Where Cata's 'hard dungeons' went wrong.

90 Draenei Death Knight
11460
It's pretty clear, by now, that the plan to make Cataclysm 5-mans much harder didn't work. A good portion of the player base ended up either only running with guild mates, or not running at all. In a coordinated guild run, with Vent, they were fine, and even fun. Without such coordination, they ranged from tricky to wipefest, depending on your luck with group mates.

I saw a lot of people get really discouraged between 4.0 and the end of 4.2. I, myself, eventually quit doing randoms and just leveled alts, because it wasn't worth it anymore. It was challenging, sure, but it wasn't the fun type of challenge-- it was just frustrating.

I think that, while Blizzard had the right idea-- to make 5-mans interesting-- they failed in three ways.

1. Cataclysm largely featured frustrating challenge, not fun challenge. A lot of the mechanics were unfair. Things like the radius of Shatter on Ozuruk not being clear, or Akil'zon being mis-tuned in a way that made him put out too much damage if you were the unlucky group with 2 or, Light forbid, 3 melee, while doing very little to a group of 3 ranged DPS. Most of these things got fixed in patches, but first impressions are important.

Also, a lot of the early Cataclysm dungeons unduly punish groups that had bad compositions-- not good in a game with random 5-man groups that can, for example, lack anyone who can CC. In raids it's okay to do this to an extend because raids choose their comps, but in randomly composed 5-mans it's a very, very bad thing to make a boss like the Foe Reaper, where melee are nearly useless (and prone to being mocked by ranged, who hardly ever get the short end of the stick on fights like that.) While this can be fun-- one of the most entertaining runs I had early on was a wipe-heavy, full clear guild run of HoO with a prot paladin, 3 DKs, and a priest, all in blues-- but, in an impatient random group that just wants their points, this "challenge" can be torment. Everyone ends up on edge, and ready to savagely chew their teammates out over the slightest mistake or flaw.

If a five-man dungeon is designed around doing something-- for example, a pull where you're intended to use CC to lock down one target-- the dungeon should also be designed so that every random group will have access to that CC. This could be by the matching system making sure there is a CCer in every randomly matched group that enters a CC-required dungeon, by adding a mechanic like the ice cauldrons in ZG or the control orbs in Naxx 10 that would let anyone who needed to do the CC, or by homogenizing and giving CC to the few DPS that lack it (or at least a talent/glyph to change an existing ability to a true CC, in the same way that the warlock's Fear glyph works.)

2. Difficulty SPIKE. We went from everyone facerolling Wrath first-tier heroics in 250+ gear to... well, early Cataclysm, and it was honestly a bit too big a step for many players, like throwing someone from Algebra 101 straight into Advanced Calculus and expecting them to keep up. (If you were one of those people who cleared all the 4.0 dungeons in Wrath greens and never wiped because you were doing 20k DPS without even trying, grats, I'm not talking about you.) You don't magically gain skill just because things got hard, you have to be given a chance to learn.

I think that, if Blizzard would have made the 4.0 dungeons harder than Wrath without immediately turning the heat up to 11, and then ramped the challenge up gradually as the tiers went on, it would have gone over better and given people a chance to learn how to play at the level expected of them.

3. Dungeon length. This has been discussed elsewhere, but most of the early dungeons were too long for the format, especially given the difficulty level. A lot of them should have been either cut down-- often, they had far, far too much repetitive trash-- or made into two dungeons. In my opinion, a randomly queued dungeon really feels best in the 30-40 minute range-- end of Wrath 15 minute zergs are a bit too short, while the 4.0/Zuls were often too long at the intended gear level.

However, I like the idea of the Zuls-- they were fun concept dungeons, they just got old fast thanks to them being the only choices for a non-raider to get their full VP for the week. I think that the extra-spicy "mini raid" format of ZA/ZG works-- and I would welcome it on occasion in the future-- but it should be separate from random dungeons. Give them random queues and a higher valor reward suiting the length and larger number of bosses (similar to LFR) and even slightly better loot than the short 5-mans, but don't lump them in with random normal dungeons.

TLDR: If someone doesn't like the extra-spicy wings, serve them mild ones, don't tell them they don't deserve to eat at your restaurant. If someone can't handle extra-spicy wings and wants to, give them milder options, then slowly increase the spice until they can eat the 5-alarm wings. ...or something like that, just read the post.
90 Pandaren Mage
One
13640
Their take on making dungeons challenging was wrong, it shouldnt be 'add a truckload of really hard hitting trash' it should be 'make the bosses have awesome mechanics that require concentration and a modicum of skill'.

