Tobold's Blog
Monday, August 27, 2007
Has WoW become too easy?

I got a mail from Goom, who is wondering whether World of Warcraft has become too easy nowadays, due to easy access to tier 5 arena gear. He says: "Do you feel WoW TBC has catered to the casuals too much? I consider myself a casual and I think it did. I'm retired like you, quit back in March because my guild raided too much and I was tired of that. But I have cleared MC, BWL pre TBC, and was in Karazhan when I quit so I know all about raiding. My thoughts come from reading the WoW forums and seeing that scrub arena teams are decked out in their Tier5 arena gear from playing the last 6 months. Tanks are rare because they all play arena except for the few end guilds that are keeping after BT. There seems to be no accomplishment now because gear is so easy to get in arena. I'm not sure I'll even come back when the expansion hits to level up to 80. I guess it wont matter because my karazhan epics will be replaced with 72lv greens that will be better than the arena gear and the BT gear will be replaced by lv 78 or so lol. oh well, still glad I retired but it seems WoW is destroying the game."

I don't know about "too easy". I appears that the higher-up raid dungeons are still pretty much empty, with only very few people being powerful enough to raid there. But of course that depends on what your end-game is. If you don't raid, but just do the things you can solo and non-heroic instances, then of course being decked out in arena gear makes life relatively easy.

World of Warcraft definitely suffers from mudflation, that is items becoming better and better, with newer items making the older stuff obsolete. The Burning Crusade added an unique twist to this, because it was released in a state in which the content was harder, and then repeatedly nerfed to make it easier. I have an old post on how hard Black Morass is, I only succeeded it after a dozen failed tries. But a friend recently ran an alt through it, and assured me that it has been nerfed to a level where an average group can succeed on the first try. Other attunements have been completely removed from the game. I don't know how hard Karazhan is nowadays, but I've read it has been nerfed too. And of course the alchemy changes and the daily easy-money quests have made raid financing a lot easier.

I found the original TBC too hard, because I think that the first available raid dungeon (including attunement) should be relatively easy, for teaching purposes. Raiding is a completely different game from leveling up to the level cap. Just like you don't play your very first football game in a NFL league game, you need a little league raid dungeon in a game to teach people the basics of raid organization. Then the other raid dungeons can get progressively harder. So on the one side Blizzard having made Karazhan raiding easier by handing out arena gear and nerfing content is a good thing. On the other side both the TBC mudflation and the nerfs have created expectations in the players that WoW is a game that gets easier with time. There is a clear message out here that you need just to wait to achieve anything you want. Can't succeed in getting level 70 epic gear? Just wait for the Wrath of the Lich King expansion. Can't get this attunement done? Wait until they nerf or remove it.

The other dubious message I get from World of Warcraft nowadays is that you are rewarded just for showing up. If you log on one hour every day to do one arena fight and all the daily quests, after 6 months you'll be decked out in epics and filthy rich, even if you don't play very well. MMORPGs have always rewarded time investment more than skill, but in TBC this is reaching silly proportions.

What casual players have been asking for is more accessible end-game content. What we received instead is free epics. Some people just never understood that this isn't what we wanted.
I knew there was a reason I'm not very interested in the endgame. >.>
I stopped reading when I saw the word "scrub" in there.

I'm tempted to think "arrogant prick", but won't, because I'm sure he didn't mean it. "Scrub" is the new "noob", and it's even worse because unlike "newbie" it never had a positive or neutral meaning in the first place.
The comment from Goom to me seems wrong. I do Arena (started only in season 2 as I was lazy leveling up) our guild does Karazhan (clear), Gruul (clear) and tries Serpentshrine & Eye at the moment. Many of our gamers run around with some parts of arena gear (a weapon here, a shoulder there). Still we have our normal difficulty with the bosses, despite the crafting sets for healers, mages, locks.

By the way, the cloth caster gear was even more easy to obtain than the arena gear, it kicked the dps and heal performance to new levels fast. Other classes were challenged to catch up on mages in 5/8 pieces crafting gear.

