- For the item quality, see Artifact (quality).
Artifacts are a special type of weapon introduced in Legion, and the only weapons players would wield over the course of the expansion.
Players can acquire these new weapons early in the expansion's run, and the weapons grow in power alongside them. Artifact Power can be earned by engaging in most types of play, and can be spent to unlock a unique tree of traits, enhancing abilities. Players can also obtain relics and use these to upgrade the artifact itself. Artifacts also come with an extensive range of visual customization options.
Following the Broken Shore experience, players set about acquiring the artifact for their character's current specialization. The artifacts represented a greater power than the heroes of Azeroth had ever wielded before, a power which was needed in order to defeat the Burning Legion.
The process of acquiring an artifact is determined by the character's class and spec. A catch-up mechanism was added to reduce the time taken to earn artifact power for secondary specializations and alts.
Patch 7.3.5 added the send-off for artifact weapons and as such ended the Legion storyline, with the weapons having to be used in order to neutralize the sword Sargeras used to impale the world in Silithus. Some visual effects represented the instability that resulted from the send-off, with for example Artifact Power varying wildly.
With the release of patch 8.0.1, the artifact weapons can continue to be used as normal weapons, but all traits added to the weapon was "burned away", and disabled. The main artifact ability was also no longer usable, however, some were introduced as talents to the class (such as ). Any relics added to the weapon would continue to increase the weapon's item level, but no longer offered any traits. Netherlight Crucible augments also ceased to benefit the weapon. All artifact traits were disabled as the final result of the artifact instability.
List of artifacts
|Blood||Libram of the Dead||Travel to the Legion world of Niskara to slay Gorelix and steal the axe from him.|
|Frost||Blades of the Fallen Prince
|Seek out the shards of Frostmourne in Icecrown Citadel where they lay after the defeat of the Lich King, and reforge them into a pair of runeblades.|
|Unholy||Delve into the catacombs beneath Karazhan and retake the blade from the Dark Riders.|
|Havoc||Twinblades of the Deceiver
|Tome of Fel Secrets||Storm the Broken Shore to take out the traitor Varedis Felsoul.|
|Return to the Broken Shore and take the warblades from Caria Felsoul.|
|Balance||Tome of the Ancients||Delve into the catacombs beneath Karazhan and retake the scythe from the Dark Riders.|
|Feral||Fangs of Ashamane
|Travel to Ashmane's fall, then chase after Verstok Darkbough in Falanaar.|
|Guardian||Claws of Ursoc
|Prove your worth to Ursol to obtain the claws in Grizzly Hills.|
|Restoration||Retrieve the branch from the dream and cleanse it at the Well of Eternity.|
|Beast Mastery||Tales of the Hunt||Delve into an ancient Vrykul tomb and retrieve the ancient gun.|
|Marksmanship||Travel with Vereesa Windrunner to the Legion world of Niskara to find Alleria Windrunner.|
|Survival||Track down the beast that killed its last wielder and retrieve it from the beast's cave.|
|Arcane||Archive of the Tirisgarde||Travel to the Nexus to retake the staff from the Ethereum.|
|Fire||and||Team up with Archmage Aethas Sunreaver to obtain the blade from Icecrown Citadel.|
|Frost||Hunt down Balaadur and take the staff back from him.|
|Brewmaster||The Chronicle of Ages||Make a drink for the Monkey King, then defend the Temple of the Jade Serpent from a Legion invasion to retrieve the staff.|
|Mistweaver||Retrieve the Staff from the Terrace of Endless Spring, where it has been kept since the Last Emperor passed on.|
|Windwalker||Fists of the Heavens
|Follow the old tale's path to Uldum, and make then retrieve the Fists from Skywall.|
|Holy||Libram of Ancient Kings||Retrieve the legendary hammer from Tyr's tomb in Tirisfal.|
|Protection||and||Enter the shrine of Tyr where the shield is held on an island in Stormheim.|
|Retribution||Search the Broken Shore, where the Ashbringer fell in battle and was lost.|
|Discipline||Word of the Conclave||Travel to the Nexus to retake the staff from the Ethereum.|
|Holy||Travel to the Legion world of Niskara to retrieve and purify T'uure.|
|Shadow||and||Hunt the Twilight's Hammer in Tirisfal Glades to stop them from releasing the Faceless general Zakajz hidden below.|
|Blood Ledger||Aid Garona in taking out cultists in Stormwind.|
|Hunt down the Dread Admiral Eliza and her undead crew and take them from her grasp.|
|Subtlety||Fangs of the Devourer
|Invade the Shadowgore Citadel and take the fangs from Akaari Shadowgore.|
|Elemental||and||Words of Wind and Earth||Partake in a tournament held by Xuen to earn the right to wield the fist.|
|Enhancement||and||Doomhammer fell into the Maelstrom. Travel to Deepholm to recover it.|
|Restoration||and||Travel to the Throne of Tides to retrieve the scepter from Azshara's servants.|
|Affliction||Tome of Blighted Implements||Delve into the catacombs beneath Karazhan and retake the staff from the Dark Riders.|
|Demonology||and||Storm Felsoul Keep to steal the skull from Mephistroth.|
|Destruction||Steal the scepter from Gul'dan at the Tomb of Sargeras.|
|Arms||Saga of the Valarjar||Travel to Tirisfal Glades and retrieve the sword from the hidden tomb where the faceless general Zakajz lays.|
|Fury||Warswords of the Valarjar
|Invade the shores of Helheim and steal back the warswords.|
|Protection||and||Delve into the sealed and curse-laden tomb of an ancient vrykul king who was buried with a sword and shield made from the scales of Neltharion.|
|Profession||Fishing||Fish up rare catches around the Broken Isles and join Nat Pagle for a fishing trip to Gloaming Reef.|
Artifacts can be customized and powered up at order halls with artifact power, earned from adventuring, completing quests, beating dungeon bosses, winning PvP objectives, and so forth. Artifact power is used to unlock traits which increase the power of the weapon and the character.
