BlizzCon 2008: A Player's Opinion of the WoW Raid Panel

The early parts of BlizzCon '08 left me with little to be excited about.  I loved the graphics and the
The early parts of BlizzCon '08 left me with little to be excited about.  I loved the graphics and the excitement surrounding Starcraft II and Diablo III, but I may or may not even buy those games. I play MMOs. The opening ceremony offered up no new information, and I was greatly disappointed to find that I'd come all the way to BlizzCon (as a regular, paid for my ticket fan) only to walk away with no new information. All was not lost though. My energy level went up significantly after sitting in on the Raids and Dungeons panel. To say that Blizzard has learned from all of their previous dungeon designs would be an understatement. They have learned and listened to the fans (or at least watched the dungeon metrics). The new dungeons show off some amazing artwork, and they offer a "greatest hits" type experience from all the previous instances.

The Blizzard team learned much from their previous instances.

At previous BlizzCon events, the dungeon teams have shown some 2D design documents and discussed how the instances were created.  This year they used GM flight/observer mode to run the audience through the actual dungeons.  The instances discussed were the Halls of Lighting and Ahn'Kahet while the raid dungeons included Chamber of the Aspects and  Eye of Eternity.

If you want to read more about the nuts and bolts of the instances, then you need to read Xerin's excellent report that has real information.  I'm here to give you the gut feel of the conversation.  Like I said earlier, we really didn't learn anything new, but that doesn't mean it should have lacked excitement.  In this case it does though. I heard more moans and even a smattering of boos from the audience. Enough about the raiders sitting near me though, here are my thoughts.  In keeping with the Aspects, I've set up my own Chamber of the Aspects:

The John McCain Aspects
My friends, the new dungeons are all about you.  Being original mavericks, Blizzard is veering away from long drawn out instances.  They listened when we said "No Mas" to seven hour instances.  Now they provide mechanics for keeping the instances shorter, but still retain that epic feel.  I don't get too hung up on feeling epic, I just want the loot and I don't want to beat my head against a wall for 5 plus hours to get it.  Luckily Blizzard is catering to me.

The Barack Obama Aspects
In a true movement of change, there are no attunements.  Can I get a hallelujah?  The crowd actually had a smattering of boos when the panel announced that there are no keys required.  Who are these gluttons for attunements?  Not anyone I play with I can assure you.  That's not entirely true though, raids will need at least one person with the key/orb doodad from Naxx to start the event with Malygos in the Eye of Eternity.  That met with only mild discontent from the hardcores.

The Sarah Palin Aspects
I'm reaching here, but I needed someone that represents the outdoors and the Governor of Alaska seemed appropriate.  I love the idea of dungeons incorporating the indoor/outdoor feel.  All of the instances discussed during the panel will have some view to the vast outdoors or take place in a combination of indoor/outdoor spaces.  Variety is the spice of life, and I like this kind of spice.  It really takes instances away from their tired old confines of being caves/dungeons with small cramped play spaces.

The Halls of Lightning were on display at BlizzCon '08.

The Joe Lieberman Aspects
Like old politicians that have toed the company line forever, Blizzard never strays into unknown territory when it comes to the panels. The audience was provided information that was already known in a slightly different forum, and for the most part it was well received. The Q&A session really was an extension of the empty suits sitting up front.  Maybe I'm overly harsh, but similar to any political debate, I just feel a little empty inside by the lack of any new substantive information.

Like the rest of BlizzCon, this panel was nice. I typically don't get all amped up over art, but the art in the new instances really is stunning. The first raid dungeon, Chamber of the Aspects, looks amazing. The fact that you can choose the difficulty is also unique - it harkens back to Zul'Garub where the sub-bosses can be killed independently of the end-boss or for the truly uber, raids can attempt to kill the end-boss in conjunction with the sub-bosses for even more insanely cool loot.  This function is scalable as well since you can leave one-three of the sub-bosses alive for better loot.  All of this is great. My raiding team will be all over these instances.

Maybe Blizzard is feeling political in a democratic way. Their new dungeon designs really allow the players to choose the level of difficulty and thereby the rewards available.  The dev team is using different badges systems and a heroic levels to really create different strata within each of the instances.  While it sounds great, it could also mean that we will be running the same dungeons 100 times through all the varying difficulty levels (eek!).

While I didn't walk away with that warm fuzzy feeling that accompanies new information, I am excited to see the new instances and really looking forward to some new phat lewt!

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