Thursday, February 19, 2009

Ulduar and Vehicles

Another hot topic, recently, given that Blizzard has given a sneak peek at Ulduar on the European WoW site. I'm sure you've all read that link, but maybe what you haven't read is a little blue snippet that followed the instantaneous QQing that followed the announcement:

Actually, the effectiveness of the vehicles in the Flame Leviathan fight changes depending on the quality of the gear. So someone in full Naxxramas epics (or Ulduar epics!) will have an easier time than someone in greens.

I'm gonna give a quick rundown on a few points, and you'll either agree or disagree. Just gonna throw them out there. Hell, I'll even number them.

1) Vehicles - I've stated before that I think it's interesting when people are suddenly presented with new abilities. By the time you've leveled to 80 as a boomkin (entangling roots, wrath, wrath, wrath, moonfire, repeat 2,000,000 x), you're sick of your trash rotation, and vehicles are an interesting way of breaking up the monotony. I used this same justification in my Baron encounter, when someone bitten by a bat becomes a vampire tank for the next phase. I think it's why priests really enjoy using mind control, or even (to a lesser extent) why mages enjoy spellstealing a buff they wouldn't normally have access to. It creates something new and interesting that you can do with your class for a limited window of time. No issues there, really.

THAT SAID, I think it has a place in somewhere like Wintergrasp, or quest chains like in Dragonblight, where you grab a vehicle and mash around for 5 minutes or so, then return to that character that you spent a billion hours leveling to 80. Then again, the Wintergrasp justification is probably only because I'm not some hardcore PvPer. I'm sure the same argument would me made in reverse for someone who values their PvP time more (i.e. "put them in dungeons, just keep them out of my PvP").

I can appreciate all of this. I also think Blizzard is trying their hardest to deliver unique and interesting play mechanics. However, let's take it to a hypothetical extreme. Ulduar is supposed to be the first 'serious' raid of the expansion. How do you think the community would react if suddenly there was a new arena where you drove motorcycles around shooting flamethrowers on oil slicks? Don't just move on to the next sentence, really THINK about that for a while.

It would be ridiculous, but that's exactly what they're doing to raiders.

Okay, anyway... on this blog I try and not complain about shit unless I offer up a valid counterpoint, so here's my take on vehicles in Ulduar as they're currently implemented:

Every time you decide to run Ulduar (which is going ot be pretty often, I imagine), the entire instance STARTS with this 'event'. Every time. At first I can imagine it won't be so bad, and might even be kinda fun. People will complain that it homogenizes every class -- everyone becomes the 'pilot' class with the exact same abilities -- but eventually they'll figure out the encounter and beat it. Big deal. But they have to do this every single time they start Ulduar for the week. I think at the very least, this should have been a wing unto itself, that later becomes some optional thing. There's a reason nobody runs Occulus, but along comes Ulduar saying "run Occulus first real quick, and then we'll let you in". THAT is my issue with it. I'm hoping that 'real quick' part applies, because if it was some timed event that took 25-30 minutes every time, I can imagine a lot of "start the event, I'm gonna go take a shit"-ing in Vent. The chess event in Kara is a good tradeoff, because it was a little pee break before the showdown with Prince. Ulduar should have taken a tip from that, and made it the final stretch before the final final showdown in Ulduar.

2) Gear scales the damage output of said vehicles. This is just nuts, and is obviously in response to the Occulus thing, again. Since everyone from my level 1 bank alt to my 80 warlock in t7 operates EXACTLY the same in Occulus, they're trying to give you some benefit for being geared to the teeth (or not). So... Hm. Let's think about this. Vehicle encounters could be argued as actual skill tests, where your gear doesn't come into play --never mind that we leveled priests and rogues on the way to 80, not motorcycles, so there goes the 'skill at playing your class' argument out the window. Okay, so maybe it's just a 'given this certain situation, how do you react? skill' kind of thing. Okay, but now suddenly that argument is shot down when you allow someone to brute force their way through it with superior gear. I think an 80 is going to have a hard time dying in Scarlet Monastery, no matter what class they are, and even if they're only wearing pants. The skill there just isn't required, because you can just ram your face into everything over and over and they eventually all die.

Sooo.... You can't just outgear it, you need to think! But you can think less the better your gear is!

The other ramification to this is that it has to be based on iLevels alone, since how else would they determine how to scale it? Base your vehicle crit chance on your actual crit? What about healers or classes that value spirit over stamina? How can this possibly work out? On my priest, up until I hit 75 last night, I was wearing the Heroic Magister's Terrace trinket because it was a nice compliment to my healing set, even if it was a lower iLevel than other gear I had come across. Will we be stockpiling an "iLevel set" of gear to throw on for this fight now? How lame is that? Obviously it won't be a huge issue, since usually higher iLevel items are better pieces of gear, but that's hardly a universal statement. It depends entirely on talent synergy and class. Even race could be argued, since Draeni have extra chance to hit, and can afford to sacrifice that on an item to balance that out. So if I decide to wear that lower iLevel trinket, I'll need to bring along some whatever trinket in bag. So basically, for my healing priest, The Shadow Panther Figurine (iLevel 125) becomes a better item than my Vial (iLevel 115). GG.

As always, I'll hold final judgment until I see it in action, but there just seems to be a few conflicting messages at play here, as well as a few WTFs thrown in for good measure.


Darraxus said...

I have not really enjoyed most of the vehicle quests in Wrath. They seem very....clunky. They are going to need to fine tune this A LOT to avoid it becoming a pile of crap encounter.

Anonymous said...

I will never see the inside of Uldaur. It doesnt matter to me. :)

Klepsacovic said...

That is disappointing news. Is it so terrible to have a fight that you can't just overgear? I suppose if you're looking for two years from now with the next expansion it would be a big surprise for leveling to have not trivialized the fight, but I can't imagine the devs did this for level 90s going back for achievements.

Perhaps this is more casual friendly? Instead of wiping while learning, you go farm old bosses for more gear and trivialize the encounter as much as possible. That doesn't seem casual though, just lazy or bad or unwilling to really learn a fight.

That said, I like vehicles. They're interesting. They give a lot of potential for new raid encounters with minimal risk of repeating: stand here, GIGANTIC AoE DAMAGE HA HA HEALERS, oh look a fire, run here, etc.

I'll try to withhold any excessively positive or negative judgement until I actually see the fights, if I do.

Anonymous said...

Dink, in my mind its very possible to see the inside of uldaur now. While tbc content needed a decent 25 man guild to see, I reckon it`ll be quite possible to pug good deals of all wrath instances. Of course some may feel even getting heroic gear and 10 mans would be too hardcore. I think its just right for me

Hatch said...

Having to do the entire vehicle sequence first every single time is the annoying part. I'm not really up in arms about it even though I think giving you the ability to eventually bypass it would be nice. Overall, it's just tiresome that this has become the #1 QQ issue on the forums and many blogs. You're being reasonable; I'm talking about the inexplicable FURY we're seeing elsewhere over having to use vehicles.