has served us well, gave those of us who’d never seen it the chance to do Naxxramas, it gave us the awesomeness of Ulduar, the trash-free Trial of the Crusader and the cool Icecrown Citadel. But its time has come to an end, in a matter of months we’ll be sitting down to try the first raid of Cataclysm.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news… But the first Cata raid is going to be pretty easy.
Now before you get your panties all up in a bunch and hit the forums to QQ allow me to explain now only why it will happen, but why it must happen.
Out with the old, in with the new
Expansions are a time of great upheaval. It’s when Blizzard ups the marketing game and draws in new players and old players who previously quit. New people come in and old people go out. This is just how the cycle goes. So a while after we all reach level 85 we’re going to have a whole bunch of brand new players on their first character, none of whom have ever been in a raid before. To expect such players to handle a raid of Icecrown’s difficulty is ridiculous. How are they going to learn?
Typical forum trolls have their own answers to this
Troll – They either learn to play or GTFO!
Teaching works like this: You give the student information, then present the student with challenges with difficulty relative to their experience and knowledge of the information. World of Warcraft acts like this also. The information presented is in the form of normal dungeons and the easier heroics. The challenges are then the entry level raid, where they take the lessons learnt and apply them in a bigger setting (did you ever notice that a lot of Wrath boss mechanics are copies of the heroics?). Each subsequent raid is increasing in difficulty so players apply the experience gained in these new settings with higher demands on their skill and attention.
Without this method of information followed by application; learning does not happen.
Troll – Go back to Kara!
I have a Warlock friend who solos Kara regularly for the cash. Level 70 raids
are not a challenge to a level 80, even less so to an 85. Lower level content is unsuitable for training and teaching as you can make so many mistakes and still kill bosses, that there is little need for the player to improve.
Admittedly this was a problem with Naxxramas, it was too easy, so players didn’t improve then ran head-first into the much more difficult Ulduar and struggled on the earliest bosses. This is a good demonstration of why an entry-level raid is needed. Naxx taught the players little, so Ulduar was too hard. Had Naxx been a bit more challenging, Ulduar wouldn’t have been perceived as so difficult early on. If there was no entry-level raid we’d see more of this with players going from fairly easy normals and heroics and slamming their head against the wall of the first raid. It’s not fun for anyone.
If the first Cata raid was the difficulty of Icecrown Citadel then only the Wrath players would stand a chance of downing anything. We have gained experience throughout Wrath that will make an ICC level raid a ‘good challenge’ but to a new player ICC would be impossible. The next raid would then need to be above ICC in difficulty, the next raid above that. Then a new expansion hits and the first raid has to be even harder than the final raid of Cata.
Can you see why this gradually increasing difficulty fails? The player base changes every expansion, old players leave and new players join, so the player pool who has the necessary experience to handle this increasing difficulty gets smaller and smaller. Ultimately only the best guilds in the world will be able to raid, which is great for them and sucky for the other 99.9% players in the world who can either do Battlegrounds or quit.
Expansions are an opportunity to hit the reset button. Our epic purple gear gets reset as we level in greens once more. Our class experience gets reset as we adapt to the changes the expansion brings. The difficulty gets reset, giving an opportunity for new and returning players to learn the game as well as granting the experienced players the chance to experiment with their specs and gear in a less harsh environment.
This is a good thing. This resetting is a good thing. It is what gives Blizzard the opportunity to do heavy class refits and add new professions and spells without worrying how it will impact the current series of raids.
By resetting the difficulty each expansion it gives players the time they need to (re)learn the mechanics of the game, their class and the new raids.
Expansions bring change, not just to the game but to the player base. The difficulty of raids must also change in response to this new player base or you risk alienating new players and ultimately the game withers and dies.
Constant increasing of difficulty is a bad idea, this game is for everyone not just the world-first guilds, that includes the players who have just joined us. So every expansion’s first raid must be the new entry-level designed to teach mechanics of raids to new players.
The reset button gets hit every expansion, this puts everybody on an almost equal footing in gear and skill. No matter how good a player you are now, you will have a lot of relearning to do when Cataclysm hits and your gear and class change.