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Dragon Soul: Post-Mortem and Immersion

In typical raiding fashion, the “last pull of the night” became the killing attempt.  Deathwing has been vanquished and Azeroth is safe once again. Something Wicked of US-Whisperwind has completed all 25-Man Heroic content available and finishing the Tier at US 55th. I am proud to say I was a part of this kill!

With all content completed, it gives us the opportunity to reflect on not just the Tier but also Cataclysm as a whole. What worked well? What didn’t? What was your favorite?

High Level Post-Mortem

Overall I really enjoyed Dragon Soul– I might be an outlier with my enjoyment of Dragon Soul, but I am trying to look at it exclusively from a Heroic 25-man perspective. A number of the fights had some really interesting mechanics that we hadn’t  seen quite this way before and were enjoyable. (Strategic Barrel Rolls, Ball Bouncing, Strategic Ooze Killing, NPC buffs to manage, etc). I liked it! Perhaps the most dynamic (as a result, my favorite) was Yor’sahj. YJ’s wave of Oozes was random… one pull was never the same as the next and forced you to become a dynamic raider.

Dragon Soul itself wasn’t all peaches and cream and sunshine. With Dragon Soul, also came LFR. I do think Looking For Raid was damaging to raid groups, and was counter to what they wanted to accomplish by introducing it. Set bonuses being the biggest culprit of this folly. You had raid groups, particularly HM Progression Raid groups, feeling ‘obligated’ to run LFR to get those 4-piece bonuses for their tanks and DPS. (Perfectly illustrated by the drama of the LFR Exploits early in the Tier). Having people raid content out of obligation is a dangerous line to dance on.

Perhaps the most damage LFR introduced was apathy. “Its just LFR!” is something you heard in nearly every LFR group you queued into. (I will admit, my Alts loved LFR and the loot pinata it became…) However, the fact that LFR had no ‘Failure Mechanic’ is something I hope Blizzard corrects in the next tier of content. You should not be able to simply ignore Ultraxion’s  Hour of Twilight every time it was cast, or the ability to ignore Shrapnel on Madness. It fosters poor play– and in turn created this “gimme loot” and “its just LFR” mentality.

LFR should have been the introduction to raiding. LFR should have been the content to whet the appetites of those who might not have raided in the past. LFR should have been the tool to expose more people to my favorite aspect of the game:  learning dynamic encounters and raiding! Lengthening the cast time on the previously mentioned abilities (even more) to give people more time to click that button is a potential solution.

I think that, for those “who LFR is for” (whatever that means!)– they would agree. LFR isn’t meant to be something you have to pour hours and hours of attempts in. It is meant for the more casual approach to raiding and should be tuned as such…  however having it tuned down so much that core mechanics can be ignored is likely something that should be addressed. The player-base will ultimately improve as a result.


I will admit, I entered this final tier not caring who Deathwing was. Yeah, he made Stormwind’s front gates crumble, and the structures between the Mage Quarter and the Docks are in cinders… but I didn’t care. I only chased him down at the launch of 4.0 to get my Achievement Points for being killed by him– Guild chat being spammed by “Deathwing is in Hyjal! Get to the zone if you need the Achievement!”. (Ironically, this was unnecessary as you got the achievement if you died to him during one of his encounters in DS). Blizzard, in my eyes, really fell short at making us feel engaged with Deathwing early on in 4.0. They should have made us want to kill him. Want to right the wrongs. Want to reset the balance with the other Dragon Aspects…

I thought that…

until I actually encountered the Aspects in Dragon Soul… Ysera, Kalecgos, Alexstraza, and Nozdormu really saved the story. The last 5 bosses of Dragon Soul you really got to see the Aspects and if you had your sound turned on, you could really hear them stressing the importance of our success. I could feel them pushing us along. They were there will us… not just as some NPC tangentially associated with the fight, but crucial to it.

With the prelude to going into the Eye of Eternity and engaging Hagara, you had great dialogue between Thrall and Kalecgos trying to figure out a way to harness the Dragon Soul. With Ultraxion you had each of the Aspects granting you a portion of their power to save you from this ultimate darkness. (Not to mention, it incorporated a very interesting strategy component that each raid team and healer make-up had to handle for this fight– what healer is to get which buff?) Moving all the way through some great cutscenes and into the final encounter: The Madness of Deathwing.

While, some people dislike the voice actors hired for the Aspects. I think they each did a great job really rallying you to the defence of Azeroth. You could hear (and feel) the importance– the urgency in their voices.

“Deathwing is conjuring the final Cataclysm; even the Emerald Dream trembles! If we are to stop this, we must attack him—- TOGETHER!!!”

“Hurry Heroes, in mere moments Deathwing’s Cataclysm will complete what he’s begun and end the world! Join me in the attack– NOW!”

“I will cleanse whatever corruption I can My fire will not harm you!… NO! Such power! Deathwing’s summoning of the final cataclysm will destroy all of Azeroth. Quickly we must interrupt him!”

“Together we can’t fail!”

“Press the attack, Heroes!”

“Avenge the fallen! Continue the fight!!”

“Attack him now!!! We must stop the final Cataclysm!”

