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.
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.
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?