PvE Is Not Easy

If you peruse large WoW communities – the official forums, the big gaming websites, trade channel (*shudder*) – you’ll see a common thread: ever-so-terribly leet players telling us that PvE content is easy, that if you fail on X encounter you’re terribad, that anyone with half a brain could faceroll through this stuff, et cetera.

Well, they’re wrong.

I’m not talking about the current level of raiding content – that is, indeed, pitched at a less challenging level than most, if not all, of TBC content. (Which is not to say it’s trivial – it’s certainly not, especially for inexperienced raiders.)

No, I’m talking about the blithe statements, usually made either by hardcore raiders, hardcore PvPers or disparaging ex-WoW-players, that all raiding is easy, that you can’t help but win if you don’t suck.

One of the popular measures for ‘not being bad’ is managing spatial awareness and 3D movement. Well, you know what? Those tests of spatial awareness and movement (Frogger boss, I’m looking at you) probably are trivial if you have the reflexes of a 20-year-old, or you grew up playing FPSes, console games and arcade games.

Hi, I’m thirty-three, and I avoided combat games like the plague. I never owned a console growing up, I spent very little time in arcades, and the first time I had access to a computer capable of running games more advanced than NetHack was in my second year of University. Granted, I’ve spent a disproportionate amount of time playing games since then, but they’ve largely been RPGs and strategy/simulation games because I’m not a particularly aggressive or competitive person. (Please note that ‘not competitive’ and ‘not performance-oriented’ are not synonymous.)

Frankly, I’m sick of the attitude that treats WoW like another twitch-based FPS game, and that rates these skills above everything else. If you’re going to ignore the fact that my tanking is good, my DPS is fine, or that I just saved your ass with a split-second heal, just to mock me for dying on Frogger? Kindly shut up.

(True confession: sometimes, just sometimes, I turn with my keyboard. Gasp! Yes, it’s true! Guess what? It’s never gotten me killed, and it’s never caused a wipe.)

Edit: Based on some of the comments, I should probably clarify: this is not ‘Confession of a Terribad Raider’ time, because I don’t think I am. I certainly could do better, particularly on movement issues, but I do okay. (For the record, I’ve only ever died on Frogger twice – once in a 40-man because I’d never seen it before and no-one explained it, and recently in a 10-man, purely due to lag. I’ve never failed the Thaddius jump, I’ve never been beaten by the Ledge Boss or the Pipe Boss, and I haven’t been hit by a lava wave on Sartharion since the first time I did the fight. I did, however, once fall off a ledge in Karazhan for absolutely no reason at all, which caused a lot of hilarity.)

What this post actually was intended to be – and this probably didn’t come across clearly, since I was writing it at 7am after a night of zero sleep – was expressing my frustration at the elitists who’ve been practising these skills for half their lives, who do not ever stop to think that not everyone has the same training they do.

38 thoughts on “PvE Is Not Easy”

  1. Two comments I should make, before this garners any responses:
    1) This wasn’t aimed at anyone in particular, just the unwarranted elitism that circulates amongst segments of the community.
    2) I am actually not feeling abused or attacked for being ‘terribad’, because I’m generally not. (Although I do get mocked for bubbling while running through Frogger, to avoid lag-related death, but I know it’s only teasing as they’ve seen me survive it.) This is a general rant on behalf of, well, everyone who didn’t grow up owning a console and playing FPS games, but who are still perfectly capable and competent players.

  2. Just to congratulate you for a great site, a great source of information and some great opinions also!

    It is great to see that WoW can get the thirty years old guys hooked also!


  3. Frogger. Is. Bugged.

    I don’t care what anyone says, it is buggy. When I see two people run the exact same path, with the exact same spacing, and one dies, but the other doesn’t, there is a bug. Or there is a completely random “kill player” dynamic at work, which is poor design–even worse than a bug.

  4. /applaud!

    I really got my first experience of the twitch-FPS game when I encountered Gorefiend. I hated that guy. And I really thought I sucked at WoW until I read an article from Part Time Druid (http://parttimedruid.com/2008/09/08/worstboss-fightever/) about how Gorefiend was essentially a twitch-fight.

    PvE is going to be a different difficulty depending on a lot of factors. Did you grow up playing console games? Did you solo your way through content, or play with groups in dungeons as you leveled?

    Anyway, big applause for this post.

