In this installment of World of Warcraft Wisdom, I expand on my recent series discussing the various WoW expansions and share an open-letter to Blizzard regarding the nerfing of dungeons in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm.

The letter is, of course, tongue-in-cheek at times – but also addresses the real frustrations players have faced in the wake of the update.

Dear Blizzard,

My name is Mark Sherman, I have been playing World of Warcraft for some five years now. In addition to playing your game, I also write a weekly column, World of Warcraft Wisdom, for Game Rant. In those years, I have played just about every race and class, have several characters level 85 (or approaching) and have been with you since before Burning Crusade was released. While I have enjoyed your game, there have been moments where the experience has been made a bit too easy for players – something  I wrote about recently. Even more recent, I wrote about the Cataclysm expansion and how it struck a wonderful balance between making the instances hard enough for serious players and a good challenge for casual players – something that was seriously missing with Wrath of the Lich King (WoTLK). Alas it hit me, when I was leveling a character, that you had nerfed the dungeons.

According to the Notes for patch 4.0.6, you made many changes to the dungeons – to make them a bit easier. What gets me, though, is that prior to this patch, Greg Street, Lead Systems Designer, had defended the difficulty of the dungeons – especially at the heroic level. Street noted in his defense of the difficulty that Blizzard wanted players to “celebrate when you win instead of it being a foregone conclusion,” which it was with WoTLK. Street further noted that:

…we don’t want you to stumble your way to victory. We don’t want you to be able to overwhelm bosses without noticing or caring what they’re doing. We don’t want healers to be able to make up for all of the mistakes on the part of the other players. While at the end of the day, dungeons may just be gussied up loot vending machines, we want you to do more than push a button to get the loot.

I couldn’t have said it better myself, in fact, that is what many of us were saying with WoTLK, any PUG could clear every single dungeon – there was no challenge to tank, heal, nor DPS. When I healed my first Cata dungeon, I was in heaven: I had to think and be aware of DPS.

From WoW Armory

And then Patch 4.0.6 came along.

By that time, I had two 85’s and was pretty much done with heroics and the like. As well, my “toon ADD” hit and I moved on to other characters. To make a long story short, I decided, after playing my baby warrior (who is sitting somewhere in Northrend at 70), that I should get my mage (who had been resting at 80), up there to join her siblings at 85. My first run through a Cataclysm dungeon had no wipes; moreover, the healer needed no mana breaks, the DPS easily avoided damage and the tank could easily hold aggro — in other words, it was WoTLK all over again. While dungeons are “loot vending machines,” we are back to simply having to “push a button to get the loot.”

While there is a level of difficulty between heroics and regular dungeons, the difference is only slightly more of a challenge than WoTLK heroics. But, like WoTLK heroics, once geared, they can be done by any group with no coordination needed.

My question, Blizzard, is why? Why take our culture’s wimpification and bring it here? Why bring the game down to the lowest, easiest common denominator? Why enable the wimpifiers? Many of us are adults and can handle the stress of a wipe – aside from those who take things a bit too seriously. Most players have enjoyed the challenge of a dungeon or raid that Cata gave us.

I admit, I had a hard time in getting through some of the dungeons – both at regular and heroic levels. Some who read and comment have even chided me for wipes at times. But, I saw it as a challenge, just as Mr. Street indicated – my group had to communicate, plan, experiment, then plan another strategy. I saw these wipes as fun. I saw them as a challenge that I had missed since Burning Crusade. But, when dungeons are made easier, I begin to understand why some players have left the game – because it was just too easy. So easy, that any PUG could clear any dungeon and raid.

At this point, I must follow the advice of my parents: no complaining unless you do something to change it. So, here, Blizzard, is my proposal:

You have done a magnificent job in providing new content – in fact, I look forward to 4.2 and the new quest lines designed for casual gamers. But, what I propose is entirely different. While you have various realms for styles of play, from PVP to role playing, why not create a few realms for players who like a challenge – without having to ratchet up the difficult for players who want to take it easier. For example, in Patch 4.0.6, you took one of the pups out – when facing Beauty in “Deeprock Caverns.” This is nice for those who want it a bit easier (the easier server); however, for those want it a bit harder, keep the third pup there (for a more challenging server).

I realize that this might be server and programmer intensive for you, but with some tweaks here and there, it could be fun for players who want the challenge of a more difficult dungeon or raid run. I realize  one problem would be people leveling up on a simpler server then changing servers once 85 and geared; however this is easily solvable if you go back to your first rules of server change when a player could not go from a non-PVP server to a PVP server. In this case, though, one could not level on an “easy” server, then move his or her character to a “difficult” server.

I thank you, Blizzard, for your time for reading this and hope that you take my thoughts into consideration as you expand the game.


Mark A. Sherman

And now it is your turn: what do you think? Are you happy with the nerfing of the dungeons or do you miss the challenge when Cataclysm was first released? Would you choose a server that provided more difficulty?

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