There are some great things about this.
One, is the lore and the story behind the weapons. Each of the weapons has a special place in the history of the class, and giving that to people and allowing them to learn the lore behind each weapon will give a bigger sense of pride in their class. Class halls are similar in that respect too, encouraging people to take pride in their class and come together in a different way (as opposed to just horde vs alliance).
Then, there are drawbacks.
Last night we were discussing what the artifact weapons mean whilst you are levelling. Levelling as a tank or a healer is a slow way to go. However, with an artifact weapon, and it levelling and unlocking as I go along, does this mean that I have to be levelling the whole time as resto? If that's true, then it's going to be the BIGGEST drag trying to level with me because I do bugger all damage as resto and it will take ages to complete quests.
|OH god, I'm doing 2k DPS....|
Me: Hey I haven't finished this quest yet, I still have one more to go.
HK: How can you not have finished? Didn't you pick up X item just now?
Me: What item?
Me: Why are we killing these things?
HK: Umm... it's part of the quest?
Me: What quest?
HK: ... the one we went back to hand in 5 minutes ago? Didn't you hand it in?
Me: Oh, I didn't know we went back there to hand in something...
Me: I'm sleepy, can we stop questing now?
HK: We've only been levelling for 10 minutes...
Before you ask why I don't level in dungeons... it's because there are achievements associated with levelling through zones, and I don't want to have to go back there when I'm max level to finish the zones so might as well do it whilst I'm levelling, right?
Secondly, another drawback is that you can't transmog these items to look like something else. What am I going to do with the zillion weapons I have in my Void storage now? I guess you can't transmog legendaries so you shouldn't be able to do it to artifact weapons. The problem with that is that everyone will start looking the same as there are only a fixed number of looks that the weapon will have, compared the the hundreds of looks we have now with transmog. I realise that this is necessary so that we retain a sense of pride and uniqueness with our artifact weapon, but I will miss the looks of some of our old weapons that we have had in the past and miss being able to use them.
Overall, I'm excited about being able to work on an artifact weapon. I'm hoping that there is some solo content as well as group content to do so that I can work on it in my own time, yet also be part of a group and interacting with others which you should be doing when you're playing in an MMO. I wonder if people will resent having to do group activities for the weapon - there was a lot of moaning and groaning about the PvP side of the Pandaria legendary cloak, which has altered in the Warlords of Draenor ring because it's just about picking up things from the raids which can be done in LFR.
One thing though - if there are special abilities or buffs that are unlocked with the weapon that surely is going to suck for the people with 2 specs who are constantly being asked to use them - like DPS/heals (I'm thinking Yuuda, Rag, Crooked, Sars). Rag has already asked if he can go Ret has main spec because he really wants to play with Ashbringer. Do you think this will mean people are locked to a certain spec more? I guess we'll see it when we go live.