07/02/2012

To raid or not to raid

(Yes, I know they are called "operations" in SWTOR, but I refuse to talk about "operating" as a verb, and "running operations" feels unnecessarily clunky. "Raiding" it is.)

My guild had its first official raid the other night, our occasional killing of heroic world bosses while levelling up not included. I wasn't attending because I had... prior social commitments, but the fact that raids are already happening in the guild really made me thoughtful. The thing is, I'm not entirely sure I actually do want to raid in this game, at least at this point in time.

I didn't start raiding in WoW until I had already been playing the game for nine months or so. When I first started to play I had no idea about the game mechanics of an MMO, not to talk about any kind of understanding of concepts like endgame, so raiding simply wasn't a concern for me. There were plenty of other things to do.

However, when I did finally get into raiding, it did feel pretty natural at the time. I was playing with friends, and there were more people in the guild that I didn't know that well and that I wanted to get to know better. What better way to be social with a large number of people than to actually participate in activities that are designed for a large number of people?

I raided for four years, and I got a lot of enjoyment out of it. But when it ended, it wasn't pretty.

Not again!

One of the main reasons I'm weary of getting into raiding in SWTOR is simply that I feel burnt by WoW's raid game. Blizzard made something that I enjoyed, and then they changed it and changed it and changed it some more, until it had become something that I didn't enjoy anymore. Now Bioware has made a great game, and I actually feel grateful because they managed to bring back so many things that I enjoyed in the past and that WoW did away with... but only time will tell whether they are willing to stick to their guns or whether they will also fall into the trap of constantly changing things for the sake of change.

I'm actually pretty optimistic that their solo and small group content content will remain good, but in terms of raiding I'm a little sceptical, largely because they already copied some of the more recent features of WoW's raid model that I didn't particularly like, such as each raid coming in two sizes, or the normal / hard mode split. This makes me very worried that they'll try to copy current-day WoW too much in this instance, which would eventually end up making the content unappealing to me.

Let me in!

However, when my inner pessimist is done talking, I look at what's out there and right now, the idea of raiding in SWTOR seems just plain fun. Hutts with top hats piloting giant droids? Yes, please!

I'm once again in a guild full of nice people, many of whom I'd really like to get to know better, but with a group size of four, the options to do so in small group content are limited. Operations once again seem like the natural step up.

Oh, and did I mention yet that my SO did get to join in last night's operation? I tried to avoid looking over his shoulder all the time, but I did get to hear him talk on Mumble and I was just so insanely jealous. Not to mention that he got to hoover up all the trooper loot. Some of that was supposed to be mine, damn it! It's been months since we last raided together in WoW, and it would be so nice to be part of something bigger together again.

Too soon, Executus?

As if I wasn't feeling conflicted enough on the subject yet, there's a third voice in my head which basically thinks that raiding is cool and that I should get into it eventually, but that it's simply too early for it right now.

I mean, it looks fun and all, but there are so many other aspects of the game that I haven't explored yet! I only hit the level cap a few days ago, for goodness' sake! Do I really want to devote my limited play time to concerns about gear, consumables and ability rotations already? Again, those things are fun in their own way, but the problem is that once you start thinking of the game in those technical terms, it becomes hard to go back and simply enjoy looking at the scenery and listening to the quests again. I don't think I'm ready to make that step up yet; I'm enjoying levelling and immersing myself in the world way too much.

There are also practical concerns to consider. I'm one of those increasingly rare gamers who have no problem with devoting several nights a week to gaming on a schedule, but there's still a limit to how much I can take, and right now I'm still committing two nights a week to WoW. It's dead to me in pretty much every other regard except interaction with my guildies, but those rated battlegrounds are still damned fun and I enjoy the company. More importantly, this fun pretty much has an expiration date built in since I don't intend to purchase the Mists of Pandaria expansion once it comes out, so I don't really want to "waste" what time I have left to play the game I enjoy. (God, that sounds so melodramatic!)

In the end, it's a tricky question, with social ties tugging me both ways simultaneously. Either way I suspect that I will take part in my first SWTOR raid fairly soon, but I'll try to take it easy for now if possible, and I'm not entirely sure where I'll end up eventually.

8 comments:

  1. I'm at this point as well and boy is it something that's been nagging at the back of my mind. I really didn't even want to take a decision so I put it off, rather successfully, until I hit 50. And then I hit 50 and the prospect of raiding in SWTOR is both exciting and scary to me for many of the reasons you talk about.

