The post I keep meaning to write, and then pass on.
Months I’ve been kicking this around.
I’ll put this bluntly.
I DO feel very bad for the progressive raiders in World of Warcraft.
It’s a case, in my mind, of raised expectations.
In Vanilla WoW (as it’s inevitably called) raiding was fun, but followed the 40 man trend started by Everquest.
Hey, it’s cool, Everquest led the way for others to follow. Big raids were the order of the day.
In Burning Crusade, what did we get?
I won’t go into the specific math. I could, but I’ve seen it posted before.
What we got at expansion start was a sequence of zones to play through and level through, most of them having instances tied to them. Same as Wrath of the Lich King.
Once you hit max level, the instances were available in heroic mode. Same in Wrath of the Lich King.
Let’s look at raids.
At release, we had;
- Gruuls’ Lair
- Magtheridon’s Lair
- Serpentshrine Cavern
- Tempest Keep (The Eye)
- The Battle for Mount Hyjal
- The Black Temple
These were some pretty sizable raids, and all were waiting on determined raiders to kick ass.
Later on, Zul’Aman was added to give more of a 10 man kick, and Sunwell brought the ass whupping uppity raiders desired.
Burning Crusade was not WoW 2.0, because WoW had been new, people were learning as they went, stumbled into level 60, looked around and gradually learned what raiding was all about. It happened over time, and raiders accumulated at the upper echelon like dandruff.
With Burning Crusade, it was the same as unleashing a flood, an army of raiders SWARMED into Outlands all at once.
Zerg rush from hell. And they prepared for it well, grasshopper.
An entire army of max level raid gear equipped players were just sitting there, bored out of their minds despite Ahn’Qiraj, waiting for that portal to crack wide open.
Burning Crusade opened up Outlands, and the race was on!
People leveled like demons, fought their way up to level 70, geared themselves in difficult heroics, and faced down this tough new place called Karazhan.
Having Karazhan be 10 man only, and the follow on raids all 25 man, caused massive bitching, and why the heck not? It was crazy, you wanted to learn together and prepare to play as a team together for raids, but your first introduction at level 70 raiding was a 10 man that at best split your team up tino two groups… and 5 folks were screwed each week. What, back to Upper Blackrock Spire teams? Wha?
But that’s fine. Karazhan was tough enough and fast enough that it kept folks working it all the way up to the first nerf… and by then Sunwell was open with crazy badge gear and those that were gonna progress, HAD progressed.
But once past Karazhan, the progression guilds had long, insane fights to master. Content out the freaking wazoo to do.
You want to know where your wazoo is? Ummm… sorry, it’s not that kind of blog.
A couple of short, challenging raids were there, the Outlands versions of Obsidian Sanctum and Vault of Archavon; Gruul’s Lair and Magtheridon’s Lair.
The difference? Well, first off you didn’t need to trust in luck as to whether you controlled Blade’s Edge to schedule a Gruul’s Lair run.
Don’t knock the ability to consistently schedule a raid. I know that my guild would dearly LOVE to be able to schedule Vault of Archavon runs, just so we know to be online and prepared to take on that second boss. When you’re casual, it’s hard to schedule a raid on the off chance you’ll get to go in… and if you can’t people are out of the option to pug it for fun with other friends.
But let’s get beyond that. So Outlands had their two mini raids, and Northrend has it’s two mini raids.
The Wrath versions have 10 man AND 25 man versions. A clear win for Northrend, right? Well, only if you like 10 man runs. If you’re a raiding guild doing 25 man content, the 10 man version is just a way to help gear more people up past heroics in half the time. Same content TWICE a week, oh boy!
Okay, so past those two, and Outlands had Serpentshrine Caverns, and Northrend has Naxxramas.
Again, not a bad comparison. Serpentshrine felt freaking huge. Fishing the boss up was pretty cool, too. 🙂
Naxx is a clear winner, though, with more wings/bosses overall. Very big place, can take a while to take down. Really, if Naxx were in the same spot in progression that Serpentshrine was, would there ever have been complaint one?
But after those… well, what next?
Outlands offered Tempest Keep, Caverns of Time: The Battle for Mount Hyjal (omigod that place rocks) and Black Temple.
Northrend offered… The Eye of Eternity. Another mini raid. A hard damn raid, don’t get me wrong… but another mini, teeny raid.
So, Eye of Eternity versus Tempest Keep, Mount Hyjal and Black Temple.
