Is Rrrrraiding Grrrreat?

24 05 2009

I rarely agree with things posted on WoW.com (previously WoWInsider), but one paragraph from the most recent Ready Check piqued my interest.

The only thing really to say is that it’s a shame so few of the hard modes drastically change the form of the encounter, with several number-based buffs adjusting the difficulty of the fight through gear, rather than through skill. Hard modes like Firefighter and Saronite are really good fun because it’s not just the same old fight with a time limit, or with increased damage; let’s hope we see more of these in future.

Yes. Ten times YES. My main complaint about splitting raids into 10/25 mans is that, while making raids more accessible, reduces the number of different raids, encounter mechanics and lore that Blizzard can explore. It also makes a lot less sense in the game world. Admittedly, you can already go back to the same raid each week and kill the same bosses, who have been miraculously resurrected, which is entirely unrealistic. I almost wish that raids could be tuned to however many people are in at a time, with a max of 25 and a minimum of 10.

Why we crave drastic change in our hard modes

Ulduar is the only raid we’re going to get for a while, so obviously raiders want to make the most of the experience. See everything and kill everything in as many different ways as possible. I’d be satisfied with speed-kills and such for “hard modes” only if I knew there was another raid waiting for me and my guild after Ulduar. The way things are now, I fear completing the raid instance. I don’t want to kill Yogg-Saron because it means going back next week with all bosses downed and only achievements left. Since not everyone cares about achievements and drakes as much as I do, this means raid attendance will shrink and people will generally be less motivated.

I think what we need is a new way to motivate raiders to complete raids, aside from drakes. Not all people who love raiders love drakes, so in the spirit of something for everyone, what can Blizzard do to make finishing up Ulduar exciting rather than an anticlimactic finale?

  • Make sure new, large raids (i.e. not 1-boss, no trash instances) are available in a reasonable time frame
  • Make more, and more interesting hard modes
  • Tie end-game raiding into the rest of the game world (see Quel’Danas and the Sunwell)*

*Though this might happen with the Argent Tournament, it won’t be as exciting, at least for me. The Argent Tournament is great for dailies and things that reward pets, mounts, tabards, etc. but as a facet of the end-game it’s weak. Look at what we’ve seen before when raid instances are connected to the game world.

The Onyxia chain

How cool was it that Onyxia, arguably the introductory raid in vanilla WoW, was hanging out in the Stormwind throne room? And playing a part in the strange things going on with the leadership of the Alliance at the time? Awesome. When you went into Onyxia’s Lair to kill her dead, you felt like you were defending the kingdom. I’m not sure the same thing is happening with WotLK raids. Especially not with the incoming Argent Tournament raid, which does not feel like a threat to Azeroth. Another example is the Vault of Archavon, a raid that doesn’t seem to pertain to any part of the WotLK storyline.

Opening the gates

The Ahn’Qiraj storyline, again from vanilla, is another fine example of tying raid content to the game world. There were a lot of quests, scattered around different zones, about strange areas of terrain appearing with various Silithids wandering around and doing nasty things. This had NPCs concerned, and so naturally they set up a camp in Silithus and asked people to come on down and join the war effort. There were quests that lead you into the raids.

Ulduar and Naxxramas just sort of appeared, with the concocted drama of season finales of TV shows. In other words, the importance of these raids has no connection to real events except for release of a patch, something that is external to the game world. I don’t recall any NPCs telling me that some weird robots and a bunch of insane keepers were romping around Ulduar trying to take over the world. There’s no Illidan, a cool character we’re all familiar with, or C’Thun, something so powerful that was somehow at the bottom of a bunch of crazy bugs showing up and invading Azeroth.

Whatever happened to Arthas, emo king of the Scourge?

I'll be back! ...right?

I'll be back! ...right?

Is there any particular reason we’re raiding Ulduar? Why will we want to participate in the Argent Tournament’s Coliseum stuff, loot aside? It seems like the storyline of WotLK got a bit off track. Arthas popped up everywhere while you were questing. He turned Drakuru into some kind of crazy scourge guy. You had all sorts of visions of him. You even controlled him for a little bit in an Icecrown quest. I wish he’d been there when you killed Kel’Thuzad, getting angry at his underling for failing. Or doing something related to the Argent Tournament or Ulduar, even if it was another sort of invasion to mess with us. (You know he likes that kind of thing; see the zombie plague that happened prior to the release of WotLK.) I want that Arthas back.

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