Saturday, February 23, 2008

PvE in the World of Warcraft!

Hello to all my dedicated readers out there. I know the two of you are probably curious as to why I haven’t been posting lately, and if you haven’t, just shut up and let me have my fantasy. Recently I was hired by EA games as a Quality Assurance Tester. That’s just a fancy way to say that I test video games for a living. This means I might actually have a shot at making a career in the video game industry, or at the very least get some insider info on upcoming titles. Don’t expect anything top secret, but you can bet that I will have a few posts about the games I’m working on. Another ramification of my new job is less free time. This is not a bad thing for my personal life, but it does mean that this blog will not be updated as frequently as before. Worry not avid readers. Today, I will continue my series on the epic MMORPG: World of Warcraft.

Many WoW veterans would attest that the game changes once a player reaches the level cap at seventy. In the beginning players are focused on leveling up to receive new spells, abilities, and to explore new lands. With all the spells and abilities unlocked, the only thing left to do is to improve the effectiveness of a hero’s role in the Holy Trinity (see previous post for description), and to continue to investigate the vast lands of Outland and Azeroth.

For players who are serious about end game content it is vital to understand the various mechanics that create successful encounters. Players need gear, coordinated team work, and detailed knowledge of the dangers throughout the World of Warcraft. It isn’t necessary to be all knowing, especially if a guild has good raid leaders, but it is vital for players to know there role. The ultimate goal for PvE content is centered on a guild’s progression through the various high level dungeons or instances. There are dozens and dozens of dungeons. This website will provide you with a nice chart of all the possible instances available at this time. Note that new content is continually added to this game, and this list will get bigger in the near future.

Dungeons progression is based on how powerful the rewards are, and the difficulty of the encounters. Upon reaching seventy players will have to access there own gear, and determine which dungeons will provide challenging yet not impossible experience. If a player has uncommon (green font) and rare (blue font) items, than they are probably not ready to attempt a twenty-five man raid. Do not worry. There are dozens of instances to experience and all dungeons in Outlands, and a few in Azeroth, can be experienced on a Heroic difficulty. This increases the difficulty and improves the rewards of the dungeon. Players can collect Heroic tokens that drop off bosses to exchange for epic (purple font) gear, and the bosses themselves can drop better than average loot. Even epic gear has its own progression system. Players can achieve various Tier sets to denote there current participation in high end dungeons. Do not get confused about the numbering system. Before the expansion was released, Tiers 1-3 were sets that players achieved when the level cap was sixty. These epic sets are now obsolete, and many players will not experience the dungeons they drop in.

Players at seventy often begin raiding with the ten-man dungeon Karazhan. This place is chalk full of unique encounters, and its completion is considered the first major milestone for guild progression. The first few pieces of the Tier 4 set are collected here along with other powerful rewards. I can remember the early days of the expansion when this place was THE challenge for my server. Now a days it is just a small stepping stone that shouldn’t be a problem for any decent guild. There are tons of unique encounters, and many of the bosses provide great experience for higher end content. Some of my personal favorites are the Opera Event, the Chess Event, and the fight against Shade of Aran. Like most end game content there is also a rich and detailed history that unlocks some interesting lore about the various inhabitants of Karazhan. Unfortunately, for me, Karazhan is the only high end dungeon that I have successfully completed. There are many reasons for this, but I will not bore you with my tale. Just know that the information to follow is simply observed and not played personally by me.

A good friend of mine plays a Warlock named Roors, and he got into the only competent raiding guild on the Drak’thul server: Eternal. I had the pleasure of watching him for four hours—yes raids take anywhere from two to six hours—as Eternal cleared the twenty-five man raid Hyjal Summit. This encounter rewards players with their Tier 6 set pieces along with other very powerful equipment.

Hyjal Summit is divided into three parts: the Alliance Camp, the Horde Camp, and the Tree of Life. Each camp faces wave and wave of invading enemies and two bosses. The last place is where players find the final boss Archimonde. There is a ton of lore that ties into this encounter that relates to events in both the World of Warcraft and the RTS Warcraft III. Also the amount of coordination necessary to succeed is simply amazing. Every player must know there role, and perform it flawlessly or else everyone dies. At any given time there where over fifty characters on the screen—both enemies and allies. The battle felt as huge as the any epic battle seen in movies like Lord of the Rings. Eternal was able to clear the entire instance with only two wipes. Impressive!

Many players will never see Hyjal Summit. This will either be a personal choice, or they will simply never find the other twenty-four competent players to be successful. This doesn’t mean that players can’t enjoy end game content. There are numerous dungeons with unique encounters that will often keep raiders busy seven days a week. Blizzard as done an excellent job of providing fun and challenging dungeons that provide months of entertainment. Finally new instances are consistently released providing the next challenge for the top guilds. With so much variety, potential, and fun the PvE content of World of Warcraft scores 5 out of 5.

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