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)
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?