WoW - Raiding Ruminations 16 Comments

Why is WoW raiding less fun now?

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. ;)

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  • Reply
    August 15, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    “Back in TBC “raid progression” meant actually going through all raids.”

    And this was also a death penalty to guilds in the middle of progression who needed to recruit. Many of them had the choice of starting progression over to gear up people or to stop raiding. I think Blizzard rightly did away with that system to the one we have now, where you can easily gear up in the previous tier’s gear in order to raid the current tier.

    • Reply
      August 15, 2011 at 1:13 pm

      I disagree, obviously. I was one of those guilds in the middle of progression, and I agree that having to gear up new players or raiders was a pain in the butt. In fact, that is why badge gear was created, and I’m down with that. I just think that badges should be for AT LEAST one tier behind in gear, if not two. You wanna run BT but you just got a recruit in Magtheridon/Gruul gear? Eh, that’s good enough.

      The problem now is that every time there’s a new patch, huge swaths of content are made obsolete. In TBC, for example, SSC was being run from the launch of TBC until Northrend opened because it was still current progression for slower guilds (like mine). Now you HAVE to be in Firelands or whatever the next patch brings or you get laughed out of the recruitment forums.

  • Reply
    August 15, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    Spelling Nazi has to point out that Mimiron was in Ulduar too, I know it’s just a typo but anyway! On to the subject of the post, I definitely agree with you. I’ve discussed why hardmodes were much better than heroic modes before too, and I don’t think the reasons Blizzard have for preferring heroics are good enough honestly. The same fight only more? As you say I really enjoyed the seamless transition they had in Ulduar where you could take a fight step by step (different keepers for example) instead of easy to BAM HARD!

    Your last point is excellent too. I loved Karazhan from the first day of BC to the first day of Wrath. I’m not sure if that was because Kara was such an awesomely designed instance or because I was different (unspoiled?) back then. Perhaps. But there is no denying that the current content is being… chewed through, rather than enjoyed. Not sure what Blizz can do to counter it though, maybe it is an inevitable part of how a game progresses.
    Zinn´s last post: Griefing aint no ganking

    • Reply
      August 15, 2011 at 1:39 pm

      Oh, d’oh, thanks for pointing that out. I meant Marrowgar, but while I was writing it I was thinking about how awesome the Mimiron fight was, regular OR heroic.

      And yeah, it’s tough to tell how much of my dissatisfaction with the post-Ulduar raids are just because the game was no longer a wondrous new world for me. There is certainly a great deal of that in my judgement, although I suspect there really is something to raid content being treated like a series of sprints now as opposed to an expansion-long marathon in TBC.

  • Reply
    August 16, 2011 at 9:07 am

    I think they key thing for me, as a raider, in feeling that current raiding is just nowhere near as fun is a bit different. I’ll also throw in that my group clearly feels the same way, if not as extremely as I do… where before, if we wiped on a boss for three sessions, getting him down was noisy and excited, now it is quiet and “OK, good.”

    I’ll agree with you on Ulduar hard modes vs. subsequent ones. Ulduar’s were better because they changed the fight mechanics, not just upping the numbers. But even the normal modes were better, and better by far. Think back on the strats you used on, for example, Freya. How did you handle the different adds that popped up? What burn order did you use? Did you root one and kite another? Now the key question: could you have done it differently? What if you had a different class mix, would you have approached it differently? Did you do exactly what Tankspot said, or did you use that as a jumping off point, or did you decide that what they did was just inapplicable for you?

    Now think about most (if not all) Cata raid targets. What strat did you use? Could you have done it differently? How many different ways?

    Cata bosses aren’t about figuring out what might work — they are not a problem to be solved. They are much closer to being purely an execution puzzle.

    It’s just not as interesting.

    • Reply
      August 18, 2011 at 10:28 am

      Good point, Jonathan. Our guild forums used to be full of strategy and theorycrafting about new bosses, and that died off pretty quickly after Ulduar. Think of a fight like Kael’thas, where there were a million different ways to do everything, or Netherspite and the beam management, and try to find something similar now. =\

  • Reply
    August 18, 2011 at 10:06 am

    For me, the decrease in raid size from 40 to 25 to 10 took away a lot of the fun. While the logistics of putting together a 10 are significantly easier, it just doesn’t have the “team” feel that 40 man raiding used to have.

    Virtually no one runs 25 man raids these days, there is no incentive. I find myself unmotivated to run 10s.

    • Reply
      August 18, 2011 at 10:25 am

      “Virtually no one runs 25 man raids these days…”

      Idie, that is SO TRUE, and it frustrates me immensely because the player base told Blizzard that this would happen before the launch of Cataclysm, and they denied it strenuously. Lo and behold.. the number of 25-man raid guilds has dropped by half if not more. If they just wanted to get rid of 25-man raids they should have just done it.

      I liked the feel of 40 man raids, although I’m not sure I liked the management side. 25s, though, were just about perfect.

  • Reply
    August 20, 2011 at 5:29 am

    Interesting points; however– you’re comparing apples and oranges. TBC didnt have heroic raids; while ‘Hard Modes’ in WOTLK are a bit bipolar in their design. (with Ulduar being the best, and ICC being the worst) — flip a switch, or ACTIVELY make it Hard Mode. It seems like Blizzard didnt know how they want HM’s to operate.

