So the Oculus has received some updates yet again, this time in the form of some extra loot drops from the last boss. A lot of people have already commented on this, but I wanted to think about it a little longer before making a post on the subject.
The first conclusion that I came to is that the fact that the blue drake now also drops in Oculus kind of sucks for people who already had one from Malygos and were priding themselves in having a truly rare mount. My boyfriend is one of them. I do feel a bit sorry for him, though we'll see how common the drop actually is. We might not yet see a wave of blue drakes flood the skies of Northrend after all.
Secondly... the whole thing just strikes me as pretty stupid; I'm sorry but I have to say it. I'm not an Oculus hater myself (not anymore anyway), but from what I can gather those who still do avoid it like the plague don't do so because it doesn't drop enough loot.
Basically, as far as I can tell, people expect to get fun out of any part of the game in two ways. The first is from basic gameplay, like running around, exploring and whacking stuff. The second is in the form of rewards that improve their character.
If a piece of content is lacking in the first department, say because it's very difficult and people end up spending much more time dead than alive (which isn't very fun), then you can make it more appealing by making it easier, so people can spend more time actually playing (i.e. running around and whacking stuff). That's what they did for Halls of Reflection in the last batch of changes for example and it makes sense. I can say that I personally enjoyed the challenge of that instance as it was, but I also had enough wipes on the ghost encounter to understand why a lot of people considered it very un-fun. In this case making it slightly easier should help to make the dungeon more appealing again.
If a piece of content is lacking in terms of rewards, like a raid whose gear drops have become obsolete, you can make it appealing again by adding new and better rewards. (Hello there, achievements for Molten Core and the like!) That's also what they've been doing with heroics throughout this expansion, by upgrading the emblems to a higher tier with every major content patch.
What Blizzard has done with the last amount of Oculus changes however, is trying to fix a category one problem with a category two solution. People might cite different reasons for hating the Oculus, but I'm sure that the really deep-seated dislike, the kind that makes people drop from the group as soon as they zone in, has never been inspired by a lack of rewards. It's having to play a stoopid dragon when you want to play a priest/paladin/whatever, it's navigating an instance in three dimensions, it's wasting endless amounts of time mounting up and dismounting again (which does take a good ten seconds each time, what with the silly vehicle interface) and so on. People won't suddenly increase their tolerance for that kind of crap just because you offer them two extra badges and a gem.
In my battlegroup I actually haven't had any massive problems with Oculus groups falling apart as soon as people zoned in; I always only read about that elsewhere. Yet when the luck of the draw threw my shaman in there today, on the first day of the new additional rewards, two dps instantly quit the group. I think that says it all really.
I don't blame Blizzard for wanting to lure people into doing content they spent a long time designing and putting together. They haven't failed completely for sure, just to use myself as an example: My first two runs of the Oculus were horrible and painful experiences and I never wanted to go back there again after I got my Champion of the Frozen Wastes title. A few months later I ended up braving the instance with an alt anyway, and found that the drakes scaling with better gear really helped a lot on the last fight, making me more open towards the experience again. (Eregos being too unforgiving when people didn't use their drakes' abilities correctly all the time was a playability problem that received an "increased playability" solution, as it should be.)
However, there's also a point where you have to admit that something just doesn't work, and then it's time to either leave it be or to scrap it altogether. A lot of people hate the drake riding mechanic, no amount of increasing the loot tables or nerfing overall mob health is going to change that. They could either accept that a large portion of their playerbase simply doesn't like the concept, or they could revamp the instance entirely, say by connecting all the platforms on the same level and adding a lift or teleporter to move between them. Leaving the drakes for the last fight only might be just about acceptable to a lot of people (just like they tolerate the jousting as part of the first encounter in Trial of the Champion).
Sound too drastic? As I said they could also just accept that not every part of the game is for everyone. So what? The World of Warcraft didn't end when people stopped collecting Silithyst either. And anyway, at the rate at which things are going, it might be easier to revitalise silithyst collection than to make the Oculus popular...
June 10th will be a Landmark Date
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