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  • Home » Dungeons

    Cataclysm Heroic Difficulty: The Player Rage Continues

    Posted on Dec 27, 2010 by: Jason Zimmerman
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    Cataclysm dungeon heroic guide difficulty

    The discussions, conversations, and flat out raging over Cataclysm heroics continues on forums, twitter accounts and all across the internet. This is a topic that I’m going to touch on some more in the next episode of the podcast, but since it is on my mind, I thought I’d write a little about it.

    The majority of what I’ve been seeing are players who are upset because dungeons and heroics are so hard right now that they can’t even finish them without the group breaking up. There are also people complaining that they are too easy and a faceroll already and Blizzard sucks for not making them hard. These players however, are a minority and in all honesty, I think they are just saying that to make themselves look zomgl33t.

    So let’s focus on the issue of the dungeons being too hard. Some things players are saying:

    • The group wiped once and disbanded
    • Someone said they had never been in a certain dungeon and the group disbanded.
    • Someone said they had never done the heroic version before and the group disbanded.
    • Heroic runs are taking three hours and no one has time for that.
    • Healers suck.
    • Tanks are egomaniacs.
    • DPS are morons.

    That list could probably go on for several pages but I’ll spare you, and myself, the pain of that. But what I do want to talk about are my thoughts on all of this.

    I ran many 5 player pugs for various dungeons in Classic Wow and including 10-player pugs for Upper Black Rock Spire. I ran many heroic pugs in both Burning Crusade and Wrath. What I’m saying is that I’ve done a lot of pugging over the years and I’ve run a lot of dungeons.

    Do I think the current content is too hard? No, I don’t.
    Do I think the current content is unfair to casual players? No, I don’t.
    Do I think a high percentage of players are more spoiled, impatient, and lazy (not necessarily all 3 simultaneously) than before? Yes, I do.

    First, the question of the content being too hard. I don’t believe requiring that players pay attention to kill orders, fight mechanics and movement equate to a dungeon being too hard. If dungeons were so easy at the beginning of an expansion for players in quest greens and blues that we could burn through them with no regard for mechanics, then why should Blizzard even take the time to develop and implement any mechanics?

    They might as well just give us the gear for free. Or better yet, they might as well not even require that we even play the game. They could just send us a badge in the mail that says, “Congrats, you beat World of Warcraft! Your players are all the highest level with the highest gear and the most money, so don’t please don’t worry about spending time doing it yourself. We’ve taken care of all the details for you.”

    Let’s move on to the issue of the heroic difficulty being too much for casual players and not fun for casual players. I’ve been a casual player who had very little time to play. I’ve also been someone who spent a lot of time playing. Currently, I’m somewhere in between. I’m also fortunate to have a fantastic guild right now. But in the past I haven’t been so lucky.

    In my experience, the difficulty of the current dungeons is not harder than what we have had in the past. I don’t think the difficulty is at an unfair level. I think it is challenging right now, and challenges pose problems for some groups and also for casual players.

    This message is for casual players: I understand that spending the limited amount of time that you have trying to find a group only for it to quickly fail sucks. I get that. The reason I left a PvP server was because spending the limited time I had to play getting ganked was not fun for me.

    But I think your anger and frustration should not be aimed at Blizzard for making things too hard. I think it should be aimed at players who have gotten lazy and want things handed to them on a platter. It should be aimed at the give-up artists who are too fragile to deal with challenging dungeons.

    If you are someone who is forced to pug dungeons for whatever reason, there are a few things that you can do to help your situation:

    A) Find a better guild. Yes, this isn’t always doable and might not be the solution for everyone. But there are good guilds out there. I know this firsthand. If the guild you are in doesn’t fit your schedule or your needs, sometimes you have to make the tough choice to leave. Even if it means leaving behind some people that you like. I wish I had done that during Burning Crusade.

    B) Form groups on your own server rather than the dungeon finder tool. Use the looking for group channel, or even use trade chat if you have to. Forming a group of people on your own server will yield a higher percentage of success than a group of strangers from all servers. You can still queue for a random dungeon once your group forms and complete the daily dungeons.

    My final message on the issue of players being spoiled and lazy is this: stop expecting to run heroics in crap gear like it’s Utgarde Pinnacle and you are in all iLevel 264 gear. Those days are gone. At least temporarily.