But raiding is still far from easy. The fights are more complex than before, take Shade of Aran or the Lurker in SSC, those fights have a complexity close to C'thun. What Blizzard made more easy on the gear side, they made more challenging on the complexity side of fights. I feel more challenged in 25 man tuned fights than ever before.

Arena gear can mitigate some issues (for exapmle hit points for our priests & mages who suffer quite a lot from AoE damage) but mainly it is designed towards Arena fights. You lack DPS / Healing in this gear, but survivability improves quite a lot. At the lower end raiding, where we are now, you don't feel it that much, but high end raiding in Arena gear is quite hard of only stamina + armor improves and not also +spell damage / +heal / +attack power.
"Too easy" is such a relative term.

If the question is, "Does PvP progression rewards the player to effective compared to PvE?", than the answer is yes.

What you describe with just showing up to gain epics, consists of two huge flaws within the arena reward system. First problem is PvP rewards in general. You do not have to improve your performance to gain better gear, in PvE you are forced to. Second flaw is the way rewards are spread out. You can safe all your points, skip whole tiers of gear and later buy the most up-to-date stuff.

Imagine players raiding Karazhan without needing the gear, but knowing after the 50th kill Prince will drop T6 instead of T4. This is what arena is for the lower- and mid-tier players. It's just a second source for gear, they otherwise couldn't ever achieve. They have to put in ranking hardcaps to give back value to the most highend loot tier. This will probably come with season 3.

The more evident mistake of their way to itemize the game, is the way they design the content around. "Scrub arena pvp" is the equivalent to what a really accessible PvE endgame should/would look like. This could totally be the other way around right now, with the majority of players having killed Illidan already, but a tiny percentage of players gaining ground in the arenas. But it isn't this way around cause Blizzard values the content differently.

There's reasons why we didn't see this much info on Zul'Aman at Blizzcon or GC now. Many guilds right now are still struggling in SSC/TK. When ZA launches this content gearwise will be rendered futile. This again is comparable to arena players skipping whole gear tiers. All of a sudden you will be able to gain T5 gear without the barriers of SSC/TK. I really see no reason at all to play this content right now, even though 2.3 is at least 2 month away.

If you see difficulty in this game to the availability of gear, then yes, WoW is probably as easy as it can be and it will probably be even more easier in Wrath. From what i see and read, the heroic badge system will be replace the bottom feeding of arena rewards. You will see whole tiers of gear for heroic tokens. There will be even more sources of whole armor sets entering the game. With hardcaps being added to arena gear, those heroic armors will probably replace arenas the topend gear source for the average player. So it will stay by the formula doing the easy stuff again and again, then rather doing the harder content. The reward for both will be the same. Flaw or good design, you decide.
All of this is Greek to me. The WoW end game is a labyrinth of zones, mobs, quest, gear, and faction/key requirements; the whole subject is just a confusing mess.

It would be easier to learn a second language than to research everything that you'd need to know in order to be a successful WoW raider, and it's only going to get worse with each expansion.
To add to that; the WoW end game is too confusing and intimidating to new players.

There's simply too much information that needs to be processed before you can join the end game, and making it easier to level from 1-60 (as the developers have hinted at) is only going to compound the problem.
lol, I'm Goom.

When I wrote Tobold I had several thoughts on the brain and they all blended together. Sorry for "scrub" but I picked it up from a Tank on WoW Forums complaining about the arena gear and how "scrub teams" with 1600pts a week just get free epics. It was just an easy way to describe teams that are not really good, but still get epics better than what you can get in most instances every few weeks for minimal play time.

Right now it would be worthless to join back up and fight in arena because I would be so outgeared compared to when I left. Sure I could get back to being a top team soon but why bother when it is so easy to get. Don't get me wrong, pre TBC the honor system sucked but I think they took it too far with the current system. Think about it, if you currently play I'm sure you know some players that are just awful, but with the current system they could be decked out in better gear than you from playing arena if you stick to raiding. Why raid when arena gear is so easy? Like Tobold mentioned, there is quite a jump in difficulty from Karazhan to The Eye, to BT. I know many guilds that have fell apart since I retired just from glancing at the forums once a month.

