Cataclysm Heroics – A Shot In The Foot?

If you’ve paid any attention at all to the WoW community in the last few weeks, you’ve probably heard how much more difficult the new heroics are. I’ve been in quite a few at this point, won some, lost some, and can say that I agree: we’re harder now than we’ve been since heroics first opened in TBC. For the first time in the last two years, LFD’ers who have spent the last year completely turned off are having to click in and pay attention again.

The results are incredibly polarizing. I’m not exaggerating when I say the LFD tool is about as hit or miss as any mechanic has ever been. Sometimes, you’ll get a group that’s, well, abnormal: they’re good players, communicative players, who aren’t afraid to own up to their own playstyles. The others are mass-pull, no speak, gogogo’ers. The latter fails.  Always.

But, why is that? These players are average, if not a little impatient, socially inept, and in need of babysitting. Who are we kidding, though. It doesn’t take Lance Charming to run one of these dungeons. It doesn’t take someone willing to min-max and know every other class’s CC.  All it takes is a basic knowledge of 5-10 tooltips, not to stand in the bad, and to stand in the good.

The reason everything seems so much harder is that each encounter is depends on every single member of the party. In many cases, one screw up can make the difference between life and death. Whether it’s lack of DPS, an interrupt, or even a slow, every player – good and bad – is more important now than they’ve ever been. And unfortunately, it seems like the weight of bad players is far heavier than it really should be.

The end result is players hitting a brick wall when they utilize they LFD tool. It’s Russian roulette with your lockout timer.

It’s also social conditioning. If players want to succeed, they have to talk. They have to be on the ball and not tuned out. They have to look after one another instead of just themselves. Coming from Wrath, all of this is foreign. Gogogo, sppeeed run plz, im just here for my emblems.

The player experience is also far less pleasant. A hunter fails to trap in time? Yell at them. Tell them they suck. Healers wastes mana keeping  a DPS alive? Fail healer.  Paladin without the right aura up? Alright, that is pretty bad, but still. EVERYBODY is being chastised more.

Is this how we come out of the Wrath hole and into the delightfully seared Cataclysm daylight? Is this how our one month respite before the raid grind ends, yelling at each other because, frankly, everyone’s frustrated and we need someone to blame?

Now, this post isn’t a roundabout way of calling for nerfs. For the love of God, I hope they don’t. If this is what it takes to restore WoW’s population to the level of actually speaking to one another, so be it. I just don’t see how this will not pre-emptively burn a bunch of people out. What DPS wants to go from Wrath where they felt like a king, to feeling like some mob’s meat rag and get yelled at for it? What tank or healer wants to take the brunt of the blame-game when runs are more often than not complicated by more than simple mana of HP?

I’m one of those tanks. I do it because I like the challenge. I like having to mark and pull carefully and strategize. I like having to work together and, yes, organize the group by calling kill-order.  I’m also not shy about defending myself – and others – when someone tries to offset the blame. I like the feeling that comes with knowing every dungeon and every encounter like the back of your hand, and then sharing that knowledge with others. Maybe it’s the teacher in me.

But that’s not everyone.

If the average player logs in for an one-to-two hours a night, every night, and spends that time solely in dungeons, they’ll have about 21 opportunities to get an upgrade. If every item has an 80-85% chance not to remain hidden, you have a recipe for a lengthy stay in random pick up groups.

The message from Blizzard is pretty clear: get a guild group or enter trial by fire. You will learn. Your group will learn. You’d better just plan on staying in that one instance for a while.

Right now, the general populace is *not* ready for the challenge these encounters provide. It’s getting better. My advice is that, if you’re not a raider and don’t feel like dealing with it, take a break for a few months. Level an alt. There’s no point in putting yourself through the frustration and repair bills unless you savor the challenge and the trial and error these encounters provide.

But if you do, get in while the getting is good. It will be another couple years before we see the community at this place again. Once this tier of raid content is set on farm, Cataclysm will never be so “hard” again.

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