Raids are an important part of WildStar's end game content, but why do so many players want this specific activity?
Raids are an oddity for many. Not only do they require a huge commitment on behalf of the individual participating but also from the entire guild. Raids aren’t an area to be taken lightly and there are often hurdles to take, at a basic guild level, that make it a gated and internally competitive affair.
I recently applied to a guild and am generally used to the whole process (though I’ve been with my previous guild for the past 7 years). An application form, interview and mandatory event attendance is pretty standard and yet when I raised this with my brother recently, he looked at me as if I’d just shot him: “You actually have to apply?”. It must have taken him by surprise as he actually paused the game he was playing.
It’s fair to say that not all guilds operate in this fashion and there are plenty in the Beta that will invite you freely and expect nothing more from you than being a member. However should you wish to participate in raids and Warplots with a semblance of organization and a hope of completing them within a reasonable timescale, something above that of a “casual” guild is almost mandatory even if the process of entering into such guilds is ridiculous.
I must stress that I hate the terms “casual”, “semi-hardcore” or “hardcore” as they’re a very lazy way of placing people into brackets based on raw playing times as opposed to skill or understanding. Where these “hardcore” guilds are concerned, you’ll usually find mandatory attendance of 3 days is a minimum and while that’s more than acceptable for many, I’ve always found such an approach a little odd. I fully appreciate the fact that not having attendance parameters can royally screw over a raiding guild, especially when players don’t turn up, and yet it’s easily countered by recruiting based on playing times as opposed to enforcing mandatory days (that tends to just piss people off).
My raiding experience, like most people, varies and is primarily linked to World of Warcraft and was often fueled by frustration, elitism, DKP misery and one hit wonders (I’ll discuss those later). Without doubt the experience of defeating a boss, for the first time and not the 50th, was brilliant, but when combined with random loot pools and fighting for drops with 5 other Druids made raiding feel much more like a chore than an occasion of celebration and camaraderie. Part of the problem behind this however was often the infrastructure surrounding guilds in game and that they were all too often left to their own devices as to how to distribute loot and how to organise raids. Developers put too little attention into the raiding framework to support guilds properly.
DKP for anyone who has ever encountered it, is a blessing and a curse for the genre. Depending on your raid leader, you’ll be awarded X amounts of points (kept on a spreadsheet offline) that you can then bid with in an effort to obtain loot dropped from downed enemies. It’s inevitably your choice as to what you spend your points on or whether you’ll save them up for the best items. I’m hopeful that a mod can be made to accommodate this approach if guilds want it, otherwise we're left with a paper headache.
Digressing a little and coming back to the “one hit wonders”, I came up against these players constantly in my raiding days. Basically, they’re the players that only show up for raids and raids only. They suck up DKP, obtain the best gear and then you never see them for the rest of the week. There’s nothing particularly wrong with it (besides it being super annoying for those of us who actually play the game outside of raiding confines) but it’s just one of the many frustrations in a raiding environment.
Why then, with all the issues that a raid inflicts on its players, are we so keen to see raids in WildStar? You know what, I’m not really sure. I do enjoy raiding will participating but they're a huge resource drain on development, take months of testing and planning and don’t lend themselves well to repeat play. I suppose however that it all boils down to overcoming something difficult as a group but, I feel that in itself is a bit misleading. I’ve often felt that raid difficulty is only scaled up based on the number of players involved, which inevitably relies on everyone being on the top of their game. Perhaps the draw of raids is to bash something big over the head and feel anxious over the loot it drops or perhaps it appeals to our most basic needs to conquer something and soak in the glory alongside friends.
As for Warplots, I think for the most part they’ll inherit the same issues as raids with the exception being your Warplot will be destroyed and your guild will likely squabble as to what went wrong (I blame Espers already - I kid, I kid!) although, guilds tend to squabble when they wipe on raids anyway.
Overall WildStar’s raiding has every potential to meet and exceed that of World of Warcraft, especially with the challenge of telegraphs and looser trinities. I just hope that in the process Carbine provide us with the tools to go about it fairly and from the lessons they’ve learnt with Adventures, attempt to mix up our progression to keep things fresh.
P.S If you’re a one hit wonder, you’re on my kill on sight list.