  5. Frogger’s not bugged, it’s a latency issue with the server. You SEE yourself as on top of the other player, but that’s not the case, as far as the server’s concerned. The trick, other than having good latency, is to aim for the slime’s butts so that there’s the max room between you & the next one coming. Strategically dropped totems will stop slimes, as well, which can help.

    As for keyboard turning, I’m the last one to burn you on a cross because of it, as I did it for YEARS, before my husband shamed me into re-binding all my keys so i didn’t need two hands on the keyboard to get around. You can “try it out” by selecting “this character only” for keybinds, bind things up so you can use wasd or ijkl if you’re a lefty-mouser like me, and give it a try. If it’s disastrous, you can just un-check the box to go back to the way things were. :) Took me about… 3 hours of being truly AWFUL in AV on my hunter, and about a level of flailing wildly while levelling the pally before i got truly comfortable with it, but I find now that my mobility is much higher, now.

  6. All it takes is a bad lag spike to kill you on frogger. I ALWAYS bubble. That way I’m there to rez the others on the opposite side!

    And I’m a keyboarder turner. SO THERE.

  7. I just /ignore people who trash talk and badmouth, call people “noob”, or because they don’t yet have tier 7 gear. Many of them are arrogant and instead of doing 25 man heroic raids they spend their miserable days trying to spread their misery to others in the game.

    If the game is that easy, quit and play something else. Otherwise, shut up and play.

  8. *cheer*
    I just started raiding the current content, and it’s not just the Frogger boss.. lag killed me on Heigan last night. Twice. I had 5 fps, and by the time I could see where everyone was, and try to catch up, it was already too late.
    I do agree with you though, the elite and elitist are the reason I never thought twice about trying to apply for one of the top guilds on my server. It’s bad enough watching them in trade, I don’t need that in guild chat too!

  9. I gotta say, this post has entered WoW Insider levels of quality. Given that I recently quit the game anyway, I don’t really need the blog of a bad WoW player on my RSS feed :( sorry

  10. @Mallice – Not a guy. But thanks ;)
    @welp – I gotta say, your comment reached official forum levels of quality. Given that you recently quit the game anyway, you’re hardly my target audience :( sorry
    (Also, if I’m such a ‘bad WoW player’ – and congrats on working out how well I play from a blog post! – I’m surprised you bothered subscribing in the first place. I do apologise for wasting your time like that.)

  11. It is a bit of an unusual post – wow does have a few twitch elements and, like you say, spatial awareness and 3d movement – as well as timing ability use and quickly responding to events – are important skills that the game tests often. So yeah, you should try and be good at them.

    Regardless of how much or little you think “keyboard turning” handicaps you, I strongly feel mouse turning and keybinding as many skills as possible will improve your game no matter which facet of wow you enjoy. It does take some practice, I admit, but I don’t think it’s outside the realm of possibility for a thirty-something non-gamer.

    That said, I have been enjoying the blog so far, but I expect the people who you are targeting this article at are not the ones who are reading it.

  12. @Chronic – I agree that one should certainly try and be good at as many aspects of the raiding game as one can, if one chooses to raid. However, being good at this particular aspect is only one part of the skills a good raider needs to develop, but it’s elevated artificially by those who forget that not everyone has played FPSes and platformers since they were ten.
    (The keyboard turning bit was mostly tongue in cheek, mind you – as I said, it’s only sometimes, and not in high-pressure situations.)
    In fact, I tend to feel that rather than keybinding, click-casting is better for healer response times. It’s certainly better for mine; I’m a much faster and more responsive healer than when I used keybinds.

  13. As I heard on BoK the other day in a post about the perfect guild:

    “Not Mock Casuals – I like the hardcore, and I don’t make any “no life” or similar comments. Being good at WoW is as much of an accomplishment as most of us are likely to achieve. Very few of us will become Nobel Prize winners or brain surgeons.

    But this is one habit of the hardcore that I absolutely despise, the mocking of those weaker than themselves. Things like laughing at a random paladin in Shattrath behind her back in guild chat because she’s using Spirit gems. Would it really have been so hard to whisper her and help her select better gems instead?

    The strong should help the weak (or, at the very least, ignore them). Mocking the weak only betrays insecurity, and frankly makes the person someone that I do not want to play with. The worst part about this habit is that you cannot say anything to convince them to stop unless you are a better player, as your opinion carries no weight otherwise.

    I am tired of adolescent male bravado, and would like a guild free of it.”

  14. Hah!

    Not only am I so old that I didn’t grow up on FPSes (et al.), so old that I remember the Time Before the Internet, but I remember the Time Before Home Computers.

