For a couple of expansions now World of Warcraft has been putting in place gates to their content in order to trickle out new things for us to do in game a little bit at a time. In the past as soon as a new game opened up you would have access to all of the content including the large scale raids that require you to have between 8 and 40 people all at maximum level to be able to kill some bosses. This often is where the best loot in the game was and was the goal of a lot of players to get to and through it. The day that the expansion would launch you would have a mad rush to get to the end game, where many of us thought the game truly began. We would play a crazy amount in that first week and it wasn’t unusual for my friends and I to clock in 16+ hours per day during this first big push. Once we got to that final level we would switch gears and start hunting for the best equipment available to us outside of raids. So this meant running the smaller dungeons which only require 5 players to complete, doing additional quests or any other task that the game developers decided that we would need to do to get some shiny new gear. During this time, if there were attunements needed to get into the higher level content we would work on these as well. A raid attunement is mostly a relic of the past and was just a way to further gate the content and slow down the progress of a player to reach this content. Most of the time it was a time consuming task that we were forced to do in order to play the part of the game that we really wanted to play. I realize that all this makes me sound like the grandma of raiding “Back in my day we had to do an insanely long quest chain in order to even step foot in Onyxias Lair” and we did this backwards in the snow up hill, or something like that. I only talk about the past to highlight how much better it is for those of us that enjoy raiding.
Full disclosure: I used to consider myself to be super hard core. The way these games used to be meshed well with my play style. As I’ve gotten older I’ve witnessed the genre mature with me. To my delight I can continue to play how I want to play and the game rewards me, perhaps not as much as the poopsocking-hard-core-world-first-striving raiders…but I feel like there is still a place for me and I am satisfied with the majority of how WoW feels today.
This time around we got a generous span of time to level up and work on our characters. What the gates to Uldir finally did open, we were itching to get in there. The layout of Uldir was reminiscent of Wildstar’s Datascape and Zul’gurub from WoW classic. There were blood hexers and lots of pulsating blood graphics, which I personally don’t care for. The fights were messy and chaotic and if your group had high damage output, many of the fight’s mechanics could be bypassed. Some of the heroic fights were a little too easy and I know that once we clear the heroic version of Uldir we will be clammoring for them to introduce cross-server mythic raiding.
My guild is more community than guild at the moment. Over the years we have formed lots of friendships with players that love raiding and communities have allowed us to play together without having to force everyone to pay for a server transfer. This is great for us but we are faced with having to wait an estimated 3 months for the mythic raids to be available to us. There are achievements for being one of the first 100 guilds of each faction to clear Uldir Mythic, I believe in order to make an effort to re-balance the factions. More and more people each year are playing the Horde faction because…hello? Bloodelfs! The imbalance is especially prevalent at the very highest level of raiding. Only 5 of the top 50 guilds as of today play the Alliance faction.
Encouraging raiders to switch factions is a smart way to spread out some of the population. I know that when ever I’m looking for a faction/server to play on in any game I look for: 1. a high population server and 2. Where ever the best guilds play. I’m not alone in this. Take a look at my server Illidan. There are a lot of raiders on my server which makes recruiting much easier and is very attractive to players that like to raid since there are so many options for guilds if one doesn’t work out. And if you really want to shoot for the stars we have some of the best guilds in the US on our server.
I’m hoping that Blizzard will decide to open up mythic raids for cross server sooner than the 100/100 clears. The idea of a guild is changing with addons, cross server play and communities we shouldn’t be squeezed into the green-text guild box the same way that we played in the past. We are evolving as a player base and measures like gating us out of content is not good for business.