rare item might still have a low drop chance, but Dinars/Badges or boss kills that count towards a Dinar style quest reward, would feel just as sweet.


About the Author

Kalamazi has been playing Warcraft since The Burning Crusade and is a Streamer/Content Creator for Team Liquid. He currently raids in Temerity on Hyjal and has previously cast multiple Race to World First events! You can find him live on his Twitch or check out his YouTube channel where he covers everything PvE and Warlock related.