Vanilla gear was well... vanilla. TBC brought a ton of gear with vibrant colors and pixelated edges, we all loved it and most of the gear from Vanilla and TBC fit the classes, of course some will disagree.
When WoTLK broke free from the ice, it had a lot of nice looking gear as well. I didn't play much during this era, but from the look of it, this is where the problem began.
The tier 8 set isn't bad, but the tier 9 triumphant set is just horrible.
Tier 10 is utterly confusing. The mage set looks like it's meant to be worn by a warlock who dabbles in fel magic, it's just wrong. As it does with some of the other classes, it's misleading and it doesn't capture the spirit nor even respects it. If I wanted to look like a warlock, I'd re-roll one.
The priest set isn't so bad, but as always, we often get the boring sets, as if our class was the last on the list.
Now, as for the remaining tiers and the upcoming ones, I keep seeing the repetitive theme and the same boring colors, reuse of something from that expansion, like a rope or tusks.
But 75% of the time, the sets just don't fit the class at all. Mages looks like warlocks and warlocks looks like... I don't even know. Druids somehow look like Dark Shamans and Shamans often look like Hunters? Where's the spirit? Where's the "Oh that's so druid like!"
And now I see that the Shamans tier 17 get the look-alike Priest Challenge Mode set? Just cut a bit here and there, shave off a bit of those outrageously huge shoulders and add some chain and feathers and you got a Shaman.
And the Monk set? Hmm, haven't I seen that before? Where's the keggy shoulders at?
The Druid set is so simple it makes it seem like you jumped right back to the Vanilla version of the branchy set. Perhaps it could even qualify as the upgraded version of that set. It brings back the druidy-feel I've been missing. Keep it up, Blizz!
The Mage set isn't too bad this time, you somewhat reused the Challenge Mode Theme, Arcane, Fire and Frost - nice touch.
Now don't get me wrong, I can understand that the tiers often reflect the theme of the expansion, WoD is savage, so of course the sets should be just as savage. But it's just gotten to the point where all sets almost look alike or they're scraps from 2 expansions past, stitched together to make something that's unrecognizable, like a mutated version of an old set.
But is it really impossible to make the tiers not only reflect the expansion, but the class as well? Without the scraps, the similarities? I guess I'm just missing originality a bit.
I somehow also feel like a nice handful of the Arena Seasons sets stole what was meant for the tiers. Season 14 ran off with the nice animation which I somehow felt like should replace the ugly broad shouldered animation of the Tier 16, geez it's ugly. If I did PvP, I'd dump that tier for the Season 14.
Again, don't get me wrong, a lot of the tiers are really cool. Some even capture and reflect the class as well as the expansion/end game raid/w/e - very well done, but it's been going down hill for a while.
This is of course just my opinion, but I know I'm not alone here.