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The Community's Growing Concerns About Conduits and the Covenants System in Shadowlands

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Game Director Ion Hazzikostas recently talked to Bellular about why Conduits get consumed when replaced. Still, it turns out the community wants the direct opposite, and the same goes for the Covenants system.

Conduits

Yesterday, we brought you a summary of Bellular's interview with Ion. The main topic was the destructibility of Conduits.

  • Conduits operate like gems, so the original Conduit you want to replace will be consumed/destroyed in the process.
  • Conduits come from dungeons, bosses, and vendors, so it is not a fortunate decision having to refarm them if you ever decide to replace them.

Ion argumented in the interview that the WoW developer team does not want you to change Conduits on every single boss pull, and that's why they made them destructible.

"Having to carry around a physical inventory of Conduits that need to be micro-managed and constantly swapped in and out is the opposite of fun," he added.

He also said that Conduits in their current state offered more flexibility than Legion Relics.

It turns out, however, that the community wants the direct opposite. Redditor Vandar started a thread that accrued 1.5K upvotes in just one day, where he suggests that Conduits should be obtained and managed like Essences, suggesting they should be swappable in a specific zone and not take up valuable inventory space.

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Zack (Asmongold) also suggested that Conduits should become craftable so that you don't have to refarm them if they get consumed.

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Covenants

Another growing concern are Covenants and Covenant Abilities, mainly their balance. In Shadowlands, we have many systems layered on top of each other. There are Anima Powers that work in Torghast, Legendary Powers (Legion Legendaries 2.0), Soulbinds, Conduits, and Covenant Abilities, so it is natural for players to feel concerned given that Blizzard said it would be hard to regain the trust of a Covenant if you decide to pursue a different one only to switch back later.

Now imagine what will happen if Covenant Abilities end up unbalanced, and some of them will get buffed while other abilities get nerfed to the ground. The player will automatically pursue what is best for them in the ideal scenario, which might involve abandoning and returning to the same Covenant.

The thing is that Covenants are not just about abilities. They have their themes, hubs to unlock, Soulbinds, rewards, and depth, so at the end of the day, the player will be forced to give all this away in favor of their Covenant ability and never be happy with their choice because they want to pick the best one for raiding.

Preach also voiced his concerns about the Covenant system in his latest video.

A practical and straightforward solution suggested by Redditor Corgibox is to detach Covenant Abilities from the Covenants and add them as a separate talent row, but with no level requirement, as Blizzard wants you to use Covenant Abilities straight as you jump into the new content, and not at max level.

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Do you agree with the changes suggested by the community? Let us know in the comments below!

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The bottom line is that to be successful in the way Ion wants, they have to be balanced at the start, at least fairly well.    

Otherwise if something is shown to be surprisingly better than expected and the playerbase floods to it, then suddenly Blizzard nerfs it...yeah, it gets ugly if swapping back to something else is more difficult.   

Moreover, BFA was a trainwreck of balance being totally off for a number of systems, to the point where it's hard to imagine that serious playtesting was done.     Corruptions are particularly bad in balance (how many times did they nerf infinte stars now?), but essences and azerite traits, and basic class balance have been pretty damn bad in many places too.

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44 minutes ago, Stan said:

Ion argumented in the interview that the WoW developer team does not want you to change Conduits on every single boss pull, and that's why they made them destructible.

I honestly see no issue on changing Conduits on every boss pull.

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43 minutes ago, Valhalen said:

I honestly see no issue on changing Conduits on every boss pull.

I think they want you to use the soulbinds for the quick switch. Each bind lets you customize a slightly different build, so you can have three different approaches per character.

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1 hour ago, Stan said:

The thing is that Covenants are not just about abilities. They have their themes, hubs to unlock, Soulbinds, rewards, and depth, so at the end of the day, the player will be forced to give all this away in favor of their Covenant ability and never be happy with their choice because they want to pick the best one for raiding.

This is my main concern. I couldn't care less about balance, but I will probably need 4 different characters if I wish to experience the minigames, story and other covenant related content of all the different factions in Shadowlands. Otherwise I'm okay with having to remain loyal to my decisions, that's part of an RPG - you shouldn't always be able to go back to the questgiver and tell him you'd rather cut off his head instead of offering help. But I could imagine a sort of "covenant trial" option (like the class trial) which allows players to test out the various unique covenant abilities and how they work with their play-style before making a lasting choice.

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3 hours ago, Badadada said:

But I could imagine a sort of "covenant trial" option (like the class trial) which allows players to test out the various unique covenant abilities and how they work with their play-style before making a lasting choice.

I think they said it's an "easy to switch to a different one, hard to go back to one you left" type deal.

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7 hours ago, Badadada said:

But I could imagine a sort of "covenant trial" option (like the class trial) which allows players to test out the various unique covenant abilities and how they work with their play-style before making a lasting choice.

If I remember correctly, we'll get a taste of every covenant as we level 50-60. Hopefully it will be enough to make a final decision.

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16 hours ago, durdyenglish said:

I think they want you to use the soulbinds for the quick switch. Each bind lets you customize a slightly different build, so you can have three different approaches per character.

But you know the high-end guilds aren't going to be satisfied with that. They will feel it necessary to farm and stack up Conduits just as Ion says they don't want you to do. They'll have to be prepared to go back and re-spec soulbinds on the fly, or get kicked out of the raid.

And gods help us all when there's the inevitable nerfs/buffs.

Remember in the world-first race, some were literally paying real money to swap servers and bring gear back to their main teams.

Blizz has never learned this lesson. If they give us a choice, and make it difficult and discouraging to change, we will still need to change sometimes and be unhappy with how difficult it is. It either needs to be a non-choice, or something easy to work with.

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