Cataclysm Post-Mortem: Raids Part 2

First off, apologies that this has taken so long to come out. I’ve been really busy with work, moving and other things and just haven’t had the time to write. That said, at least you’re getting two articles in one go.

Without further ado then, a continuation of analysis of Cataclysm’s raids. This article: Firelands.

Firelands

Firelands was an interesting experiment. Originally, it was supposed to be one half of Tier 12, as Blizzard had mentioned how they preferred the multi-raid tier compared to one very large instance, such as Ulduar or ICC. However, with time running out Blizzard decided to put all of their focus on Firelands and make one (comparitively) small, focused, polished as hell instance. Did it work?

Not really. First off, the actual number of bosses meant that the content just felt short. It took a lot less time to see all the new bosses then it did in say, Tier 11 or ICC, and even if some bosses are more memorable than others in larger raids, more bosses just feels better. What’s more, by having only 7 bosses, every single one needed to feel very different and very interesting, and some of them simply didn’t. There were a lot of new and cool ideas in the instance, no doubt, but none of the bosses stood out as particularly groundbreaking or major fan favourites.

Another problem the instance faced was that a large part of it was just one giant area, rather than a series of rooms. This had the negative effect of feeling like there was a giant pool of crap that you had to clear through in order to progress, and even though the trash to boss ratio was the same as always, it felt like there was just too much to do to get through to the bosses. Having a reputation here didn’t help, because it incentivised players to farm the trash, and because you could reach so much of it without fighting any bosses, the general area became very old, very fast. As for a boss by boss breakdown:

Shannox – a couple of interesting ideas, but overall nothing that memorable. Offtanking this fight was fun, but no other role has much to do other than move out of stuff on the floor every now and then. The idea of having dps need to focus fire at times was good, but making it a set number that had to be reached in one spell rather than just overall was kind of irritating, and punishing to melee (a recurring theme this expansion).

Beth’tilac – a fun fight but one that could have been much better. The idea of the boss being on a web above the raid, and certain people going up to fight it was very cool, and the varied adds meant that the people downstairs had to pay attention to what was going on around them. What I didn’t like about the fight was how phase 2, the ‘all adds are gone now just burn down the boss’ phase, started with the boss at really high health, and so it lasted ages. You can’t really call it a ‘burn phase’ when it lasts over a minute, and so rather than feeling like a mad-dash rush to the finish, a la Chimaeron, it was just kind of boring and annoying if your dps wasn’t that high.

Lord Rhyolith – the most unique concept for a fight, and not surprisingly the most annoying encounter. Having to DPS his legs to make him walk specific ways was a good idea, but it was a nightmare when the volcanoes that he needed to walk on would spawn right behind him, and so you’d just wipe because you couldn’t get him there in time. They needed to speed up his movement so that players could move him around easier, or have certain set patterns for the volcanoes to spawn in. Good idea – badly executed.

Alysrazor – probably the best fight in the instance, though a little complicated. Because there needed to be something for everyone to do at all times, certain phases of the encounter had a lot going on at once, and if one person messed up, it was a wipe. It was kind of frustrating to wipe 5 times in a row to completely seperate issues, because it felt like you weren’t progressing at all. What’s more, the fight favoured certain specs over others in a pretty extreme way, meaning a group with a good fire mage had it easy and a group without just didn’t. That said, there were some fun mechanics to play with, like the idiot check tornados, a proper burn phase, tanks getting to maximize their dps, and one player getting to fly through the air for most of the fight.

Baleroc – one of those fights where I just don’t quite get the ‘we decided to make 7 awesome bosses rather than 12 mediocre ones’ argument. Baleroc was 100% average, the sort of filler fight I’d expect to see in Ulduar or ICC. That isn’t a bad thing most of the time, because there was nothing wrong with the fight – it was reasonably fun. However, it needed to have more going for it to stand up in a 7 boss raid, and it just didn’t.

Majordomo Staghelm – definitely a contender for best fight in the instance alongside Alysrazor. The mechanics were simple yet very different to anything we’d seen before, and meant that every group could play around with tactics to suit their own raid setup. Neither phase punished melee or ranged, save for needing to have a certain amount of ranged in the group, and the mechanics were varied enough to keep all players on their toes at all times. The achievement before this boss still aggravates me to this day however. How hard is it to fucking /kneel? You did it before, you said you understood what to do, and yet you fucked us over for ANOTHER week.

Ragnaros – unfortunately all info I have about heroic mode Rag is second hand, as I haven’t done it myself, but I’ve seen and heard enough to draw conclusions on it in general. On normal mode, the fight was decent. It was a reasonable challenge, with solid mechanics and just gave off an epic feeling. You really felt like you were fighting a serious bad guy. Heroic mode was a different story though. First off, having a heroic only phase was a good idea – it rewarded hardcore players without punishing those who could only handle normal. The problem was making this phase much, mucher harder than the rest of the fight, and putting it at the end of the fight. After all they’d seemed to learn in Tier 11, they shoved all the difficulty behind a 6-7 minute barrier, so that players had to go through the motions for 3 phases over and over just to practise on the hardest part of the fight. Not only that, but the fight itself was simply too punishing in difficulty. The top raiding guilds said it was the hardest fight they’d ever had to do, but the main problem wasn’t how hard it was, but how hard it was in comparison to every other fight in the raid. All guilds were either just starting on heroics, or they were 6/7. If you could down one heroic, you could down all of them, except Rag, which was much, much harder. Being able to clear 6 out of 7 bosses in an hour and then getting your ass handed to you by the last boss isn’t good design.

OK, that’s it for Firelands. If you haven’t already read them, check out my articles on Tier 11 and Dragon Soul. Remember to subscribe or follow me on twitter @heroicrant for updates, and leave a comment if you’d got an opinion on anything I’ve written.

/end rant

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One Response to “Cataclysm Post-Mortem: Raids Part 2”

  1. […] Heroic Rant Rants about games, films and the world in general « Cataclysm Post-Mortem: Raids Part 2 […]

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