    Old(er) Women WoWers, Unite! (or are we WoWistas? I can never tell.)

  15. Here here!

    Keyboard turning FTW!

    Seriously, though. Who cares? The only person you should have to satisfy with your playing is yourself. If you satisfy that requirement, all other opinions are unnecessary.

  16. I use my keyboard to move, and yes I can’t jump shot, I don’t have 20 years of arcade gaming experience and there is a level of hand eye co-ordination I’ve never figured out. You know what, I never played an arcade game (much to the disgust of my partner. I don’t think that makes me a bad hunter. I’m not the best hunter, but I still do my job well in raids.

    As for frogger, I’m convinced its lag that kills you, or certain pallies bubbling and exploding the slime causing splash damage :)

  17. QFT. This is something that I felt even in TBC when, as you noted, raiding was (considered?) harder. I do not have the time to raid like I used to (stupid job), even though I wish I did. Thus, I do not particularly care if people think it is easy-hard or whatever. However, you do hit on a good point – perhaps the ‘generational’ gap of FPS-style playing (read imho: PvP) impacting on the attitudes of those that enjoy PvE. Interesting. Hope this is something that gets explored some more….

    Oh yeah. I also turn with my keyboard sometimes. Never had a problem.


  18. /target Siha /cheer

    Same here, same here. I try my very best at these encounters, but find them very challenging too.
    Luckily, my raiding group consists of mostly over 30ish people and yes, you can definitely see the differences in reflexes and awareness compared to younger ones.

    Thanks for such an open-minded and honest post! :)

  19. I so agree; thank you for raising this issue. I really enjoyed WoW. But everything I see is the devs are making it more like a FPS. This will please many of their most vocal audience, but it sure seems like a bad business decision. WoW got to 11.5 millions subscribers by being much more than a laggy imitation of a console. There are many FPS online and console games but WoW was unique. They are focusing on a narrower market with more competition.

    I try to be like @Samodean, but if Wow is going to be pushing everything towards a twitchfest, why should I bother? I am only going to get more frustrated and unhappy. I have no control over the team that came up with Affliction locks and the Heigen dance, all I can control is whether I play.

  20. Hi Siha!

    I totally feel your pain on the movement stuff. I’m not a terribad player either–and yet the only things in Naxx I dread are Heigan and Frogger. I’ve learned how to do Frogger with my lag–I pretty much run Syd right through the leading slime and that keeps me safe. However, on Heigan, I’m plagued with random deaths, some my fault when I do the virtual equivalent of stumbling, and some the fault of my computer, which tends to have annoying little visual “burps” in Naxx when it freezes up. I’ve also failed the ledge boss, the pipe boss, what have you. It’s just not the part of the game I’m good at. Most spectacularly, I once mistook a fellow tree for me in the Thaddius boss, and I jumped when HIS character hit the ledge. I was surprised when I fell in the slime.

    I think most of these problems are due to the old design of Naxx. WoW has gotten harder and harder for my computers to run since then. And yes, I’ve repeatedly bought newer, better computers. It’s just that I have to have a laptop for all the travel I do, and a year old laptop–that was awesome when I bought it–isn’t keeping up as well as I would like. Something that might have been cute originally, like Frogger, is really really unpleasant if you play with latency.

  21. OMG

    You said NetHack.

    Man, I loves me the NetHack. And Moria. And Conquer.

    Some good memories right there.

  22. Here Here.
    I only raid with proven friends. And I don’t mean skill-proven, I mean character-proven. Raiding is like going to the airport – it just seems to bring out the worst in a lot of people. If you start to get an ego about some skill, just remember that by focusing on getting good at one skill you have neglected a million others. That means there are millions of people out there who could humiliate you at their particular talent. I don’t care if you’re Lance Armstrong, you still fail at a hell of a lot more things than you succeed at! Wow isn’t my particular talent, I have another, but I don’t think that makes me better or worse than anybody else.

  23. This attitude has always bothered me. My general reaction is “so what?” How does my way of playing impact their way of playing? Why are they so deeply invested in me being less than they are? It boggles the mind.

  24. As another “non-FPS-playing-occasional-keyboard-turning-older-than-a-teenager-but-not-bad-at-the-game raider” I thank you for this post. My reflexes and hand-eye coordination aren’t what they would be if I started gaming 15 years ago, but since I’m nearly 30 and been playing video game (singular) since Vanilla WoW’s release… Those “Mad cuz ur bad” types can suck it.