I'll just wait until the expansion before trying WoW again, but depending on how good AoC, WAR, or Pirates are, I'll probably never play it.
Hey Goom, I'll take back even the hint at arrogant prick then, obviously you're not one :)

It might be that Blizz has made arena gear a bit too easy to obtain, however that'll change a bit with the minimum ratings for weapons and the likes. Anyway, there'll be raiders who just start raiding and get all the shiny new gear in a very short time because they joined a raiding team that has places on farm others struggle to get attuned to still, and on the other hand, somebody might get arena epics really quickly because he happens to be in a top team. There's always fellow-runners like that, in every system. Still, on average, obtaining arena gear requires less "skill" (read, dedication, some dexterity, and a minimal amount of learning, maybe leadership skills too, but that last one only counts for like 5 out of 25 tops) than obtaining raiding gear does. But is that bad?

There's always been and will always be the discussions between hardcore raiders who say "PvP is way too easy, you don't even have to prepare properly" on one hand and hardcore PvPers who say "raiding is just memorizing boss patterns, human interaction is where it's really at", and I think they're both right in that what they do takes some kind of "skill" and wrong in that what the "other side" does requires different kinds of "skill" as well. Having one side give better rewards per effort will ultimately make that side stronger, attract more epic-manic teenies, but where I do see a problem is only when that starts influencing the other side as well.

Blizz did a great job there with adding resilience - PvP gear is useful mostly for PvP, while PvE gear is mostly useless for PvP, comparatively. So while gathering awesome PvE gear does give some advantages in PvP, it no longer lets people run over dedicated PvPers in battlegrounds, and on the other hand good PvP gear might give a small edge in PvE, it's not necessary to do arenas to be able to compete in PvE. And crafting is yet another way of obtaining that gear.

I say, let the people play the game their way, if Blizz continues to make goals this broad and varied and continues to make them all achievable (maybe a tad more in PvE, the steps there do seem too steep to me) and desirable, it can work out. They won't bring back people like me, but I think that after 2 years of playing the same game 5+ hours a day it's just time to move on, after so much time one has to get bored of things.
It's pretty intriguing to read all these blog entries and comments while being the newb... Started late, main at lv33, interested in content and I'm already bored to the grind. Why? Because there is no real objective now that the Old World instances are more or less void of players: those levelling alts to Outlands do it soloing quests by some levelling guides, avoiding instances, and those who enter are complete newcomers, who don't have the will to learn the instances because the game is in the End Game content.

I would like to 'raid' the Old World instances, but that is made impossible by emphasizing the 60+ level area.

I cannot say anything about the easy or hard: I'm getting enough challenges from the daily grind, and as the instances I would like to visit now, at their level range, are impossible, it feels that the game is both easy (PvE+quests) and hard (old world mid-level instances).

I guess that if Blizzard has forgotten the 'new blood', so have the veterans. Mainly it will be Blizzard's problem, because if there are no new paying customers, and the veterans leave, there will be no-one to pay the bills.

WoW has always been a Time Played for Rewards type of game. The connection is simply more obvious now.

Either you used to PVP or Raid forever to get your epics. Now you can....PVP or Raid for your epics. Added bonus of easier Rep Grind epics.

The only real difference is really the PVP side, however it's not like you couldn't play the 3 old BG's until you were exalted and get epics from that, ignoring the rank gear.

And I laugh at the people who think that all end game content Raiders or hardcore PVP'ers are good players or good at their class. I've seen "scrubs" running around in high end gear from both raids and PVP. PVP is just a time commitment. As is raiding, and if you think that otherwise useless players aren't dragged around through raids, you've never been on an endgame raid.
I'm curious about the idea of rating requirements for arena gear...

Since WoW is a gear-based PvP system, how would a team of low-to-moderately geared players beat a team in decked out arena gear? Would this rating requirement not just let, for lack of a better term, the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer? Is it really that bad if all players reached an equal plateau in gear over time? That "scrub" team you mentioned being decked out would get steam rolled by a skilled team that's decked out too, so what's the problem?