I remember 4.0 deadmines. It wasn't especially hard but it took 4 hours because everyone was in 333-346 gear and it was jam packed with trash. This is a bad formula.
90 Draenei Death Knight
11460
Their take on making dungeons challenging was wrong, it shouldnt be 'add a truckload of really hard hitting trash' it should be 'make the bosses have awesome mechanics that require concentration and a modicum of skill'.

I remember 4.0 deadmines. It wasn't especially hard but it took 4 hours because everyone was in 333-346 gear and it was jam packed with trash. This is a bad formula.


I agree with this-- I enjoyed most of the 4.x bosses, it's the trash that made me hate the game.

I actually love the 4.3 dungeons, and think that, if they weren't tuned for people in 353 gear while dropping 378s, they would be just right. Azshara was actually really, really hard the first week they were out! The problem with them is that you outgear them in 2-3 runs, depending on your luck-- it's not like the ICC ones where, unless you raided, you were only in 232s.
90 Worgen Warrior
7265
02/26/2012 04:19 PMPosted by Bitmad
Their take on making dungeons challenging was wrong, it shouldnt be 'add a truckload of really hard hitting trash' it should be 'make the bosses have awesome mechanics that require concentration and a modicum of skill'.

Corla? The PuG murderer? She is still at it to this day.

They did make boss fights that required people to be on the ball. And a lot of people did actually screw up the ball part.
Edited by Jessebella on 2/26/2012 4:38 PM PST
90 Pandaren Shaman
8455
The only problem is they spoiled the player base with the Wrath dungeons then tried to return to TBC style and it blew up in their face. You could easily be describing Shadow Lab, Arcatraz or Shattered Halls in your post.....or for us old schooler's....Dire Maul, Strat UD, Scholo, LBRS or BRD. Long runs (3 plus hours for each) with lots of complex pulls.

If that model had persisted into Wrath no one would have blinked an eye at the Cata dungeons but you can't make Heroics that people can do during their lunch breaks at work so they can get their Daily done (I've seen it) then expect them to enjoy running content for fun anymore.

Once we had Badges and the requirement to run Heroics like a second job we got LFD and the need for pain free, quickie dungeons.
85 Goblin Rogue
5305
My only gripe about the dungeons was the freaking length of them. I don't always have an afternoon to kill. They went from overly simple to soul-crushingly long.
85 Tauren Druid
6325
Deadmines when it first came out made me want to punch babies. It wasn't that the boss mechanics were actually hard, it was that the trash before them punished you for mistakes anyone could make being that you were in a tight nit corridor where your view could easily be obstructed, or an accidental aoe would break a CC that would ultimately wipe your group.

Foe Reaper was just poor design.

Mario gauntlet was fun, but the slightest bit of lag and you were dead.

I think they had the right idea, they just took it a bit too far. 2 hour instances did not make me want to continue running them.
90 Undead Rogue
8560
I never had a problem with any of the dungeons length wise except for Deadmines. It got to the point where after sitting in a q for 20 min and getting that it was more time efficient to just take the deserter and re-q.
85 Undead Death Knight
8375
02/26/2012 04:16 PMPosted by Atun
I think that, if Blizzard would have made the 4.0 dungeons harder than Wrath without immediately turning the heat up to 11, and then ramped the challenge up gradually as the tiers went on, it would have gone over better and given people a chance to learn how to play at the level expected of them.


They did.

Normals were identical to heroics with 1 new mechanic thrown in (or the fire, instead of mildly hurting you, now kills you). If you did normals for practice, then either looked up or asked the party about the fight differences, then you were likely to 1 or 2 shot the bosses without problems.

What people are doing now is expecting "nerfed" dungeons to be facerollable enough for them to face it without any prep in normal mode. I've attempted to teach a tank how to do ozruk on heroic with NO prior exp on normal, it was a diaster.


What you're complaning about is not that your wings are too spicy, but your Habanero-wing-dingers are too spicy. Of course they're spicy, they have the word "Habanero" in them.
15 Gnome Rogue
70
02/26/2012 04:16 PMPosted by Atun
It was challenging, sure, but it wasn't the fun type of challenge-- it was just frustrating.


