Mists of Pandaria looks set to offer a very different style of endgame to Cataclysm. While the traditional raid and instance setup will still be present, along with a group/raid finder to let players jump into a PUG, Blizzard look to be making a definite push to provide more content and options for non-raiders and soloers. For example, there will be:
- Many more daily quests
- More factions to grind (rather than being able to earn faction points while running instances via tabards)
- A farmville setup
- Pet battles, including being able to tame pets from the wild
- Scenarios (like mini instances/ events that only require 3 players, all of whom can be dps)
- Challenge modes for regular instances (ie. more loot if you complete the instance more quickly)
And those are just the gameplay mechanics that someone who hasn’t been following the beta closely has picked off the top of their head, I have no idea what the PvP plans will be. This could be an incredibly successful expansion for Blizzard if they can attract those more casual or solo focussed players with an ‘endgame’ balanced for their interests. Ignore the panda haters, there’s some genuinely new direction here.
Raiding, I think, in the sense of dedicated raid groups, will suffer more in this expansion than it ever has before. Players have pondered whether the relative popularity of 10 man raids over 25 man ones is purely due to ease of organisation of smaller groups. If the rewards (and difficulties) from gold level challenge modes are in any way comparable to hard mode raids, we may see whether 5 man instances will be preferred over 10 man raids by a hardcore PvE crowd.
Casual raid groups who got trashed by Cataclysm – and they did — may find a resurgence. (Although not as much as if Blizzard relaxed the 10/25 man raid locks.) There will be plenty of players who are happy to do a weekly 10 man run with the friendly guild and spend the rest of their time pursuing less directed, more solo focussed, or more casual play which lets them chat while they work on the pet collecting or faction grind.
There was a sad thread on the official boards that caught my eye called “Don’t let the 25 man raids die” which asked whether Blizzard was planning any changes to the 10/25 man setup, rewards etc in response to how much 25 man raiding has dropped off in Cataclysm. The CM answered:
The devs don’t have, at this time, any plans to incentivize 25-man raiding. They want to make 10 and 25-man raids close enough, so that you choose whatever you find more fun.
The thread is quite poignant if you like that sort of thing, with lots of reflection from people who preferred 25 man raiding but now feel 10 man is their only choice.
I’ve come to the conclusion that 10 man raiding is too small to sustain a healthy guild. Having multiple 10 man teams leads to the formation of cliques, and having a single 10 man team doesn’t have enough people to be able to support a pool of substitutes who’ll be there when you need them.
…not everybody who wants to raid 25-man rather than 10-man will be able to do so… not even remotely. If I think back to WotLK, when my guild was born… I came from a guild that raided 25-man on a rather casual level. You won’t find that anymore. It’s all or nothing with 25-man raiding nowadays, because players in general tend to choose the easiest way they can.
I liked doing 10man with guild and pug 25man in wowlk it was soooo fun. Now we can only do 1 or the other there is no choice in doing both before the 1 week reset.
10-man rosters are a nightmare… if you have 10 people that show up 95% of the time you get floored when 1 person can’t show up. People just leave if they get put on backup so rotating is almost impossible (unless you have a very casual / forgiving players).
I’ve seen that phenomenon, people who would rather quit than be put on backup even for just one night.
The real problem in Cataclysm is the survival of semi-hardcore or semi-casual 25 man raiding guilds. There were a lot of them and in the advent of Cataclysm they were the guilds that suffered the most. … With this system, Blizzard are killing off a specific breed of guilds. The semi-hardcore 25 man guilds that were so prevalent in TBC and WotLK, and that makes me really sad. That was the kind of guild many players liked to join, they knew they weren’t the best of the best, but I bet they had a hell of a lot of fun before Cataclysm came around.
I’ve ran and led 25man raids in WoTLK, and that’s something I know I’ll never get back to. The ingame rewards don’t override the out-of-playing hassle for me, not at all. Even if 25man had 50ilvls better gear, I wouldn’t bother with 25man if I had to be the one taking care of most organization.
So maybe there are plenty of players who would prefer 25 man raids in a semi-casual environment to 10 man raids, but can’t find those raids any more. (I think part of the problem was that officers/ raid leaders always had to be pretty hardcore in 25 man guilds, even if the rest of the guild was semi-casual.) Anyhow, Blizzard has no plans to tweak this or add any incentives for 25 man raiding. Expect to see 25 mans continue to die out.
Yo dawg! We heard you like dailies so we put dailies in your dailies …
So, daily quest lovers, in MoP you will be able to run about 48 daily quests per day should you so wish. There’s actually no limit so you can always do some lower level dailies from previous expansions if you finish all of those and are still bored.
