WoW Wednesday: Raids, Scenarios, and World Bosses-oh my!
By Meredith Watson, OnRPG Journalist
Currently there are 16 raid bosses being tested in World of Warcraft's beta servers; however, Mists of Pandaria will be staggering their raid release schedule so not all of them will be around on launch day. The aim is not to stretch out content to buy time but rather to give everyone the opportunity to raid while exploring the new content. It isn’t just the staggering of raids that is new though. Mists of Pandaria is bringing back world bosses and introducing scenarios.
Raid Release Schedule:
Mists of Pandaria will be released September 25th. Mogu’Shan Vaults, the first raid instance, will be live on October 2nd in normal mode only. Five days later on the 7th Looking for Raid will be available. For those that have finished normal Mogu’Shan Vaults on normal, heroic will now be accessible at this time. October 30th will see the introduction of two more raids: Heart of Fear and Terrace of Endless Spring, both normal difficulty. It is important to note that completing Heart of Fear will open Terrace of Endless Spring (normal). The following week, on November 7th, the Looking for Raid for these two dungeons open. Again, in order to queue for Terrace of Endless Spring you will have had to have completed Heart of Fear on normal. Once completed on normal, queuing for the heroic difficulty becomes available.
Needless to say this gating of content is controversial. Officially blizzard says it is a “matter of striking a balance between preserving the feeling of guild progression and making the content accessible to players outside of organized guilds. We definitely want to see everyone have a chance to experience Mists of Pandaria raid content, so holding Raid Finder mode for a week feels like a reasonable window of time to accommodate players of all stripes.” It seems as if Blizzard wants to reward players for raiding within a guild but also give casuals the opportunity to experience the content. Even the item level of gear rewards for these dungeons suggest this: 476 for raid finder, 489 for normal mode, and 502 for Heroic.
The idea of clearing one raid to get to the other is not entirely new to Blizzard, though it hasn’t been as cleverly enforced as this in the past. However, it is nice to see Blizzard learning from the mistakes of Wrath of the Lich King. During Wrath of the Lich King one could start their raiding in any of the raids dungeons providing they had the gear, which everyone could get. Gating raid instances should feel more like progression did in vanilla and The Burning Crusade where the raider had to progress through the tiers. Old school raiders should be happy about this improvement.
The other thing the gating of content will hopefully achieve is the curtailing of certain top guilds rushing through content and/or clearing raids within the first couple of weeks. The developers have spent years designing Mists of Pandaria and want the players to enjoy it. They, like all craftsmen do, want their handiwork appreciated.
Blizzard has made it clear that they will not need to patch in new raids, reminding us that the staggering of raids is not because the content is unfinished but because Blizzard wants it this way. If you are so hardcore that you and your guild are bored waiting for the next raid to open you will be happy to know that world bosses are back. There will be two new world bosses when Mists of Pandaria is released: Salyis’s Warband and Sha of Anger. Salyis’s Warband will be quite rare but the Sha of Anger should be more frequent in its spawning. Both require full raids. Rewards include achievements, bragging rights and excellent loot.
Blizzard, with Mists of Pandaria, is also adding the Scenario. What is a scenario you ask? If you’ve ever played Lord of the Rings Online this concept will be familiar to you. Basically a scenario is a short, story driven, PvE event meant for three level 90 players that is instanced. Scenarios are queued for as a regular dungeon would be; however, there are no specific roles so queuing should be a breeze. In scenarios the goal will be completing a series of tasks similar to group quests. Scenario rewards will include valour points and a loot bag containing rare quality items.
Two scenarios so far have been introduced: Greenstone Village and A Brewing Storm. In Greenstone Village the local earth spirit Hui is angry with the villages for paying adventurers to remove the local wood sprites. Hui has now sent his minions to Greenstone Village to do their worst. In a Brewing Storm you will be escorting Brewmaster Blanche to the highest peak in Jade forest. As with any escort quest you will be fighting off mobs and with this particular one avoiding lightning strikes.
It is unclear at this point what type of player scenarios are aimed at. If it is for players who don’t want to raid, run heroics or PvP then they wouldn’t need valour points as a reward. Therefore, it seems likely scenarios are meant to be just an extra little something to do to help with the gearing up for raiding.
Though raid instances won’t be immediately available come September 25th, there will be plenty to do with all the new content, dungeons, world bosses, and scenarios, and you likely won’t even know they aren’t there in that first week. One thing is certain and that is that Blizzard is learning from its mistakes, continuing to stay current and, most of all, giving us a great game to play. This is the most subscribed to game for a reason y’know.