Last night, on my quest to figure out if Atremedes’ gongs are bugged, I made the mistake of venturing to the official dungeon and raid forums. I’m not sure why I thought that there would be much useful information there, but I really wanted to explore every avenue to see if we were dealing with a buggy encounter, or frankly, just botching a mechanic and not playing well.
(For those curious – gongs were not zeroing out our sound. It was suggested that perhaps it was just a tick of the searing flame that got off the same time as the gong, but people’s sound was more than the 7 that would be created by that tick, so I don’t know if that is it. I still have not found an answer – so if anyone has any insight, I’m all ears).
Anyhow, back to the point. The forums not only failed to have any helpful information, but when I arrived, what I was exposed to was enough tears to flood the Nile. I am not exaggerating. The majority of the posts were akin to “thanks for killing WoW for the ‘casual’ player, Blizzard”. And so I proceeded to read through some of these posts. And the Cliff’s notes version of the majority of the complaints is basically “the game is too hard”.
Of course, I have been enjoying myself immensely this expansion. I have found things challenging, and I have had a good time working through the challenges that I have been presented with. Of course, I also wouldn’t call myself “casual” in any sense. So, naturally, this got me to thinking about the complaints literally flooding the forums and the validity of said complaints.
I thought perhaps what I would do was go through some of the more popular complaints individually, and work through my thoughts that way.
Heroic Dungeons are too hard.
I actually thought about this complaint long and hard, and after a good bit of deliberation, I have come to the conclusion that, with an exception here and there, I do not think that they are “too hard”. Challenging? Yes. Requiring intelligent play? Yes. Impossibly hard? No.
I thought a little bit about why people may feel that they are over the top, and I came up with a few things.
1) People are “gaming” the system to be able to queue for heroics. And by that, I mean people are stacking their bags with higher iLevel gear that they are not wearing in order to be able to queue into heroics. This in turn means that you have a lot of undergeared people trying to play content that they aren’t geared to play. And while perhaps this would work for a guildmate, it generally isn’t going to work out so well for the general public.
Blizzard placed requirement restrictions on queues for a reason. It was their intent that you had geared up through the later questing zones, faction rep and via normal dungeons before entering heroics. As a result, it was also their intent that you actually have experience with the regular dungeons before you entered them on heroic. And to me, this makes a lot of sense. The assumption has been made that you not only have experience in these dungeons already, but that you also have quested and instanced yourself into a respectable set of gear. And believe it or not, the instances actually get easier as your gear improves. You are not supposed to be able to immediately queue for heroics the second you hit level 85 without some effort.
In turn, that means that those people who have “cheated” the system, many of who are now complaining that things are “too hard”, have made things more difficult than it needs to be because they didn’t put forth the pre-requisite effort required to succeed. I’m not saying that the gear will solve 100% of the problems, but I also have a hard time feeling bad for someone who didn’t follow the intended path, is exploiting a loophole, and is now upset that things are “too hard”.
2) People are undervaluing crowd control. Yes, there is a lot of trash. Yes, some of the trash pulls are devastatingly brutal. However, a lot can be solved by making use of the tools in your group and employing adequate crowd control. The only instance that I’ve found we’ve had trouble with having adequate crowd control has been Shadwofang Keep, as a result of all of the undead.
Crowd controlling even one or two mobs in a very large pull can have an enormous difference on how trash pulls go and how stressed your healer and tank are. When looking at your party, note that Blizzard has added an almost ridiculous amount of crowd control abilities to the game, and all classes have the ability to contribute to crowd control at any given point in the instance. If you aren’t sure about what kind of CC your group has, just ask them.
Take the time to mark mobs if you are the tank. Ask for crowd control instead of just charging in and praying that you have a healer that can keep you alive. If you are DPS, play smartly. Do not be that idiot that breaks the sheep 100 times, or starts nuking the rooted mob instead of the mobs that are not CC’d. If you are a healer, use your defense abilities to save your ass if something comes loose. Don’t be afraid to root/fear/stun/hex. I can’t tell you how many times Nature’s Grasp has saved me on a bad pull. I just pop it and kite/root the mobs beating on me, and then go hug my tank until he can get them under control.
3) People don’t want to have to learn new content. What I mean by this is that I think too few people actually take the time to analyze how boss fights work, and where they are falling apart if it goes wrong. However, this is part of the learning process. If you died on boss fight, do you know why? Did you miss a mechanic? Do you understand the mechanic so that you know how to avoid it in the future?
Do you ask your group “what happened” or “ok, so how do we fix this” before making another pull? Or, like so many, do you just run back belly-aching about how terrible your group is and blindly do the same exact thing again? Remember – Albert Einstein taught us that Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.
Blizzard wanted to make instancing challenging again. They wanted to engage you, the player, and make you think and make smart decisions. So, yes, sometimes you will have to decide if it’s more important to DPS or lose some DPS while you are moving – yet keeping yourself alive. You will have to make a decision if it’s best to tank that boss on a wall, or in the middle of the room. You will have you think through your heals and make good choices – and sometimes chose who to let live and who might die.
Now, I certainly cannot speak for everyone else, but I like a challenge. I like that I cannot just mindlessly run through things, sneeze on them, and watch them fall over. I like that it takes a bit of elbow grease. Sure, it means that I may wipe a few times while I’m sorting through it all, but I like that my skill is being pushed and in turn is making me a better, smarter and more experienced player.
To be fair there are a few encounters that I think are a tad over the top. Now, I am not above admitting when I think there are a few exceptions and a few things are perhaps a bit out of line with the rest of the content.