Mists of Pandaria is actually the expansion where we have emphasized dailies the most… ever!
I don’t have any issues with this myself. At that point in the game, people just want to log in and do something fun that will progress their character in some way. Assuming dailies are at least as fun as normal quests and that people who like PvE are happy with normal quests, the only issue is whether players get bored and how many dailies you have to do to get whichever reward you are aiming for. I’d assume players will be less bored when they have a wider variety of daily quests to choose from, so this is probably a good change.
This is also likely to provide quite an influx of gold into the economy, with the usual inflationary effect. People who play the AH will no doubt profit greatly. There will be a new gold sink in the black market.
Olivia@WoW Insider worries that players will feel forced to do as many dailies as possible. I don’t think anyone is ever actually forced to get in game rewards as fast as is humanly possible and maybe the people who do feel that pressure just need to chill and let the people who can control their own playing times enjoy the extra choice.
I find it quite tiresome when choices in games are deliberately restricted because ‘hardcore players would feel forced to do everything.’ Well sucks to be them then.
Cash shop pets to be more powerful in pet battles
Ah, you probably saw this one coming as soon as Blizzard announced that some pets would be considered ‘rare quality’ (ie. more powerful in pet battles) and they would add some non-capture pets to this list. Non-capture means pre-existing pets as opposed to ones that are captured from the wild in MoP.
The full list is here and it does include many of the previous pets that were rare drops in the game. It also includes pets bought from the in game shop.
We decided which pets to change based on how difficult they are to obtain. This approach makes sense since it means that more time was put into getting these particular pets than other ones.
It did not take much time to click ‘buy’ on the cash shop, just saying. Still, I did get warm fuzzies when I saw my crimson whelpling on the list – that pet was given to me by Arb during Vanilla WoW Happy days.
What about 40 man raids. I wonder if, for the kind of guilds you described, it wouldn’t be better to replace 25 man raids with (casual) 40 man raids. For me, 40 man raids always felt a ton more epic then 25 man raids.
I’d love to see them experiment with larger raids, or even remove the cap on number of players in a raid, and see what kind of PvE they could design. Sure, it’d be zergy, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t be fun. Might fit very well with LFR also.
But I think they’ll not want to design 40 man raids as well as 10 and 25 man.
No, probably not. My comment was about the “oh my god, 25 man are dying” attitude we read everywhere since they put 10 man loot on par with 25 man. So what? 40 man raids are dead to and I never felt that a 25 man was as epic as 40 man.
In my eyes the best thing would be to replace 25 man with 40 man raids. To me, 40 man felt like a raid, 25 man feel like a big group.
Isn’t the raid finder 25-man only, and they’ll probably have that running from the start of the expansion. It makes more sense to me that the larger size is more casual, and more tolerant of individuals messing up, and the the smaller size is for the hardcore challenge, wasting 9 other players attempt versus 24 other players, I don’t see what is hardcore about gambling on more factors not going wrong, such as disconnects.
In many ways I’d agree, but its interesting that in practice, the organised 25 man raid guilds that survive at the moment tend to be ultra hardcore ones.
People are thinking more of regular raid groups than PUGs when they talk about 25 man raiding though.
While there is no obligation for non-raiders to progress at any optimal rate, today’s “allowance” of daily quest progress cannot be recovered at any price if you opt to do something else. It can definitely feel like you’re not making progress on your non-daily quest objectives (assuming there are still any) or the other way around. That’s a choice by definition, but it’s neither an especially interesting nor fun choice in a subscription-based game.
One thing they could do instead is offer quests that can be repeated a certain number of times per week, as many MMO’s are now doing with daily dungeon quests.
See, this is where we differ. I don’t see why its a problem to decide which goal you want to make progress on today and leave the rest for another day. So maybe it takes you 2 weeks to achieve a goal rather than 1 week — does it matter? I do find that kind of choice fun, it’s a more relaxed playstyle also once you free yourself from the ‘need’ to hit every cap in existence all the time.
I don’t honestly feel that weekly caps are better, because all I see is people utterly hammering content at weekends (7 instances in a row? How is that fun?),
I really hope that the “many reputations to grind” is purely for brag/achievement/decoration, since as a raider I would *HATE* to be forced to grind reputation for stuff. Tol Barad was my worst nightmare (the trinkets were OP), I would have gladly quartered the developer who designed that and fed him to my cats.
