I recently rediscovered Blizzard Watch which I used to read with some regularity a couple of years ago maybe but after that I stopped actively reading most World of Warcraft news sources except for MMO-Champion for patch news. Reading through some of the WoW articles over there I stumbled upon an interesting one titled “This raiding tier is not fun for a number of reasons. Is casual raiding dying?” which got me thinking a bit especially with the unrest in my guild over re-killing Uu’nat which was partially motivated by the difficulty of the boss and thus not wanting to play it again.
Now, I tend to enjoy difficult content and dislike trivial content as a general rule, though there are times when I just want to sit down and do some mindless content to pass the time. I also find it somewhat difficult to see normal and heroic as difficult, especially considering I boost both Crucible of Storms and Battle of Dazar’alor on heroic with something like half or one third of the raid being essentially dead weight. Still, we also have gear that probably significantly exceeds that available to the average normal or heroic raider which does make a big difference.
All of this made it really interesting for me to see the perspective that normal and heroic raids might be overtuned for the playerbase they are designed for at the moment, since for me and most in my guild they feel kind of trivial at this point even when they are released—again, we tend to go in overgeared into these raids so maybe that is to be expected. I can also very well understand that a player who has been playing for a very long time might be getting overwhelmed by the simple amount of mechanics they need to pay attention to per boss, since those have been increasing pretty drastically with time. Compare pretty much any Classic or Burning Crusade, probably even Wrath of the Lich King boss with current earlier tier bosses that tend to be easier and the amount of mechanics the bosses have have gone way up. The article makes the same point, stating that the time they need to spend mechanics has gone way up with Battle for Azeroth.
Now from a egoistical personal perspective, this is a good change since it means I have more access to difficult content which I enjoy, but at the same time I’m already raiding mythic which is the place people looking for difficult content are supposed to go and I also still find the earlier difficulties somewhat trivial outside of the PTR so having those earlier difficulties be too difficult for casuals also isn’t really benefitting me or anyone in any real way. There is one argument I can see for making normal and heroic more difficult than before and that is keeping it more in line with mythic so that the jump when going from heroic to mythic doesn’t become too big for players wanting to step into the next level of content, however this introduction has generally been done by having the earlier bosses be easier and them getting more difficult the further you get into the raid giving something of a smooth learning curve for people stepping into a new difficulty therefore I don’t really see this as a strong argument.
Even for me, there is also the flipside of difficult content, namely farm. World of Warcraft is an MMORPG after all, and that means that gear is a significant part of the experience as well as part of preparing for the next raid which means that the previous raid needs to be farmed in order to give the group the best possible chances when going into the new one. This also means that if every single boss has a high difficulty or high chance of wiping the raid due to individual fails it means that farm becomes more sluggish which also isn’t really fun since once you have killed a boss a couple of times it kind of moves into the trivial content category where you know what to do and expect and don’t really want to spend overly much time on that singular boss. I think that’s what is at the heart of the reluctance in my guild to rekill Uu’nat as well: somewhat significant time investment for something that doesn’t really provide us a tangible advantage and is more just a gesture of solidarity. Now I find that gesture really important personally but for others it’s just about getting the first kill as a group and what happens after that with mounts or achivements isn’t that important so I can kind of see that perspective even though I still find it rather rude towards our fellow guildies.
This all also makes me wonder how Azshara will be, since our short experience on the PTR seems to indicate the fight will be rather intricate even on heroic as there were already a somewhat significant amount of mechanics that you need to pay attention to just in phase one-first intermission-early phase two which would mean that the fight will possibly again prove somewhat difficult for your average casual guild which might prove very problematic for the game in the long run since casual guilds tend to be the lifeblood of the game where new players enter the game and then potentially at a later point move into more hardcore guilds or if they find themselves content there stay—I, too, have spent a significant time in casual guilds throughout my time in World of Warcraft and there have been very fun moments in there and without those times I wouldn’t be playing where I am today and would probabl have stopped playing before getting to where I am.
So in the end, this article provided me with an interesting perspective that I hadn’t really thought about since it isn’t really relevant to me or something I run into while playing, which is why I tend to really like reading blogs and the like from players who are playing the game in a different way than I am since it provides a new perspective and gives me something to think about, while also allowing me to question the assumptions I have about the game and its players. Hopefully the concerns in the article get appropriately adressed by Blizzard in the next expansion—I think it won’t be possible to change the way the raids are designed this expansion since it would be somewhat jarring for the new raid to feel significantly easier than the previous one since there has so far been a general progression towards harder raids as an expansion goes on with something of a reset with the first raid of a new expansion—and that the game overall starts getting more interesting again.