Friday, July 1, 2011

The Fatal Flaw(s) of Ulduar

I've been listening to the discussion of what is good and bad raid design and people are constantly referencing Ulduar as the top of good raid design.  Lore on The Weekly Marmot says he thinks of Blackwing Lair with nostalgia clouding his judgement, I think this is true for Ulduar as well.  Here is the info on Ulduar on Battlenet and Wowhead.

 So, what was so bad about it?  Glad you asked!
Lets start with the basic design.  Ulduar was MASSIVE.  Even if you never ever died you had huge amounts of travel time from boss to boss and spent hours on trash pulls.  Pulls that by design you couldn't handle easily enough to really relax so for the most part you were constantly 'working'.  This also meant respawns when you came back to it later in many cases so grinding back through the trash again. Ironically a lot of the people who talk about how wonderful Ulduar was also complain about trash in Naxxramus and current raids.

Nostalgia at its finest.

Then there is the story.  Ulduar was dropped into the game with little explanation other than 'Hey something is going on'.  Unless you watched int cinematic its just a dungeon with a lot of weird stuff that didn't really  grab you as terribly important as to why were there.  Of course there is also a little quirk of the fact the events in the cinematic couldn't of happened in the game.  Monty Python was made more sense.

The terrain your in too.  The same complaints of being in the same place all the time with the same color pallet are trotted out when mentioning other raids - but not Ulduar.  Yet it was one huge complex with one unifying look to it.  Some of the bosses were just the same models with different clothes or color swaps of bosses we had fought at level 40...and level 70.  Oh and had as a quest giver and fought in the Halls of get the idea.
Ironaya, Maiden of Virtue, Auriaya

We had waited a long time for a new raid to come out, with the old one (Nax) being rehashed content.  Now the majority of the raiders in Wrath had never seen it but it was poorly scaled down from 40 to 10 and 25 man raiding.  Its no wonder Ulduar seemed like such a joy, it was actually made for an 80 to raid.

But the thing that really bothered me about Ulduar, on a personal and from a game standpoint, the thing that still makes me want to threaten cute animals with blunt objects.
Only Item level 226 or higher need apply.
The very first boss was a fight that wasn't a check on how well people could do their class but what gear they had happened to pick up and its item level.  The fight was tuned with the assumption that you had fully equipped gear from the Naxxramus 25 man run (10 man being inferior).  This meant lots of people who had been patiently waiting to raid had the door shut in their faces.

What the hell were they thinking?!  It was like a neat idea someone tossed in without thinking though.  Don't give me any of that 'but the gunner isn't affected by your gear' stuff ether because the players had to figure that out for themselves.  No NPC said it in the zone.  No notes about the zone said it.  The info we got was 'gear = vehicle ability' so anyone who wasn't perfectly geared had the door slammed in their face.

This is the fatal flaw of Ulduar.  The fact no matter what your holding, no matter if its best in slot for your class, how great its abilities, no matter your skill, its worthless.  If your a class that can equip multiple armor types like a paladin you can deck yourself out faster than a priest because you can pick up the loot no one else needed.  Its horrid and its awful.

So why bring up this mess and ruin the nostalgia buzz about Ulduar?

I had this ugly realization sneak up on me when I was listening to people talk about how wonderful Ulduar was that Blizzard might just actually listen to them.  This is a very easy/lazy way after all to keep the dirty masses out so the raider master race can enjoy their experiences by themselves.

This is also the answer to why the Trial of the Crusader was rushed in my opinion.  The number of raiders for Ulduar were becoming less not more as the raids for Nax fell apart and without high level gear you couldn't enter the new raid they wanted to trot out - Icecrown Citadel.  Then of course there's the problem that the Uluar raiders wouldn't of wanted to do the Trial if it was the same item level because it was dull and very..meh.  So they boosted the item level more.  It just got very ugly and a lot of it can be traced back to this stupid, stupid, choice in Ulduar.

The same Ulduar people are holding up a perfect and asking Blizzard to use as their model for raids.

I haven't really loved Raiding since Burning Crusade but this makes me feel like the hopeless fishy for the future.

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