  25. I’ve always found it strange that some people get downright angry that people they define as “bad” or “unskilled” have equal access to content. This “PVE is easy” mindset seems to me to be more a matter of “They’re standing in too much of my turf. Who let the riff-raff in?”

    But maybe I’ve read too many casual vs. raider threads over the years.

  26. @Ashleigh: I used to keyboard turn, but now that I don’t I’m no better at PvE than I was before.
    I am, however, better at PvP.
    Competitive people want there to be a reward for being better (like there is for PvP), but unfortunately PvE isn’t a competition, so you don’t get any prizes – individual skill doesn’t come into it.

  27. Well, I find that keyboard turning on Grobbulus is a bad plan. But more seriously, I meant “they define as bad or unskilled” simply because that’s a shifting bar used to attack other players and doesn’t actually reflect on their ability to play.

    I guess they think they’re being competitive, but it comes across more as a sense of entitlement or ownership – like the raids belong to them, and people who aren’t as hardcore as they are shouldn’t have the right to enter and expect anything. Sort of like the idea that verbally or textually abusing people is somehow the way to improve their performance in a raid.

  28. (also, I think I learned not to keyboard turn in Doom 2. OMG I’ve been playing videogames way too long)

  29. I too am fed up with all these comments. I hope they don’t shout loud enough for blizzard to listen to them.

    I’ve always been a casual gamer and my raiding expericence is limited. I probably knocked up about a dozen kara runs and half a dozen gruul runs and that’s about it.

    Most of the reasoning for this was as playing a healer between yourself and the tank you come in for a lot of slack for any wipes.

    Even if dps races are not won and enrage events kick off the groups answer seems to be we need more healers or better tanks.

    Since wotlk I’ve been able to go along to the raids and heroics and experience some awesome instances / raids. I’ve gotten good drops and generally felt happy about my character progression.

    As a casual gamer I’m a lot happier. I understand now that I’m clearing this content why guilds maybe looking for more of a challenge. I hope they get it eventually.

    Personally I’d like to see something like what they did towards the end of TBC where raids where made easier (maybe not to the TBC extremes). Give them their challenge but then change it so that people like me get to see the content without having to spend the time required to do the things the old way.

    By the old way I mean, grinding mats for pots, enchants, elixirs, research into ultimate spec theorycrafting for role, perfect event mechanic awareness.


  30. /waves

    oooh! ooooh!

    Over here, ya over here. No no over HERE!

    Yeah, hi. I’m a pushing 40 gamer and guess what, I didn’t fall out of a tree knowing how to play this game either.

    It took me lots-o-practice and bloggers like you to get me started.

    Keep up the great work.

    (anyone else love Battlezone growing up? It was so cool it cost 2 quarters.


  31. While I will admit I do play some fps games and such I agree with you that the elitism is a big turn off. Also as a fellow paladin healer I can tell you that I have no keys bound, I actually rely heavily on healbot for all my healing and it works great for me, so do what works for you if keyboard turning is working for you and not killing you don’t bother trying to change; as the old addage goes: “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Anyway love your blog.

    ps: I bubble through frogger too; it saves me from lag, and I can blow up some slimes to create safer paths for ppl behind me

  32. Ok, I’m one of those elitist ‘twitch-gamers’ complaining that wow is too easy.

    Now that I’ve stereotyped myself let me explain. I don’t consider myself that much of an amazing player. I don’t expect to or have a massive desire to top the DPS charts. What I enjoy is simply being part of a party that works together, getting that feeling of teamwork going where everyone has a role to fulfill and does it to the best of their ability.

    I spent time teaching myself as a hunter to kite and chaintrap. I pay attention to the healer at all times in case I need to send my pet off to pull a mob off them. I learned the necessary pulling methods for various types of critters so I could do my job well and be an asset to a party.

    What do I do with all of this? I cast volley. Yep. I walk behind the tank and I volley. I can’t remember the last time I needed to trap or kite anything. I can’t remember the last time I had to do anything for the healer.

    Nope, I spam volley my way through instance after instance while the tank spams his class specific AOE tanking skill.

    Yes, I still whipe on Loken. We’ve wiped on a few bosses. I don’t call learning to play frogger a challenge. Hell, call it what you want, hard, easy, whatever. Every boss becomes a cakewalk once you learn the fight.

    All I want is to be able to do something OTHER than spam AOEs through every instance. This is what I’m protesting against when I complain that the game is too easy. The homogenization of classes, the loss of anything to actually DO in an instance besides AOE and jump around on the odd boss fight.

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