Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Sounding the Death Knell for ‘Old Heroics’

Are the original Cata heroics dead and buried already?

gongAs my regular reader may have noted, I’ve not written much on here recently; this is due mainly to me sunning myself in various parts of Europe.  Hope you all had fun while I was away… Having had a mini-break from WOW of just under 2 weeks (which I think I needed as I was becoming a little jaded anyways) I waded back into ZG and ZA with my priest.  Oh how I was rusty, it’s amazing how you forget the subtleties of playing your class after a bit of a break.  Anyway, after five minutes of flailing about aimlessly, I remembered how to cast Chakra and all was well.  I completed a few runs on the priest, but as I’m pretty much as well geared on my priest as I’m going to be from the new heroics (although the damn 2h caster staff from ZG still eludes me) I thought I’d dust off the DK tank and the druid and do a few ‘old’ heroic runs.  Now I know that they’re not technically that old, more middle aged, but that seems to be the way everyone seems to refer to all of the 5 man instances apart from ZA & ZG; far be it from me to fly in the face of convention.

Firstly I dusted off the tank, now I haven’t actually done much tanking since the release of the 4.1 patch as I’ve been concentrating on the mage and the priest.  My ilvl was 2 below the requirement for the Zanzilar instances so I’m pretty well geared as the old heroics go, but oh how I was rusty.  I actually took some time to read up and refresh my memory on tanking with the DK before venturing into an instance.  First off it was Grim Batol, oh the joy (my regular reader knows how I love this place, if you’re not him, have a read of this).  Not only was it Grim Batol, it was a half complete Grim Batol, their previous tank had deserted them, give them a chance I though, ‘he may have just disconnected’.  Oh how wrong I was.   We were at General Umbriss the penultimate boss in there, it’s really not that difficult as DPS or healer (especially with a reasonably geared tank), its a simple matter of not getting too far away so the breath can be avoided, not standing in shit, and dpsing the adds which spawn.  The healer, it seems, had a death wish, running at spawned adds, standing in the shit, and generally just jumping off cliffs as much as possible, but that’s not the worst of it, of the three DPS, only one of them managed over 5k, and him only just.  Now I know DPS isn’t everything, but we had a druid, hunter and a mage, regardless of how bad their gear was they should be kicking out at least double that; hell on my fire mage I was getting close to 12k on some boss fights before getting a single piece of heroic gear.

After five failed attempts, five failed attempts that weren’t even close and showed no signs of improvements, I decided enough was enough.  Now I hate dumping groups like this, but it was clear this was really going nowhere.  I took the time to apologise and politely (I hope)explained that I didn’t feel this groups DPS was anywhere near what was needed and left, I suppose I could have pointed out that their positioning sucked, and at least two of them didn't have a clue how to play their class, but I decided against it; to be fair, I’m not the greatest tank in the world and it would have felt a touch hypocritical.

So I queued for another random, after a quick food break, back refreshed, we were off to the Lost City of Tol’vir.  The first pull went badly, partly my fault I suppose, but not helped by someone breaking the crowd control at least twice and the groups inability to attack the marked targets.  Before the fight was over, the mage who’s crowd control had been broken had left.  Replacing the departed mage we cracked on, round to the first boss.  Now this boss, lets face it, is pretty easy.  Don’t stand on mines, avoid the charge (which is telegraphed well in advance of it happening), and blast away.  As I was kiting xxx boss xxx round for about the tenth circuit, it struck me that things weren’t going to well, we finally killed it, and I had a cursory glance at the DPS meters; none of the DPS had more than 4k!! what on earth is going on?? ok, there’s a bit of movement which effects the numbers, but not that much.  At this point I had a quick inspect of peoples gear, it was clear that at least one of the party had cheated the ilvl requirements, the rest of the party was in low to average quality gear, but you’d expect them to be able to manage the instance easily.  Not long after the group fell apart.

I ran a few further instances, both on the tank and the druid healing.  I witnessed it all, tanks who don’t know how to tank (no not me, worse than that), healers who had no clue how to manage their mana pool, DPS who refuse to switch to adds on bosses, and my favourite of all, people who were new to instances (which is fine, we all had L plates once up on a time) who were asked directly “do you know what to do here” only to cause a wipe and say, “sorry this is my first heroic, I didn’t know what to do”.

Not the most enjoyable afternoons play I’ve ever experienced, but it made for a new rant post, it got me thinking, why is it so bad in PUGs for old heroics? and it struck me, they’re basically training areas for people aspiring to the Zanzilar instances and 10 man raids.  People are able to power level to 85 from scratch in a few days, either not touching an instance on the way or being so overpowered, their inability to play their class doesn’t matter.  They hit 85, buy the gear they need to meet the ilvl, and then hack straight into the heroics. 
I’ve met a lot more new players also over the last few days in old heroics, either WOW is undergoing a resurgence in new subscriptions, or there are less experienced players doing the older content; I suspect the latter.  It seems people plough through the old heroics, gathering the gear they need and then jump straight into the new content; why wouldn’t you?  There’s very little reward for hanging around after you’ve met the ilvl, you’ll replace most of the gear in a few runs of the new stuff anyway.

So you’re not going to get too many people hanging around with better than average gear, so those players with poor gear stand out far more, they can no longer expect to be carried by the players doing the better DPS.  Those players who are ‘good’ players tend, in my experience of the last few days, to be far less forgiving, I’ve seen people drop out on inspecting other peoples gear before a shot had been fired, I’ve seen far more abuse from players, who weren’t that good themselves, and generally people treating PUGs as their means of getting to better things as quickly as possible, not really caring about who they trample over on the way.  The one thing I haven’t seen (yet) is ninja looting of gear which is better suited to others in the party.
It strikes me that the new ZA & ZG instances are where it’s at at the moment, and as everyone is clamouring to meet the requirements to get into those they expect to be handed the gear on a plate from the lesser instances, it seems to be fostering the kind of abhorrent behaviour which no one particularly likes to see, and also exposes the newer players to the game to an environment where they’re most certainly not going to learn, and more likely going to get turned off the game quickly.

Now I’m not saying that I don’t want new content, I’m already starting to feel that I’ve done the two new heroics to death, but Blizzard need to be wary of releasing new content which walks all over the existing stuff, are we going to get to a stage where the next lot of dungeons are released, which means that ZA & ZG simply become gearing zergs? With patch 4.2 coming along sometime soon, T11 gear is going to be far more attainable, I suspect so.  Blizzard have already proved they are capable of revitalising old content, in the changes they’ve made to the lower level zones, but as I’ve already mentioned in many of my other posts, the lower level instances, that is, the instances that aren’t the top level heroics, are just a joke.  Without a bit of care, Blizzard could be nullifying most of the content they created for Cataclysm only half a year after it was released.

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