Pandas Aside…

…here is what you may have missed concerning WoW’s next expansion:

Return of Wrath-era Heroics

Difficulty:

In Cataclysm, Heroic dungeons were intentionally designed as gear and difficulty checks on the progression to raiding. In Mists of Pandaria, the Raid Finder will be the appropriate transition from running dungeons to Normal raids. Heroic dungeons will largely be tuned to be about as difficult as they were in Wrath of the Lich King, allowing players to fairly quickly down bosses in PUGs and hit their Valor Point caps. Valor Points will follow a new philosophy with 4.3, as a parallel way to gear up alongside the Raid Finder, but not as a fill-in for boss drops.

Length:

Keep the experience short and focused. Dungeons should be short enough to let you run a couple of dungeons when you feel like it, not just one.

As I may have mentioned before, I am a player that absolutely believed it was a mistake to go towards longer, harder heroics in Cataclysm. Not only was that incongruent with the concept of LFD, harder/longer heroics actually removed content for me. Whereas I would routinely belt out 2-3 heroics on different characters as soon as I logged on in Wrath – before I even got started with whatever I planned on doing for the day – Cataclysm meant I had just the one heroic to “look forward to,” as it would likely take 2+ hours assuming we finished it at all. Yes, they were nerfed… three months later. And nothing quite washes out the taste of a spectacularly failed Stonecore run.

A side-benefit of going back to Wrath-era difficulty is I predict the number of tanks will increase as a result. I feel the same way today as I felt back in April when Blizzard started bribing tanks with BoA goody-bags. Hopefully Challenge runs will satisfy the people looking for non-faceroll content (or at least marginalize their complaints) in the same way Heroic raids (sorta) did.

Reduce “the Dance”

The goals for dungeons and raids in Mists of Pandaria are to create epic and challenging experiences, but Cataclysm also helped us learn where we can improve with the new expansion. The Raid Finder will help with taking that first step into endgame content, and it will be available for all Mists of Pandaria raids. Beyond that, we want to create more easily understandable encounters and move away from mechanics that simply set up groups to fail, while still keeping them challenging.

While I suppose that can be read multiple ways, what I like to imagine Blizzard means is not so much that “the Dance” is eliminated, but rather you can choose who does the dancing. The Lich King’s Defile ability sets groups up for failure, because if it targets your weakest player, you are likely to wipe immediately. I couldn’t tell you how many times I /facepalmed in Professor Putricide when someone who couldn’t kite worth crap got targeted by the orange ooze, or when the panic-under-pressure member dragged Omnotron’s Acquiring Target (or Lightning Conductor) through the raid. If you can imagine that the outcome would have been different if a boss ability targeted someone else instead, how can you really say the encounter was challenging at all?

Obviously that logic can be reduced to an absurd degree (if the quarterback threw to the other receiver they would have won, etc). I guess what I want to get across is that I miss epic boss kills like this one. “Epic” in the sense that despite everything falling apart, we were still able to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. In Cataclysm’s raid environment, the guy dying to Mimiron’s landmines would have blown up the raid, or failing to interrupt a 1.5 second cast would be an insta-wipe.

And, hey, I’d also like to move away from bosses that take longer to explain on Vent than they do to fight, e.g. Omnotron, etc.

Harder Leveling?!

Probably not. However:

Q: Will you be making any changes to how stats work?

Yes. […] In practice, this means that upon the expansion’s release, the numbers for Strength, Health, Intellect, damage, and so on will be significantly lower than you’re used to seeing across the board, from level 1 to level 85. It’s all relative, of course — enemies’ and bosses’ stats will be reduced as well, and it should take a level-85 warrior roughly the same number of many sword-whacks and ability uses to kill a level-85 monster as it did before. However, this also means the difference between each level between 1 and 85 will be less significant, so you may find that an enemy 5 or 10 levels below your own will be a little tougher to deal with than it was before.

If grey enemies are “a little tougher to deal with than before,” that is actually a pretty big change. I was looking forward towards a tank with 750,000 HP, but I suppose this will be fine.

Instanced Group Content for ~3 Players

  • PvE Scenarios are a way to give new interesting content that doesn’t make sense in a dungeon content.
  • Scenarios are more about reusing parts of the world in interesting new ways, and introducing new types of PvE gameplay that we’ve never seen before like PvE battlegrounds.
  • They are short instances for a few players, the amount of players can vary depending on the scenario, some of them can be for 3 players.

I am excited for Scenarios in a general sense for that first bullet point, because theoretically it means they could release Scenarios more often. Admittedly, this is Blizzard we are talking about, but I can see some devs whipping up a few extra for when such-and-such MMO gets released without having to bother with justifying it in a lore/progression-sense. I am excited about the 3 number specifically because that was how far my in-game group shrank towards the end of my subscription. We always struggled with things to do other than AFK chat in Stormwind, as LFD with two pugs did not quite excite us in any possible way.

In any case, I think that wraps up my thoughts/reactions to BlizzCon 2011. Now we just have to see how many of them get implemented.

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Posted on October 24, 2011, in WoW and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. As someone who spends the vast majority of their time in 5 man content, I am extremely disheartened by a return to Wrath-style 5 mans. I think they were a horrible idea in Wrath, and they’re a horrible idea for MoP as they destroy a playstyle that a lot of folks share in favor of making them a loot pinata for raiders.

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  2. Good post!

    @gwjanimej, I wouldn’t have a problem with some grindy 15-min 5-man dungeons. But if this is the only 5-man content there is in the game, that’s a big problem. I do understand that dungeons in combination with a random LFD and a daily/weekly quest need to be easy. I said that before myself. But that’s exactly why the LFD should not be used for the entire 5-man content.

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  3. Dungeons: I’d love to have dungeons of different level/types. Easier/harder or CC/AoE fest. At times I want to faceroll, but at times I also like a challenge. Right now the solution is guild group = faceroll, random = challenge, which is not exactly a good approach.
    The challenge mode sounds interesting, but it’ll probably end up very non-interesting soon. The interesting part is the stat normalization thing, it’ll be nice to see how they deal with capped stats. I’m also quite positive that it’s a first test at killing levels, or more precisely, allowing a high-level to play as low-level to join leveling friends.

    Boss fights: Omnitron HM was probably my favourite fight of T11. It’s a complete total mess, and there are a lot of non-forgiving errors. But I like that it forces you to deal with the mess (which will always invariably happen). And I don’t find that all the Cataclysm HM fights were so critical, maybe it comes from playing 25-men, where one error/death is less catastrophic than in 10-men.

    Stats: ok, so they want to keep using 16-bit values for the base stats. Good, it’ll save them a lot of server RAM :P A change I’m absolutely non-excited about: I’ve seen in LotRO how bad the low stat inflation can be, and I definitely prefer the “latest >> everything” approach of the current WoW itemization. WotLK went too far, but Cataclysm, I like. This could mean even more homogenization of stats and irrelevance of set bonuses.

    3-men: PvE scenarios already sounded like “we’re copying LotRO skirmishes”, now it’s sure; good, since I like them. Too bad they didn’t copy the outfit system, going for the half-assed trasmogifigritragation (spelling? at the same time, I’ll probably ignore it and solve the ugly/horrible character and armor design problem as I do right now: staying in cat form).

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  4. I would say “harder” dungeons are actually OK, as are challenge modes.

    “Longer” dungeons was big mistake though, especially 5/6-boss ZA/ZG, though earlier heroics also padded a lot of time with giant high-hp trash hallways between bosses. In fact, just reducing trash hp would increase current heroic running speed big time.

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