First the casual-friendly news:
- 5-man instances will take less than an hour to complete: It often takes so long to find a good group, that it's hard to squeeze instances into our play sessions. Blizzard has declared their intentions to even have the heroic versions of these dungeons take no more than an hour.
- Death Knights are the FastPass to high level content: Yes, the powers and features of the Death Knight class look awesome, but there is also a side benefit to the way they will be implemented. If you have a level 55+ somewhere on some server on your account, then you can create one level 55 Death Knight per realm. This is great news if you don't have the time to level a character on a server where you have found friends with similar schedules. It's also a good thing if you have altitis and would like a jumpstart in getting to the parts of the game you haven't reached yet.
- Casual Raiders get to share in the story, too: I tend to write this column for those who have an hour or less to play at a time. But some casual players set aside larger blocks of time and just don't play every day. If you have the opportunity, this is a good idea so that you can share in the 10-man raid fun. The best (and possibly most controversial) news about raids for us is that all raids in Wrath of the Lich King will be available in both 10 and 25 person versions. This means that everyone who can at least participate in 10-man raids can now experience all of the endgame lore, even Arthas.
And now we come to the part where I will attempt to debunk some common misconceptions about the casual player's validity as a WoW
gamer. (There may be some ranting.)
- We are dumbing down the game: A lot of commenters and forum posters think that making the game casual friendly is making the game less of a challenge for those who have the time and inclination for high level PvE and PvP. The new raids in Wrath of the Lich King will all have 10-man versions, but these raids are, according to Drysc, not going to be easy and they are not going to have the same loot or prestige that the 25-man versions will. All this does is allow 10-man raiders to share in the story and have a progression path in the endgame that can be completed with fewer people and less time. But the prestigious world firsts and the best PvE loot in the game will still only be available to the hardcore raiders.
- We're unskilled: I've addressed this before. Even if some casuals don't have the skills required to 25-man raid due to lack of time to practice, most are very skilled in what they do have time to do. We are about maximizing our playtime and don't have the in-game leisure to be bad at what we do. But let's say they are right and we are less skilled than the players who have more playtime. Does that mean that the game should only be for the best? Do you have to take a test to play any other MMO, single player game or even a sport for that matter? Sure, in order to be on a team, you have to try out. But everyone is allowed to play pickup games and many league activities (pool, bowling, etc.) have handicaps to allow all levels of players. It's the diversity of the player-base that makes this game great, not the egos of the elitists.
- We're lazy: This one really gets me. I see it shouted out in the Trade Channel and in the comments here on WoW Insider. We don't deserve to have anything worthwhile in the game because we are too lazy to raid. Balderdash! Most casual players don't raid because we don't have time to raid. We work hard in our real lives and have other priorities than spending long periods of time in-game. Casual players tend to have full time jobs, some with lots of overtime. We have wives, husbands, children, other non-gaming interests and even other MMOs. Of course, raiders have real lives, too. But successful raiders have opportunities like understanding spouses, jobs with no overtime, schools with flexible schedules -- things that many of us don't have if we want to thrive in our real lives. Casual players are usually the opposite of lazy. If anything, we work harder to have the most fun we can have when playing WoW.
The game does have some inconveniences and unpleasant side effects due to a group of players, but it's not the casuals. It's the cheaters. Arena cheaters and Gold buyers are the ones causing us to have less fun in our favorite hobby. Win Trading
and the point/team buyers and sellers are turning Arena into a Gold competition instead of the best of team PvP. People who buy Gold
are not only causing our cities to be filled with spammers, but also are dumbing down the game to be nothing more than a virtual credit card swipe. Casual players are actually playing the game. We may be roleplaying
or bringing up multiple alts or soloing to 70 or PvPing -- but we are playing.
I think the changes will be great for all players from the hardcore raider to the weekend casual. There is something for everybody. We all deserve a great game and it looks like we're going to get one.
WoW, Casually is a column for those of us who are playtime-challenged and proud Welfare Epic wearers. If you have questions or tips about how to get the most out of your limited playtime, please send them to Robin.Torres AT weblogsinc DOT com for a possible future column.