The lackluster designs came under fire on the forums a few days back, and Zarhym was quick to defend the art team, saying that "the looks of the sets will improve as the seasons continue," and that if Blizzard had started the first sets with awesome designs, the latter seasons might see Thrall being worn around players' heads. It's a pretty funny joke, but I'm not quite sure it holds water. Zarhym continues to say that the design philosophy is that "in PvE you're killing very rare and challenging creatures of Azeroth, while in PvP you're receiving gear from the crafters (so to speak) of your faction to get you battle-ready."
He goes on to make a truly memorable line, "chances are you're going to be given the gear that'll get the job done rather than the gear that has to be constructed entirely out of the nipples of a 7,000 year-old dragon." Now that's pretty clever. It makes a lot of sense, too. Except, my question is, why can't 'crafted' gear that 'gets the job done' be, well, badass? Remember the Level 60 PvP sets? Now those were totally badass.
Who can forget the Horde Warrior plate shoulders? Or the truly noble and Paladin-perfect Alliance plate? In the new world of Wrath homogeneity, there isn't even any more faction-specific armor. Don't get me wrong, the new PvE armor designs are nice. In fact, it seems like Blizzard loved the Death Knight starting armor so much that they rehashed it for the new raid plate. But ever since Burning Crusade, there hasn't been any faction-specific armor sets.
I don't think there's been any fantastic-looking PvP sets since the Warlord and Field Marshal days. In that respect, I think the designers have sort of slacked off. No, I don't want the nipples of 7,000-year old dragons, either, but are badass spikes and valorous eagles-on-shoulders really that hard to conceptualize? I think I'll side with the forum posters on this one and hope that something more interesting shows up in the future.