    Show some respect for fellow players and don’t leave a group at the first sign of trouble. If you know the dungeon and the boss fights well, offer help and advice to your group rather than giving up and finding a new group. Stop being part of the problem and start being part of the solution. Yes, that is a cliche, but guess what? It’s the only way we are going to have successful groups again…at least until Patch 4.3 when we are all spoiled and facerolling dungeons again.

    The things that are going to get us through this period are communication and respect. Show some respect for other people and communicate with them. These two simple tasks will be the difference between failure and success.



    warcraft blog podcast
    • Rioriel Ail’thera

      Very much agreed, and mostly the reason why I’m waiting for guild runs for heroics. I’ve hardly thrown myself in at the deep-end but with coordinated efforts with guildies on Ventrilo we’ve not had tremendous difficulty. Sure, encounters may take a couple of attempts bashing our heads against it but with vague knowledge of mechanics and the desire to stick around so we ALL get it done rather than just fucking off to another queue, we collect our VP and hotfoot it off to some other nefarious dungeon.

      Fortunately the handful of PuGs I have been in (in all roles) have been willing to dust ourselves off and have another go. At the risk of blowing my own trumpet, I think a part of that has been to my willingness in party chat to pick people up, politely explain or apologise and motivate us to giving it another go with a different technique. I’m thankful that in my first Cata heroic steps (especially if I’d not been there on normal) were a challenge and threw curveballs at me.

      Alas, with anything, anonymity (of sorts, for other-realm-players) breeds intolerance. Kudos to anyone who does take the ten seconds to politely and succinctly explain that X does Y, and A needs to B at that time. A party of five isn’t you and your four autonomous slaves; help, respect and success flows both ways.

    • Natalie

      I do guild runs for heroics. I am the healer. Usually we end up spending one entire evening learning one whole dungeon. We’re pretty damn good players and in the end, we eventually get it down.

      But, we sit and worry for the future because unless we overgear the instance, there is no way we will be able to take our casual, sweet as can be, but slow to move from bad things, older friends through the instance. They told us one time they were amazed at how relaxed we were with the fights in ICC, but for them it was a major worry, challenge, and anxiety-fest to remember what to do and to not ruin the fight.

      My major peeve with these heroics is that you must be 100% perfect to kill the dungeon. Come on. I spent 4 hours learning the fights in Grim Batol. The last boss was easy ONLY because we had 1) amazing DPS, 2) a hunter and shadowpriest to slow, and 3) a tank who pulled the boss back to the door to help DPS more. And my frost shocks and slowing totems.

      Even all that, for some of my casual, older friends, I think it will overwhelm them. Interrupt rotations are fine for us, but their reflexes are slower. Moves that 1-shot the tank (TotT) are a little over the top. Take him to 15% HP, fine, that’s ok with me. But 1-shot him? That’s just not fun anymore if all you’re going to give me is a piece of blue gear with “Heroic” on it, and points to buy…more bland-design blue gear.

      I think the difficulty of the Cata dungeons was overshot by a small margin. Things in BC wouldn’t one shot you in the beginning. They would hurt badly, but they would not destroy your party if 1 person lags for a few moments. You still had to move out of things and interrupt abilities.

      These heroics ARE difficult. They take a LOT of coordination and the only reason I made it through ToT was because my PuG tank was geared enough to *barely* eat the 1-shot on the female naga. The majority of casual players are not twitchy 5-year veterans who know how to anticipate boss attacks, move accordingly, turn in the air and frost shock a target behind them. I do not want my less-twitchy friends to have to spend the next 5 months in 5-man dungeons.

      My thought is that these dungeons were only made so hard so there would be an enormous barrier of entry for a majority of people. Then the developers could make their content last longer and avoid subscription loss near the end of the expansion.

      Overall, the heroic situation is more frustrating for me because I know the holidays are running out, and once everyone is back to work, there will be very little time to help people, or farm materials that are currently overpriced on the AH. I am starting to wonder if the game is still for me, since it will now require a fairly large timesink to be successful on just 1 toon for someone with even just a 9-5 job. Add in family time and travel, and that’s a very, very small evening or weekend margin to play the game, be successful, and still get enough sleep (you night owls are exempt from this).

    • Anonymous

      So far, I’ve only run 2 heroics – Vortex Pinnacle & SFK. I’m the healer and I’ve had 2 -3 dps with me and one group we pugged a tank and the other a tank & dps. In the first group, the tank dropped after one wipe. We got another tank, wiped a ton of times on the dragon boss with the tornados (this fight sucks to heal!) but eventually got him down and went on to finish the instance and had a blast in the meantime. In SFK, one dps dropped right away but then we got another and it was an awesome group. Even though we wiped a lot on one of the bosses, we kept trying different tactics and eventually got him.

