I generally prefer not to talk too much about upcoming features because I'm someone who's fairly focused on the present. In fact it bugs me when blogs or podcasts (whose main purpose isn't to just report the hottest news) do nothing but give opinions on things that aren't even released yet. After a while it starts to feel as if they're not even playing the same game as me anymore - usually because they literally aren't and are just spending all their time on the PTR... but I digress before I've even started.
There is one feature of the upcoming 4.2 patch that I wanted to talk about, namely the change to crowd control aggro mechanics. In a nutshell, almost all methods of crowd control will now work like sap and not cause surrounding mobs to aggro. This is a pretty big change if you ask me, and I'm surprised that I haven't seen more backlash in response to it, or any kind of commentary at all. Then again, maybe I'm just not looking in the right places.
I have to admit, part of me is definitely a little peeved. It's silly. We all know that mobs don't display a lot of intelligence to begin with and are very short-sighted, but at least rogues not getting aggro after sapping made a little bit of sense. Sap is not a big flashy effect after all, and the rogue remains in stealth afterwards. With their bad eyesight, it's no wonder that the mobs don't notice if their companion's eyes have glazed over, and even if they did notice it's not as if they could pinpoint the origin of the problem. However, if my hunter sticks a freezing arrow into a guy and turns him into a massive ice block and the surrounding mobs still don't react, that adds a whole new level of ridiculousness to it in my opinion. It makes me sad how the devs don't even seem to consider immersion in relation to game mechanics anymore.
Also, yes, it is dumbing down the game and I think Zarhym's arguments in favour of the change are appallingly poor. Players have been able to cope with crowd control causing aggro for years, but now it's suddenly too difficult? He also says that "there are basically two choices: make the dungeons so easy that they don’t require communication, or make the communication easier", implying that this change is the latter, when it is in fact the former. Making it so that crowd control doesn't aggro the group anymore does nothing if not remove the need for communication.
Right now my hunter can't really trap a mob without communicating at least at a minimum level. If I just start the pull with a trap, without the tank having agreed to it, he's likely going to be unpleasantly surprised and pissed. On the other hand, if the tank just pulls without having acknowledged that he's in favour of using CC, I'll have a hard time trapping as mobs are likely to be moved around, get hit by AoE etc. We have to come to an agreement and work together. With this new system, everyone will be equally independent of each other. I'll be able to just run up to a pull, trap something, and then let everyone else sort their crap out. Hurrah for independence. I think it's pretty sad when having to talk to other players in an MMO gets described as an unnecessary "logistical challenge".
With all that complaining out of the way... I'm actually not opposed to this change, simply because I know the realities of the dungeon finder. I mentioned only a few days ago that while I like crowd control in general, I'm glad to be back to everyone AoEing everything for the most part. How does that make sense?
The thing is, I do like CC, I do like difficult dungeons and I do like having to co-ordinate things. I was over the moon during those first weeks of Cataclysm when everyone actually ran heroics in guild groups, we made our way to the instance the old-fashioned way to summon in the one guy who hadn't discovered the entrance yet, and we spent hours wiping in heroic Grim Batol without even completing it. It was almost like being back in Burning Crusade! Almost.
Unfortunately, there were still things that were different: the dungeon finder, the daily random dungeon reward, the developers' changed attitudes... and fact of the matter is, these things didn't mix well with trying to go back to the BC era in other aspects. I liked Burning Crusade era dungeons best, but WOTLK was okay in its own way. However, the way Blizzard has tried to mix and match aspects of both expansions in the new Cataclysm instances has unfortunately been neither here nor there, leaving fans of either style somewhat disappointed I believe.
With that experience in mind, knowing that the devs are in love with the dungeon finder and its anonymous instant teleports, I realised that we'll never really be able to go back to the way instances worked in Burning Crusade. This leaves us with the alternatives of "okay" WOTLK runs or the annoying mish-mash that has been Cataclysm's style lately, and in that case I think I prefer them to just let us go back towards the silent and easy runs. The 4.2 CC change is perfectly in line with that. You can't very well support grouping without communication and then throw a wrench into the works by having one mechanic that absolutely requires people to talk to each other.
So I'll be happy to just place my traps whenever, and when I'm tanking I'll just let dps figure out their own crowd control if they want to use any - either way the other players' actions won't be my business anymore and I can live with that. Though I think that there's a chance that the average run might not change that much anyway, based on what I see with rogues and sap right now: either the rogue doesn't ever use it anyway, or if they do, the tank will inevitably make a beeline for the sapped target and break it, so I pretty much expect the other crowd controls to end up being treated the same way.
I just don't like the idea of pretending that it all makes perfect sense because bonking someone on the head from stealth is totally the same as turning them into a sheep in plain sight, or that it's somehow not going to affect the difficulty of the instances.
Thea: The Awakening
1 day ago