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Over the past few months, I've been following the Cataclysm updates with amusement, confusion, excitement and terror in almost equal doses. As a full-time tank and lover of the warrior class, there is much to chew on that makes me either happy or sad depending on how it's going to effect the game in my view. I have a couple of alts, but I don't like them that much and have always found the warrior ethos of "easy to pick up, hard to master, fun to play" to be to my liking. Yeah, the punitive side of this sophistication during Wrath of the Lich King has soured the taste to an extent (when the brute force of a paladin or druid is preferable 90% of the time), but warriors have had a good expansion all in all.
One thing that really does worry me, however, is the "solution" to the AoE zergathon that has dominated a truckload of time since, I'd say, the end of 3.0 and into 3.1. It's no secret that heroic instances are a joke, mindless spam-a-thons where the participants hit all of their buttons, in a random order, and facelessly plough through regardless. It's also no secret that Blizzard intends to fix this with the re-introduction of crowd control, a fun and compelling indication of player skill and opportunity for a group to add up to more than the sum of its parts. The method of achievement will not be as it was during The Burning Crusade (the golden age of PvE content), but with the risk of your tank simply dying if he tries to contain too much.
But this is where I get confused:
Does anyone honestly think that this is going to work?
I appreciate the argument that crowd control will be sought after, and this is good for the game however you slice it. And Blizzard has definitely been diligent with regards to making sure there is plenty crowd control to go round. But I'm absolutely amazed that nobody has pointed out (or that they haven't realised) that this plan simply will not work. And why not?
Because the risk of tank death goes away as soon as the content is outgeared.
The vast majority of players outgeared T7 heroic content before 3.1. By the time we were in 3.3, cloth wearers were surviving sustained attacks from heroic mobs that should have obliterated them in no time. The point here is that even with gear scaling slowing down slightly (we can hope), we're still going to end up exactly where we are now come 4.2 - heroic groups outgearing content and zerging everything down.
I mentioned above that The Burning Crusade was the golden age of PvE content in World of Warcraft. I doubt any serious player would disagree. But what made that content challenging, compelling and punitive on bad groups was the very serious risk of losing control. Loss of control meant loss of life. Loss of life meant loss of time. And time, dear friends, is what nobody wants to seem to invest any more.
So, if tank death is only the solution for half a content patch, what is the solution?
Well, there isn't one. The game ethos has shifted to such an extent for Cataclysm (from what I've read) that the damage is nigh on irreparable. The only way to keep content compelling and challenging is to ensure that control is a theme throughout. This is not what Blizzard is pushing, though. Those who were there at the time, think back.
If you landed a heal on a tank before he'd done anything, mobs were coming your way.
If you landed a blow on a mob before the tank had done anything, mobs were coming your way.
Nine times out of ten, mobs coming your way meant you were going to die.
Control, control, control.
Yet, what do we hear from the developers?
"We don't want random heal aggro to kill healers".
That attitude will proliferate heal spammers. When the community then cries that it can't retain enough mana for encounters, we all know the outcome.
"We don't want DPS to be throttled by the guy out front".
That attitude proliferates trigger-happy DPS who push all their buttons regardless of circumstance.
"We don't want unlucky mistakes to wipe groups".
Then mistakes will keep happening because there are no consequences for failure.
I know the type of response this will probably get; I've seen it all over the forums. The type of people that are gravitating to this game now are the ones who don't want to invest time and effort for reward - they simply think that they are due a reward purely for logging in. They don't want to work with a group, they want to work in spite of a group and blame others when things go wrong. They don't want to learn how to play the game, both technically and socially, because there are plenty of ways to avoid ever having to do either.
Blizzard, I beseech you. Stop this.
Ghostcrawler has repeatedly stated recently that removing the aspect of failure doesn't make for a more compelling game. He's right. And, personally, I think Mr. Street is a man who knows what direction the game should be going in, but is having his hands tied by people who simply want more accounts paid for.
But this is ruining a game that I and many others have loved for a long time. More and more, I feel like I'm in love with the memory of what this game used to be and not what it currently is.
Make the interaction of groups a necessity.
Enforce the idea of control.
Ensure consequences of failure are severe.
Instill the values of corresponding effort and reward.
The game will only be better for it.