The bearded Rock Guy in Stone Core, for example. I think that his slam is too unforgiving on the tank. Yes, the tank should be penalized for not moving out of it – but I do not believe that it should kill him outright. (I also think it’s crap that the bosses spell reflect desyncs from his paralyze ability, in what I can only assume is a bug, making the fight that much more annoying). The Worgen boss in SFK is another example. A really solid group can still struggle with keeping up with the adds and getting the boss down before they are overwhelmed. I do think that perhaps he could be toned down just a touch.
But outside of just a very small few, I think that a little learning, some patience, and some knowledge of your class (skill) make most of the encounters fun and very achievable.
4) People lack patience. And this is big. Learning takes time. No, you probably aren’t going to enter into a group where everything is exceptionally smooth. There will probably be a wipe here or there that you need to recover from. You may need to work through a boss strategy to achieve success. You need to be a little patient while the general community is learning the new content. People giving up after three or four wipes is a huge part of the problem.
5) People aren’t communicating. And this is huge. So very, very huge. And something that we are learning more and more about as we get further into raiding. In fact, when something goes wrong in a raid I’ve taken to asking the person “did you communicate that to us” when analyzing the problem. An example: I missed my interrupt because I was stunned/knocked back/feared”. My reply “did you let us know so someone else could cover it”. Communication solves so many problems.
Sure, in a dungeon, perhaps you won’t have that level of communication, but you can set up each pull and offer instructions on the pulls if you are a tank. You can set up a “HELP” macro that lets the tank know mobs are beating on you if you are the healer. You could even set up a macro to communicate that you are out of mana, so that the tank knows to cycle some cooldowns and the DPS knows not to expect heals.
Alternatively, if you have a vent server, and you are OK with other people hoping onto it, feel free to see if the group wants to get on. We’ve invited PuGs into our vent for our 5 mans a few times and have found that not only have the not minded hoping into vent, but have been a lot of fun to chat with as we clear through the instance.
Regardless of which venue you opt to communicate in, communicating with absolutely make your instance experience that much better.
Heroics Dungeons take too long to complete and I have limited time to play.
I think that this complaint goes a bit hand in hand with the problem that I addressed above.
I have completed all of the heroics available, and by far the two longest are Deadmines and Shadowfang Keep. Actually, I will openly admit to swearing every time I see the SFK load bar pop up on my screen, just because of how long the instance takes to complete. That being said, our Heroic SFK run last night took under an hour to complete.
Granted, we were an all guild group and 4 of the 5 of us had completed it before, but even when we were learning it, we still only took 2ish hours to get through what I think is the longest instance in the game. I understand that at this very early stage of the game instances to take longer to complete because you have to take that “learning” step, but I do not believe that if you have a group that works with the suggestions I’ve given above they are prohibitive for those that only have a few hours to play.
Additionally, if you are crunched on time, I might suggest working with a guild group. If you aren’t able to do that for whatever reason – try to find a steady group within your server that you can run with. And perhaps even try to create an all server group of people that you know before utilizing the LFD tool. I can also say that as more people learn the encounters that are available to them, they will become “easier” for the general community to complete, just based on the number of people familiar with them.
And, in short, if you don’t have a couple of hours to dedicate to the game, perhaps refrain from utilizing the LFD tool until you have more time to commit to playing.
I have to wait in Queue for 40 minutes and then get a fail PuG.
Unfortunately, this is a bit of the risk in working with the LFD tool. However, there are a limited number of tanks and healers that queue in, and with the rewards for participating in groups as a guild, this number is diminished even further. This is actually a complaint that I do see a little bit valid when it is coupled with the “I have limited time to play” concern above. Unfortunately, I’m not entirely sure that there is anything to be done about it if you are utilizing the LFD tool. It’s just one of the downfalls/risks of utilizing the tool.
I would again suggest looking for guild groups and server regulars if you are able to do that. Of course, if the PuGs can fix half of what was suggested in my first point, there would likely be less “Fail PuGs”, however we should probably focus more on what we have more individual control over ;)
I got kicked by my group so they could invite a guildmate before the last boss.
Unfortunately, I have had guildmates that have experienced this very complaint as well, and I’m going to flat out say that it’s a problem. Anytime a group has at least 3 people from the same guild, you run the risk of being vote kicked for no reason. Hell, I’ve even read about people attempting to be more polite about it and asking a person to leave so that they could invite a guild mate.
And you know what? THIS IS NOT AN ACCEPTABLE THING TO DO.
Any way that you slice it, this is rubbish, and I think that people have every right to complain about this. People who do this are being unfair to the poor guy that has contributed for most of the instance, and sat in queue for 30 minutes or more to get into the dungeon. My take on it is that if you guildmate wanted to go he should have joined in the group with you. If he didn’t that’s his problem and you shouldn’t penalize the other members of your party because all of the sudden you have a guildmate that wants in the instance. If you want guild rep – queue as a full guild group at the start.
I do think that this is something that Blizzard needs to fix, however I don’t know what the fix would be. Maybe set the threshold to receive guild rep at the first boss? So once the first boss is killed it will only recognize the number of people from your guild that started the instance no how many of your guild mates may join later in the instance? Of course that penalizes those legit groups who have people drop and guildmates come to the rescue.
In Conclusion – No, I do not believe that Cataclysm has killed “Casual” play. However, I do believe that Cataclysm requires smarter play from players, which I do appreciate. Even the simplest games, such as solitaire, are supposed to challenge you, the player. I really don’t think that WoW should be any different in that regard. I welcome a challenge, something that pushes me, and for me I think a return to challenging the player and making them think, makes WoW a better game.
And since I pretty firmly believe that being a good player has absolutely nothing to do with the amount of hours you log, I do not think that “casual” play is impossible or dead. I just think that more of the general community needs to recognize the new challenges and subsequently adjust their play to face them.
How about you? What do you think? Do you share any of these concerns? Do you disagree with my assessments?