Is WoW Really Too Easy?   13 comments

I’m sure that you have all already seen Larisa’s Post over at the Pink Pigtail Inn (and if you haven’t go check it out!) regarding the difficulty level of WoW.  She is refuting a comment made that WoW has become too easy.  It is an exceptionally good read, and I really do recommend that everyone give it a gander.

Larisa points out that she feels that WoW is still challenging for most people, and that a lot of the people complaining that it is too easy are people who really haven’t even experienced what WoW has to offer.  It was this comment that actually reminded me of something that I experienced the other day.

I was reading Icedragon’s most recent post on upcoming changes to the patch and saw this tidbit of news:  “Top-level helm and shoulder faction-related enchants are now available as Bind-on-Account items that do not require any faction to use once purchased (they still require the appropriate faction level to purchase). ”  I thought it was fantastic news!  And since nobody had mentioned it yet, I quoted it in guild chat.

Somewhat to my astonishment, one of our Friend and Family members of the guild spat out in disgust “God, they are making this game so easy, why don’t they just hand us everything”.  This is a guy that doesn’t raid, is on all the time, but has a “non-raider” mentality to the game.  Instances, the occasional 10 man, farming, loads of alts, etc.  Now I, personally, was quite excited about the news.  I spend a lot of my time in game raiding.  I also have somewhat limited playtime for things like my alts, grinding, etc.  So, for me, only needing to grind out all that rep one time on my main, but being able to get the benefit of it on other characters was wonderful news!

I mean…I ground out the reputation once, and NOBODY wants to have to grind it out over multiple characters.  It’s not as if I hadn’t already done the work.  Quite the opposite, actually, Beru is exalted almost everywhere you can be in the game.  It’s not as if it is given to me freely, I still had to work for it.  Just now the hard work I did on Beru will provide a benefit to the other characters that I might play with some regularity, but don’t have the time/desire to run a million more of the same instances or dailys.

When I commented on this, and that I didn’t really have the time to grind out endless rep via instances, the retort I got back was “ever heard of dailies”.  Wow.  It seems I’d touched a sore spot somewhere…completely and totally unintentionally.  And quite frankly, they way he attacked me for my opinion that it was something I was looking forward to also offended me a bit.  I think that I am by no means a lazy WoW player, but I spend the majority of my WoW time raiding and lack the time for endless grinds that someone who isn’t raiding might have.  For me, the change was a good thing that will make the game more enjoyable.

So that brings us back a bit to Larisa’s topic: Is WoW too easy?

To me, this is a very difficult question and rather more difficult to quantify.  In all honesty, I think it boils down to what you want out of the game, and what makes the game enjoyable for you.  For me, not having to re-grind all those reputations for enchants is going to be lovely, because I just don’t have the time.  But for my guildmate who has more time to do those things, he finds it makes the game more trivial, and removes some of the enjoyment from the game for him.

On Raiding

We have lost a couple of people from our raiding roster because they were disappointed at how easy it has become to obtain epic loot, and because you could no longer differentiate between that person who spent most of his time mastering a raid dungeon (and wanted to “trophy” his accomplishments via his gear) and that person that runs a 10 man one night a week.  While both are certainly viable play style options in the game, to some players the accessibility and lack of diversity in gear, which is even more exacerbated with the T9 sets which are all identical, trivialized the game for them.  While gear isn’t everything, there is something to be said about being able to “showcase” your accomplishments via your gear.

To some people making raids accessible to the majority of the WoW community has “ruined” raiding.  I, personally, disagree with this point, and think that it is a great thing.  However, I will say that my 5 year old raiding guild does walk into a good number of the normal mode fights recently and huff and puff and blow them down, with very little effort.  This is one thing I don’t really like about ToC.  I do think that it overly trivialized Ulduar. 

Ulduar as a zone had some challenging content in both its Normal and Hard Modes.  I understand that they are trying to even the playing field for Ice Crown, but I busted my ass in Ulduar.  I’m a little bit disappointed that the ToC gear so clearly outwieghs even the hard mode gear, that it’s not even a contest on what to upgrade.  We still go into Ulduar each week to finish out the handful of hardmodes we haven’t done yet.  They are still a challenge for us.  But we are doing it solely for the accomplishment of having done it, and nothing else.

To a certain extent, I think the lack of difficulty in the content also creates poorer players in the community.  I am fortunate enough to play with a large number of people who remember “the good old days”, and raided when you had to use healer rotations, and raiding was more than MOAR DPS!!!  But so many things have changed, and the expectations of the community have shifted so much, that if people don’t just completely roll a normal mode boss they cry afoul.  This shift in mentality truly bothers me.

I think that you should have to work to kill a boss.  Unless you are in the top 1% of the WoW raiding community, you should have to put some time and effort into the learning process.  It shouldn’t be so difficult that the majority of the people attempting the content are beating their heads against the wall, but it should provide a sufficient challenge requiring at least modest coordination.  By making simple bosses, blizzard is becoming an enabler to creating a class of players that do not have to play to their maximum potential to reap rewards.  In a sense, blizzard has created their own “Leave no child behind” program for the game, and I do not think it is a good direction to take.  That is just my 2 cents on the matter though.

