Patch 5.3: Item upgrades to return for PvE, not for PvP

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The future of Item Upgrades Returning for PvE, but not for PvP
Blizzard posted a blog today on the much-discussed return of the item upgrades to the game in patch 5.3. Lead Systems Designer Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street had commented in recent interviews that the system would be very unlikely to return for PvP, so there's no great surprise in that statement. There will still be upgrades available in patch 5.3 for season 12 gear, which was always upgradeable, at its original cost, so 750 Conquest for four item levels, useable twice. As the blog states, "no other PvP items are upgradable, and no new PvP items for the foreseeable future will use the upgrade system."

This is a good thing. There are already potential issues emerging thanks to the item levels of the new gear, where the gaps in between the lower tiers and the upper tiers look to be too great, and adding item upgrades into the mix would only cause more problems.

For PvE, as expected, the item upgrade system will be reappearing in patch 5.3. However, some changes have been made that iron out some issues the Blizzard team was unhappy with.

Firstly, and most importantly, the cost will be lowered. As the blog states, "Items upgradable by Valor now require 250 Valor to upgrade per 4 item levels, for a total of 500 Valor for 8 item levels per item. This is retroactive to all items that use Valor." This is a massive discount from 5.1, and is there in an effort to try to avoid the feeling of having to worry about spending valor to upgrade an item, betting against yourself for an upgrade.

With the new lower cost, the aim is that players can use their valor to upgrade items without worrying about using up a huge chunk of the currency they could be using to get new gear. The flipside of this is that valor will remain valuable to players, for a limited time at least. It will be possible to upgrade two pieces by eight item levels every week, if players cap valor.

Thunderforged items?

No comment was made in the blog, however, on the new Thunderforged items, and whether they would be upgradeable. These items are already six item levels above the usual, and upgrading them by a further eight item levels would mean that they could be best-in-slot for some time. Whether this is a good or a bad thing, we're not sure. It would add weight to the philosophy that Blizzard wants players to be excited about loot drops from early bosses, but would such a huge ilvl gap be problematic?

Justice gear is also upgradeable, at a higher cost to reflect the increased rate of justice point gains in patch 5.2, but still lower than before. 5.2 Justice items now require 750 Justice to upgrade per 8 item levels, for a total of 750 Justice for 8 item levels per item.

For clarity, items originally bought with valor, conquest, honor or justice -- and this means only season 12 gear in the case of PvP items -- will still be upgradeable with the currency it was purchased with, even though it's not current tier or current season gear. This is in line with the way the PvE currency conversion was carried out at the patch 5.1-patch 5.2 crossover, but less so for PvPers. It's likely that this is to discourage the spending of conquest points on upgrading season 12 PvP gear, given the better options available, unless you have season 12 T2 weapons.

What do you think of the altered system? Are you glad it's gone from PvP? And will this mean that players will end up with leftover valor at the end of patch 5.3?

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