If you've done a lot of raiding over the years, you know that it seems like there's always someone in your raid group who just can't get a weapon to drop. That was me, for the entirety of Wrath Naxxramas, stuck using my engineering gun until an Ulduar-25 PUG landed me the gun off Kologarn. It sucked - I literally couldn't crit high enough to pop the constructs on Ignis until I got a weapon upgrade.
So Legion is going to bring us artifact weapons, and no one will need to worry about weapon drops (because there won't be any). The various skins you can unlock and the ability to transmog the artifacts mean you aren't visually stuck with it for the whole expansion.
But then they put this up during the GamesCon presentation (with my markings for emphasis):
And then you start looking at the already revealed weapons and who has/had them:
- Ashbringer - Tirion Fordring
- Maw of the Damned - demon Gorelix
- Ebonchill, Greatstaff of Alodi - formerly Alodi
- Sheilun, Staff of the Mists - formerly Shaohao
- Thas’dorah, Legacy of the Windrunners - formerly Sylvanas, as Ranger-General
- Icebringer & Soulreaper (Frostmourne) - formerly Arthas
- Fangs of the First Nightsaber - ??
- Eagle Spear - whatever killed the last wielder
- Felo'melorn - formerly Kael'thas
- Doomhammer - Thrall
But what about Doomhammer and Ashbringer? WoWhead's article mentions something about Thrall losing hope, so maybe he's passing off the Doomhammer to a worthy enhancement shaman. But Ashbringer was the one the developers mentioned going back to the Broken Shore to getting it from where it was lost, so...
I dunno; I think Tirion's future doesn't look very bright. Depending what the other twenty-some weapons turn out to be - how many more lore figures are going to die for us to get fancy weapons? They did mention Alleria and Turalyon are going to be back, but not how - and marksman hunters are getting a Windrunner bow. So I'm a little worried we might not be finding one or both of them alive.
If beta really is later this year, we've only got at most five months to wait for at least some of the answers. Maybe all the currently alive wielders of artifact weapons are going to realize they're too old be doing this crap anymore, but Blizzard's never really been shy about killing off characters, so I'm not going to be surprised if any of them don't make it.