I’ve been thinking at trying raiding in LotRO, but the grind factor there is way higher than in WoWl (grind virtues, grind reputations for gear, grind legendary items – this last one being really depressing…).
I would encourage you to try LOTRO raiding, you really don’t need to grind all those things just to be a decent raider. It isn’t as gear dependent a game. Heck, when I raided I was way too lazy to bother with maxing out traits and legendaries — there were more hardcore players in the group who did, but it was more about execution really and playing your class well.
A bit of background to show where I’m coming from:
During WotLK, I was officer in one of those mentioned casual 25m guilds. We progressed slowly and did 10m runs in the weeks with the more dedicated players, venturing into hard modes 10s and all, when sunday evening always was the 25m day where we’d bite out our teeth at prof putricide with the whole guild.
Organizing 25s was a chore. We as officers didn’t really like organizing those runs, but we clearly liked playing in a casual 25m environment. And of course we wanted the better gear that dropped there. And now, a quote comes into place:
“So maybe there are plenty of players who would prefer 25 man raids in a semi-casual environment to 10 man raids, but can’t find those raids any more. (I think part of the problem was that officers/ raid leaders always had to be pretty hardcore in 25 man guilds, even if the rest of the guild was semi-casual”
I wholeheartedly agree with this statement. It poses a problem in itself. The officers need to be hardcore, although they don’t really are or want to be. If they were, they’d join a hardcore guild. I repeat, organizing 25s was a pain for us, the effort needed was too much, and I imagine it was so for many leaders of casual raids.
So when 10s offered same ID, same rewards, same-all in effect, it was a total relief for us officers. We got to organize in a smaller frame, actually getting to know our members in a more personal manner because we didn’t always need to keep the discipline a 25m raid needs. In effect doing all the things we wanted to find in a casual guild in the first place.
With the 25s, we were just “punished” for our willingness to organize stuff, to contribute to the guild and not only to consume what other people put together.
As an example: During the 1 year we raided 25m, 3 raidleaders burned out and quit the game, and ever since cataclysm and 10m raiding, we are still the same team of officers. Telling I’d say.
From my point of view, the equalization of 10s and 25s in terms of gear and lockout was a relief and a gift for many many raidleaders. Such as me.
English is not my native language – sorry for any mistakes!
One thing you missed, Spinks, is that LFR will have a larger impact on raiding than before. Sure, it came out in Cata, but having LFR as a viable option at the beginning of an expansion means that regular 10/25 man raiding will take a hit.
I do have to wonder at the upper limit for daily quests, though. When I was doubling up on running dailies for Firelands and Quel’Danas, I filled up 25 quests and it took me about a couple of hours to finish. Bumping that up to 48 seems a bit extreme, unless you have literally upwards of 6 hours to play at a time.
As for faction grinding, I can see that being one of the first things to get nerfed. Too many people have gotten used to the Wrath/Cata format of popping on a tabard and running instances to be bothered grinding rep the old fashioned way, unless there was some unique reward at the end of it (aka Netherdrake mount).
Hmm…. What are the odds that there will be a rare pet for pet battles at the end of these new rep grinds? If that’s the case, you can lay the argument that making it almost required for pet battles enthusiasts (or paying real cash, your pick) would make some people look at these rep grinds as the equivalent of the Argent Tourney dailies.
Does anyone know the geography of the MoP dailies? I spent less time doing the Molten Front and Twilight Highlands dailies than I did on the Argent Tournament or the Shattered Sun Offensive just because the Cata set was geographically constrained.
Faction grinding is also going to be different with the removal of the head and shoulder slot enchants. That was the really mandatory part, especially for raiders. The gear might be good pre-raid but it will quickly be replaced. Mounts and pets are good rewards but only mandatory if you want them, in which case the grind is just part of the price.
On the pet rarities – I looked though the list before leaving for work this AM. Not a real shock that the purchase pets are there, but they did include most of the rare find pets so not really a concern. It would have been galling if the store pets were rares but something like Frosty or the Azure Whelpling was only a common.
The more I read about MoP, the more I think it’s a complete 180 on what they tried with Cataclysm. The market for subscription themeparks is dwindling and I’m sure the execs are wondering how the heck Rift is still around (and doing decent) when every other game that has stepped up to the plate has failed miserably. Rift has an exceedingly diverse max level game with multiple paths, where WoW never has.
MoP is all about multiple paths at max level (even while leveling to some degree). Maybe with Blizzard’s atrocious content delivery schedule, this will stem the ebb/flow of subscribers and provide stability for server populations. We still have 9 months+ of the D3 annual pass players who aren’t logging, so what is reported isn’t what’s seen in game.