Yes, yes I see the pain of raiders, and understand quite fully. Rather than having an equivalent number of new raids and new content to learn and admire, they got Achievements. The same content, with new harder twists.
NOW there is Ulduar, a match to Sunwell but it came faster than Sunwell did, and soon there will be the Crusader’s Coliseaum. In the distance, there might even be an Icecrown Citadel raid.
That’s not bad. It’s picking up some serious steam now.
The amount released with Wrath showed a failure to learn from the lessons of Burning Crusade.
In Burning Crusade, all the max level players, raiders and soloers alike, were poised, ready to tear into the new content.
The level differences and gear differences were extreme enough that there was a total revamp before hitting 70 raids. No matter who you were, skill and reliability and time to devote to raiding determined who got to do what, not gear obtained from the last year.
A total reset.
Can you imagine a level 60 tank or healer in full Blackwing Lair gear making it to Karazhan at 70 without changing much of his gear? And winning?
The gear revamp in Wrath was simply not extreme enough. Part of Burning Crusade’s formula was to force players to experience earlier content in order to get appropriately geared up. No matter WHO they were. It put the brakes on a lot of the rush.
Second, the raid setup was changed from 40 to 25, and when guilds ran headlong into it, they were forced to learn how to adapt to smaller groups… especially with going down to 10 man Karazhan and then back up to 25 man Gruuls.
They had to relearn many lessons, adapt to changes, and really learn to play all over again in a 25 man dynamic. The old 40’s were gone forever, and the paradigm changed with them.
Guilds that attracted massive numbers of people in the old days and could still progress with 8 slackers had to tighten their belts and really work on class balance and skill.
Some guilds adapted faster, worked harder, or held together better, and progressed past others.
In Wrath… the signs were clear from Sunwell, Black Temple and 3 man Kara clears that the natives were restless. And very, very skilled and coordinated.
You knew going into Wrath that there was going to be a huge group of players that had extremely good gear, were seasoned raiders with a solid understanding of 25 man raiding, and a drive to be first.
And to these raiders, Blizz gave them less content… they could use the same raid makeups they had already mastered to succeed, and in some cases they could even win using the exact same gear they wore at level 70.
Yes, people expected another massive content dump like Burning Crusade. They were trained to expect part of the game to be the pursuit of realm and server first kills.
I don’t blame them for feeling confused and abused when they blasted through all the content the game had to offer by January and were bored. It’s not how the script was supposed to be written.
Now, there is tons of new content out and more coming fast… but at the same time, existing content is being reduced in difficulty, and the rewards gained by the emblem system that are special now will be open to all players, at all levels of progression.
It’s a bad situation. People are grumpy. People that love progression raiding feel they are getting jerked around pretty good, feel the game is getting ‘dumbed down’ for the lowest common denominator, and don’t understand why.
I don’t understand either. I have no magic answer to give you as to why the raiding content wasn’t as deep or the gear upgrade wasn’t as drastic as in Burning Crusade.
Perhaps a few contributing factors were me and people like me asking for more new content for all levels of play rather than just the max level raiders.
Maybe our asking them to devote development time for 10 man modes for smaller guilds is what cut the content at the top end from early release.
I know I feel that the developers did three times as much work as in Burning Crusade, but the results FEEL like fewer raids because it’s the same content, modified over and over to present different challenges.
For my part, I just want to tell you, if you are a player that prefers progressive raiding, I appreciate your distress. I really do.
I may not be a progression raider, but I can feel the allure, the pull of taking on content that everyone is buzzing about, of being part of something big and seeing something new, and of having that feeling of sporting a shiny that says “Yep, we’ve been there. We can do that.”
I will be delighted to gain my new ranking of Emblems, because for me the game is about being good at what I do, and having fun as a valuable part of the team that can get the job, whatever it may be, done. Better gear helps me do my job better, so sure, I’ll pursue it.
I’ll run lots of heroics, get lots of Emblems, and get lots of nice loot that was previously only available to people in 25 man raiding guilds clearing Ulduar or 25 man Naxx.
But I will not ever say that I feel that I deserve it, that it is my right to have those Emblems, that in order for my guild to see new content we must have this class of gear opened to us.
Because we don’t. It’s a lot like a gift, freely offered but not asked for or demanded.
I do feel sorry for the way progressive raiders are getting jerked around.
But please… hate on the game, not the playa, dawg.