I don't care how gear is obtained, or the difficulty surrounding it, as long as it *IS* achievable to your average player. I also don't want to be required to play another part of the game to succeed in the part I like. Why do cloth raiders have to take up tailoring; what if they only like raiding and would prefer not to take up crafting...

I feel for raiders having to do arenas / crafting to succeed; this is how I suffered pre-TBC when I was forced to raid to enjoy the PvP portion of the game. Just keep in mind that there are players that despise PvE and only want to kill other players (and vise-versa); I have only done a couple of the TBC 5-mans and have yet to even unlock the entire map of the outlands. I hit 70 in Nagrand and have been camped by the BG / Arena master ever since. That is how I like to play the game and I like that I can obtain epics now without having to suffer through something I hate - raids.
I also think Blizzard overdoes it when linking arena rating to gear progression. In general I think collecting arena points over time to invest in gear is decent. There are some players who try to get a decent weapon they don't get otherwise soon (e.g. rogue-dagger).

But yelling at casual arena players that they have not earned their gear is utterly wrong.

Most very casual arena players play in 2v2 / 3v3. These brackets get a 70% / 80% rating points penalty. Meaning, a 2v2 player with the same rating needs to invest more time for the same result. 5v5 teams take longer to organize and more coordination.

A full season 2 set costs 8750 points, the season 1 set about 7,6k points IIRC. A not-so-good casual PvP player in a 2v2 earns about 300 points a week. That makes 29 weeks = 7 months for a full 5 pieces set until he can compete with other PvP arena players (which is what the set is for). He will still be utterly destroyed because he does not have the weapons & other goodies. Arena weapons cost 3,6 arena points, equalling another 12 weeks = 3 months until he can compete.

A total of 10 months for a casual gamer until he is in a full 5 pieces season 2 arena set plus weapons.

Judge yourself.
Tem is absolutely correct on all points. If you're doing arena in the 2v2 bracket, like I am, you sure as hell aren't getting geared quickly. I started doing Arenas at the start of Season 2, and I have a S2 OH, and am buying my S2 Legs this week.

But I also am not complaining about the pacing either. It's more than fair to have to spend some time earning the gear, and Keystone is right as least it *is* available. That's all the carrot I need to keep at it.
To me I just think the current arena system removes some incentive. I mean I played WoW because it was fun to explore & to achieve. Most MMOGers love to achieve and show off their hard earned loot. To conquer a raid boss and get some rare loot was an achievement. To play arena for 10hrs a week and get an epic a month or so (Awesome work on the numbers Tem) doesn't to me achileve anything which is another reason I quit; was bored.

Now don't get me wrong, the previous honor system sucked. On the last server I played on, only one person made rank 14 before TBC because it was only 5 months old and the day he made it he went around an challenged rogues in my guild to a duel. He was a rogue as well and every one of us demolished him even though we were in Tier 1 so yes, he sucked and whomever could play 100hrs a week could be rank 14. But in the new system, whoever just sticks with WoW long enough, 7 months or so according to Tem, will have all of the gear from a season. So the only incentive seems to be that they change the gear every season until your dps just keeps climging higher and higher. At this rate with WOTLK an 80lv dagger will be 201dps! It is all relative, you are really no better off than when you were 30lv with 25dps.

oh well, MMOGs really havea limited lifespan and can only be enjoyed for 2-3 years before expansions ruin the new experience that could be had at the beginning. I would hate to be playing it for the first time now as the experience is totally different. It reminds me of the time I logged back into EQ after it was 5 years old and played an entire day without seeing one other person in the newbie zones. AT this rate new players should just start at 58lv and go from there as there.
I'm not sure that I'd call arena epics 'free'. A team that just shows up to get points is going to earn them at a glacial pace, taking an average of 6-8 weeks to earn a single piece of armor. Yes, you can play a full week's worth of matches in a single evening quite easily, but its still a long-term time commitment, rather than a long-time commitment like raiding.

