I know I’m a little late to talk about this, but I think it’s a really big issue and I want to share my thoughts on the topic.
For anyone who may not know this yet, Mists of Pandaria will be released with no raids available. The first raid, Mogu’shan Vaults, will open up the second week of the expansion. The other two raids included in Tier 14 will be opening up four weeks later.
This has been a hot topic of discussion for the past few weeks among anyone interested in raiding. Some see it as Blizzard imposing gating once more as it did in ICC, while others see it as Blizzard telling raiders that it’s okay to take the leveling process slowly.
What this means
Without trying to add any of my thoughts to this, it simply means that there won’t be as much of a rush to hit level cap for those interested in getting into raids. Where in past expansion raiders had to race to level cap, then grind 5-Man dungeons for gear as fast as possible, all of those players now have a week to do all of that. It will still be a little rushed, especially for anyone who wants to have as much gear as possible for the first raid lockout, but it definitely helps all of the players interested in raiding.
To any raider who plays casually but is interested in the progression race, this is an amazing thing for Blizzard to do. Not all raiders interested in the progression race have the ability to play constantly on release. Since the expansion is coming in mid September, most people will be working or back in school. Most people also don’t have the ability to take a vacation from work for the sake of the game. These are all the people that will gain from this change.
Blizzard Imposing Limitations
As with any big change that Blizzard makes, many people have come out as very opposed to this change. A lot of people are saying that Blizzard is artificially controlling progression. The last time that something like this was done was with ICC where Blizzard released bosses by wings, only releasing a set of 3 or four bosses at a time. To make that worse, they also added in limited attempts for every raid lockout to slow down progression even further. This was a very poor way of slowing down progression and ended up being more of a headache for the top guilds, because they went as far as having a raid of alts to practice content with before attempting it on their mains.
Blizzard may have been seeking to make the content longer lived because it would be the main content for so long, but most of the top end raiders felt there were lulls with the gating when they could have been working on later wings. They wanted to, and were able to continue progressing, but were forced to sit on their hands while bosses that were ready were left in the waiting.
This is far from what was done then though.
First of all, this seems to be more aimed at the people who cannot play as much yet want to raid. It evens the playing ground for the progression race so that most people will start at the same time. The first tier of past expansions has included to races. The first was the race to max level and to get the best gear that was possible right out of the gate. As soon as a guild could get a raid together, the next step would be to get into raids as quickly as possible. Raiders in the more “hardcore” progression guilds almost had to take breaks from their real lives to be able to stay competitive at the beginning of an expansion.
I think the second big pro to the gating that is going to happen is that the instances are going to be released separately. In total, counting Heroic modes, there are over 30 bosses in Tier 14. I think that trying to tackle all of that at once would lead to many raiders getting burnt out. Without the staggered releases, raiders would have had to max level cap, max reputations, raid LFR, and max Valor weekly all while raiding through three instances ever single week. With this staggering, it cuts down the entry to the tier dramatically, and it also makes it so that at some point the progression oriented raiders can cut Mogu’Shan Vaults entirely from their schedule.
I personally think that this change is amazing and appreciate that Blizzard is leveling the raiding race. I will still be playing a lot at release, but I wont feel forced into doing quite as much right from the get go.
I’d like to ask what others think about the staggered raids. Do you think this is a good change for the raiding scene? Or is Blizzard once again imposing limits on its player base?