Focus on the Word 'Challenge'

BY Heather Richtmyre  //  December 29, 2010

Don't enter World of Warcraft's Cataclysm expecting gear for free.


eroics. Serving as one of World of Warcraft's main methods to gearing up for player versus environment since The Burning Crusade, the tuning of these harsher five-man dungeons helps to establish the difficulty of entry to ten- and twenty-five man raiding. Unsurprisingly, this makes the difficulty of heroics a topic of debate, argument, and complaints.

Much of the discussion focuses on comparing Cataclysm heroics to those from TBC and Wrath of the Lich King. This would be more useful if it included actual analysis of the differences between the three, but such conversations tend to devolve.

One of the major differences between the three groups of heroics is the keying process. TBC heroics required a key to enter, which was earned through reputation with a specific faction. Wrath's rarely had entry requirements, though a few had item level expectations for joining them via the dungeon-finder. And Cataclysm heroics continue dungeon-finder gear level expectation along with requiring players to find the dungeon entrances before queuing for them.

The Burning Crusade's keying process was made more difficult given how dungeons only gave reputation for a specific faction, unlike those of later expansions where tabards could be used to increase standing with most desired groups. With many of these factions also offering gear, the used of tabards streamlined the process significantly.

In Wrath, crowd-control could be seen as insulting. In Cataclysm, crowd-control is once again in demand.There were also trash mobs, NPCs between bosses which are often a major source of reputation — and frustration. TBC proved worst for trash in heroics in my experience, and also had some irksome cases of such in raids. Both Wrath and Cataclysm instances have trimmed the quantity of such, thus reducing the time needed for completing a dungeon.

And finally, there is crowd-control, which covers a plethora of abilities designed to stun or incapacitate foes. Even near the end of The Burning Crusade, I experienced groups requesting classes with such abilities to fill slots more generally categorized as for damage-dealers. Despite the introduction of many new options for providing crowd control in Wrath, such as a shaman's Hex, the design of that expansion's dungeons and an eventual, vast increase in gear quality led to crowd-control becoming quite rare. In some cases usage of crowd-control was considered insulting, as it could be viewed as framing the tank or healer as incapable of handling some quantity of enemies.

But in Cataclysm, crowd-control is once again in demand. This, along with some more complex heroics than were common in Wrath, has led to a larger volume of complaints about difficulty. Much of this seems to frame the usage of crowd-control as inherently more unpleasant to manage, along with some commentary categorizing the entire situation as a return to The Burning Crusade model. Because of the changes to reputation, heroic keying, and the addition of several new forms of crowd-control, this appears to be a somewhat inaccurate analysis, though Blizzard representatives have also commented that they do wish for the new heroics to prove more difficult than the Wrath equivalents.

This will be more enjoyable once more players realize that Sap cannot be applied to enemies already engaged in combat.

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