I do agree that its silly, but without the carrot of the epics very few people would bother with the arenas. Since blizzard has still failed to deliver a 'casual' raiding experience in TBC, they have to do something to keep people subscribed until the next xpac.

Which brings me to Zul'aman - touted as a 'casual' raid instance by blizzard, but also noted as being much harder than Karazhan. This raid's schizophrenic design will probably cause it to flop. Until they nerf it down so that everyone can do it . . . sigh.
Something feel wrong reading your entry Tobold.

How, you, the casual gamer, can complain about being able to achieve something in the game at the cost of 1h a day during 6 monthes !! This is 7d of /played ...

And as a lot of people of already commented about, this does not give you a 'huge' edge in PVE, it just flattens the PvP gear .... in 6 months ! But does not give you the bragging rights for the top stops in arena.

On the PvP part it is possible to beat the game on the gear side. And if you really want you can continue to play for the top spots, but at this point skills will matter much more.
In fact skills in arena matters, it reduces the time involvment. I find this really fair, you can be lazy, you'll need 6 months. You can really try to do your best, understand your class, have the best of it with your partner and you reduce the achievment in 3-4 months. Isn't this good for everybody ?

I thought you were most of the time objective on your comments, and tried to be out of the low-level debates. I think this time you failed a bit :), but I don't blame you, there is so much of them that's it is relly easy to fall into.
I just want to bring up two points.

#1, there is a great deal of real time that occurs between starting arena and getting "decked out". A 1500-rating team (the average team rating) will earn roughly 370 arena points per week if they maintain that rating. It costs 1125 points to get the cheapest piece of armor. For the full 5-piece set, it will take 8250 points. At 370 points per week, it will take around 23 weeks to finish (a little over 5 months), and this does not include any of the weapons. Season 2 began on 6/19/07. The costs are static; even if a 1500-rated team started at the very beginning of the season, they still wouldn't have enough accumulated points by the end of season 1 to get all 5 pieces of armor, let alone a weapon.

Does this constitute being "decked out"? When it takes a real month to get a single piece of gear, I'd say the answer is no.

#2, people say that PvE rewards only success. And while there is some truth to it, there isn't complete truth. Raid trash drops epic gear, epic recipes, epic crafting materials, all for more epic gear. Trash will also give raiders reputation gains, which can then be used to purchase more epic stuff. The items gained this way are not trivial; I dare anyone to look at any of the Ashtongue Deathsworn exalted trinkets and call them worthless. Raiders long since complained about trash, and the designers have made killing trash more lucrative - Nether Vortexes, trash epics, reputation, etc. Giving trash these qualities reinforces that you don't *need* to succeed to get *something*. You have to succeed at killing trash, but then again you only have to succeed at keeping your arena rating at 1500 or so. It balances out.

I wonder how many of the hard core raiders would be happy if all trash epics, rep, loot and such were removed from their raid instances?

I dislike that you feel forced to do a part of the game you don't like.

I'm on a PvE server because I don't want to PvP. So there's no way I want to be forced into arenas - but the gear you get from there is head and shoulders above anything else available from PvE outside raiding that it can't compare. I like my fury warrior but there are people in my casual raid group who have arena weapons so I can't really even ask for a spot in Karazhan because it's not fair to the raid.

arena does give rewards without requiring skill. I have no issue with it, but fgs upgrade the rep rewards and other PvE grindable stuff to be in line. Or else just do the correct thing and have arena gear only usable in arena.
Some of the nerfs have been justified, but Blizzard has kept nerfing to the point that even Heroics are way too easy now.

