Thursday, 8 October 2015

LFR, fun and rambling

LFR is getting a bit of attention since the normal HFC nerfs. I've read opinions from various sides of the argument and few seem to be happy with it. Today I read Casually Odd's contribution which got me thinking and a comment turned into a bit of a ramble so I decided to rework it into a post here instead.

Despite being a heroic raider, I can appreciate the point of view of a non-raider. That is, you are happy LFR exists as a means to see the raid zones and to finalise storylines, you are focused on enjoyment and not improvement, playing what you want to play, how you want to play it.

But it comes as no surprise to me that you wouldn't find LFR fun. When mechanics are removed or nullified to the point they can be ignored, fights devolve to the point where the only thing that's different about them are the boss models and the yell emotes. The whole instance just blurs into a bland experience.

Image courtesy wowhead

As an example, Iskar, the fight with a hot potato (Eye of Anzu) where mistakes can see your poor raid members slowly, amusingly blown off the edge, becomes just another tank and spank on LFR, where it is practically impossible to get blown off the edge as the wind is so slow. (I suggested in guild they should have kept it at the same speed, but have players blown off being a temporary effect, like Ji-Kun in ToT. Same mechanics, less punishing).

So the fights become a simple exercise in using your abilities, but the difficulty level means there is no requirement to execute them well - so you are not motivated to improve over multiple runs. You don't care about spec or rotation. You just want to get in there, see the content, collect your rewards and get out. Once.

That leads us to legendaries - all tied into the expansion story. To experience it, you have to get the legendary, and therefore you have to raid. There is no 'legendary grind' for normal+ raiders (ignoring the shipyard, but I won't go there), it just comes eventually, in the process of gearing up and boss progression. But it becomes a grind for you, because you don't really want to be there. You want to do LFR once, maybe twice per character, not every week for 6+ weeks. But it has to be a grind, because otherwise all raiders can also do it once and instantly get their legendaries.

In doing this, you are lumped into the same basket as people with varying levels of skill and motivation. The ex-raiders who are skilled and think performance matters, but are low on time to commit to higher raiding difficulties. The main raiders playing catchup, or playing their alts. This is part of the problem - the audience for LFR is not cohesive. The other part is the reward for participation, so to speak, but I'll get to that.

This is where I start drifting away from the non-raiders problems with LFR and more towards mine.

For normal to heroic raiders like me, the fun of raiding is at its peak when you are presented with a challenge, and with some effort, you overcome it. Not when bosses are so hard that you are just getting stomped on, wipe after wipe, but also not when you outgear the boss and it becomes trivial. LFR starts at this level, a level that sets expectations that you can succeed without putting in effort, without coordinating and communicating with the other people in the raid, without understanding mechanics or rotations. So people don't - and some even AFK their way to victory.

The fact most people consider two wipes on an LFR boss to be completely unacceptable, and one barely tolerable, means they expect not to wipe (read 'fail'), they expect to succeed, regardless.

This isn't to say that Blizzard always gets the balance right, that they don't overtune bosses for LFR. But we know that is where the bar is set because they have said so.

On the one hand I see people rejoicing LFR as this 'tourist mode', that they get to see things they wouldn't otherwise, but on the other hand they will equally talk about rewards. I've seen all the remarks, from not being able to upgrade your legendary ring from an LFR Archimonde kill, to the LFR tier sets, and even as far as complaining that you don't get the achievement and the garrison monument. Imagine the shitstorm if LFR were only to give Baleful level gear (650) - and yet, that is probably the level of reward that the effort warrants.

If LFR is meant to be so easy anyone can participate and succeed, make it so, but don't reward people for participating. Unfortunately, I think if you reduce or even take away the reward, no-one will actually want to do it, despite what people say otherwise. This is why I don't hold much hope for LFR, and have leant in the direction of 'remove it'.

Someone, somewhere, is going to have to draw a line and say, yes, there is a success state in this game, this is it, and no you are not good enough/not dedicated enough/don't have enough time to reach it, yet. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

I'm not trying to push an anti-casual agenda, just that few people are happy with the current situation and there are better solutions. I maintain the problem is one of lack of content, not lack of access or excessive difficulty. Bellular made some good points in his video on WotLK Casual Content Done Right? - including differentiating between time and skill, and championing a return of mid expansion dungeons and the old weekly raid quests. Currently, casuals are simply railroaded into LFR. There are a lot of ideas to improve the end game experience for non-raiders (explicitly, non current tier raiders), and with more of that, there would not be a need for LFR.

I hinted at the idea in my previous post, but I think yesterday's raid should be today's LFR. There is no reason to make older content so irrelevant. There just needs to be a shift in mindset from the players, and Blizzard could do some things to assist this. For example, enable the ability to queue for last expansions raids as a dungeon group (5 man for a 10 man raid, in wings), instead of removing all mention of it from the queue interface - heck do the opposite and shove the idea in their face via the adventure guide. And implement level downscaling, like all the other MMOs are doing, to keep even older content interesting. I'll probably expand on this in another post, but it is not 'fun' to be able to clear entire instances with one button press (eg barrage, starfall).

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the different perspective! I think you nicely highlighted some of the problems in LFR even if we disagree on what should be done with LFR in the future.

    I had planned to reply here and started to write up my post when I realized I was already a 1/3 the length of your post and wasn't fully done. So a reply post it will be!

    I haven't had time to watch the video you mentioned but, as a relatively casual player, Lich King was pretty good for us. It feels like everyone always talks about the glory days of Lich King but they really did do a lot right. Not that there weren't problems, but there were enough good things to outweigh the bad.

    Reply coming eventually but thanks for reading and adding to the conversation!