This.

imo

^ read that

IN MY OPINION

vanilla and BC had the fun type of challenge in it, rather than the frustrating type we know as Cataclysm
85 Draenei Shaman
7695
I still can't get a group that knows how to do the last two bosses in Grim Batol properly. I stopped doing regular Heroics altogether when I got Grim Batol four times in a row and we either wiped repeatedly on Drahga because they couldn't kill the conjured Incinerator dude, or we wiped on Erudax because no one stood in the swirling circle he casts during Shadow Gale.

I queued again tonight, and guess what! I got Grim Batol after almost six months of not running PUG dungeons, and they STILL cannot beat Erudax due to complete idiocy. I explained the fight prior, no one listened, and one by one other than myself and one DPS they died to their own stupidity.

Length doesn't bother me, but people not being able to get out of their own way is tiresome.
85 Night Elf Druid
13495
I disagree. Early Cata was the most fun I've had. Requiring good team work and proper play out of the whole group was a good thing. 4.3 heroics are a complete joke and the death of fun for me.
80 Blood Elf Paladin
7645
Early Cata was a lot of fun. And for it's length, DM had a lot of bosses making it worth it. The last fight is one of my favorites.

I like hard trash. See ToC...
90 Pandaren Mage
One
13640
02/26/2012 04:36 PMPosted by Jessebella
Their take on making dungeons challenging was wrong, it shouldnt be 'add a truckload of really hard hitting trash' it should be 'make the bosses have awesome mechanics that require concentration and a modicum of skill'.

Corla? The PuG murderer? She is still at it to this day.

They did make boss fights that required people to be on the ball. And a lot of people did actually screw up the ball part.
wat? even in t11 you could heal through all three adds transforming and shadowstriking.
90 Pandaren Mage
14060
02/26/2012 04:54 PMPosted by Zephirus
4.3 heroics are a complete joke and the death of fun for me.
I think my main issue with the dungeons at the beginning of cata, and the troll heroics that were added after, was that they took too long to complete. A challenge is fun, but when you start dreading wipes because it's going to make the run take hours, the fun dissappears. Look at something like Halls of Origination. At the beginning of the expansion while trying to gear up most groups would probably clear all bosses, and it took forever. That's not even counting all the wipes that happened along the way to make it worse. And don't get me started on Grim Batol. The bosses in there were fun, and the dungeon had great atmosphere, but there was way too much trash.

I think this was a big part of what made the dungeons too long, way too much trash to deal with, and the trash was difficult if you didn't have the right CC. I remember so many times getting into HoO on my tank and having no cc to deal with the trash. This just made the run an annoyance.

In my opinion the best dungeons Blizzard have done were the 3 ICC heroics. I think they provided a good challenge to most groups, but they also didn't take forever. Halls of Reflection in particular was good. I know some people say it was easy, but for me it was challenging in most of the groups I ran it with. Plus I don't think there has been anything as cool in a dungeon as the final part of HoR where you're running from the Lich King. I think Blizzard really showed with these that they could make challenging dungeons, that didn't involve huge amounts of trash or took forever to complete.

85 Gnome Priest
10100
I don't mind hard trash, but long trash is awful. Spending 2 hours in a dungeon is a bit too much for me to stomach, especially if I get a bad group.

(this is also the biggest problem with SWTOR hardmodes)
Edited by Velict on 2/26/2012 5:09 PM PST
85 Night Elf Druid
9815
02/26/2012 05:01 PMPosted by Bitmad

Corla? The PuG murderer? She is still at it to this day.

They did make boss fights that required people to be on the ball. And a lot of people did actually screw up the ball part.
wat? even in t11 you could heal through all three adds transforming and shadowstriking.


Not unless you had a really good healer/tank, or took them out one at a time, or I suppose if you had full T11 raid gear.

The only thing I hated about the starter dungeons of Cata was the length. The difficulty was fine, because back then I always had groups that would actually talk to each and not just kick when someone said "I don't know this fight". Only fights I had a problem with were the dragon in VP where if you got knocked off the platform, he would one shot you, and Drahga as people wouldn't run away from the exploding fire guys. From the ZA/ZG duo, it had to be ZG with Jin'do The Pugbreaker. So many times did I have pugs who couldn't get the ghost adds down, or stood no where near a chain for the berserker's jump.
85 Human Mage
6590
It's pretty clear, by now, that the plan to make Cataclysm 5-mans much harder didn't work. A good portion of the player base ended up either only running with guild mates, or not running at all. In a coordinated guild run, with Vent, they were fine, and even fun. Without such coordination, they ranged from tricky to wipefest, depending on your luck with group mates.