If you have not seen the Method vs Dragon Soul – The Movie, I urge you to watch it. For the Aspect dialogue I am referring to, watch from this time stamp. (Starts with the Hagara Prelude)

 Looking forward…

I hope we see more encounters with NPC involvement. It really does drive the encounters forward, and makes you feel like you are part of the story and not like you are simply going into a dungeon, killing bads, and getting loots. We’ve seen allusions to this in the past with the Watchers on Yogg-Saron, Maiev Shadowsong and her traps when you battled Illidan in Black Temple, and even less-so with Jaina’s vapid “All I ever wanted to do was study!” in the Battle of Mount Hyjal back in Burning Crusade.

Give us more NPCs that interact with us during the fights. NPCs that contribute to the fight. NPCs that make us feel like we are making a difference!

What did you think about Dragon Soul, LFR, and the immersion of the tier?

Written By: on February 22, 2012
  1. Congratulations! The new guild is working out well then I take it ;)

  2. I was pretty much like you, going into DS. “Yeah, let’s go kill Deathwing now… meh.” And even hearing the aspects doing their thing (which WAS intense, I admit), it just couldn’t save the story for me. The “need” to kill Deathwing just wasn’t there, and it wasn’t there for a lot of my guildies.

    I think you touched on a couple of the issues with LFR, one being the tier nonsense, and another being “ignorable” mechanics. I mentioned it to you briefly on twitter, but I think LFR was a good “first step”, and I am hoping that Blizz learns from it and fine tunes the LFR encounters more realistically in future raids.

    I do think there was another issue in LFR though, and maybe it is just me, but the fact that some LFR level items are better than normal-mode level items seems a bit backwards and unintuitive. For instance, I am a feral druid (tank is MS, but I kitty sometimes too), and the LFR version of Kiril (from madness) is considerably stronger than the normal mode version of Spire of Coagulated Globules (from Yor’sahj). To me, it seems like upgrades should come pretty linearly from raid difficulty. LFR < Normal < Heroic. I shouldn't be compelled to get an item from LFR (which I STILL haven't won /growl) just because it hasn't dropped for me in normal mode yet either.

  3. Congrats with the kill!
    As for LFR, I ‘quit’ wow and raiding in the middle of Firelands. I was only doing it sporadically at that point already, instead of the good old 3-4 nights per week schedule. Friends left the game, the raidgroup vanished, and I tried to fit in with other guilds only to have them disband.

    Coming back around the end of December, I geared my priest in the new heroics up to 373 and jumped into LFR to have a taste of things. 1.5 hour later I had downed Deathwing. Was I dissatisfied? Yes and no. I had now seen all content there was to see. Which felt nice. The effort to get to this point is extremely low, for some. I have since queued up numerous times again, and have actually found multiple groups unable to tackle a fight. Low dps, tanks that don’t understand their job, healers that don’t understand their class, etc. What happens? They drop group after one wipe.

    Making the encounters a bit less forgiving, even if from an experienced or even slightly experienced raiders point of view it shouldn’t be that big of a deal, will make these people, who I assume to be the target audience, queue up even less. Or make the experience a lot less enjoyable for those with half a clue. It truely is a hard balance to find. If it were up to me, Ultraxion should still oneshot you if you forget to push the button and Deathwing should not be a pushover.

    I’m just not sure what the target audience is for LFR, but I think it actually is aimed at the lesser gifted who just want to see some lore and events. The issue then is, you can’t hand out tier pieces as if they are candy pieces. This is where LFR fails for me.

  4. You are so lucky (well not lucky just incredibly skilled) having just joined a new guild and instantly being absorbed into the progression group.

    I recently joined a new guild who are further ahead than my previous guild was and they never use me in progress even though i clearly out heal half there healers on boss’s id never killed before :(

  5. -Congrats to ur kill!
    I do think we all share ur thought regarding LFR mechanics and the non gaming exp it gives to “new raiders” and also the lack of effort players actully need to use to kill bosses. When i usally enters LFR on my alts i get the feeling its more “Who cares its just LFR” in players mentality.
    However iam more courios how Blizzard will develope MoP raids for us since they did introduce us to completly new mechanics.Something iam actully looking forward to..
    Overall(since iam still on Spine progress) iam very pleased beeing a healer in Cataclysm,i do think i pusched my own thinking and how to handle my class in general in a very good sense,adapting to every encounter and the mechanics it has brought to our rooster..

    All the best to us all and lets keep pwning^^

  6. Overall Dragon Soul is okay. I’m 4/8 Heroic.

    I don’t like how simple the Normal Dragon Soul turned out to be. At the pace I play the Normal should have lasted more than the very first week. I like ramping up difficulty and unlocking the Heroic mode second week like the top ten guilds really made us hit a wall and get into that frustration of no progression faster than other raids.

    LFR is definitely something of a good and bad thing. From my perspective, I like that it was broken up into parts. I think the second half should have a mini up on difficulty where the mechanics did matter, but they could be fewer or slower or more obvious. Ultraxion should have killed people. I think also a better refinement is to not have teir gear in the LFR, but other versions without bonuses to not make it such a chore and a job for all the alts.

    The immersion is a good thing to add in. I think this time they went overboard to make up for the lack of new models and areas with the movies. Spine movie was terrible. Also to just have the models do that real time in game would be nice. I’d love to see Thrall shoot at Deathwing outside of the movie after Ultraxion. Then my character would be in it. Keep the movie for after killing the main boss.

    Otherwise – I wish we got to battle some with human form Deathwing somehow. What a wasted model – we never got to see it.

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