Having now reached the point where I’ve killed some raid bosses, I’m relatively happy to say that endgame PvE is good fun in Star Wars: The Old Republic. To date, I’ve completed the Eternity Vault on normal mode and will hopefully clear out Karagga’s Palace this week. I’ve gone over the videos for the encounters and can’t see much to get in the way of completion – all relatively simple, just as the Eternity Vault was. Naturally, the guild has already done Karagga’s Palace and has (I think) taken down three of the hard mode bosses on Belsavis.
Not a bad start for a relatively casual guild.
I’d like to go on record as saying that Operations are good fun and that I’ve enjoyed them. We did a 16-man kill of the Annihilator Droid a couple of weeks back when I played as a DPS toon with tanking gear and spec in tow, but it was a good ol’ fashioned “progress” fight. With one exception, each pull got progressively better than the last until he finally went down after about four wipes. We ended up with only enough time to pull the next boss once, but we haven’t been back since, choosing instead to concentrate on 8-man clearing. Given the relative amount of success we’ve had so far, including the nuisance factor of 16-man raiding, I daresay the guild will continue in the smaller setting.
Unfortunately, I’d rather do the 16-man raiding because I think it’s close to the ideal number of people.
Now, this isn’t a complaint about the guild leadership. We’ve essentially got a few too many Juggernauts, a few too few healers and the overall setting up of a 16-man Operation is an additional hassle for no additional benefit. I don’t blame the guild at all. What concerns me is that Star Wars seems to have continued on from Blizzard’s latter view toward larger sizes of raiding:
One of Spinks’ comments today was to link one of Scott Andrews’ recent posts on WoW Insider, essentially lamenting the loss of the 25-man raid. There are a lot of factors involved in why one might take that route but, honestly, humans are geared toward the path of least resistance in the overwhelming majority of cases. This means that in lieu of specific rewards for playing in the higher setting, it becomes hard to see why anyone would bother. It’s a well-known fact that playing 25-man raids or 16-man Operations requires more work from the officers, more work for assignments, more work in recruitment and more work in general. When there are no legitimate reasons to go through this extra work, it’s apparent that nobody will.
The complete dearth of 25-man raiding guilds proves this. My own Star Wars guild and its decision proves this. The question is what BioWare (or Blizzard) will consider “the next step”.
When I think about it, I can honestly see 8-man and 10-man becoming the default settings for their respective games.
And let’s not forget that Blizzard have been going this way for seven years now.
1) Vanilla: 40-man raiding was a necessity.
2) TBC: 25-man raiding was a necessity.
3) WotLK: 25-man raiding was encouraged.
4) Cataclysm: 25-man raiding is discouraged.
Ignoring tuning difficulties and the problems of raid buffs and the like, it seems pretty clear to me that there’s only one destination for 25-man raiding and that’s the scrap heap; there’s next to no chance that Blizzard (or, by proxy, BioWare) are going to continue using resources trying to balance out settings that next to nobody is running. In addition to that, even when you DO consider tuning and raid buffs, tuning ceases to be a problem in a solo setting and raid buffs are being spread around even more than previously.
In an 8-man Operation, you’d have to be frighteningly unlucky not to have all major buffs covered because they belong to the class archetype and not the advanced classes. Sure, a Sith Marauder might have a lot of extra utility – but that’s not tied into Unnatural Might, Mark of Power, Hunter’s Boon or Coordination. World of Warcraft is becoming the same situation; even “necessary” buffs such as Bloodlust are now covered by multiple classes, and some debuffs are about to see the bullet (attack speed).
I’m not trying to doomsay, nor am I passing any judgement on what’s better between larger or smaller raid sizes; they both have their own positives and negatives. All I’m implying is that players will flock to the easier organisational option when there is no substantial reason for them to do otherwise.
To me, that means the death knell for 25-man raids/16-man Operations.
Who’ll be sad to see ‘em go?