I think the encounters in Icecrown Citadel are quite good at a basic level. The normal modes are moderately challenging. I think Putricide, while not difficult beyond the limited attempts you get, is extremely fun.

But the atmosphere of Icecrown is ruined by excessive gating and limited attempts. When someone in my raid is having lag issues, I am annoyed. Not at the people with the latency woes, but at the game design. I have to pressure people with lag to sit so as not to potentially lose a shot at killing the boss. And when someone makes the most innocent of mistakes, people get pissed off. It’s not fun for them. And it’s not fun for me as a result.

As far as gating goes, I think a gate should have existed only for Arthas. Instead, the instance feels extremely fractured by the existence of several blockades. The awe is not at all seamless, as a result. It’s broken, causing the instance to lose its luster each time you have to wait for the next door to open. The impact of the atmosphere and my enjoyment is lessened as a consequence.

I think raiders shouldn’t have the fear of God struck into them for wiping just once. I think it’s a flawed game to play in that regard. It’s one of the reasons why I stepped back from hardcore raiding in the first place. And now that I’m casual, my satisfaction is still hindered by the same issues that caused me to lose some enjoyment in hardcore raiding. I thought it’d go up substantially. I thought I’d be able to laugh and shrug if we don’t get a boss and run out of attempts. But it’s difficult not to think about that, simply because that limited attempt number exists.

It’d have been a great instance, save for those two issues. Instead, Blizzard feels the need to have gating to protect the irresponsible players who ruin their lives competing. Don’t believe that played a part in Blizzard’s decision? You should read the Icecrown article from the first issue of the official WoW magazine. I will quote the reference explicitly.

Players tend to take on everything we give them as soon as we give it to them. What we’ve found is that if we give them access to twelve bosses, they will run those bosses day and night until they beat them all, to [the players'] own detriment.

These are the words of Tom Chilton. Need I remind Blizzard those people are a small percentage of players. And it shouldn’t be up to a gaming company to police their behavior through game mechanics. They will find other ways to satiate their addiction. When they run out of content to attempt, they will roll alts and do it a second time. Hell, most top guilds do that so they have the option of having a better raid composition, anyhow. And if WoW doesn’t allow them to satiate that addiction, they will simply turn to other games, be it Dragon Age, Call of Duty, or whatever the current flavor of the month or year happens to be.

If Blizzard wants to help gamers with their addiction problems, they should fund studies of the “condition” and provide monetary aid for programs that help treat it, instead of subjecting people, no matter how responsible, to being coddled. Not all of us warrant such treatment.

Then What Are the Positives? (Stop Whining, Lume!)

I “whine” (I’d use the word “criticize” instead, but some people are going to call it whining), because I try to protect the game I like. And there are things to like about the raiding game. To succinctly list what I like:

  1. The music.
  2. The artwork.
  3. The encounter design.
  4. The story. (Save me the complaints about Jaina crying and the dramatic lich. It’s still awesome in the grand scheme, so far.)

There are still many unknowns. Namely, the rest of the encounters, and the hard modes. We’ll see about those. But, so far, that’s my take on the instance.

I also like the basic idea of having a raid-wide buff to make bosses easier to kill over time. This way, people aren’t perpetually stuck on a boss months into their attempts, while allowing more hardcore guilds to defeat something before the buff comes into effect. But the details are not yet known, so it’s difficult to develop an full opinion just yet.

We’ll see how the rest of it plays out over the next few months.