That Despised Dungeon in the Sky
The big news today is about that heroic that we all love-to-hate: Oculus. Blizzard is fighting a losing battle against the flood of QQing about the “bug” that Oculus is still included in the random LFG. They think that just maybe, if they throw enough rewards at people, they’ll stop complaining.
To encourage players not to shy away from the many invigorating adventures to be had in The Oculus, we have applied a change to enhance the rewards players are provided when selected for this dungeon via the Random Heroic option in the Dungeon Finder. Once Ley-Guardian Eregos is defeated, one loot bag per character will be provided in his chest in addition to the current rewards. Each loot bag will offer players rare gems, two additional Emblems of Triumph, and a chance of being rewarded the Reins of the Blue Drake. These fine treasures could be yours should you honor your fellow party members by besting the challenges contained within The Oculus! Keep in mind, however, that these extra loot bags will only be awarded to each party member if Oculus is selected by the Dungeon Finder when players choose the Random Heroic option.
In light of this change, the Reins of the Azure Drake will now have a chance of dropping in both 10- and 25-player versions of The Eye of Eternity.
So many things were fluttering through my head as I read this. First, I’d like to start off by explaining what I think of Oculus in general.
Before Wrath was released, Oculus was touted as a fantastic, innovative instance. It used vehicles, which were a huge new feature. There was a lot of excitement in the air about that dungeon in the sky
Then we tried to run it. And by we, I don’t really mean me, as I wasn’t 80 for quite a few months after the release. It quickly grew to be an instance that was despised. By the time I arrived at 80, no one wanted to run it. I wanted to complete my Northrend Dungeon hero achievement badly, but I couldn’t seem to find a group who was willing to ‘suffer’ through it with me.
Why is it so hated? Was it because the boss fights were tough? Mage-Lord Urom had difficult mechanics that involve kiting, hiding, and running away. Ley-Guardian Eregos was definitely a challenge at first. Even the trash wasn’t easy. This wouldn’t have stopped most people from running it though. Sure there are plenty of PUGs who would shy away from it in fear of a wipe. Toughness alone wouldn’t have created such a terrible reputation. Halls of Stone was difficult, but nowhere near as despised.
The blame for the death of Oculus lies mainly on the vehicles.
The vehicle concept is loved by some, and despised by many. It sounded like an amazing idea at first, but it is a rather contentious feature. The skills you’ve built up for years with your class mean nothing in a vehicle fight. It is an entirely different game. One of the biggest reasons that vehicle fights are despised is that people aren’t good at them. They know their class inside and out, but walk into a vehicle fight and flounder around trying to figure out what their buttons mean, and this infuriates them. They are angry at Blizzard for changing the way they have to play, and angry at themselves for failing. To make matters worse, they are mocked by others for not knowing how to do an “easy” fight.
Oculus found itself in a downward spiral. A lot of people hated it, so no one ran it. No one ran it, so no one learned the fights or how to use the vehicles. The few brave souls who stepped in there were often mixed in with those too noobish to know that it was a hard instance. This caused endless wipes, causing even those who were up to the challenge to hate it. Going there with a PUG was a a recipe for high repair bills. Groups would often do achievement checks on this instance, not wanting to bring someone along who wasn’t already skilled with the vehicles. Unfortunately this prevented people from running it and trying to learn it. All these things compounded on each other, until the instance grew dusty and unused. Even the daily heroic wasn’t enough encouragement to bring people to its icy precipices.
The sad thing is, it isn’t that hard. It takes a little practice, like any mechanic. It is certainly frustrating at first, but once you’ve learned it, it’s actually almost… fun. (Yes, I really did just say that). I ran Oculus a few times pre-nerf with guild-only groups, and it was like a breath of fresh air compared to the rofl-stomping we were doing to the other heroics. It kept you on your toes, because it was different. You didn’t spend the whole instance on the vehicle – your class abilities were still useful for all but one boss fight. The trash was a bit annoying, but if you knew where you were going you could avoid much of it. It is certainly a little clunky, which is understandable for Blizzard’s first attempt. The vertical flying is confusing and causes a lot of people to get lost (including myself). The constant mount/dismount is annoying. It’s a little rough around the edges, but it has good intentions, and can be fun if you give it a chance.
I’m not a huge fan of vehicle fights, because its hard for me to grasp new abilities quickly, but I don’t despise them either. In small doses, they add a bit of spice to the game. It’s a novelty that shouldn’t be overused, but it still is worth having. Many may argue that it’s not what they signed up for when playing WOW – they want to play their class, and that is it. I understand this mindset, but really, you aren’t going to like every aspect of the game, so you just have to get through it and move on to something you do enjoy. Not everyone likes PVP, but Blizzard still incorporates it in the PVE world with things like holiday achievements and TOC Faction Champions. To fully progress in the game you’re going to have to do things you don’t like – it is a sacrifice that you have to make if that is important to you. If progressing is not important to you, then simply avoid doing things you dislike. If you queue up for the random LFG and get Oculus, that was a risk you took, and you do have the freedom to leave and pay the price (as many do now). No one is forcing you to be there, but you wanted emblems, and Blizzard gave you a way to get emblems. Some people actually find vehicle fights fun – should they be denied them simply because you dislike them?
Oculus isn’t the only vehicle fight in the game. Eye of Eternity, Flame Leviathan, and the jousting at the beginning of 5-man TOC are all fights with vehicle mechanics. And yet people did them – because they had to for progression. Once they learned the fights, it wasn’t a big deal. There was still some QQing, but it was just one of those things that you got used to. Many people even enjoyed them. The first time we took down Flame Leviathan as a guild was exhilarating. We really enjoyed doing something completely different and somewhat kooky. There was very little motivation to go to Oculus though, and very little motivation for experienced drake riders to teach others the ropes. Perhaps if these rewards had been there from the beginning, the reputation of the instance could have been salvaged slightly.
The LFG tool really shook things up. It *gasp* sometimes randomly sent you to Oculus. Blizzard nerfed the heck out of it in anticipation of the QQing. This wasn’t enough though. Due to its reputation, and previous experiences, many people drop group immediately upon landing in the dungeon. Those that stick it out areoften treated to unexperienced drake riders – because so few learned the instance prior to the new tool. We’ve grown accustom to heroics taking 20 mins tops, so an instance that might require a little patience and a few wipes is unacceptable. Frustration builds, and the hatred towards the dungeon only increases. Those that truly dislike the mechanics themselves are angry for being “forced” to run an instance that they blissfully avoided in the past. Blizzard has found themselves in a tough situation.
Blizzard is basically begging us now with these new rewards to stick it out when Oculus pops up – “Please, please just give it a chance! It’s not that bad, really. Oh, here’s some more shiny emblems for you. And a dragon, you like dragons right…?”
On the one hand, I’m thrilled at the thought of getting a chance at the Blue Drake. I love mounts, and blue is my absolute favoritist color! Extra emblems are nice too. On the other hand, I feel a little sad that Blizzard had to sink to this level. We all were expecting great things out of Oculus, and it instead became a focus target for the rage and QQing of most WOW players. I’m sure Blizzard has learned a lot from this experience, but there is little they can do to help Oculus now, at the end of the expansion.
Will these rewards stop people from leaving the group on arrival in Oculus? For some, it will – those that value mounts, or emblems highly will be more encouraged to give it a shot. Those that truly dislike the concept of vehicles will still leave. I do hope though, that more people will at least try, and that patience is given to those who do want to learn the instance.