I saw a lot of people get really discouraged between 4.0 and the end of 4.2. I, myself, eventually quit doing randoms and just leveled alts, because it wasn't worth it anymore. It was challenging, sure, but it wasn't the fun type of challenge-- it was just frustrating.

I think that, while Blizzard had the right idea-- to make 5-mans interesting-- they failed in three ways.

1. Cataclysm largely featured frustrating challenge, not fun challenge. A lot of the mechanics were unfair. Things like the radius of Shatter on Ozuruk not being clear, or Akil'zon being mis-tuned in a way that made him put out too much damage if you were the unlucky group with 2 or, Light forbid, 3 melee, while doing very little to a group of 3 ranged DPS. Most of these things got fixed in patches, but first impressions are important.

Also, a lot of the early Cataclysm dungeons unduly punish groups that had bad compositions-- not good in a game with random 5-man groups that can, for example, lack anyone who can CC. In raids it's okay to do this to an extend because raids choose their comps, but in randomly composed 5-mans it's a very, very bad thing to make a boss like the Foe Reaper, where melee are nearly useless (and prone to being mocked by ranged, who hardly ever get the short end of the stick on fights like that.) While this can be fun-- one of the most entertaining runs I had early on was a wipe-heavy, full clear guild run of HoO with a prot paladin, 3 DKs, and a priest, all in blues-- but, in an impatient random group that just wants their points, this "challenge" can be torment. Everyone ends up on edge, and ready to savagely chew their teammates out over the slightest mistake or flaw.

If a five-man dungeon is designed around doing something-- for example, a pull where you're intended to use CC to lock down one target-- the dungeon should also be designed so that every random group will have access to that CC. This could be by the matching system making sure there is a CCer in every randomly matched group that enters a CC-required dungeon, by adding a mechanic like the ice cauldrons in ZG or the control orbs in Naxx 10 that would let anyone who needed to do the CC, or by homogenizing and giving CC to the few DPS that lack it (or at least a talent/glyph to change an existing ability to a true CC, in the same way that the warlock's Fear glyph works.)

2. Difficulty SPIKE. We went from everyone facerolling Wrath first-tier heroics in 250+ gear to... well, early Cataclysm, and it was honestly a bit too big a step for many players, like throwing someone from Algebra 101 straight into Advanced Calculus and expecting them to keep up. (If you were one of those people who cleared all the 4.0 dungeons in Wrath greens and never wiped because you were doing 20k DPS without even trying, grats, I'm not talking about you.) You don't magically gain skill just because things got hard, you have to be given a chance to learn.

I think that, if Blizzard would have made the 4.0 dungeons harder than Wrath without immediately turning the heat up to 11, and then ramped the challenge up gradually as the tiers went on, it would have gone over better and given people a chance to learn how to play at the level expected of them.

3. Dungeon length. This has been discussed elsewhere, but most of the early dungeons were too long for the format, especially given the difficulty level. A lot of them should have been either cut down-- often, they had far, far too much repetitive trash-- or made into two dungeons. In my opinion, a randomly queued dungeon really feels best in the 30-40 minute range-- end of Wrath 15 minute zergs are a bit too short, while the 4.0/Zuls were often too long at the intended gear level.

However, I like the idea of the Zuls-- they were fun concept dungeons, they just got old fast thanks to them being the only choices for a non-raider to get their full VP for the week. I think that the extra-spicy "mini raid" format of ZA/ZG works-- and I would welcome it on occasion in the future-- but it should be separate from random dungeons. Give them random queues and a higher valor reward suiting the length and larger number of bosses (similar to LFR) and even slightly better loot than the short 5-mans, but don't lump them in with random normal dungeons.

TLDR: If someone doesn't like the extra-spicy wings, serve them mild ones, don't tell them they don't deserve to eat at your restaurant. If someone can't handle extra-spicy wings and wants to, give them milder options, then slowly increase the spice until they can eat the 5-alarm wings. ...or something like that, just read the post.


they did serve mild wings. they were called normal dungeons.
I for one enjoyed the difficulty of 4.0 dungeons when they came out, just not being stuck with utter noobs and halfwits. I still remember the first heroic i cleared, throne of the tides with 2 guild members(they weren't very good) I was the last person alive bc i cauterized blocked ozumat and ended updying, and the last tick of combustion got ozumat.

admittedly tho you are right on several points, and just to add holy paladins for a while were almost required bc all other healersrr would go oom. These dungeons could have been implemented bette3r
Edited by Binned on 2/26/2012 5:20 PM PST
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