To Gate or Not to Gate: The State of Raiding in World of Warcraft
Raiding is a fascinating thing to watch. The dedication of those hardcore World of Warcraft like Paragon, Ensidia and Stars who zerg the content like the world is ending tomorrow morning. But why?
Raiding is fun, competitive and great for self-esteem but for some people its more than that. Its not just personal pride, its about the kudos of getting realm and world firsts and the associated titles, mounts and loot which goes with it. Rage of the Firelands has introduced Cataclysms second tier of raiding - a single raid of seven bosses - and, not surprisingly there have already been several world-first and US-first boss kills.
World firsts are coveted by all the hardcore elite.
Cataclysms first tier, the one which came when the expansion shipped, had several raids to choose from Bastion of Twilight, Blackwing Descent and Throne of the Four Winds as well as Baradin Hold. But even that didnt stop the elite raiders who cleared much of the content within weeks.
The problem with the first tier was Blizzard didnt get time to adequately test the bosses leading to a range of hotfixes after the bosses fell on live servers. This led to lengthy arguments - such as the one concerning Method, Paragon and Nefarian - about who actually got the world firsts and whether they were justified. These kind of fracas should have been avoided but instead they split the community.
The last gated raid was ICC back in Wrath. Gated is essentially the new incarnation of the much-hated attunement process but rather than doing a certain number of tasks or attaining a key, you just need to kill Bosses A, B and C to access Boss D or wait until a specific date.
Top guilds rush through the content leaving the rest of us in the dust.
ICC was all about timing but it also limited progress. Players were forced to take more time on bosses and the experience could be savoured. At the same time trekking through the Lich Kings frozen citadel made for an all the more epic and final encounter. The tension mounted and when he finally fell, well it was like nothing before or since experience in Azeroth and its going to be hard for anything bar the face-off with Deathwing to match this.
Personally, I prefer gating. I like the fact that people can only raid so far before being naturally forced to cool their heels. It gives those of us who arent hardcore limits to aim for while prolonging the content and making the raid last much longer than it might under other circumstances. Look at it this way, major content patches happen - on average - once every three months. The hardcore will have the Firelands cleared on normal and heroic within a month which will leave at least two more for them to be bored. Yes we will remember their firsts but these are even more fleeting that your normal fifteen minutes of fame.
The lesson here is the story of the Tortoise and the Hare go slow, enjoy the game, savour the raids and your accomplishments. I think, in the next tier, Blizzard should return to gating major raids and it does need to be raids. One raid with seven bosses just isnt enough for three months of raiding, not for Ensidia or Paragon or normal folk with a desire to see Ragnaros downed for the final time.
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