Raiding though, is an interesting beast. There were something like 1% of all players that completed heroic raids before LFR. The number is now close to 10%. As a developer, you can’t ignore that 10% certainly, but for the love of hercules, what are the other 90% of your potential playerbase doing?
Some of the stuff you quoted does ring very true to me; I’m one of those people who was in a semi-hardcore (well, it was 6-7 nights a week at one point, but at least 4 of those were for fun rather than progression) 25-man guild which promptly imploded before Cata, and I’ve not really seen any guilds step up and take that; I still follow all of the guilds on the two servers I played on, and a lot of them seem to either have died off and become resting grounds for occasional loggers, made the push into either proper hardcore raiding or become more casual and run two 10s.
The dailies and the way they’re pushing is just…irritating. I found it especially annoying on the Molten Front; it’s like those shitty energy mechanics in social games. “Oh, you’ve done everything, come back (and keep paying) tommorrow!” Blizzard (especially the regular blue posters, who have this incredibly arrogant air every time they post; I mean, I know they always had something of it, but recently it seems to have become just spiteful towards everyone who disagrees with WoW’s direction. Spiteful, or just inane, bratty and idiotic. One stands out in particular, where people were talking about rare gear back in Classic and how people would gasp at those in full epics and the like. The Blizz response “I don’t really remember people gasping at me. They asked where I got it, etc etc etc”. That just strikes me as a shitty thing. Well OF COURSE NOBODY’S GOING TO BLOODY WELL /GASP AT YOU! But someone asking “hey where did you get that” implies a certain level of amazement and curiosity that I think is the textual equivalent to a gasp. Ugh. They really disgust me, do the blue posters. Anyway, back on track) seem to have this issue with providing alternatives. What’s *wrong* if I want to sit there for three days straight and just ground out the rep if I want to? I don’t want to do your shitty dailies. I’m more likely to quit if I feel like my progression is not only out of my hands, and out of other player’s hands, but simply in the hands of Blizzard’s arbitrary hatred towards using non-dailies to gain rep/progress.
@Dril – there’s nothing wrong if you want to. Blizzard’s point (and it’s quite valid) is that there are more people NOT like you than like you. Cataclysm proved that rather conclusively. For them to design solely for your playstyle or any particular playstyle and stay competitive in the market is foolhardy. There’s no such thing as a 10 million subscriber nice game – they have to generalize and diversify.
As for Blizzard’s gating process – well that’s an outstanding issue since launch. Their delivery model is ancient. Successful games today release content on a 6-8 week schedule, not a 6-8 month schedule. Artificial gates extend the shelf life of the content. Hard to believe that it costs 90 million dollars to make a patch but that’s about the gross amount they make in 6 months. But that’s another discussion 🙂
If you follow the “we consume content to fast?” thread, there’s a whole lot of entitlement in the air, from both sides. The entire hardcore definition portion is also an interesting read to boot. I personally don’t see how someone beating Deathwing now (7 months later) with a 30% boost somehow nullifies Paragon’s ability to do it within a week. It’s an interesting read.
“Blizzard’s point (and it’s quite valid) is that there are more people NOT like you than like you.”
But that’s not their point. Their point is that my playstyle is completely and totally wrong, wrong, WRONG. You misinterpret what I’m asking for: I don’t (in theory) want them to make a Timbermaw Hold where all you do is grind mobs endlessly; but, by the same token, I don’t like the current model of making it dailies only. That’s what bothers me. In trying to make it accessible etc for the person with X, Y, Z, C squared life obligations it becomes a pain in the arse if you have more than fifteen minutes.
What I’m saying is they HAVEN’T diversified, at all. Or, rather, I think they were on the right lines from TBC to WotLK pre-ToC, where there really was diversity (you could do dailies and you could grind). That was diversity. What we have now is simply a model that’s a reverse of classic WoW, where there is one way and one way only. It suggests that far from learning from classic WoW’s mistakes, they’re going back to its design issues without having its design perks.
I was reading that thread as well, and that’s partly where the blue posts were vexing. And, for the record, I think it does; at their core, these are still games. In any game, if the opponent is too hard, you either get better or face someone/thing easier and learn from those easier encounters, not ask to be handed everything on a silver platter. Oh, and Paragon shouldn’t be able to do it in a week, but that’s another issue.
What I’m wondering is if 25 man raiding is dying, isn’t it just because it turns out people don’t want to actually want to do 25 man raids if they don’t have to? I mean, the only real actual barrier to raiding progress except for late BC and early Cata hasn’t really been about skill, except in the sense that it takes skill to get together the required number of mouth breathers with the right gear to get there.