Each artifact has a unique "trait tree", a grid overlaid upon the outline of the weapon itself, resembling the old talent trees. Players can spend artifact power to activate additional traits, moving along the tree; once a trait is activated, all connecting traits become unlocked. Many traits have multiple ranks. Majorly impactful traits are called golden traits.
Artifacts also have Relic slots. Relics are artifact-only objects with a major impact on the overall power of the artifact, such as its basic damage and item level. The relic system acts as a substitute for the upgrading of weapons seen in previous expansions; rather than switching to a new and more powerful weapon, the player slots a new and more powerful relic into their artifact.
Several different looks are available for each artifact. These can be unlocked through various activities. One look for each artifact will only be available through PvP. Each look appears to come with unique flavor text, and background lore. Players are also able to unlock three additional colors of the various looks. In the case of Feral and Guardian druids, changing the look of the weapon also changes the look of the form to match. In addition, it is hard to obtain items for every specialization that unlocks an additional appearance (with 3 recolors unlockable).
Artifacts can be transmogrified into other weapons, but other weapons cannot be transmogrified into artifacts.
Hidden appearance items
|Death knight||Blood||Randomly found in a chest in The Withered Army Scenario.|
|Frost||Looted from The Soultakers in Stormheim.|
|Unholy||Looted from Stitchwork in Icecrown Citadel|
|Demon hunter||Havoc||Drop from Downfall|
|Vengeance||Drop from mobs in Twisting Nether, accessed via Class Hall|
|Druid||Balance||Fusing together and|
|Feral||Received from Ela'lothen.|
|Guardian||Drop from Ursoc in The Emerald Nightmare.|
|Restoration||Looted from Evergreen Plots in the Dreamgrove.|
|Hunter||Beast Mastery||Vendor in Dalaran|
|Marksmanship||Sold by Veridis Fallon in Azsuna when you reach Revered with Court of Farondis.|
|Survival||Drop from Ursoc in The Emerald Nightmare.|
|Mage||Arcane||Help Cote "Shepherd" Metcalf with his sheep problem.|
|Fire||Random drop from Nightborne and Fal'dorei|
|Frost||Class Hall portal to phased Frostfire Ridge|
|Monk||Brewmaster||Looted from the brew kegs in the Temple of Five Dawns.|
|Mistweaver||Drop from the Dragons of Nightmare in the Emerald Nightmare.|
|Windwalker||Randomly found in a chest in The Withered Army Scenario.|
|Paladin||Holy||Random drop from demons in Faronaar in Azsuna.|
|Protection||Randomly found in a chest in The Withered Army Scenario.|
|Priest||Discipline||Collect 12 tomes from around Azeroth and combine them.|
|Holy||Fusing together and|
|Shadow||Drops from Il'gynoth in The Emerald Nightmare.|
|Rogue||Assassination||Drops from rare mobs in the Underbelly|
|Subtlety||Found in the chests at the end of Troves of the Thunder King.|
|Shaman||Elemental||Drops from rare mobs in the Underbelly.|
|Enhancement||Drops from Flotsam in Highmountain, Levantus in Azsuna, and Helya in Trial of Valor.|
|Restoration||Drops from mobs and bosses in the Eye of Azshara.|
|Warlock||Affliction||Drops from Sataiel.|
|Demonology||Drop from eredar on Broken Isles.|
|Destruction||Drop from mobs summoned by the Ritual of Doom, accessed via Class Hall.|
|Warrior||Arms||has a region-wide daily chance of spawning on Master Smith Helgar.|
|Fury||Fusing together , and .|
|Protection||Found in a pile of treasure in Neltharion's Vault.|
- Official art
- Titanborn skin
- Fist of the Fallen Watcher skin
- Justice's Flame skin
- Faminebearer skin
- Deadwood Keeper skin
-Crest of the Redeemed skin
- Ascended Watch skin
- , , and are family heirlooms.
- Felo'melorn and the Doomhammer do not have any rightful hereditary claimants, as the royal Sunstrider dynasty of Quel'Thalas and the Doomhammer line of the Blackrock clan are extinct.
- Talonclaw of the Highmountain Tribe was accepted by the tribe and the spirit of its last owner as rightfully belonging to the hunter player, as they successfully retrieved it.
- Ownership of Thas'dorah is up in the air, as the Windrunner family and its former owner, Alleria Windrunner, are still alive. Vereesa Windrunner gave her blessing for the hunter player to use it until it can be returned to Alleria. Sylvanas Windrunner proclaims to the Horde player in Undercity that such a skilled marksman is worthy of the bow. After meeting up with her and the Army of the Light, Alleria herself states she may reclaim it one day should she have need of it, but for now, she has a different path and that the player has proven themselves worthy of wielding it.
- The Axe of Cenarius was considered by Blizzard for the artifact for Arms warriors, but the developers thought that a wooden, nature-themed axe didn't fit the class. Ultimately, was used instead.
Patches and hotfixes
- Hotfix (2017-08-30): "Artifact weapons with a challenge artifact appearance selected should no longer revert to their base appearance if the player is logged out while in a different specialization."
- Patch 7.2.0 (2017-03-28): Empowered traits and Challenge appearances added.
- Patch 7.0.3 (2016-07-19): Artifact system added.