Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Will issues from TBC repeat again in WotLK?

I'm excited that Wrath of the Lich King is just around the corner, but I'm tempering my enthusiasm with some memories of the Burning Crusade launch. In particular, the recent buffing and nerfing of paladins reminded me that Blizzard did the same sort of "fine tuning" on the class right before the last expansion. Now, this poor attempt at balancing one class can't really ruin an expansion, but it does serve as a reminder that Blizzard doesn't always learn from their mistakes. Still it looks like Blizzard has made a lot of improvements to avoid some of the issues that popped up in the Burning Crusade. I'm just hoping these improvements don't end up causing issues of their own.

Dynamic Spawn System Problems
The dynamic spawn system was supposed to be a way of helping players complete quests which required them to kill a certain amount of mobs in a small area. The more people in the area the faster the mobs were supposed to respawn. Of course the problem was that everyone on the server was crammed into Hellfire Peninsula and this caused the system to behave erratically. Often people found themselves being overwhelmed as mobs they just killed respawned right away. Blizzard is trying to get around the problem this time around by having two starting zones. Hopefully, they have also better optimized the code for the system since I think even more people will be playing this time.

Outdoor PvP Objectives
While the Bone Wastes and Halaa were both popular PvP objectives they were also very easy for the more numerous faction to control. This is always going to be a problem for open world PvP games, as Warhammer is finding out at the moment. However, it looks like Blizzard has an idea to offset the numbers advantage. Rather then giving more "dumb" NPCs to the outnumbered side they are going to give a buff called Tenacity which increases damage based on the imbalance. The more a faction is outnumbered the more powerful their attacks become. At the moment this buff is supposed to just be active in Lake Wintergrasp, but if it proves popular we might see it in other zones with PvP objectives.

Missing out on the Leveling Truce
This is something that is completely out of the control of Blizzard, but it was pretty devastating to anyone trying to level on a PvP server. Basically the first week after release the two sides had an uneasy truce where they mostly concentrated on leveling. However, by the time the first weekend rolled around both sides had max level people back in the starting zone trying out their new found gear and level advantage. Anyone who didn't start leveling right away in the new expansion had a hard time in the Hellfire Peninsula afterwards. I only hope that the distance between the two starting areas in WotLK discourages new level 80 players from immediately ganking.

Raid Blockage at Karazhan
Most people feel that Blizzard made a mistake by designing the entry level raid in the Burning Crusade for only 10 players. Overall it created a lot of problems gearing up average guilds for the next raid encounters and was indirectly responsible for a lot of guild break-ups. Of course in Wrath of the Lich King all raids can be played as either 10 man or 25 man versions and Blizzard is hoping this solves the issue. However, some people think this will end up discouraging all 25 man raiding as players automatically go for the easier encounter. I'm not so sure this will become a problem. However, a lot depends on Blizzard keeping the 10 man versions easier so casual guilds can actually finish them, while making sure the rewards for the 25 man versions are worth the extra effort.

Rewards for Heroic Dungeons
I was very disappointed to find out that a lot of the heroic dungeons in the Burning Crusade didn't have improved loot tables except for the final boss. Blizzard's reasoning was that dungeons designed for level 70s already had better quality loot and didn't need a new loot table for every boss. Unfortunately, this ended up not providing enough of an incentive for players to run heroics. It really wasn't until badges were added that people flocked to them. At first though players simply ran Mechannar over and over again until the heroic daily quests were added. This just goes to show you how difficult it was to tune heroic dungeon rewards. With WotLK Blizzard seems off to a better start since heroics will apparently have a different loot table for each boss and give the same badges as the 10 man version of Naxxramas. This should make them stay popular in the long run compared to the Burning Crusade heroics.

As you can see Blizzard has made some serious attempts to avoid a lot of the problems the Burning Crusade expansion had when it released. However, some of these ideas are untested and could have ironic and unintended consequences. I'm especially interested in seeing how Lake Wintergrasp works out and if the Tenacity buff actually makes it into the game. I've only heard about it from the PvP panel at Blizzcon and I'm not sure if its even in the Beta at the moment.


Khassad said...

In my opinion Tenacity is ok for a small unbalance in numbers.

But if one side is highly outnumbered (1:2 or worst), tenacity could be completely uneffective or severely overpowered. Tuning will be really hard.

Jurandr said...

Tenacity not only inceases your damage, but also decreases the amount of damage you take in. You won't be able to solo lake wintergrasp, but the alliance:horde ratios shouldn't be too much of a problem, especially with siege weaponry taken into account.

zhap said...

The other major problem is CC. Just cos you have the tenacity buff and can deal out more damage, if you cant use it cos you're stunned, feared or hexed etc then its all for nothing.

The side with the higher numbers have more CC options and can take away the opportunity for the other side to take advantage of tenacity.

Blizzard needs to look at CC durations and CC resists as well.

Kiseran said...

As far as I know 10-man-raids are not supposed to be easier than 25-man-raids. This is stated as a goal by Blizzard. And from what I hear from the beta, 25-man-raids are actually easier at the moment.

Heartless_ said...

If the 10/25 man raids follow blizzards designs, the more people, the easier the raid overall. Blizzard has to make the larger raids a bit more sloppy to accommodate more class setups, where smaller sized group encounters can be tuned more to the common group setups and therefore be more difficult.

I think that is the way it should be. Fewer people = less margin for error. That should result in a tougher fight and better rewards.