What, has it really been more than a week since I last had anything bad to say about CXP? Time to get back to complaining!
... I'm kidding. Mostly.
This particular subject isn't anything more than minor nitpick territory, but I haven't really seen anyone else talk about it so I did want to write a short post about it.
When I first hit Command tier two, I remember having a conversation with a guildie that went something like this:
Me: Oh finally, a useful piece of tier two gear!
Guildie: Oh nice, it is the artifact or the legendary version?
Me: ... bwuh?
The idea that there were two different versions of each tier item after the first one was initially just bewildering to me. After having had some time to take it in, and taking into consideration how much of the whole CXP mess appears to have been inspired by World of Warcraft's Legion expansion, I figured that this was another such thing that Bioware tried to copy. I haven't played retail WoW in several years, but purely from reading about it on other blogs I've gathered that there's a mechanism that sometimes randomly upgrades your gear drops to a better version of themselves or something. I don't entirely get the point behind it, but I could at least understand the basic idea: making you feel special and lucky when you get the rare piece that's better than usual.
But then 5.1's vendors came in, and all the gear they traded in was the legendary version of each item. So... the rare special upgrade became the new default, which turned the previous "regular" tier into "slightly crappier than usual". I mean, sure, tier pieces are still enough of a pain to get that it's not entirely bad to get a purple one, but it does feel pretty lame that unlike the orange versions, you can't trade them in for upgrades.
5.2 is slated to highlight the issue even more, with the newly introduced tier four also having blue items with set bonuses. I mean, on the one hand: Yay, more chances at a set bonus? But on the other hand: Why not just have one item level each tier and increase its bloody drop rate?
The point of having set bonus gear with different item levels used to be to reward people for doing harder types of content, e.g.: You did hardmode flashpoints! Have a set of set bonus gear. You did operations! Have a set of set bonus gear but with slightly higher stats. That kind of thing.
Having multiple different item levels of the same item drop from a box at random rewards nothing but pure luck. Worse though: With the vendors effectively treating the highest item level as standard, you don't get to feel lucky for scoring something better than the norm every now and then - you only get to feel unlucky for constantly getting drops that aren't even as good as the vendor-bought stuff.