On Twinking

A lot of folks also feel that the new “heirloom” items are trivializing the game.  The boosted XP, early flying, scaling gear.  To me, I think these things are wonderful.  But then again, my primary joy in the game is raiding, not leveling.  So anything that will make the process less painful for me, I like.  I feel that I’ve “been there, done that”, and take no issue with something that makes the second time around easier for me.

However, there are also those on the other side of the spectrum.  Their primary joy in the game is leveling.  They don’t want all of the perks, they want to enjoy the ride.  They are all about stopping to smell the flowers on their journey, and shame on me for flying right over them before I ought!  Where I feel certain things are trivializing raiding, they feel other things are trivializing the things about the game they enjoy.  And to an extent it is true.  The heirloom items and flying do trivialze the leveling process of my twinks.  But just like I have the “option” to do hard modes to challenge me while raiding, people have the “option” to level without any of the perks they may get from already having established a level 80 toon.

However, the same argument that I used for blizzard creating a “hand me everything but don’t teach me to play” method to raiding, could also be made here.  If people aren’t forced to spend time learning their class, will they ever become a master of that class?

On Badges, Instances and Daily Quests

Another point of contention for a lot of people are Badges, Instance Difficulty and Daily Quests.  Let me start in reverse order, with Daily Quests.

Even though they are grindy, they did one thing for people: trivialized making gold in the game.  I do not care what anyone else says on this matter, this is a good thing.  I don’t know who remembers what gold was like pre-tbc, but it was horrible.  Making gold relatively trivial did nothing but add enjoyment to the game for everyone but the gold farmers.

I have often heard the complaint that WotLK instances are too easy, require little coordination and have been a zerg since almost day 1.  This is pretty accurate for most of the 5 mans, I will concede this point.  I think what happened was the TBC 5 mans were just a touch too difficult and Blizzard was trying to make sure that they didn’t make that mistake again…but overcompensated this expansion.  I don’t want to outright say they are “too easy”, what I really believe is that they were just mis-guided.

I do hope that the 5 mans in Cataclysm fall somewhere in a happy in between.  Where you do need to worry about things such as crowd control and can’t just AE zerg them, but don’t require such a complex groupings that they become prohibitively difficult for your average PuG.  Again, I’d like to see Blizzard encourage smart play rather than enable mediocrity.

As for the badges.  What to do with the badges.  There are many reports on them, and many varying opinions on them.  Honestly, I like them, but I have a lot of alts, and Beru is generally at a gear level that I tend not to have to back farm badges for upgrades.  So, for me, I’m just running them on my alts to help gear them, which I don’t mind so much.  But I also see the validity of the arguments from folks that rightly state it encourages, or forces, them to run content that is far beyond them shearly for the sake of farming badges to maximize their mains and is throughly unejoyable.

In all honesty, I don’t know what to say on this.  There is clearly a dichotomy in those who think it’s the best thing since sliced bread and those that don’t.  Both groups have valid points, and varying levels of enjoyment in the grind.  However, I think that the badges are here to stay.  It allows Blizzard to introduce gear into the game, but require everyone to put some effort, of some sort, into obtaining the gear.  It also evens the playing field for those that are unable to raid with each new level of raid content.

Sure, there are raiders that are unhappy about this.  But really, it has no true negative effect on the game…other than raiders being displeased with non-raiders obtaining gear that is one dungeon behind them.  I do not think this makes the game too easy, I think it distributes the wealth of the game, which benefits everyone.

All in all, no, I do not think WoW has become too easy.  I think it has made an effort to make the game enjoyable for a diverse playerbase in a manner in which you can choose to partake in something or not and still find something to do that you find fun.  I think that some aspects of this can use improvement in the next iteration, but I think that there are still plenty of challenges available for all of us, regardless of what provides pleasure in the game for you.

Do I think Blizzard should do more to encourage better play, yes?  Do I think that making raid content accessible to everyone, or making rep grinds easier for those that have one toon at max are ruining the game, absolutely not.

What do you think?

Posted October 20, 2009 by Beruthiel in Alt-aholic!, eh?, EZ Mode, Hard Modes

13 responses to “Is WoW Really Too Easy?

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  1. Coming back over from Everquest (which is crazy hardcore) and last playing WoW back in the BC era, my initial reaction was that WoW had become too easy. Then I began to think about the level of accessibility there is in WoW.

    How many of these people would be able to see the amount of content they can now in a game like EQ? Or even BC or vanilla era WoW?

    On the other hand. How many of the raiders or people complaining have beaten all of the hardmodes? I’m guessing a very low percentage of them.

    Sure, I think “parts” of the game have become “easy”. However, is that even a bad thing?

    I also think their new philosophy along with the addition of the current 10-man raid progression also helps keep guilds together.

    In conclusion, while I was initially dubious to WoW’s current approach, it has worn on me. Sure, there are things they could do different, but there is a reason why so many people play this game.

    The fact that a majority of the content is reachable for the average player is a big plus. How smart is it to put tons of design time into an instance that less than 1% of the players will see? Hard modes accomplish the same purpose without alienating players.

