Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Heroics Roundup

Well, it's been a while? What have I been doing, besides breaking hearts and promises, you ask? Actually enjoying WoW. See, the Cataclysm expansion should have come with a note like "New Game Feature: Actual Immersion!", because the Cata zones have so much more of it than before. And immersion is fun, but to write these posts I deconstruct, and nothing breaks immersion faster than deconstructing something. So I had to choose between by loyal fan's (both of them!) and enjoying myself. I choose wisely.

Anyway, getting back to things, here's a list of all heroics, the best and the worst and why.

AVERAGE - Lost City of the Tol'vir
Yeah, bleh. Bosses are all right, especially the first one, pacing is good, but I dunno, it just seems so mundane. And why the fuck is it called lost? It looks damn well found to be, bustling with an oddly disproportionate number of necromancers to normal civilians, but maybe cat people just roll that way. It hits all the points on the checklist, but feels flat and dull, like Japanese engineering.

UNDER AVERAGE - The Deadmines
Let's get one thing straight: I like the final dream sequence. It's fun and new and you don't lose progress on a wipe so it's hard to get really frustrated. The lightning sticks should probably two-shot instead of one-shot, but whatever. No, the bosses are fun and interesting, although Ripsnarl seems a little, I don't want to say buggy so... sketchy. No, my problem is the damned thing is just way too long! And for what? Cookie's a pushover and so is Vanessa herself. It's a shaggy dog of a dungeon, takes forever and goes no where.

ABOVE AVERAGE - Blackrock Caverns
Now shit is starting to take off. All of the bosses are tough, and give a real challenge, the atmosphere is nicely dark, and you even get a cool NPC that occasionally murders packs for you. Fun! On the downside it's a bit over-tuned, and especially considering Beauty and the adds on Obsidius make this dungeon more composition-dependent that a 5-man really should be. I absolutely love Corla (beams bosses) for bringing back just a bit of Kara night to all the young'uns. It's a little bland visually (RED ROCKS DARK IRON) but that's better than being implausible, and the bosses are nicely designed.

BAD - Throne of Tides
There's a lot interesting about Throne. It's great to look at, though a little gaudy; I guess Naga are underwater Persians or something. Horrible Cthulhoid monsters are the antagonists for most of the dungeon, with Giblins and Naga making odd showings here and there. It's all a little schizophrenic, and I would have liked Naga and Dark One bosses to be more mixed, to reflect their alliance shown in a particularly amazing quest chain in Vashj'ir. My main beef is various bitchy, annoying mechanics, like the suppression room, the mind control squid popping one's cooldowns making them at times impossible to kill, tornadoes being bigger than they are, and basically all of Neptulon. Void zone boss is cool though.

GOOD - Shadowfang Keep
Now THIS was a dungeon to bring back! It's shorter, sweeter, and now with fun NPC sub-plot. There are multiple paths, interesting trash, and it really feels like a real place in the world, both geometrically and narratively. Too many instances exist only in weird TARDIS dimensions. I know it's easier, but it's so much cooler to fly over aplace and actually believe the dungeon there exists. It would probably be higher, but all the bosses with the exception of Springvale are too easy, with Ashbury being the only other credible threat (and crybabies stop crying, he's damned easy if you have a brain and a interrupt. Can't believe he's getting nerfed). Most of the bosses here are laughably easy, and for that, third place.

WORSE - Vortex Pinnacle
Why the fuck does anyone care about this place? I totally missed that, who built a magical floating city in the clouds (not Titans, their architecture is totally different). And why is there a dickbutt dragon living here? And what are they threatening? Apart from these story problems, VP is the worst-balanced heroic of the bunch, with the first and third bosses being novelty punching bags and the second WOULD be fun and tough if not for the chain-tornado-to-instant-kill-ring-out. Seriously, ring outs have never been a cool mechanic in any game, ever. Invisible wall that shit and get back to me. At least it looks cool.

BETTER - The Stonecore
Now we're talking. Great visuals, fun bosses, with a good story (did you notice the gnome in the beginning is from a Deepholme quest chain? So good!). I don't think Corborus is all that tough once you get the fight down, but again it's difficulty varies too much by group comp (only ranged good at AoE need apply). After that the rest is pretty cake, with Ozruk pretty much just irritating the shit out of melee with near-constant running and ranged with stuns galore, even if you dot yourself correctly. The second and last bosses do seem too easy, but their fights are interesting enough, so it's a wash for me. Maybe Slabhide should have a tail whip or something to spice that fight up. Overall though very entertaining and original.

WORST - Halls of Origination
This expansion's "Halls" dungeon tops my no 1 shit counter, because of sheer boredom. First of all the magical Egypt theme is an abrupt tonal shift from the robo-Scandinavia of Ulduar, also built by the Titans, so it already feels weird to me, like Hitchcock directing a romantic comedy. I was enthused about the high boss count, but every boss feels utterly dull and unfinished, like they had five bosses worth of mechanics, but damnit, they promised seven! Nothing feels dangerous or complex or sometimes necessary (the camels serve what real point exactly?). Still 100 times better than the last "Halls of X" though.

BEST - Grim Batol
FUCK YES. Everything about this dungeon is awesome. Tough bosses, check. No abusive mechanics, check. Dwarven architecture, check. Unique fun-yet-non-critical mechanic, check. I basically see the dragons in here as making up for that Malygos horseshit they pulled two years back. Here you have injured, captured dragons who lend a hand before needing to bounce to tend their wounds. And if you do the dragon segment well, dungeon goes super quick with free rep. If it goes poorly, you're fine, you just need to take longer. My one gripe would be the general lack of CC for dragonkin and elementals given the number of them here means some pulls might substitute cooldowns for CC, but I guess they're all doable, so it's not a huge deal. Oh, and dragon kills should give you rep; right now you're punished in opportunity cost for being really good at dragons. That is, I think, against the spirit of things. But yeah, really really good stuff, I'm sad to see it nerfed.

There you go then! I am biased of course, I like the harder bosses (bosses should at least SEEM like they're trying their best to kill you), and a dungeon being interesting is worth slightly more to me than encounter balance. I'd rather do something spectacular and janky over bland and functional. As should you too; we all too often get concerned more with easy gear and points, and forget the true purpose of WoW: to entertain. And I'd take an entertaining wipe-a-thon over a dull success any day.

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