A Man with No Hearth #1: A 'cataclysmic' change to raiding in the World of Warcraft
Since it's launch more then 6 years ago, the World of Warcraft (aka WoW) has become the worlds most popular paid MMO and has revolutionized the genre. The latest expansion, Cataclysm, launched last December and completely changed the landscape of the game in terrain and gameplay design. While the zones themselves where radically altered and many classes found entirely new mechanics (Hunters no longer use mana, Warlocks now only use 3 Soul Shards, Paladins must manage the new resource 'Holy Power', etc) the advances in raiding have been unheralded.
Here is some basic MMO/WoW lingo to help you keep up if you're new to all of this:
Gameplay wise, previous expansions would force the player to learn simple mechanics like "do not stand in front of the boss"/"do not stand in the fire" or you will die. These simple problems would be coupled with the bosses doing inordinate amounts of damage to the tank forcing the healers to play their roles perfectly or risk failure. This would boil down to many of the fights feeling nearly the same for tanks and healers as the the mechanics would be more built towards challenging the DPS instead. This would also lead to frustration if simple mistakes were made by any of the three groups would result in repeated failure and the inability to kill newer bosses.
Cataclysm changed all of that by making fights that challenge all three groups differently, creating a diverse 'Heroic' mode that allows for more difficulty and providing many bosses with similar challenge.
For tanks, Blizzard has added in multiple creatures to fight during a single boss attempt, forcing multiple tanks to learn what they must hold agro on during an encounter and how to properly position the bosses in these more frantic battles. DPS must deal with more varied situations including target changing, movement and damage avoidance. Healers currently face the most difficult task of trying to use their individual skills most effectively on a specfic fight while learning how to heal as a team.
An example of this is the boss Omnitron Defense System. Wowpedia gives a detailed explanation of this boss that helps explain my new points on diversity of mechanics. DO NOT become overwhelmed at the wall of text in the spoiler below, it is simply there to show the new complexity of the fights in WoW.
But explaining this fight with words alone can be difficult so here is a video explanation if you prefer that:
As Wowpedia and Tankspot explain, all three groups are given new and interesting roles in encounters. Multiple tanks must control 2 of the 4 creatures while keeping the bosses from standing in certain areas. Healers and DPS must avoid certain effects on the ground while staying in some. Healers must also pay attention as a random ally in the raid can take substantial damage and must be healed accordingly. These newer fights are more complicated but do not punish the group for making mistakes. Ex: if a DPS stands in the wrong spot and dies, it is possible for the group to still kill the boss now. The game is less lenient on mistakes made by tanks and healers but a similar philosophy applies.
Some of you may be extremely confused and overwhelmed at at this point believing WoW to be too complicated but the true beauty lies in the leaniancy of these fights. If one is to stand in something negative for a short ammount of time, the punishment is not too extreeme and the player is unlikely to die. If the player forgets to stand in something positive, they might in turn do less damage/heal less but it is not a mistake that will cause problems. Here in lies the pearl of the new mechanic designs, normal versions of raids do not punish the player severely for making mistakes. If a player is seeking the old style of extremely difficult content, they can attempt the Heroic modes of these fights which has more difficult mechanics and is less forgiving overall but rewards the player with significantly better loot.
The final major change is the availability of content. Lets pretend your group is stuck on the Maloriak fight. If this was a previous expansion, the group would be forced to fail at killing him over and over with no other content to attempt. In Cataclysm, many bosses exist at a similar difficulty level, allowing the group to go to a different raid and kill different bosses. So instead of fighting Maloriak in Blackwing Decent, the group can instead go to the Bastion of Twilight and attempt to defeat the Ascendant Council, who are equally difficult but different in mechanics. This allows for more player progression and alleviates stress that repeated failure often brings.
These changes have brought about a less stressful and more enjoyable raiding experiences for me personally. I hope other developers learn from Blizzard and introduce some of these design changes into their MMOs making them more friendly to the hardcore and causal player.
Sorry about the wall of text yet again, I tend to get rather verbose when talking about things I love. I'm going to begin playing Dragon Age 2 very soon and I hope to finish 999 this week while on Spring Break (Woo hoo!) I should have a blog post up about those 2 games by midweek and then some impressions about my families new iPad 2 after that. I'm still rather excited for the launch of the 3DS next week and I will definetly have something up about Pilot Wings Resort and my thoughts on the system on the 27th. I hope to make "A Man with No Hearth" a running feature on this blog over the next few months so let me know what you think. Thanks again for reading if you got this far, I really appreciate any comments and hopefully I'll get better at this as time goes on.
My background and info WoW info for those that care:
|Comments (Total Comments: 2)|
|IRHari - 03-20-2011, 08:53 PM|
|abhinav - 03-21-2011, 10:48 PM|
|Recent Blog Entries by abhinav|