How Cataclysm Broke World of Warcraft


If you browse the official World of Warcraft forums you’ll see many posts from people demanding that you cancel your account just because Blizzard made Heroic instances challenging again. This, naturally, is a stupid thing to do as challenge is something every MMO needs. However the increased challenge of Cataclysm is causing a new issue with the game, and it’s one that may frustrate some players enough to seek out greener pastures.

Wrath of the Lich King expanded the WoW player base greatly. As most people at the level cap in Cataclysm are discovering, a lot of players started to play the game at Lich King. In fact I was just in a Heroic Deadmines group with a Draenei Paladin who had never been in Deadmines before. These players never experienced the downright nightmarish challenge of Burning Crusade Heroics (I’m looking at you, Shattered Halls) and weren’t around for 40-man raids into Molten Core. They grew up with AOE-fest Heroics in Lich King that were easy even for a normal dungeon. Towards the end of Lich King, I remember thinking if Heroics were this much of a cakewalk; how easy would a normal be to run?

Cataclysm tends to skewer things back to the pre-WotLK challenge levels. Heroics are actually very tough now and you cannot simply run in and AOE spam everything to death. You actually have to use Crowd Control (CC) such as Polymorph, Hex, etc. to get through trash before the bosses. The problem is, the expanded player base that Lich King brought to the game leveled all the way to level 85 without even hearing the word “Polymorph” prior to Cataclysm.

The result is healers and tanks at the level cap without the slightest clue of how to deal with crowd control and pulls. This compounds onto itself by frustrating the healers and tanks so that they bail on groups even in the middle of boss pulls because it’s now “too hard”. I play an Arcane Mage (frost in PVP) in WoW that’s currently 85 and running heroics with full Superior gear with an equipped average item level of 342, so I’m naturally the one who needs to Polymorph the trash. And I welcome the return of CC to the game. The problem comes with tanks and healers who can’t deal with the challenge or deal with CC at all. Here are just a couple examples of the frustration I’ve experienced over the last two days of random Heroic runs:

-While in Lost City of the Tol’vir at High Prophet Barim (the second to last boss) a total of four healers came and went in the middle of pulls. Literally the tank would pull the boss and after maybe thirty seconds at most the healer would quit the group because it was too hard to heal causing wipes. My repair bill that run wasn’t pretty.

-Heroic Deadmines run with a Tank marking trash for CC. He asks me to sheep the star and I say “OK”. He says “Start”. I sheep the mob and watch as the remaining mobs come and kill me. The tank didn’t know that Polymorph would pull the rest of the trash.

-Heroic Deadmines again. After one wipe on Admiral Ripsnarl, tank bails because he thinks it’s too hard. Remainder of the group also then quits, which is extremely frustrating as queues for random Heroics are currently 45-60 minutes if you aren’t a tank or healer.

The problem is that it feels as if Blizzard greatly over estimated the intelligence of their current player base. Expand the audience of your game enough, and the average player will get dumber. Just look at Counterstrike. Logging into any random Counterstrike server will shower you with enough stupidity to make you want to uninstall the game and never look back. That’s not to say that everyone playing WoW is a drooling idiot like the type that infest other games, but just run a couple random Heroic instances and you are bound to want to smash your keyboard thanks to a stupid tank or healer.

Hopefully the WoW player base can educate each other on how to handle Crowd Control and difficult instances. If not, the frustration of dealing with people at the level cap who don’t have any clue how to play in a challenging group environment may start to drive other players away. It’s happened to other MMOs, and it could happen in WoW.