The State of Raid Soloing for Transmog in Shadowlands
The short version
If you need lots of Legion transmog appearances but found the fights to be too difficult in BFA, things will get easier and thus more productive as you hit level 60 and accumulate better gear. If you’ve been blasting through Legion raids for the last year and have all the transmog you need, you’ll have no new-old content to farm for a couple of years.
The long version
Background: In the old days, solo transmog farming was simple: you went into an instance, and if you could kill the bosses you would get loot as if you were a full group. The advent of Personal Loot brought this to a screeching halt, since loot would only drop at the new group loot rate (which is to say, pretty damn low), AND you could only get loot for your chosen loot specialization (want that polearm for your Fury transmog? Too bad, it’s not on your loot table any more). It was a transmog hunter’s worst nightmare. Luckily, it didn’t take long for Blizzard to introduce the Legacy Loot (LL) system, which let loot drop at a farmable rate with no regard for class or spec. Unfortunately, LL was only enabled for instances two expansions older than the current one: this meant that you could only really farm transmog up through Warlords of Draenor during the Battle for Azeroth expansion. HOWEVER, a few months ago Blizzard relaxed the LL requirements to allow us to farm Legion instances while BFA was still current. With so many of us stuck at home under pandemic conditions, this was an incredible gift for the transmog-obsessed with too much time on their hands.
The Problem: During the last few months of BFA, I started playing around with soloing Uldir raid bosses, and I added Normal/Heroic Taloc and MOTHER to my list of pushover bosses. With Shadowlands fast approaching, I had a question: would the new LL rules carry over? In other words, could I start farming BFA content once I hit level 60? It wasn’t possible to test this during the Shadowlands beta, as the BFA raids were disabled. So, as soon as I hit level 60 on retail, I headed over to Boralus and popped in to the Battle of Dazar’Alor. Was LL enabled? The answer, it turns out, was NO. The BFA LL rules only apply to Legion content: you can farm Legion raids at level 50, but the LL cap doesn’t move when you hit level 60. Thus, BFA instances won’t be farmable until the NEXT expansion after Shadowlands (Corgis UnleashedTM). To be fair, this simply meant that the old rules apply again, with the level 50 Legion LL rules being a notable exception.
What does this mean for transmog farmers? It depends. If you found Legion content to be a bit too difficult to clear in BFA, you’ll have an entire expansion to gear up and stomp those fel-coated raids to your heart’s content (though some bosses will always be hard/impossible due to mechanics, unless they get changed at some point). Legion content is actually pretty difficult right now, as we’re feeling the effects of losing a LOT of borrowed power in the forms of Azerite Traits, HoA Essences, and Corruption effects, but that’s another story (it was MUCH worse in the Shadowlands beta before Blizzard fixed it; I even wrote a blog post on the matter). On the other hand, if you’re like me and have basically robbed the Burning Legion of every piece of moggable gear possible (or at least, of everything you WANT), there’s nothing new (or old, rather) to try to get for the entirety of the current expansion. You can still go back and start working on your tactics for soloing BFA bosses, of course, but you won’t get anything for your efforts other than a few gold. This is how it worked prior to the Legion LL buff, so it’s not exactly a surprise, but I’m still disappointed. As I’ve said before in blog posts and Twitter rants, I believe that Legacy Loot should apply to all content prior to the current expansion: if you can kill it, you should get loot from it. Difficulty is incredibly subjective, and locking players out of LL until the content is “trivial” fails to recognize that fact. ANYWAY, I guess the reason I have such a strong opinion on the subject is that solo farming old content for transmog while pushing the limits of what I can achieve is my favorite WoW activity, and it happens to be one that Blizzard explicitly does not want me to do any more. Does it really matter? At the moment, maybe not so much. Shadowlands is brand-new, and there’s so much to do that transmog farming is probably pretty low on most priority lists. I’m fully aware that my raid soloing playstyle is such an edge case that eliminating it means nothing in relation to the big picture, but it’s still disheartening. At any rate, I’ll wrap this up by saying that Shadowlands is an incredible expansion so far, and I’m quite happy to spend most of my current WoW time in the realms of death.