Like many people out there in Internetland, I get several news feeds, but, one of my favorites is one that sends me Blue posts from Blizzard developers. Buried within one of the posts over the weekend was this juicy little tidbit:
Now Naxx was designed to be easy, and Ulduar isn't going to be alot
harder. Hard modes on the bosses though are designed to be very hard.
I'll be honest here. I really, reallly, really hoped that this next tier of raiding would actually bring out some challenges. Specifically, I wished that Ulduar would have encounters that would force individual players to get better or encounters that really punish players who have developed bad habits, because the last 9 months have been nothing but an AOE faceroll fest.
I had a pretty good discussion with a raider friend last night with regards to the concept of Progression raiding and WoW's history. The interesting part of this conversation is that this friend jumped into WoW right as TBC was ending, so the only raiding that raider friend had experienced was what I consider the bastardized version of WoW raiding: AOEing mobs down, no focus fire on adds, no CC's, and no penalties for plain being in the wrong place or doing the wrong thing.
The closest comparison, when trying to explain pre-Boss nerf TBC and Classic raiding, was to say, "It's was like doing a Heroic 5 man a few days after hitting 80. You have to CC, you have watch your mana, and you have to pray everyone does their role properly", and even then, I don't think my description conveyed the gut sense of what I was trying to get across because even now, in the first tier of LK raiding, no one uses cc in Heroics. First tier! We're not even at the equivalent of SSC/TK/ZA yet!
So what am I really trying to get at?
Upon reading that above quote, I felt like Blizzard was sucking all the uniqueness out of being a raider. Yes, I realize that millions of people play this game and millions of people raid every day so being a raider isn't unique in the sense of actually being one of a kind. However, in past years, clearing middle tier raid content started to separate the wheat from the chaff. Having the guild organization and the dedication to complete such content was special and was reasonably unique. It meant you were above being a UBRS/Kara guild, and those of us who have been around that long, know the drudgery of never moving up.
The drudgery of being in blues did do something positive though, it forced people to become more social. Small groups of friends created small guild alliances to raid high level content, people went out of their way to get to know others so that they could get raid invites if a more organized guild had openings in the runs, and being in a guild was a pretty big goal for everyone. Right now, on most servers, you can pug everything. You don't have to know anyone. You don't have to have many contacts. You don't have to be in a guild.
I often proclaimed in TBC, when I ran a guild, that "the real challenge to raiding didn't have anything to do with raiding". The real challenge was organizing 30+ people to move in the same direction instead of like 30 retarded lemmings, each following no one off a cliff. I found through trial and error that one way to bring people together is to have a group goal. Something people can get excited about. Raid bosses tend to bring that out in people, especially if they can't win the encounter through faceroll, because motivated players will take it upon their selves to work as a group to 'solve' the issues as to why they're not succeeding.
I may be jumping the gun in a big way here, but when a developer says that the new content won't be much harder, I see a lost opportunity for guild unity and more of a 'gravy train for epics' for a bunch of strangers.
Is there a PvP bent to this? You know me. Of course there is.
When PvE content becomes too easy, two things happen: 1) casual players avoid PvP. If its easier to get phat lewtz from pugging Naxx, they'll do it. 2) Since everyone is an End Game Raider, PvP burst damage becomes much harder to manage and PvP specific gear becomes much harder to itemize. Imagine that you're back in the second week of Season 3 and every Rogue you fight has Warglaives. That's what it's been like to fight vs many teams earlier this season.
I can't say I agree with this decision to tune Ulduar so that it "isn't going to be alot harder", but we'll see just how much of that ends up being true.