The title of this post is a little specific — raiding in WoW is less fun for ME, but I’m sure still fun for others. However, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about why my love of raiding decreased so much over three expansions. I know the popular wisdom is that raiding is too easy now and gear is too widely available, but I don’t think that’s entirely it. I’m a snob, but not THAT much of a snob, and not about raid progression.
Back in TBC, our guild was definitely the tortoise in the raid progression race. We were always behind the pack of serious raiding guilds, plinking away at things until they died. By the time the 3.0 “nerf everything” patch hit, we were in Black Temple and thisclose to killing Illidan, which if you’re not familiar with TBC raiding meant we cleared about 90% of the content. We were also VERY happy with our progress. One of my favorite raids ever was our first trip to Black Temple because we were all so awe struck to actually be there, even if we were 3 months behind the uber guilds.
Why did that feeling not last? Well first off, Blizzard’s normal/heroic raid design is boring. I totally understand the motivation behind it and I think the idea of multiple tiers of raiding definitely has some merit. Trying to make all instances all things to all people must be a design nightmare. However, the only time I truly enjoyed heroic modes was when they were first introduced, in Ulduar. Instead of just toggling a switch from “Normal” to “Heroic”, some bosses let you just naturally activate hard mode if you were doing well (killing XT’s heart, for example), while others like Yogg-Saron had different tactics and concerns for each mode.
Compare that to ICC: Marrowgar hits harder. Shouty boss lady hits harder. Saurfang Jr gains health faster, so you have to hit HIM harder. Woo? Your reward for clearing an instance was essentially getting to do it all again, only more difficult. Oh, and the gear all looks the same! It’s boring as hell. Our biggest attendance drops were always when we finished normal and started heroics, and I can’t say I blame people. Different difficulty levels are cool, but devs should do it well with unique twists on fights.
Back in TBC “raid progression” meant actually going through all raids. You needed Kara gear to do Gruul, and SSC/TK gear (and vials for a while) to do TBC. This meant that at our rate of progression the Cats always had a good bit of content in front of them. I liked this feeling. In WotLK and Cataclysm, there are big gear resets with every new raid instance, which makes it pretty pointless to raid the previous areas, or god forbid even instances from two tiers earlier. There is no going at your own pace — you better boogie and try and see all the content before the next patch when the zone will become obsolete.
I understand the value of badge gear in gearing up new members, but honestly I think it should only be equivalent to the previous tier and not the current one. At least then two raid instances would be “valid” progression at the same time.
And finally, yes, I got tired of everyone having the same hat as me. But wait, it’s not because I hate all casuals and their filthy imposter hats. It’s because I like my character to look unique. I mean, okay, back in TBC I would follow someone around Ironforge and sigh longingly at their priest on a stick, and when I got one of my own I was extremely happy. There is something to be said for status symbols. But really at the end of the day I just didn’t want to look like every other priest out there. The inclusion of an appearance tab would have dealt with a lot of this dissatisfaction.
Note that none of these points are about the difficulty of raiding, per se, or whether it should be more or less available to more or fewer players. I really have never given one whit of thought to how many people can kill a boss. Instead, it seems like somewhere between TBC and Cataclysm raiding content added uninspired Heroic modes, used strong gear resets to reduce the amount of viable progression content available to slower guilds, and took away one of the best ways we had to personalize our character and didn’t provide any alternatives.
Man, when I put it that way, it’s a wonder I raided in WoW as long as I did. ;)