Saturday, December 22, 2007

Credit Where Credit is Due

I spend a lot of virtual ink discussing what I think are flaws in Blizzard's game, mostly because flaws are more interesting to look at. It's not really fair though, as there are a lot of things that Blizzard has done well, and has improved significantly.

In particular, the current endgame is leaps and bounds ahead of the endgame that existed when I first started writing, about two years ago. Back then, level 60 dungeons such as Stratholme and Scholomance were a joke, as everyone "raided" them with 10 people, twice as much firepower as was necessary. They provided very little challenge, and the quality of play was abysmal. Raiding was Molten Core, where half the DPS was AFK watching TV. It required 30-40 level 60s, which was next to impossible for the small guilds to build towards.

Today on Skywall, both the heroic and normal dailies pointed at Botanica. As 40g and 7 Badges for one run is a great opportunity, I was trying to get into a pickup group (it was a bit early, and few guildies were online). I joined a group of 4 people who were all from the same guild, Hysteria, a small guild who's name I did not recognize.

That run turned out to be one of the best pickup groups I've been in. The players in this guild had a high level of skill. The tank kept everything on him, the mage sheeped and counterspelled efficiently, the warlock banished and switched demons on the fly, the rogue pulled off some tricky saps, and everyone did solid DPS. It was the type of run that I love, where everyone is playing with focus and skill. It was such an unexpected pleasure to find this run with a pickup group.

It turned out that they were a small casual guild working on Karazhan. They only raided one or two nights a week, and were up to Shade. They were planning their first expedition to Zul'Aman sometime in the new year.

It really struck me that this guild could not have existed in the old WoW endgame. The 60 dungeons would not have provided the challenge they needed to hone their skills to their current degree. The skill level is basically what I would have expected from a Blackwing Lair guild, and yet this is an entry-level TBC guild. They also wouldn't have had the numbers to field raids in the old game, and in the end they probably would have broken up and died.

And yet, in the current game, they are not only surviving, they are doing well. They have challenges that they are working on, challenges which are worthy of their skill, and have further challenges to look forward to. They don't have to raid four nights a week if they don't want to, nor do they need to marshal 25-40 people in order to progress.

I like that people, especially non-hardcore raiders, are playing with greater skill than before. To me, that's a sign that the game is healthy. I like that guilds such as this have new challenges available to them, and can continue to progress at their own pace.

In some ways, I guess I see my first guild in these guys. But where we found only barren rock after hitting the level cap, and were essentially forced to scatter to the large raiding guilds if we wanted new challenges and progression, this guild has found fertile soil and is thriving.

And this is mostly due to the efforts of Blizzard. They have made the endgame more challenging, with better and smoother increases in available challenges, which has encouraged skilled play, and they have made the endgame more accessible to smaller guilds. All in all, the WoW endgame of today is far superior to the WoW endgame of two years ago.

5 comments:

Alan / Falcon said...

Nice post! I agree with the sentiments here completely. And it would be kind of nice to see a new "things gone right" meme sweep through the blogosphere here in the midst of the Holidays.

Anonymous said...

Yup , nice post. im allways listening to people in guild chat advising others never to join a Heroic Pug as its just an expensive repair bill and a wipefest. And yes usually i run them with a bunch of trusted peeps for quick easy badges. But every now and then i join lfg and see who i get. Of course you get some nightmares but then you get some great groups who play with skill and now and again you even learn something new. Its nice to play with different people now and again too. I went to blood furnace heroic with a pug after 2.3, i couldnt help but check their gear out and was slightly worried when i saw a few greens amongst them. Then to my suprise we cleared the place without a wipe.

Lazenby Arathor eu

Goodheart said...

I've been thriving on that fertile soil for a while now, never got passed KZ but because guilds don't need to be as big as they used to, they can be alot more social. I really couldn't play without a guild like that.
Also I've been farming the daily heroics for 2 weeks now, and only met 2 bad PUGS out of 12 or so. But our server (venture co) is above mediocre comapred to my old one so maybe that helps :P

Chiren said...

I had played as a paladin in 2004, and got quickly turned off by 40 man raiding, and basically quit the game for over a year after.

I restarted playing about a year ago, and I must say, with TBC its been great, exactly for that fertile soil you are talking about.

My guild thrives there, we are a small family-style guild. We value friends and people a lot more than loot and progression.

But that doesn't mean we don't have skill, and with all the different avenues for progression that TBC gives us, it doesn't mean we don't have gear either.

Our evenings are usually 1 heroic for ourselves, and one lesser instance to help our dear friends who dont' have level 70 characters yet.

Anonymous said...

Truly great post, and a great point. I too belong to a guild that was not thriving under the old endgame, but has currently cleared Kara and looking towards ZA and Gruul's in the New Year.

Job well done, Blizz.