A friend of mine sent me a rather interesting email today. She basically stated that Blizzard was going to be making insane changes to raiding with their Cataclysm expansion. I looked into the link she provided and thought that yes, this is a major step towards completely changing the raiding landscape of World of Warcraft. She wasn’t overly thrilled but I can see some virtue here.
To quote the MMO Champion article Cataclysm is going to do a few things for raiding. Ten man and 25 man raids are going to be next to the same difficulty, share a lock out timer, and drop the same loot. On the surface that seems like the death of the 25 man raid as the only bonus for doing so us getting a greater quantity of loot per kill. I fully expect that any 25 man raider will be upset but I am actually going to take the other stance and say these changes are extremely positive.
Having two separate raid progressions is both confusing and frustrating to players. MMORPGs that offer multiple scales of raiding haven’t done the best job with this in the past. Sometimes to do ten man raids you need 25 man gear. Sometimes to get into 25 man raids you need ten man gear. Very rarely were the two paths mutually exclusive and this could really wear on someone’s nerves who wanted to do only one or the other. By making the raids the exact same but just varying the number of participants Blizzard has eliminated this. Raiding will have one progression path. The players simply dictate how many bodies they want to take on that journey.
Keeping a consistent difficulty is also a step in the right direction. Trying to balance how hard a tier two ten man raid is verse a tier two 25 is no easy challenge. Creating loot for both is equally difficult. By removing the link between number of bodies and difficulty (something very hard to do) you should, in theory, have an easier time handling everything else in relation. I will still stick to my stance that the more bodies involved the more complex an encounter can be but in the terms of sheer difficulty based on formulas (dps,hps,etc) you can make them very equal and that will better everyone’s life.
Sharing a lock out timer between the ten man and 25 man is a bit of a bold move but a necessary one. If the two raids are going to essentially be the same and share loot tables you can’t allow players to double dip. This actually gives a lot of flexibility to guild leaders. If you plan a 25 man and you’re short people you now have the chance to progress regardless! For me that is a huge win in guild management. It might also encourage your 25 raiders to show up more often since they can no longer effectively shut you down with their absences. If you can’t build a 25 man raid one night you can probably put a ten man together and leave the slackers in the dust.
When it comes to loot I actually applaud this decision. Giving the same drops in the ten man and 25 man raids just makes sense. Having several similar loot sets out there and trying to pretend they’re different just doesn’t make sense. Simply having more items available doesn’t actually mean players benefit. By knocking out all of the complications and standardizing the progression Blizzard has made the job of guild leaders easier and put players on the path to better loot decisions. I have to support that.
In the end I can see why a 25 man raider would hate these changes. They benefit from them in no way. It seems like a direct attack on their method of play and I can empathize. The only possible saving grace is that the 25 man raids will drop more items. If they drop 2.5x more loot than the ten man raids that will be acceptable but pointless. If they drop more than that you can use the 25 man raids as an accelerated path. Until we find out what that delta is though we’ll just have to assume this is another attempt to make World of Warcraft accessible for more people. As a microcore raider, I say awesome!