Friday, April 13, 2007

World of Warcraft getting easier

In a previous post I proposed that dungeons, including raid dungeons, should have an "easy mode", just like they have a "heroic mode". While some people liked the idea, a lot of the more hardcore people vehemently stated that "dungeons are supposed to be hard", and resisted all ideas to make them more accessible. But apparently the mood in the community has changed. It turned out that the Burning Crusade dungeons are too hard even for most of the hardcore, and that most people can only beat them by using copious amounts of flasks, elixirs, potions, and other consumables. With every raiding night now costing 50 to 100 gold, many raiders were complaining. I already started wondering how many raiders secretly started buying gold from the hated gold farmers, just to finance their raiding habit. The situation got bad enough for Blizzard to react.

Blizzard's argument is that the dungeons are so hard because all those consumables exist. And they got a point there. Look at a single elixir, like the elixir of mastery, giving +15 to all stats. That is a bigger bonus to your stats than what you could hope for by upgrading all your equipment to epics of one tier higher. Especially in the Burning Crusade, where the difference between epics and blues is often wafer-thin.

So in the next big content patch, consumables will be significantly nerfed. One part of the nerf is in the power of the consumables. For example the flask of mighty restoration, that currently gives +70 mana per 5 seconds will only give +25 soon, but the materials will also be reduced by a factor of 3. Another part of the nerf is that you can only have one "battle" and one "guardian" elixir effect on you, *or* one flask, which counts as both. And then, when through these changes people run around considerably less buffed with consumables, the dungeons will be made easier, so raids can beat them using just the now diminished buffs.

Obviously that will make raiding a lot cheaper and easier. And the only ones complaining are those that specialized in elixir mastery and were gaining a fortune on the raiders. The hardcore raiders see how advantageous this is for them, and forgot all about their earlier objection to easy mode dungeons. Blizzard will just continue to add new, harder dungeons at the top, while making the entry level dungeons easier. At some point we'll get to where people can raid Karazhan with a pickup group, which was my criterion for easy mode in the first place. I think that such creeping changes are bad game design, and would have preferred if the dungeons had started out easier from the beginning. But better late than never, and apparently such creeping nerfs are more acceptable to the vocal elitist minority. As long as they had the dungeons first, and there is now new content exclusive for them, they don't mind what happens to their old playgrounds.

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