I don’t think it’s too outrageous to say that WoW is a bit of a mess. It’s creaking along under 17 years worth of recons, revamps, stat squishes, level squishes, new expansions, content removals, player demands and bizarre development decisions. If someone asked me “Should I start playing WoW, in 2021?” my response would have to include “is it important if it makes any sense at all?”
Having said that, however, it absolutely shines in dungeon and raid design, even if part of that is thanks to the designers being able to assume that players will be making use of a vast number of community-created add-ons to help actually survive the encounters. There’s a lot that could be said on that, but I’ll try to stay positive here and simply say that I really enjoy WoW’s group content to an extent that I can’t say for any other MMO I’ve played in the last decade.
Doing the single-group dungeons, over and over again on harder and harder difficulties, has been what’s kept me logging into WoW long past the point where I would typically get burned out and quit.
What I traditionally HAVEN’T done in WoW is a lot of raiding, because honestly that’s the point where instanced content goes from “kill things and take their stuff, with four strangers” to “kill things and take their stuff, with like 14 to 19 other people who you see on a regular basis” and I have a really bad history with starting to take the raiding side of a game entirely too seriously, especially if I’m playing a tank class.
For the last few months, however, I’ve been hanging out with the same group of people for about four hours a week, beating our collective head against WoW’s current “Heroic” raid. This is the second-highest difficulty raid level in the game, under “Mythic” which is for the genuinely-invested cutting-edge-type players.
There are ten bosses in the raid. We beat boss #9 in mid October. Since that time, we’ve tried to kill boss #10 about 80 times. I’ve added some raids with strangers to that total, meaning that my personal death count to this boss was well over a hundred.
It is a fiendish encounter, one of those where a single person doing the wrong thing can kill everyone, and it stretches on for roughly 14 minutes – at which point, if you haven’t done enough damage to the boss, she simply kills you all anyway.
Up until this point, my high water mark for bosses in any video game has been the Fume Knight, in Dark Souls II. I have no idea how many times it took me to kill him, but by the end of my many, many attempts it was like he was walking in slow motion while I danced around him chipping away at his health bar, with the only tiny tiny problem being that if I missed one dance step he would instantly kill me.
Fighting Heroic Sylvanas Windrunner? More or less the same thing, except with 15-20 other people who also need to be in the same state of focus.
So, I assure you that actually beating the encounter, after months and months of trying, is a heck of a feeling. And it even comes with its own special achievement, that basically says “I did this while it was still hard” because most WoW raids are …if not trivialized by the next major patch, at least made considerably easier.
That was last week. This week, I try to do it a second time. She drops loot, after all, and that makes my numbers bigger.