      I like the challenge and trying to figure out what you can do with the group you have. The cry babies & whiners will leave the groups after one or two wipes, but if you stick with it, eventually you’ll end up with a stronger group. I’ve found that to be the case even in the regular dungeons. If the groups use their crowd control and focus on the tanks target, it usually goes smoothly. It’s when people aren’t paying attention or want to gogogo zerg that you run into problems. Oh, and most importantly, let the healer top off their mana between pulls! 😉

      I like the difficulty. I like that we have to take time and plan the pulls. I don’t like certain fights, but I’m sure in 6 months, I’ll be saying “remember when this was hard”, as I’ve done with the last few expansions. People don’t remember that it’s always been difficult in the beginning of an expansion when you don’t quite have the gear to blow through things. And I think a lot of players probably started in WotLK dungeons after people started to outgear the heroics (mainly because of the dungeon finder), so it’s always been easy for them. But I remember doing Utgarde Pinnacle and wiping over and over in the gauntlet all night or days and days in Shadow Labs trying to get the last 2 bosses down, just so I could get the key to go to Kara, or wiping time after time on the 18th wave in Black Morass because I didn’t have enough mana to pull it off. And the euphoria from actually getting it down the first time.

      That’s what the game is all about for me, the teamwork and perseverence. And that’s why I like raiding. I think the current difficulty is just basic training for raiding. The people that make it through will go on to be better “soldiers” in your raids. Anyway, that’s my 2 copper…

    • Pedis

      This Pedis B. Grump and I approve of this post.

      (Paid in part by “The Gathering”@Lightbringer)

    • Masmaricle

      I think there are some bosses on the heroics that are a bit too unforgiving. I don’t mind dying and playing fundamental “awareness” but having a group fail on a boss 10+ times is very frustrating and time consuming. A few of the bosses need to be nerfed in order to make them passable by a reasonable pug after a few attempts.

      The main issue I have is the time commitment. In WOLK you could que for 15 min and do a run in 20 min or less. For me that’s great as I have 4 topped out toons to support. In Cat it’s a 1 hour que (if you’re dps) and then 2-3 hours in a dungeon if your group doesn’t bail. So it’s 3-4 hours for a daily random? That is way too much time and leaves little time else for other useful exploits.

      That’s my qq but I have to say I love the new guild system and many of the other jewels that came with the expansion.

    • Satan

      I completely agree. I’m a veteran of the very early Vanilla days and know exactly what it was like to try to get 40 men together and bring down Onyxia. These heroics though… far too difficult. Why though? I’m going to be the ass that says it: gear. iLevel 329 is way too low for smooth runs, even with perfect tactics. And how do you get your gear up? Certainly can’t go after Justice points anymore. Rep? Sure, after hours and hours and hours.

      I dunno. The whole thing seems unbalanced. Nowadays I can maybe play eight hours a week. Unless I start leveling up another toon, this has effectively ended by ability to advance in this game at a reasonable rate.

    • Icesnake

      I have a suggestion for Blizzard: on April 1st of 2011, offer a third option for all instances. Call it “Anti-Heroic,” perhaps. Every mob and every boss in the dungeon will have a number of health points equal to its level (e.g., an 85 elite will have 88 HP) and grant 1 XP to those still gaining XP. No achievements will be awarded for completing the instance in this mode, and all loot dropped will be grey or white gear, or copper coins equal to the mob’s level (see HP for mobs and bosses, above). Perhaps all of the dungeons should be infested with murlocks, too.

      It’s hard to imagine how dungeons could be made any easier (or less valuable) than that.

    • David2112

      With good teamwork and play, right now some heroic bosses I can kill like most of Tolvir (except siamat) and most of Deadmines (except last two bosses). Others like Siamat, Altruis or the first boss in shadowfang are just “ugh” right now due to the high level of class mix, timing and/or coordination required. On the whole I think the key for more casual players is to not use the randomizer for heroics and focus on 1-2 heroic dungeons and gradually nail them down with a guild. Once groups do that play will improve and good loot will gradually make it easier for the rest of the tough encounters elsewhere. Until more casual players do that sort of thing random heroics will be a nightmare. Our guild is progressing right now but it is slow and i figure thats what blizzard wants to maximize their return on investment for cata. Right now Im seeing alot of otherwise good players who do to how easy wrath was expect to do a heroic without even watching videos or reading up on the strats ahead of time. Until players change their mindsets like that its going to be rough, lol. Until then ill reserve final judgment for a few more months on whether heroics are too hard in certain rougher bosses. At least I figure i can farm heroic rep/gear on the heroic trash/bosses I do know how to handle and that will improve my gear etc in the meantime, even if i dont finish heroics right away.