Except for Naxx 40 where you needed to get together the required 60 extra mouth breathers who you are going to let have a spot in your raid really as soon as a spot opens up to farm the various mats you need for pots and so on for you.
Though, thinking on it? Given how few people actually saw the various upper tiers of content prior to ToC and the accessibility it offered, I’m going to find the idea that anyone in a raiding 25 man or 40 man guild who got past MC or Mags or I guess Naxx 10/25 claiming they weren’t hardcore a little odd.
The option to play 25 man is still there, it’s just you don’t get extra bennies for it, so the question becomes do the people miss the 25 man raids or the extra bennies they got for it?
Point is that if people prefer raiding 25 man, then they need to find a 25 man raid guild to join that fits their schedule etc, so if there are fewer and fewer 25 man raids around and they are tending to be more hardcore, then the choice may not be there. Like, if I wanted to raid in a semi casual 25 man guild again, I don’t think there is one on my (old) server. And I guess people would prefer to raid 10 man than not at all.
Now, you can ask why the 25 man casual raid guilds are dying if there are still players who prefer them. I think this is down to 2 main things: 1) they really are a lot more hassle to organise and raid leaders are tired and prefer 10 mans (so the raiders might prefer 25 mans but the raid leaders don’t) and 2) it only takes a handful of the more hardcore of a 25 man raid to switch to 10 man and the whole raid is in trouble, even if the rest were perfectly happy. So those raids could die out even if the majority of people who were in them preferred that format.
Which ultimately means that to keep 25 man raiding healthy, there need to be incentives aimed at the raid leaders and at the more hardcore raiders in casual guilds. Since Blizzard wont’ do this, those key raiders migrate to the easier setting.
re: hardcore players. Where there were separate locks for 10 and 25 man raids (ie. in Wrath) it was fairly normal for those people to run hardcore 10 man raids with their hardcore friends and still be available for the more casual 25s without getting frustrated about lack of progression. Many people did enjoy having the opportunity to do both, for social reasons as much as anything. So even without adding incentives, relaxing the raid locks would help the casual 25 man guilds too, but Blizzard won’t do that either.
Implosion of 25 man raiding in Cataclysm is quite easy to explain. Even in the best guilds, there’s a range of abilities. If the content is difficult, and especially if a single underperformer can block the group, then progress will be faster and easier if the top 40% of the raiders ditch the bottom 60%.
But 25 man guilds flourished during Wrath.
You can’t compare Wrath because it had different item level for 10 and 25 man.
It also had more flexible raid locks. This and the gear difference ultimately meant that people had a greater choice of raid guilds and so people who did prefer 25 man and weren’t hardcore could find guilds to run them with.
I don’t think you had this kind of choice. 10 mans were substantially easier and rewarded worse gear. They attracted a different crowd and/or play style then the 25 man raids.
The choice for 10 man vs 25 man was never made based on the size in WotLK. It was made only based on how much you were willing to invest (time, wipes, preparation).
25 man flourished in Wrath because that was where the best loot was.
Even so, if people hated 25s they wouldn’t have done it.
They tended to do it because 25 man raiding was ‘Real Raiding’. The choice between 25 and 10 man raiding in WotLK was on the surface a choice between beef and chicken. But if you chose chicken you were then told you got to sit in a smaller room, got smaller portions and had to eat it off the floor. Also occasionally the people eating beef got to come in, mock you with their larger portions and grab some chicken if they wanted that as well. Then you’d get asked again if you wanted beef or chicke and most people would choose beef, for some reason.
I still think that’s better than “you can theoretically have chicken or beef but beef is off the menu.”
I suppose the question is how many people asked for a portion of beef but then choked because their tender digestive systems could only cope with chicken before their dinner’s enrage timer ran out? 🙂 And should the chefs have served up very rare beef that only suited hardcore carnivores, or should they be cooking their dinners medium – less flavour perhaps, but a flavour that more can enjoy?
Enough with the food allegories anyway – it’s making me hungry.
This is further exacerbated by the dwindling populations on most servers of people with simply the availability requirements that a 25 man needs to organize. LFR works because it eliminates the organization issue (not the leading issue mind you).
WoW’s biggest hurdle right now is the blockade between servers. If a mega-server architecture could be put in, then you’d have a larger pool of players to do 25 mans with.
Sometimes you only need 1 more person and that person simply does not exist on your server. Doesn’t mean they don’t exist on the 100s of other servers.