Casuals, Hardcores, Challenges and Gear in WildStar
So in WildStar there is a huge debate going on right now about hardcore vs. casual, yet again. WS is very similar to World of Warcraft in that it's a hybrid between what is and isn't hardcore. The zones and the way everything is built allows solo, party, and raids to do something starting at level six (the first battleground).
The issue is that to make content hardcore, casuals can't touch it. That's because the game has to reward a player for their time. Nerfing content to make it casual friendly does nothing at all to help, because while casuals can now do it, the hardcore players are left with nothing to do as they're able to clear it quickly. This balance makes or breaks a game.
In WildStar, the issue is that if you don't get gold in a challenge then you might as well not try. So, this causes players to feel like the only should obtain gold. Of course, the gold rating is mostly for hardcore players, so only players who can get gold can get a good reward. Thus, everyone strives to reach gold, but for PUGs it's almost impossible. Well, not nearly impossible, but it causes a lot of issues.
First, a PUG can do gold rather easily on a lot of adventure challenges. It's not that hard for some of them, but it does require a lot of trial and error. Yet, the trial and error falls apart with the general PUG mentality that once you wipe, the group is done, and they need to retry for a new group. Now, PUGs being PUGs will not stick together, learn the encounter, and retry. They're just going to roll out and get a new group until they find a group that will carry them through the encounter.
Herein lies the issue. If the only good reward is gold and gold is considered "hardcore" then casuals feel like there is nothing they can obtain to be good. If it's nerfed, hardcores feels like they're left out. If it's left the way it is now, casuals are hurt. So here's some solutions to the issue:
- Disconnect loot from the medal. This means the achievements / prestige is connected to the medal and the loot is connected to finish the dungeon. This increases the amount of loot being distributed, removing the rarity of it. This makes it rain epics for everyone.
- Make failure easier to digest. Instant instance restarts to retry is a good first step and helps PUGs with the idea that they can restart and not have to disband the group. This causes little problems but speeds up how fast hardcore players can consume the content.
- Make it easier for people aiming for a specific medal to queue together or find groups.
- Nerf the content, making epics rain for everyone.
- Do nothing. The system works and casuals can suffer an endless grind to obtain the items.
Do nothing isn't really on the table, because gold medals are the endgame for people who aren't raiding. The challenges is their way to get epic gear, which beyond a few other methods, is exclusive to raiding. So, to fix the issue, casuals have to be able to complete the difficulty and have the tools necessary to keep their groups together.
Of course, I think do nothing is on the table, because after a long enough time players get a general idea of what they're doing and as gear becomes more available, the need to "nerf" content from some methods becomes redundant. All it does is create features that aren't used (specific queues for different medals that lock players into only being able to complete that medal) or exploited (instant restarts on failure) for faster loots and gearing alts up.
We have to be weary as a community about what we ask for. Sometimes it's okay to take pride in saying that you're hardcore and you want the hardcore part of the game to remain because the reward and prestige is worth it. Sometimes, as a casual, you have to balance the pain and difficulty of getting gear vs. not just joining a guild and doing the content as it was intended.
I think alternative epics for casuals that is easily obtainable or even soloable is a path that most games should take, but again, the gear should be at a level where daily quests become super easy easy to do, but nowhere near the rewards harder content provides.
What do you think about it, should content be easy for everyone, hard for everyone, or should the perfect balance be sought?