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Attunements: A Follow-Up July 9, 2012

Posted by Stormy in Uncategorized.
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I should know by now not to have a one-off thought about someone else’s blogpost and then post and run. Blogposts are like batches of cookies: they need to be left in the oven for just the right amount of time. If you pull them out too early you get something gooey and underdone that’s sweet and satisfying, but runs the risk of causing vomiting. If you leave them in too long, they get blackened and crispy and pleasing to absolutely no one. My last post on attunements didn’t exactly make any of the points I wanted to make, so I wanted to address the situation again.

Much of the disdain for attunements seems to come from the (seemingly) inevitable raid night where everyone’s all lined up at the instance entrance ready to rock…and someone can’t get in because they don’t have the key. Matticus posted a horrifying flowchart showing the various attunement requirements for the various Burning Crusade raid tiers, and he’s right: it looks like a nightmare.

I’m not advocating a return to that by any means. The purpose of an attunement should be to provide players with a background as to why they’re entering a particular raid instance to take down a particular boss, not to serve as a roadblock that frustrates and alienates players and raid leaders. There has to be a happy medium between offering content that provides context for the existence of a raid and various raid bosses and creating a quest chain that’s so annoyingly convoluted that it alienates the playerbase.

Blizzard has actually done this before, and done it very well. Look at the Zandalari Menace quest line from patch 4.2. The player starts by talking to an NPC in their home city (Bwemba in Orgrimmar for the Horde) who sends the player on an epic quest chain to find out exactly what the Zandalari are up to behind the gates of Zul’Gurub and Zul’Aman, and to find out why these evil trolls must be stopped. While completing this quest chain wasn’t actually necessary to open the gates of the instances, it was necessary in order to provide a retconned reason for entering these formerly-deprecated instances. It also rewarded the player with one of the best non-combat pets in the game, a reason for pet collectors to complete the chain even if they had no interest in visiting ZG/ZA.(Note: let’s not turn this into a debate over whether ZG/ZA should have been reintroduced or how 4.2 was handled–or mishandled–in general, thanks!)

Every new raid instance should come with a quest chain like this, and completing the quest chain should be mandatory to enter the instance. Before we entered Dragon Soul we should have known who Morchok and Hagara were and why we’d find them inside the instance. Otherwise, as I said before, Blizzard may as well provide us with tier after tier of nameless, faceless bosses in a grey box…which inevitably would lead to an argument that they may as well do away with various races and other character customization options, since playing a character is simply a mechanical means to an end–killing this week’s Baddie Du Jour.

TL, DR: Those of you who say it’s dumb to require six different key fragments from six different bosses in three different instances are right. Those who say it’s not necessary to know who Warlord Zon’ozz is and why he must die…are not.

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