What is Borrowed Power in WoW?
Borrowed Power Mechanics in World of Warcraft refers to power your character earns that has an expiration date, which is typically the end of an expansion, and does not contribute to the long term persistent progression of your character. Borrowed power is lost, like with Artifact Weapons, or simply made irrelevant like Garrisons when a new expansion launches. Borrowed Power in WoW has largely been poorly received by players as lazy design and goes against the central idea of MMORPG’s long term progression. Examples of Borrowed Power are:
- Garrisons – Warlord’s of Draenor
- Artifact Weapons – Legion
- Azerite Armor – Battle for Azeroth
- Covenant and Soulbinds – Shadowlands
Why is Borrowed Power bad design?
Each new expansion forces you to farm for a new system that you will leave behind when the next expansion launches. During Legion you farmed Artifact Power the entire expansion and progressed your Artifact weapon, only to lose it entirely when Battle for Azeroth launched. MMORPGs promise a sense of persistent character progression and permanent progress, but players lose their progress when it comes time to return their borrowed power. In Battle for Azeroth players were introduced to Azerite Armor and Corrupted Armor, only to lose it when Shadowlands launched.
At the end of Shadowlands players will lose their progress as well, as Covenants and Soulbinds are highly unlikely to serve any purpose in future expansions. Which leaves many players asking, “What is the point?”
Can Borrowed Power be good?
There is an argument to be made in favor of Borrow Power Mechanics. If there was no progression reset at the end of a season, it would create an unreasonable barrier of entry and prevent new players from catching up and playing World of Warcraft. Despite the complaints about Borrowed Power, it may prove to be a better problem. If Blizzard did not implement Borrowed Power they would have to massively excelerate progression for new and returning players. Either way they choose to the tackle the problem, it invalidates the progress players make each expansion. Borrowed Power may be the most elegant solution to the problems a Theme Park MMORPG comes with.