In Which I Realize That We Aren’t Heroes – We’re Bullies
Two posts in one day? Don’t get used to it – the previous one was just spontaneous rejoicing.
Playing old content – especially content that deemed quite difficult back when it was current – is an odd feeling. Suddenly more powerful than the world around you, you bash through the doors and annihilate things with all the finesse of a Fel Reaver. Strategies and planning are tossed aside, as brute force and massive heals save you from any mechanic that might harm you. It makes me feel a little guilty – the enemies don’t even stand a chance. These aren’t just critters in Elwynn forest – these are epic, badass villains who supposedly can destroy the world, and yet they feel like they are made of toothpicks.
Despite the uncomfortable sensation that I’m a bully smashing up a younger kid’s toys, I do enjoy retro-raids. I love wandering around and soaking in the art, the music, and the careful crafting of the environment. I love facing key lore figures, and finally seeing for my own eyes how the story unfolds. Videos and descriptions of the encounters simply cannot compare to actually being there, and completing the instance for yourself.
My guild finally finished off Ulduar, including Glory of the Ulduar Raider. I’m thrilled that Blizzard left the Rusted Proto-Drake as achievable in the game, as my shaman’s mount collection is a bit lackluster.
At 85, most of the achievements required weren’t difficult. On the first run-through a few weeks ago, we missed only three. Throughout the expedition we rarely had a full group of 10, and one of our tanks was… uh… rather sloshed, and barely paying attention.
Last weekend we went back to cleanup the place. The first remaining achievement was Iron Dwarf, Medium Rare – this one without a doubt is the biggest pain in the ass. It wouldn’t call it difficult, but may cause you to go insane from boredom. You have to get 25 Dark Rune Guardians killed by Razorscale’s flame breath. This essentially means you can barely touch the buggers or else they will keel over. Our strategy was this: (1) round up the mobs (2) kill the other mobs besides Guardians (3) bring the Guardians over to Razorscale’s mouth when she lands and bring them carefully down to around 13k health (no dots!) and hope that the friendly NPCs don’t wipe them out (4) wait for the breath for her to kill them (5) repeat endlessly until your eyes bleed or she enrages. This achievement is cumulative, meaning you can do it in multiple encounters with her – and you don’t have to kill her at all (so I would advise putting no DPS on her until you’ve completed the achievement).
We rarely got more than two at once because we just generally fail at NOT killing things. It was very painful, and to make it even more insulting, it took so long that we brought her to enrage – twice, meaning she wiped the floor with us. Oh, and since we didn’t kill her, we ended up completing this achievement twice throughout the weekend to assist other guild mates. I love helping out… but this one really sucks. I will need a lot of bribes to even consider doing it again.
We knocked off Kologarn in a more coordinated manner than our previous attempts, and snagged Disarmed. Then we plowed on through to Yogg. Of course, by the time we reached him on Friday it was getting late, and our bleary-eyed attempts to defeat him were met with failure.
Sunday we returned, armed with actual knowledge about how the encounter is supposed to work. It only took us a few attempts to blunder our way to success, One Light in the Darkness, and a Proto-Drake. I can definitely see how Alone In the Darkness was once the hardest fight in the game – a million things are going on simultaneously, and everyone gets spread out in a manner that makes healers froth at the mouth while attempting to keep everyone in range. I enjoyed that it was actually still slightly challenging – not many fights stand up to the test of time like that.
Case in point – Algalon. We read the strategy, walked into the gorgeous ethereal room and listened to his speech, expecting to wipe a few times as we hashed out the mechanics. Instead, here were my thoughts throughout this fight:
“Neat, it really looks like the Pantheon”…
“wow, he hits the tanks hard”….
“damn, the fight is over already”.
Brute force wins again.
This incredibly powerful dude who can destroy all living things on Azeroth simply by sending off a signal, gives in to us after we gave him a few pokes? Don’t get me wrong – I’m pleased to have seen the fight, but there is just something rather sad about it. This is a problem that faces most MMOs –- the content doesn’t scale up, and characters continually get stronger. The incredibly tough villain at the end of an expansion will be trivial at the beginning of the next one.
I would love it if Blizzard’s new MMO could figure out some way around this problem. What if they created a scaling mechanism, allowing older raids to scale to current gear and character levels? I realize that technologically this might be difficult, but I think it is worth exploring. As the game grew older, content wouldn’t be completely obsolete – and you would have exponentially more max level content to do with each new expansion. Maybe you could even leave in a mechanism so that players who just want to “see the content” could go into old content in a non-scaled mode, and players who want a challenge could have one. As to the loot drops scaling – I don’t think that is necessary. Perhaps you could just give players a reduced amount of the current tier points or emblems, to give them some sort of tangible reward.
Enough on that tangent. I’m delighted to have finally seen and killed all the bosses of Wrath (except Halion who was technically part of Wrath but I don’t actually feel any drive to kill him – he was tacked on at the end and means little to me). Ulduar is probably one of my favorite raids – it’s absolutely gorgeous, the lore is intriguing, and its vast expanse truly feels epic. Going through there again reminds me of how much a slap in the face TOC was after Ulduar. It’s a one room raid which essentially is frolicking about in a game, vs. an enormous Titan complex involved in ending an incredible threat to Azeroth itself. I really hope Blizzard learned their lesson and we don’t see more affronts to our dignity as heroes in Cataclysm.
Unrelated Happy Sidenotes
First sidenote – Twitter via in-game chat in Rift? That is a fantastic idea, and far superior to Blizzard’s attempts to incorporate social networking within their games. Although I don’t intend on playing Rift, I’m always happy to hear that other MMOs out there are contributing great ideas to the genre and adding in some much-needed competition.
Second sidenote – I just finished listening to the most recent episode of the ever-popular WOW podcast, the Instance. I haven’t listened to it in quite some time – so long ago that I don’t really even remember why I stopped. Last week I heard that one of the co-hosts, Randy “Deluxe” is stepping aside due to finding a job in the gaming industry. This sparked my curiosity a bit, and I re-subscribed. The “goodbye Randy” episode was rather self-indulgent, but after a few hundred episodes I certainly don’t blame them. The big takeaway from it though is that there will be two new co-hosts in addition to Scott Johnson, one of which I am utterly thrilled about. I’ll give you a hint… he has a charming British accent and once appeared on another popular WOW podcast. Yes, it’s Turpster. I may have let out a yelp of glee in the car when I heard this.
Third sidenote – I am so excited about the latest Dragon Age news. Felicia Day has written and is starring in a web-series, Dragon Age: Redemption, taking place in the Dragon Age universe. Also, from the sounds of it – her character is a rogue. I will admit to not finishing Dragon Age, but I thought it was a top-notch game and story. Felica Day is very lovely and talented, and I’ve enjoyed almost everything she’s done (except oddly, the Guild, which is what she has become known for in the gaming world – but that is a rant for another day). This also really proves that Bioware is awesome – I mean, whoever came up with this idea should win an award.
Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go find a way to get these Dr. Horrible songs out of my head.