Friday, November 19, 2010

Things I Didn't Like About Wrath

Continuing from my last post about stuff I liked in Wrath, it is time to take a look at the stuff I didn't like so much. Like I mentioned in my other post, these aren't so many fortunately and overall I really enjoyed the Wrath experience. I do feel it was getting a little long. I can't remember being this anxious to have and expansion over an done with before, as I am now (here I am, talking about it like it's dead already). But remembering the first steps I took in Howling Fjord, the first instances, the first runs in Naxxramas and all the fun I've had during these two years I definitely have to wrap Wotlk up as a very good expansion. But now, the bad things. As with my other post I have focused on game design choices rather than bugs and ponies that never showed (like, we were supposed to have gotten PW: Barrier a long time ago!).

CC, where did you go?
I wrote a post about the lack of CC in Wrath already back in May. Back in BC you didn't want to group up for a random heroic with just anyone. And you needed a pretty good plan on how to deal with each pull, or most likely wipe. I'm not saying this is the best solution, but there just has to be something inbetween "too much cc" like in Magisters Terrace and "no cc" like what we've had now in wrath. Not even the difficult instances, like PoS or HoR require much cc. And it have made players dull! Whenever they're asked to do more but the very basics of their class, they fail. Some classes have suffered more from the disappearance of cc than others. I really enjoyed playing my lock in BC for example. Mastering seducing, fearing (using the good old Curse of Recklessness to manage the running mob) and banishing was something I really enjoyed about my lock. Come Wrath and I don't think I've ever had to use one of these spells (outside a pvp setting), and so unfortunately the interest in locking was reduced significantly. If I just want to spam a couple of spells and manage a couple of procs I might as well play my mage (and coincidentally, I am). In my post I wrote;
"I do wish however that there was one or two a little tricker instances, which you could go with a bunch of trusted friends for some better loot. Maybe Blizzard intended the ICC instances to work this way, but unfortunately they didn't make the lesson clear enough and people are trying to brute force those instances too, usually with success. Who can blame them when that is what they've been taught to do throughout Wotlk? Easy street, don't worry, you won't have to move your face from the keyboard to cc something.
Love tells me that they're apparently bringing cc back some with Cataclysm, so we'll see how that turns out! "
Yes I do hope things will become a little tougher in Cataclysm, and it seems like that will be the case. But for how long?

Heroic Modes
I didn't mention it in my post about things I liked about Wrath, but one thing I really enjoyed were the hard modes. Not the heroic modes, mind you, but the hard modes. The ones they had in Ulduar for example. For some reason Blizzard decided they didn't want to keep this system and went with the heroic mode system instead. We've had heroic modes for a long time, all of BC we did heroic instances. But using them in raids didn't turn out to be as much fun in my opinion. It was basically the same fight, only more of it. In Ulduar you could choose several "settings" of difficulty. Freya with 0, 1, 2 or 3 adds was four different ways of playing her. And it didn't just mean having to have more hp, more healpower and more dps, but more skill. Extra elements were added to the heroic modes as well, but they were often few and instead each single one was alot more difficult. Like the disease on Putricide hc or the Dark Wells on LK hc. In the hard modes you added a bunch of extra elements to the fight that by themselves weren't that tricky, but all together became alot more difficult. Yogg-Saron with or without keepers is another good example. It gave a lot more depth to the fight and I really feel like the heroic mode system Blizzard used later on was the lazy way out. Designing a lot of fights so that you could choose several ways of completing it is of course takes alot more work than just taking the good old fight and making the bosses hit harder. But they did such a good job with Ulduar! It made ICC feel like something of a disappointment.

One For All, All For One
This is really an extension of the abovementioned issue with heroic modes. I did feel like the ICC heroic modes were way too unforgiving. I realize you'd want a fight to be challenging, but it has to be challenging for the right reasons. A bad reason would be - one player failing leads to the entire raid wiping. This is troublesome in a 10man raid and frickin horrible in a 25man raid. But alot of fight mechanics revolved around one single person being able to wipe the entire raid. Someone forgot to run from the orange ooze on Putricide hc? Sure wipe. Someone forgot to run out of melee with the goo on Rotface? Definitely a big problem. Someone didn't run fast enough from defile? Bummer. You could have an awesome try being completely ruined by someones momentary lapse of mind. People aren't infallible. We're not robots. We will fail and the fall shouldn't be so long when we do. This really bothers me because I hate it when I feel like no matter how good I am doing, it won't save the raid when someone suddenly does a mistake. The reason this is a problem is because it doesn't make the fight feel like a group effort at all. It makes it feel like we're 25 monkeys sitting by a bunch of typewriters and if we're lucky our individual efforts will turn out into Shakespear. A good fight is where I can feel like someones incredible effort actually saved a wipe. This fosters group play and a good guild community. An entire raid wiping because of someones mistake will only make everyone annoyed at that person.

An example of a really good fight that requires team work and where individual efforts can save the moment is a fight like Hard mode XT-Deconstructor. To make it work you need everyone to shine at certain moments, without any individual failure necessarily bringing the entire raid down. You've got the Tantrum, for which healers need to excell (at least when the fight still was difficult), you've got the adds (sparks and bots) that tanks need to be able to pick up fast and neat, you've got the heart and adds that need to be nuked down by the dps. This means everyone has their chance to shine and by using the right skills (like cooldowns and skills when needed) will make or break the fight. In most cases an individual mistake won't be the end of the raid. The combined effort is what matters, and if someone slips up another one can pick up the slack. This is what a good fight should be like. Yet again ICC comes short in comparison to Ulduar. Having one person killing the entire raid is just an extremely lazy way to make a fight difficult, and it definitely doesn't make it fun. I'd be really sad if this is the way Blizzard will take in Cataclysm.

These are some of the things that bothered me the most with Wrath. What would you rather seen never had left the drawing table when it comes to Wrath game design choices?

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