Recently a new patch came out for World of Warcraft. Normally, this wouldn’t be a big deal – a new raid, some new tweaks – except this one actually has a potentially game-changing addition: the new Raid Finder. With the Raid Finder, you can quickly join a 25-man “easy mode” version of the new raid, which, incidentally, is the end-game content. Suddenly, even the most casual of players can easily experience downing Deathwing.
Allow me to back up: I’ve been playing World of Warcraft since the Burning Crusade expansion, sure, but for the first few years I was the most casual of casual players. I merrily solo’ed my way through several alts, getting up to level 20 or so, getting bored, and starting a new class or race. I rarely ever came into contact with other players. And I had the opposite of WoW addiction: I actually shut off my account for a good six months or more, only renewing when Lich King came out.
Since then I’ve been much more involved, but I still qualify as a casual raider. I saw the fall of the Lich King months after most did; I never did see any of the Burning Crusade end-game content.
However, the Cataclysm expansion as a whole feels different from the others from the start. There’s a much stronger storyline at work; we’ve seen Deathwing from the very beginning of the expansion (heck, we tracked his movements so we could get an achievement for getting toasted by his breath). When I solo’ed through the new levels, the final quests were cliffhangers more than anything. I wanted to know what would happen! And for most casual players, unless they were willing to wait months or grind for weeks, and probably get majorly stressed, they never would see the end of Cataclysm.
Now we have Raid Finder. And guess what? I’ve already finished the raid on Easy mode. I’ve downed Deathwing. For the first time, I’ve played an expansion through from beginning to end in a timely manner. I’m not done with Cataclysm – I’m not even done punishing Deathwing – but I feel satisfied. There are achievements to get, but at the very least, I now know what happens.
Now, you’re bound to hear complaints about the “LFR” (looking for raid) groups. Sure, half of them might not know what’s going on. Sure, there’s a lot less finesse when it comes to raid strategy. If you’re the kind of person who likes things done right, your brain may well melt.
On the other hand, it’s just plain fun. In a normal PUG raid you might get stuck on trash. People might get impatient and grumpy. There’s so much tension. In a LFR group you’re blowing through for the experience, getting gear and getting a better sense of the fights so that should you attempt a normal raid, you’re better prepared. And most importantly: you can go through the raid that ends with Deathwing, from beginning to end, in one evening.
If you’re the sort of casual player who didn’t even know about the new patch and its changes, I urge you to check out the new dungeons, get geared up, and give the Raid Finder a whirl. It’s not the raiding experience of old – and for some, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
What about you?
Have you tried the Raid Finder? Casual or hardcore, how does this affect your gaming experience?