    Fast Forward to Firelands – nearly every hard mode has a unique mechanic that makes it harder. Of course each has a ‘hit them harder’ but its mainly b/c they hit you harder and have bigger health pools. FL HM’s are lightyears better than ICC HMs… minus Say… Sindragosa, which was the best HM that teir.

    Take Baleroc HM (on 10 or 25)— it is one of the most challenging fights of the tier. (not to mention HM Rag which is kicking our ass at the moment). The amount of dynamic changes you need to make mid fight to accomplish what you need to do is obscene. You HAVE to be prepared for RNG and accommodate for it…

    I guess I dont see it… there is a lot of noise over HM vs Normal mechanics and such a vast minority of the player base are even working on HMs.

  • Reply
    August 20, 2011 at 7:56 am

    This kind of a mini-blog!

    I understand what your points are Derveka, but ultimately I don’t think that’s what Liore was getting at with this post. I too think that the Ulduar hard mode model is a bit over-romanticized because it was the first instance to even off hard modes in the first place.

    Nowadays there are so few guilds doing 25 mans, let alone 25 man hard modes. The other night I happened to take a gander at our progress. My first thought was “ugh, 600 at 2/7 heroic modes”…then I put it on 25 only, and we jumped to 233 US.

    It is safe to say that they off a significant challenge. The heroic mode fights in T11 and T12 were all pretty good and appropriately difficult.

    However, whether or not heroic baleroc offers one of the hardest fights ever or not isn’t 100% relevant. I’ve talked with my guildies since mid ICC about this and my conclusion is always this:

    WoW needs less modes.

    Instead of battling through an instance with significant road blocks knowing that you’ve finally completed it was a great feeling. Now there are basically three factions of guilds for this new system:

    1) Guilds good enough that normal modes are basically a glorified toll gate
    2) Guilds that clear normal in ~month and then maaaayyyyy finish the heroic tier before the next cycle
    3) Guilds that struggle with normal modes, so even getting rag is a significant accomplishment

    I can’t explain why the normal/heroic model is less fun for me. Maybe it’s because I really want to be in one of the (1) guilds where my first real sniff of progress is heroic. That would certainly make it better, but isn’t realistic given how few players there are to recruit.

    The heroic version of a boss just feels like a nuisance instead of an accomplishment. Like he’s just being an ass hole because you’ve gotten better.

    An instance can have one mode of difficulty and still contain heroic baleroc levels of challenge inside of it. A 7 instance raid isn’t going to accomplish that though. Last tier with it’s 13 bosses could have easily had enough variety with maybe a hybrid system (i.e. you can’t get to Sinestra unless you do X during Cho’gall and Nefarian).

    Many guilds didn’t finish Sunwell before 3.0, many didn’t finish Black Temple, and many more didn’t finish TIer 5. Blizzard focused on this and were upset that people “didn’t get to experience content.” That was a misread of the population. Many players, no matter the difficulty, will not finish a raid. What’s ironic is that their moves were to open up raiding…and it did, but they lost 900k subscribers.

    • Reply
      August 20, 2011 at 10:01 am

      The point of citing Bale wasn’t to say that its an accomplishment. It was to say that it is a hallmark of what Blizzard is doing right with HMs; which the post brought into question. Bale HM is much much more than just hit him harder. The incredibly dynamic nature of the fight is what makes it such a great Hard Mode encounter.

      • Reply
        August 20, 2011 at 10:08 am

        No no, I agree. I didn’t mean to focus on Baleroc. My point, overall, is that I know that heroic mode encounters exist and I find them very engaging/challenging. But…I don’t see the need to have an entire instance with 2 different modes. Just have one instance that includes challenging (heroic-level) encounters that you have to gear up to or execute perfectly to beat.

        • Reply
          August 20, 2011 at 10:25 am

          Actually— im in the camp that we need 3 different modes. @vixsin_lig5 agrees as well. To put it /overly/ simplified: One for everyone/pugs, one for more casual guilds, one for hardcore.

          • Saradra
            February 20, 2013 at 8:47 am

            Well the first Hard modes was in Aq40 back in vanilla, the 3 bugs (2nd) boss in there gave loot based on combination order you killed them in, and the fight was quite different from the order you choice.

  • Reply
    August 20, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    3? I don’t understand why you would want 3. That doesn’t even make sense.

  • Reply
    August 21, 2011 at 10:12 am

    @Derevka I quit raiding shortly before 4.2, so I’m not that familiar with the Firelands mechanics. I’m glad that they have some interesting fights! However, the vast majority of hard modes have been simple “more throughput” mechanics, and even in Firelands (I believe) the regular and hard mode gear looks the same so you don’t even get any visual stimuli for working on HMs. It’s still “yay, you cleared these fights so now do it again on fight+ mode”.

    We were certainly one of those guilds that Borsk mentioned that could clear normal modes with relative ease but weren’t destined to finish hard modes. Killing the end-boss (or wing boss) on normal was highly underwhelming, because you knew you’d probably just have to face them again, AND wouldn’t be able to kill them in time for the next tier to come along and invalidate everything.

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