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WoW: Current State Of End Game Raiding

Updated Mon, Aug 16, 2010 by Medawky

The World of Warcraft has gone through many changes. What started as a PvP centered, casual friendly game has morphed into a PvE machine where PvP is more of a mini-game and everyone is a raider. With each expansion Blizzard has released the raid content has become more dynamic but also more accessible. Many have said these changes have dumbed down the game and that it is devolving. The addition of hard mode content has helped to partially satiate those critics, but is it enough? 

It seems that Blizzard continues to focus its scope on how to balance the desires of hardcore raiders versus allowing anyone interested in raiding the opportunity to do so. Will these changes ultimately pay off or will this backfire and end up alienating all groups? We took to the mean streets of Azeroth recently to get the perspective of the leader of an end game guild. 

I spoke with the raid and guild leader of Eternal on Scarlet Crusade, Kdorf,  to get his feelings on the recent changes and the overall state of raiding. Kdorf and Eternal have been raiding  WoW end game content for four years now and have seen everything Blizzard has had to offer (even though I am completely biased, this group of players is among the finest I have ever had the pleasure of playing with. Check them out if you are looking for an end game guild).While our conversation was mainly focused on the current state of end game raiding we also discussed the changes that have affect guilds over the years.  

Ten Ton Hammer: How did you feel about the switch from a forty player raid size to the current twenty five player cap? 

Kdorf:Overall it was a good change. We were worried it may create some drama when the time came to shift our raid size, but we were lucky enough to avoid that. It definitely makes it easier to co-ordinate the smaller group and keeps things more tight knit. It also helped in keeping recruitment more focused and easier to manage.

Ten Ton Hammer: In The Burning Crusade how did you feel, and how did the guild react to the nerfs in both content and access to content that Blizzard implemented? 

Kdorf: We never minded the initial set of nerfs like the removal of the key quests for BT and Hyjal. We took it as a point of pride to be ahead of the nerf curve so to speak. The patch 3.0 nerfs to Sunwell were a bit much. We were working on Kil’Jaeden and having been the first and only guild on the server to kill Mu’ru pre-nerf it felt cheapened. It was really one of our best accomplishments as that fight was ridiculously hard. To see it become the easiest fight in the zone the next week and to watch guilds that had not finished Black Temple killing Sunwell bosses stung a little. But we understood that Blizzard wanted more people to be able to see the content which they created. 

Ten Ton Hammer:  Do you think the move to the current raid configurations was the right thing to do? To allow ten player and twenty five player groups access to the same content but with the addition of the hard modes to have that separation for the “hardcore” raiders? 

Kdorf: I think it was the right direction, I don’t think they have It quite perfected just yet but it is very close. Parts of the Ulduar raid feel too open ended; it lacks solid direction. We didn’t like so many optional bosses with no bearing on the overall dungeon. It looks like the Coliseum will be more linear and everything will count. But the overall direction was the right one to go in. We especially like the more laid back feel of the ten player hard modes after doing the twenty fives. You still have to be on your game but it isn’t as chaotic as the other.

Ten Ton Hammer:  Do you think Blizzard made any mistakes with this expansion?
 
Kdorf: I think the ease of Naxxaramas was a mistake along with the overall lack of difficult content at the launch of the expansion. Sarthirion hard mode was just too little in the way of content that really makes players analyze their characters and focus on min/maxing and theorycrafting.  There was also an extended amount of time between launch and the release of Ulduar that made players a bit lazier. 
 

Ten Ton Hammer: How do you feel about the complaints that Blizzard is making the game too easy overall?
 
Kdorf: I think they are walking a fine line with that. I know the game has been out for four years but in many ways they are still learning on the job about making an MMO. I feel that as long as they continue to offer the hard content and the rewards to the top end raiders that they will be ok. If they do make it ridiculously easy then they run the risk of getting rid of those players. It would be a huge loss to them to lose the players that really analyze their toons and do the theorycrafting. Those are the players that provide the best feedback on encounters, your casual players won’t do a lot of number crunching in terms of play testing the content.
 

Ten Ton Hammer:  How has all of this effected recruitment?
 
Kdorf: Recruiting on our server has always been interesting as our pool is limited by the server size and ruleset, but mostly it has helped. The increase in access to content has given a lot of players a chance to find a new way to show off their skills. You find a lot of folks who maybe only PvP’d in the past that have given raiding a try and became very skilled PvE players as well. The flip side has been that with so many “easy epics” out there, some of your more average players have this sense of entitlement and haven’t really developed the skills to complete the hard mode content.  But that’s where a strong recruitment process helps you find the right players to mesh with your guild anyway. It just seems there are more marginal players to weed through. But overall it has helped as you are not restricted as much by classes as you used to be.
 

Ten Ton Hammer: Has Dual Talent Specialization affected raiding?
 
Kdorf: Slightly, it makes it easier to maximize your raid composition without having to open a portal and summon a player back. We were always respecing before it was added, this just helps save some money for most players. I really enjoy trying to find any way to make the raid more efficient and playing with specs can be a big part of that; it’s like putting a puzzle together. We have a very good loot system so we haven’t had any loot drama associated with the dual spec issue. Again, it all goes back to finding the right people to surround yourself with. From a recruitment standpoint dual spec has had no real bearing as we always looked for exceptional players that could handle multiple tasks if needed.

I want to thank Kdorf for sitting down to chat with me about the current state of raiding and I wish he and Eternal luck as they knock out the last few hard mode encounters in heroic Ulduar. I spoke more informally with a few other raid leaders from a few different servers and most have very similar views of how things are progressing with WoW raiding. Everyone is looking forward to patch 3.2 for most of its new features although there is a bit of grumbling over the further devaluation of epics via the new badge system and the awful look of Tier 9. The only constant so far in WoW end game raiding has been change and I look forward to seeing those changes as they take place. Until next week, be safe and have fun in Azeroth!


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