Thursday, 19 September 2013

Is there anybody out there: My first World of Warcraft Raid

This is it, the big one! I know the skills I should be using, the features of each of the bosses and the average level of my items has just tripped over the minimum requirement for my first ever World of Warcraft raid; The Guardians of the Mogu’Shan!

These large scale instances have always been for me the light at the end of WoW’s long levelling tunnel. That’s not to say I have not enjoyed levelling, I have, but these instances are what everybody talks about; the unique boss fights, the inevitable wipe and the amazing drops and so it was with a lot of anticipation that I clicked the enter raid button presented by the ‘looking for raid’ feature.

I am using the ‘looking for raid’(LFR) feature because my tiny guild does not have enough level 90s to field a full 25-person raid team and so I am grouped with other randoms and given a minor increase in stats to account for the fact that we have never worked as a team before. In addition the bosses themselves are also slightly easier and so if you are being a purist about this I guess you could consider it be the diet-coke of the raiding world. I am also playing a damage role, meaning that my job is to cause as much damage as humanly possible, without becoming such a big target that the boss attacks me instead of one of the two tanks (whose job it is to maintain the attention of bosses and baddies at all times!) or requiring too much attention from the healers in the group. I assumed, given the scale of it, that our raid leader would do a quick ‘hello, this is the plan..’ before we set off, however I was wrong……

It's a shame there is no Karaoke in this pub. 'All by myself!!!!!!'

The first thing I noticed on entering the raid was how quiet the raid chat was, once a handful of ‘hellos’ we just seemed to charge forward without so much as a by your leave. The instance itself felt suitably epic, with its giant elegantly decorated rooms and the instance itself felt like it had a greater tie to the story than some of the dungeons I did in order to gear up for the instance. With little or no communication we tore through the monsters leading up to the first boss (Three stone dogs) and yes we did pause, but only so that, without saying a word, people could cast their stat boosting spells and recharge their mana/health. The fight itself felt impressive and I felt a certain pleasure in delivering the killing blow on one of the dogs myself, this was further enhanced when one of them dropped a piece of gear I could use. Again we charged onwards to the next boss, again a short pause followed by a quick, but intense boss fight. It was about this time that my slightly slow brain seemed to realise something, the majority of other people seemed to know exactly what to do and when.

The people in this LFR did not need to talk to anyone because most of them already knew how each fight played out and how they could fulfil their role most effectively. The LFR system rewards its users with valor points for each raid completed, which is then used to buy/upgrade high level gear and so of course people are going to run the same raids day in, day out!

With the final boss down and without so much as a goodbye the group disbanded and I was left to think about what I had just experienced. Yes, I had fought some really cool boss fights, but I still felt like something was missing, I entered the raid wanting to be part of a team that worked together to take down incredible foes and instead it felt like multiple individuals attacking the same target. Then 

I understood that that was not the point of LFR, LFR serves to provide access to end game content, so that people like me (whose guilds cannot field a raid team) are not cut out completely from a major aspect of the game and on that score it succeeds. However I have now realised that I need more than that from my raids, I want to be a part of a team and so, given my guild has about 5 active members, I think it might be time to look for some new friends to play with.

Sha of Anger Raid
Even attacks one the world bosses are pretty silent!

What have been your large-scale instance experiences in MMOs in general? Which MMO do you think has the best end game material? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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