    • Guest

      Length is ridiculous. Grim Batol is HUGE. Maybe 3-5, if not more trash pulls that could potentially wipe a group before each boss. And there are 4 bosses. Deadmines is also HUGE. Same thing. I’m okay with the difficulty, and even the bosses being unforgivable, but if we’re going to be spending an hour+ just on trash clearing… that’s a bit much. If they took out a few trash packs between the bosses, that would be okay.

    • Guest

      Good post. I’ve read all the comments, some are well thought out, others I have to respectfully disagree with, though everyone is entitled to an opinion. My thoughts on the subject are this, heroics too hard? No. The 329 iLvL gear is the correct entry lvl gear to have a challenging experience in a heroic dungeon, make it any easier and we’ll repeat Wrath of the Lich King, which in this WoW Vet’s opinion, sucked. The good ol’ days of 40 man Ony, MC and BWL were long gone after BC, and it made me very sad. The game became too “easy” and WotlK was what made me leave the game until not long ago where I returned to do the content and prepare for Cata. A heroic dungeon is supposed to be very difficult, which is why it’s called Heroic. Someone said it perfectly in their comments, it’s a training for Raids in Cataclysm. Making dungeons with similar difficulty as Wrath had is a flat out mistake, our characters of all classes became 1 or 2 button spammers in wrath, CC? what the heck for? wasn’t necessary, oh how I missed my banishing duties… the brought back the challenge and fun.

      As for it being accessible and doable by all walks of players… it is. Having a hard time? Take 10 minutes before a dungeon and go watch some Youtube vids on boss strategies for your heroic modes, instead of spending an hour wiping on a boss until your group “figures it out”. Read strategies. All kinds of valuable information out there to help you through it. 3-4 hours for a heroic? that indeed is a problem, but not a dungeon problem, more like a group problem. I think I only spend 3 hours in a heroic once, it was our first Black Rock Caverns, where Karsh Steelbender gave us a ride for our money until we researched the strategy to be able to do it without ever having an add phase and letting his armor get back on him. So really there is no excuse, getting rep gear? easiest thing in the world, equip a faction’s tabard and run instances, watch the rep pile on… do their daily’s if they have them (wildhammer clan, and therazane both have tons), there is no real reason any player hardcore or casual alike can’t complete heroics in a timely manner. Pug or not. All the tools are there and easily accessible with a minimal amount of time and effort. Frankly though, and not to sound like an elitist, but I kind of enjoy the fact that not everyone can do it easily, it makes me feel like what I have earned and continue to earn means something, and the fact that to access Raids and higher end content requires skill again, sets apart certain players, and I kind of like that idea. I thought Wrath was an epic fail that anyone and his monkey could get the same gear a skilled player could get made me twitch. You don’t have to be leet to do heroics, but you have to be awake and participate, and CC, and use strategy, and understand mechanics etc etc etc. You have to do your jobs as the characters you chose to play. I LOVE THIS. GOOD RIDDANCE to the days of random dungeon finder and Pugging with people who think they can just AoE everything and get by. I don’t want to play like that or with people that do play like that… So I’m 110% ok with Cataclysm as it is.

      And for those that enjoy the challenge but are always pugging and failing, join a guild that suits your needs. I’m in a small family and friends guild, we have completed all heroics and got tons of guild achievements relating to the heroics, and are now just starting to plan our first raids, downing Algaroth in Baradin’s Hold was our first 10 man boss kill, and we did it on our second attempt, first attempt failed cause we tried it with only 9 players, and we were missing some overall DPS to down him before his 5 minute enrage. We pugged the last spot and killed him, no one died. Raiding is not hard when you take the time to understand what needs to be done in order to succeed. Dont wonder why you fail if you’re always standing in puddles of flame or if you’re always facing the boss when you’re DPS, or RDPS and standing in a boss’s cleave range etc etc etc… there are simple mechanics that everyone can learn, once you do that, the rest is a pleasant and not overly challenging dungeon.

    • Krystein17

      how many times did you toss yourself off when you wrote this, i got halfway through,,, painfull artical bro if writing articals is not your day job i would tell you not to give up your day job, i believe this to be more of a troll than a write up.