So it is easy to complete most heroics and even Karazhan, but then the step up to SSC remains too hard for most guilds.
You only need to look at wowjutsu to see how many guilds have cleared Karazhan but have failed to make any impression in SSC/BT.
I wonder how many peices of season 2 arena gear Goom has. I am doing arena , i'm in a "scrub team". 1400ish rating - it takes almost TWO MONTHS to get a single peice. If you're decked out in season 2 arena by now you're probably a high rated team 1900 + and trust me , that rating doesn't come easy at all. Endgame raiding is challenging as ever and endgame arena is challenging too. And yes Tobold , we DO want good gear , epics and the like , it helps us progress in content.
The inherent assumption in this discussion is that all epics are equal -- that getting PVP epics "for free" is an identical reward to getting PVE epics. (I'm going to leave aside the well covered ground about how long it takes to get these "free PVP epics," because other people have already made the point that they aren't free quite eloquently.)

Here's the thing -- PVP epics and PVE epics are itemized totally differently. They are designed for different activities. PVP epics are great for... doing PVP. PVE epics are great for... doing PVE. For example, in PVE, casters care about a stat called "spell hit rating," because it turns out they have a 16% chance to miss raid bosses. So they have to stack up this attirbute just to keep their DPS up -- an attribute that has absolutely no real relevance, at least in that amount, to PVP. Do PVE casters need as much stamina as is on PVP gear? Do they need as little int? No -- because getting your Season 2 PVP epics is not going to enable you to roll in SSC as if you had Tier 5 raiding gear. It will make it easier for you to roll into Karazhan, so you can start acquiring gear that's more appropriate for raiding higher level stuff.

But the assumption is that (a) it's purple and (b) it has the same graphic design as the equivalent raiding piece, so therefore why raid when you can check in for an hour a week, right? This is the same assumption that all you need to do is stack spell damage and spam shadowbolt and you'll be so super awesome. Of course, those are the guys who pull Hydross back out of the beams. Those are the guys who don't avoid the Lurker's spout. Those are the guys who get rended by Leo.

The great thing about the TBC raid fights is that they actually require smarts and maneuverability and coordination on top of a certain minimum level of DPS/tank/heal throughput. Simply being geared up -- unless you've been doing the fights long enough that you've gotten overgeared for them -- isn't sufficient for success. If you're upset about the free epics your PVP brethren are getting, I submit you aren't very aware of what stats are important for you to be an effective raider -- and that you aren't actually raiding to have fun. Epics aren't inherently better... they're just more specialized. Very very more specialized. You gotta get the tools for the activity you're interested in having fun with.
I hate that I have tried to avoid the crafting/Arena route for my mage and just depend on drops, and my dps sucks compared to those with Arena/crafted gear. we're a casual guild, so we probably won't see BT, but there isn't much in SSC or The Eye to compete with the crafted/Arena stuff.

Which has gotten me very, very close to quitting, especially now that I have my new Vista/Q6600/SLI 8800GTX rig running smooth for all the new games coming out.
Ok, the qq here is not so great. skill is an absolute for raid, and if you don't get in raids you don't get loot, even if you are skilled, and if you go into arena, you can get zerged by those with pve gear, its not like you can block pve gear from arena, or bg, and the old system promoted only one in the grand marshal/warlord set on the server at a time. So you had a t3 guy nuking you at every chance, farming gy for honor for their title. Arena is the PvE balance for pvp, and as such the stat distribution is similar to, at least in straight point relation piece per piece somewhat equivilant. So pvp is close to Pve, each with an advantage over one another but decent counters for one another should you lack one. You can start raiding with arena gear if you spent ages in there, or were highly skilled, or you can arena with pve gear as well.
Now if you want to progress you can be Uber like D&T and Nihilum...or you gotta fight to progress making each piece of gear count. As with all raids, the 25mans only drop so much loot, and your tier gear may not be able to be rolled for, ie. DKP blocks by someone else going for their offspec, (shoudln't happen but it does...and far too often imo). So you are slowed in your gearing due to those of like class. So you must craft your epics, and fight pvp for other epics to have a hope to gear up.

Not to mention if your server is so ahead and you are new, looking for a good guild that won't do kara anymore (assuming others arn't willing to gear someone up) PvP and crafting is your only choice over time.
Its all multiple routes to one goal, completion and it takes time unless you are godly in skill, so might as well go for that route. No need to argue at all
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