    • I never played EQ, but Brade did, and I had some other friends that did. After hearing the horror stories about the game, I’m rather glad that I never got into it.

      I think that WoW does a lot of things right, and as long as they encourage good play, and multiple avenues of fun for the game, I think it is the right thing :)

  2. I have a friend who pretty often says things like “man, they just keep dumbing the game down.” The last time he said it was when he was running my hunter through ZF and I told him you didn’t need the mallet any more to summon Gahzrilla. That to me was kind of ironic, as he’s there one shotting the whole instance so that I can scoop up tons of loot and xp, but is irritated that people who don’t have friends willing to do that for them don’t have to go through ridiculous hoops to get the carrot on the stick which helps them move more quickly through the game. I don’t get that.
    Some of the changes, like removing this huge quest chain to summon this boss in ZF, make the game so much more accessible to new players. They don’t have access to heirloom items that speed leveling, and I’m sure many aren’t participants in recruit a friend. 80 levels to end game must seem like a huge, huge chasm to them. I remember that 70 levels sure did when I started playing. I think that giving them mounts earlier and making it a little easier for them to pass through the content is good business on Blizzard’s part, as is their decisions which make life even easier for people who HAVE slogged to level cap and want to have alts. These things make people keep playing the game instead of running off to play something else. Eventually, people do peel away. If Blizzard does nothing to ensure their replacement with new players, or to provide additional options for people who are bored on their main, the game will die. period.

    p.s., Beru, thanks for the sweet comment about my photoshopping on my site this morning =) I don’t know if you would have gone back, so I wanted to let you know that I responded to your comment and you might want to have a look. <3

    • Sylly, I did see your reply! Thanks for the tips! You site has gotten the work “ban” but I still check it every night when I get home, but I’m usually so rushed I often don’t have time to comment when I want…grrrrr.

      I definately agree that taking out some of those arcane keyings from the old world was the right thing to do. It’s hard enough to find an instance group in the old world, more or less having to go through a million different quests just to get the keys. I don’t think this is dumbing the game down at all, I think it’s updating it to keep with the times!

  3. “But so many things have changed, and the expectations of the community have shifted so much, that if people don’t just completely roll a normal mode boss they cry afoul.”

    …even if they’ve never seen the boss before, are doing piss-poor dps, and aren’t following raid instructions. Then they usually blame the rest of the raid/party and drop group. See related rant on Emalon 25 from earlier this week.

    If the game still requires strategy guides (even in stick-figure form, which itself is playing to the “leave no child behind” teaching methodology) and class-specific blogs and guides to help teach others, I don’t think the game is too easy :)

    Re: pre-TBC gold, I remember buying a black whelpling off the AH for 125g and calling it a complete splurge and having to defend my exorbitant purchase from shocked guildies. Hehe. That was more than a mount and training! That was a BIG DEAL!

    • What a lovely and thoughtful follow-up post. Cheers!

    • Ok…for starters, your stick figures are made of ownage! Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way…

      I really do feel that the community does have some impact on the shape of the game. I just hope that blizzard remembers that those that holler the loudest just yell loud and aren’t always representative of the majority!

      And it’s true! If you were a raider in vanilla, you didn’t buy fun toys, you just couldn’t afford the gold loss. It took hours to make just 100g!

  4. Another point that I don’t recall seeing in all of these posts is that most games have hard and easy modes.

    When you first buy the next Halo or Counterstrike, the single player campaigns will have ‘easy,’ ‘regular,’ and ‘hard’ modes of some sort.

    When I play those games, I always start or regular. My wife and son always start on easy. I have friends that always start on hard.

    What’s so crazy about that? Blizzard is only doing what most game designers do – letting most people finish the game if they want to, on the difficulty level they want to do it at.

    • You do have a good point. Most games have multiple levels of difficulty on them. But, you also point out that most have 3 levels of difficulty.

      I bring this up because I have often felt/commented that for many guilds that are somewhere in the top 3-10% of guilds, the normal modes are too easy, but the hard modes are a bit “beat your head on the wall hoping for something” difficult. I would like to see a “middle” difficulty, I guess. Although I am quite sure that would have many complications as well :)

  5. This is one of the best responses I’ve read. (Better than my own, for sure!) I agree with just about everything you’ve said here, although I would like to say about badges is that the jump from Heroism to Conquest in heroics was a terrible move. A more modest move to Valor would have encouraged people to still view New Naxx and Ulduar as worthwhile raids for gear. Also, having -all- of tier 9 available for incredibly easy-to-get Triumph badges was a terrible idea. Tier should have never been available from badges.

    ToC and the raiding/gear changes it brought has in general been terrible for WoW. Ulduar was far better in all ways.

    • Thanks Codi!

      I agree, perhaps a better move would have been to Valor badges. But on that same token, Naxx was basically puggable by the time Ulduar released, so I wonder if the huge jump was because Blizzard thought so many people had valor gear/badges, that it wouldn’t meet their goals of evening the playing field? I’m not sure.

      I will selfishly admit that I like it because as a recruiter for a progression guild, it makes more applicants available to me, at least from a gear perspective :)

  6. no its not

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