Let's get into the Overpull this week!
Heres the lineup this week
WoW - 3.3.3 Final Checklist
Have a look to see what you need to do before 3.3.3 hits.
WoW - More TCG Status Info
The TCG is currently in a weird position, Blizzard tells us a bit more about its status here.
WoW - Blizzard Asking for Input on Tanks in Cataclysm
Do you think Tanks should AoE spam or should encounters be hardcore fights where the tank needs to struggle keeping one thing on him? Should it be a mix? Are things too hard? Let Blizzard know your thoughts. Not that the WoW forums isn't full of it already.
WoW - The Future of Tanking in WoW
More tanking info.
WoW - Patch 3.9 The Lore behind the Retaking of the Echo Isles & Gnomeregan
This is actually a really intersting read if you're into the lore.
WoW - Anniversary Site: Interview with Luek
Luek is a hardcore arena player if you're wondering.
WoW - World First Shadowmourne Assembled
Took long enough eh?
The War of the Three Hammers
The War of Three Hammers is a little known war in World of Warcraft history. It's notable because it explains why Ironforge is ran the way it is, why there are multiple clans of Dwarfs around, what the base story was for the original pre-expansion WoW was, and a lot more (including Ragnaros). Ever wondered about these things? Check out our Loremaster's Corner this week and find out.
Ive been playing Final Fantasy XIII since it released earlier this month and it has gotten me to think about the relationship between single player jRPGs and MMORPGs here stateside. Sure, on the surface there isnt a lot between the two in common. jRPGs feature overly emotional characters with spiky hair while MMORPGs feature overly emotional players with spiky hair. Yet, if you look past the surface, youll see a lot of similarities between the two.
Im not just talking about the fact that RPG is in the genre name for both types of games. You play through jRPGs and MMORPGs in order to hit the endgame. You fight through countless generic monsters that have vague reasons to be there and even vaguer reasons why most of them have to die. You gain loot, increase your stats, and reveal an in-depth story that you can either pay attention to or skip through as fast as you can. Youre driven by a singular goal to reach the endgame. Of course, if we look at it with any kind of scrutiny, we can see that the endgame is vastly different.
Lets start with the Final Fantasy series and other jRPGs. In most modern Final Fantasy games you play through an engaging main storyline that ends with you defeating the games endboss and concluding the story. You can load back up at your last save point and do many sidequests that were either available beforehand or, like in Final Fantasy XIII impossible to do without beating the game. Lets take a look at the games:
Warning, spoilers may be contained below:
Final Fantasy 3e/6j: The entire World of Ruin was optional and dedicated players could complete everything or you could do a few of the story missions and walk on into the final dungeon.
Final Fantasy 7:Emerald/Ultima/Ruby weapons were available at the super hard endgame bosses and available to dedicated players along with many side-quests. Not to mention Chocobo breeding.
Final Fantasy 8:Ultima Weapon, Bahamut , Odin, Tonberry King, and other unlockables were available to those who wanted to level up enough to take them on.
Final Fantasy 10: Ultima & Omega Weapons return, again, waiting those who leveled up enough to bother with it.
Final Fantasy 12: The entire Necrohol of Nabudis contained optional bosses, there was a Hell Wyrm that was very difficult to take down, and a lot of optional hunts available plus fishing.
Final Fantasy 13: Missions become available in the late game, most optional. Many require you to finish the game to unlock your full power in order to complete.
Star Ocean 2: The final boss had a limiter that you could optionally release for a very difficult final boss fight while the Cave of Trials was very difficult and required many items and for some, gameshark cheats, in order to save mid-dungeon.
Valkyrie Profile: The Seraphic Gate opens when you save at the final save point, allowing you to take on a very hard and trying dungeon.
There are more, but I dont want to waste your time with the full list because there are many other jRPGs with a heap of sidequests and a lot to do other than the main story events. This is piled on top of the already lengthy 30-50 hours of gameplay just for the main game. Now, lets move on to World of Warcraft.
In WoW you level up until you hit the max level at which point you can either choose to raid or PvP or make a new character. There are raids to play through, but it is optional, but much of the games real content is locked out to you unless you get gear from the raids. In vanilla and The Burning Crusade this was mostly only for the dedicated few who wanted to work hard at gearing up. Things have changed with Wrath of the Lich King and these optional dungeons are now pretty much considered part of normal character progression.
This leads to the current casual vs. hardcore argument, nay, war thats ongoing. Casuals make the argument that they should have access to all of the game content and nothing should be locked out from those with a limited amount of gaming time and/or skill. The hardcore players argue that content should be restrictive to those who want to earn it and should be an accomplishment and not something you can just walk in and do.
I think, on the other hand, we should see more Ultima Weapons in the game. Let everyone run through the latest raids. Sure hard modes give something for people to work for, but its the same content youve already completed. Completing it on a harder difficulty may be enough for some, but even the casuals can do some hard modes. Thats why we should see more optional content thats impressively difficult and reserved for those who care enough to attempt it.
Lets take Onyxia and turn the encounter into something extremely hard and stick it somewhere in the world with an open invitation to come and try it. Why Onyxia? Because Blizzard really, really likes Onyxia since were getting a new dragon dungeon with *cough more Onyxias* more dragons coming up soon. Anyway, I digress, back to the point. Lets make each of her hits connect to the tank who isnt capable of holding aggro and instantly KOs members of the raid at random. When she flies off lets blow everyone up leaving them with only 10% health and then send in massive waves of welps and a deep breath. Lets also add an insane enrage timer and let her rip off buffs at random.
Now, a simple encounter with a large gimmick (youll need a ton of Druids to have a chance and more tanks than normal) that changes things up a bit and is a major accomplishment if you do it. Let her drop insane loot as well to reward those that do it and of course a nifty title. Legendary encounters like this would help break apart the casual vs. hardcore war by giving the hardcore players what they want, something that no one can do, while appeasing the casuals by giving them raiding. Keeping these legendary bosses separate from the main game would keep things varied and remove the stagnation we all currently feel.
After all, the point of an MMORPG is to chase that carrot on a stick but never get to bite down on it. If you bite down on the carrot then youll just stand still with a smug look of victory across your face. While that feeling is euphoric for a bit, it doesnt last, because there is no more carrot to chase. A feeling many players are experiencing now.
My idea isnt new of course. Guild Wars ran with something similar in its Underworld dungeon. One of my many infamous internet acts was to jokingly come up with a way to solo farm the instance by making your HP exactly 1 then loading up on regeneration spells so that your HP would never drop below 1. This joke lead to the creation of the original Invincible Monk that farmed incredibly difficult enemies solo for massive rewards.
Gimmick fights like that still require extra dedication and keeps things interesting. They give you more to do and something to work towards. Something I think that WoW needs more of. After all, I have to ask why we should bother logging in at this point if most of us have already downed Arthas. Do we need more leveling gear for Cataclysm? What is driving us?
I hope that Cataclysm will have a lot more hardcore optional content in it for people like me who want things to do that are challenging while maintaining a steady stream of casual content for people who dont. Sure, like I said, hard modes work but fighting the same encounters again in a different way doesnt feel more fulfilling to me. Plus, if you do an instance on normal, you feel a sense of completion. Hard modes arent the same as other content sitting out there unfinished, at least to me.
Thats my thoughts for this week. What are yours? Join us on the Ten Ton Hammer forums and share your own ideas.
-David "Xerin" Piner
p.s. Id just like to add that one fight I love is Algalon, because its exactly what Im talking about. Its an optional fight thats hidden away, incredibly difficult, and very rewarding.