    I've had my ups and downs in WoW with raiding but Firelands really killed my love and enjoyment of it. I'm so so so scared that history is going to repeat itself here. I mean, I haven't even joined a guild yet because I'm not sure if I should be looking for a guild that raids or not >.<

    Thanks for your timely post! =)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad to hear that my post hit the right notes for you. I did think that surely there must be other people feeling this way, but most of the posts I've seen myself either don't talk about raiding at all or the poster simply seems happy to jump right into it. Wish it was that easy for me!

      Delete
  2. Great post. From one perspective, you should absolutely not raid, and convince everyone you know not to either! Surely SWTOR's best chance of success is to be truly differentiated from WoW. I quit SWTOR after the free month for many reasons, but part of it was that I only have time for one endgame raiding MMO, and I (personally) didn't find the sandbox aspects or story aspects of SWTOR that compelling. In crude terms, i was happy to do my dungeoneering in WoW and get my story / exploration kicks from single player games. If the sandbox elements had been much better, I might have stayed. I would never have stayed for more raiding with a different skin.

    On the other hand, I can think of some reasons why raiding in SWTOR will be "better" than WoW raiding is today. It's a game in its infancy, with no add-ons. There will be no DBM, no Recount or Skada, and everyone will be "discovering" the raiding experience. Strange specs will be commonplace, gearing will not have defined iLvls required, and it'll be geared to execution rather than throughput. Plus I think in SWTOR you would have a fun guild also on a voyage of discovery. That will be self-feeding, and very different to a fun guild of equally nice people in WoW raiding that would (after 7 years) just naturally tend towards gear optimisation because the voyage of discovery stage has been completed. That'll inherently make it much more like Vanilla raiding, i.e. full of giggles and people falling off elevators.

    So, on balance, if I was in your shoes I would probably wish for a different endgame than raiding. But if for social reasons, the impulse to raid proved too strong, I still think you will enjoy it and find it much more like Vanilla raiding than Cata or WotLK raiding. But, y'know, I'd also expect that eventually raiding will be as tiresome in SWTOR as in any other game. At the end of the day, raiding is raiding. SWTOR is a different game than WoW, and quite rightly some people like it better. There are some aspects that are totally different to WoW. But in endgame raiding.... Even if the "journey" in SWTOR is more enjoyable today than what WoW has become today, the destination will (IMHO) be the same in the end.

    Cheerio,
    Boxerdogs
    PS I haven't deleted this post yet.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's the thing, I don't know if the destination would be the same. Yes, some things are undoubtedly unavoidable, such as a certain trend towards thinking more about optimisation, but that by itself was never really an issue for me (even if it takes away from the exploration experience after a while). The crucial questions for me are how things like progression and difficulty will be handled, and there are a lot of different ways of doing that.

      PS I don't think you can delete posts that were posted as Anonymous anyway. :P

      Delete
  3. Great post! Mr. Robot has been looking for several high-quality bloggers to review his new SWTOR tool. Being a WoW-player you might already have been a user of his WoW tool, which optimizes gear. Here's some screenshots of the upcoming SWTOR tool: http://blog.askmrrobot.com/2012/02/mr-robots-swtor-alpha-is-ready/

    Anyway, after reading this post, we think you can offer an interesting angle in a review of his new SWTOR tool. You see, his first tool is not going to offer optimization and end-game min/maxxing. Instead, it will be character builder where you can try out different builds, items, and gear sets, to help you discover your favorite setups. The only involvement Mr. Robot will have is providing smart filters to help you find gear that might interest you.

    In the future, we'll add in optimization. But at this point in the game, we feel that discovery is more important.

    Would you be interested in getting access to our alpha and writing a review? We'd also be available for an interview / Q&A if you'd like.

    You can reach me via email, vee [at] askmrrobot -dot- com.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for the offer! I feel vaguely honoured, but I'm afraid I have to decline. I only used Mr Robot for WoW once, and then decided that I didn't care for playing my character that way. I don't actually like fiddling with talents, gear and so on, and the less I have to think about it the better.

      Delete
  4. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AK2ABpZ4F3s

    I think this is a good song about end-game raiding. Don't do it, don't get disappointed again! Let the avatars run free!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lol, slightly tangential but still amusing... and bonus points for the link being to a dubbed recording from Pro Sieben. :P

      Delete