Friday, December 3, 2010

WoW is Challenging ... sometimes

Yeah - WoW is challenging. And I am not talking about that minigame called heroic raids. I am talking about leveling. More precisely, leveling dungeons. Unfortunately, it depends on the dungeon and your level. A lot!

I made a druid some week ago and started to level. While the new quests were interesting and sometimes even fun, the overpowered gameplay during leveling was simply too boring. Add to that that becoming stronger makes the problem only worse. So questing stopped to be fun.

So I decided to heal some dungeon groups. I knew that would only worsen the gameplay while doing the new quests, but .. well. Shit happens.

So here I am, a level 15 healing druid and for the next 5-10 levels the game is actually fun. Immersion is bad, because there are now monkeys mining ore and boss fights are more colorful than a rainbow, but the difficulty is ok for a beginner random dungeon group. Not exactly challenging, but I do need to use a healing spell from time to time.

Then, suddenly, level 30-45. I can't believe this! The Paladin tanks (there are only paladin tanks right now at horde side (!), don't need any healer any more! Neither needs the rest of the group a healer. A joke by Blizzard ?
I am already condemning Blizzard, when I reach lvl 45: Stratholm.

I realize that tank is taking damage. Not just a little, but WOAH!!
I need to use instants, cooldowns. I calculate my healing/mana on the fly to determine my most efficient heals. It is crazy. I need to innervate myself, even use mana potions. No wipes. Once a DD dies, because I cannot afford to heal him from a mana point of view. That is the WoW I love. That is classic World of Warcraft: Letting the dps die on purpose to save the mana for the tank. Now that is an interesting decision.

I want to find out whether this is just due to bad equip, so I inspect the tank: Full heirlooms! And he even plays rather well, nothing fancy, but very solid! He occasionally uses his instant heal, not only to heal himself, but members of the group!
Sure, we don't use CC and we don't pull, but run into groups. But that's normal for the random dungeon finder.

During the dungeon I mention that I love that difficulty. First time anybody talks. Some two minutes later the tank responds: "I hate it".
That's where we are.

Nerf incoming, my friends ;)


  1. "Letting the dps die on purpose"

    And you even admit you enjoy it! You meanie! ;)

  2. I did not enjoy the situation itself, Larísa. :)

    I enjoyed it from a game designer point of view. The fact that in this singular instance Blizzard put me into a situation where I had to make a relatively difficult and (within the context) meaningful decision. (The first one in a very long time in WoW!)

    After we had overcome the challenges put before us, I remember - at least for a little while, which item I got in Stratholm and I rememeber the dungeon group.

    One criteria (among many others) to judge a game (or any activity) is its potential to create memories.

    In this dungeon, nobody complained, by the way. But I don't know whether that is because they understood the decision, or because they generally don't chat in random dungeons.
    Perhaps I was just some player-controled NPC or them (love that oxymoron :).

  3. I think you'll find that even for players who enjoy difficulty, they prefer the sort of challenge where they feel in control (ie. if they play well, everyone lives.)

    So if you think about it, tanks and healers might well prefer different types of difficulty. I don't really like as a tank when I have to rely purely on the healer to save my butt, I far prefer when I can do more actively to help.

    Similarly there are some really cool tank fights that are boring for healers.

  4. Spinksville,

    that is true for all players, of course. But it is naturally limited for team games.

    Having said that, WoW allows for plenty of decisions to be made by tank or DDs. Look at all those tank cooldowns alone! DDs can stun, kite, interupt, ...

    It is just that mostly WoW is so damn easy (while leveling) that your cooldowns aren't some sort of interesting decision. Instead, you either use them 'on cooldown', use them randomly, or forget to use them at all.

    Of course, such engaging gameplay is no fun if you just want to have some distraction after work for 30 minutes.

    What was especially fun about this decision to let a DD die, was that I had plenty of time to think about it. And it payed off! I needed that mana for the tank and due to my decision we overcame the challenge.

    I am certain the tank also did some things that would have wiped us, had he not done them. Just because I had the priviledge to make an interesting decision does not mean that nobody else has took a decision.

    Concluding, this is a perfect example on how restricting gameplay with rules (no endless mana) creates a more fun and memorable experience.

  5. I think it's the dungeon finder tool. They loosened up the level restrictions so you can get into a dungeon earlier than previously. I had a few Scarlet Monastary runs that were similar because all the mobs were orange to me. I think it's a nice improvement too. Now instead of drawing the same dungeon over and over you can get a wildcard on occasion, and have some real fun.

  6. I hope they don't nerf it. I had a deadmines run today, that was awesome. we died like 5 times, maybe 6? but each time we died, tank got a bit more careful, dps got a bit more attentive and by the time we were killing the kingpin, I could almost hear the happy chortling of my group mates. most people enjoy actually playing, rather then going through content on autopilot.