Some thoughts on heroic Oculus

I ran heroic Oculus twice today, once in the role of healer on my paladin, and once on my hunter. Both groups were pugs. Do I deserve a medal or what?

Though I have to say, in all honesty... it wasn't actually that bad.

Oculus is an interesting instance in so far as I don't think I've ever seen another dungeon in WoW that was as universally hated by everyone. Sure, people didn't like running heroic Shattered Halls back in BC either, but if you needed it for your Nightbane urn quest or whatever, you'd usually manage to find a couple of helpful guildies to assist you. Not so with Oculus - no matter how nicely you ask if anyone would be interested in joining you for a run, guild chat will instantly go eerily quiet as soon as you mention the o-word; that's how much people hate that place.

I was in the same camp for the longest time. I remember running the instance twice or so on my priest and really, really disliking it, like I had never disliked an instance before. It was all the more pronounced since all the other WOTLK dungeons I had run up to that point had been amazingly beautiful and fun, with massive improvements compared to what we had in BC. And then this? Are you kidding me?

(Just for completeness sake it has to be mentioned that there is also a small minority who absolutely loves the Oculus. Yes, I'm looking at you, Ferâthü. However, I've never met anyone who simply felt neutral about the instance. I think that says a lot about the place too.)

Recently I decided that I wanted to work on getting the Champion of the Frozen Wastes title for my two level 80 alts, so I'm currently focusing on running five-mans with them more often. Today Oculus was both the normal and the heroic daily and since I knew I wouldn't stand a chance to get a guild group going I decided to pug it.

I was pleasantly surprised. Sure, we had a few wipes in both groups, but on the whole things went smoothly. My hunter's party even managed to one-shot Eregos, which is something that I'd never seen before. To be fair, my server is quite old and the average player's skill more than decent, but I was still pleasantly surprised. Was this really the same place that I despised so much on my first attempts that I vowed to never go there again?

Some players have theorised that the reason that Oculus is so universally hated is that people just don't like vehicle fights and want to control their own character all the time. I have my doubts about that theory, especially with the way people fight over who gets to control the spiders on Mimiron trash...

I think that, at least for me personally, the main reason I disliked Oculus were the many, many wipes I had on Eregos early on without understanding what was really going on due to the vehicles. After almost three years of playing WoW I generally have a pretty good idea of all classes' core abilities and their roles and when something goes wrong in a five-man it's usually not that hard to tell what went wrong: tank didn't taunt, dps didn't interrupt a spell, healer was out of range etc. Conversely, I still don't know what exactly a ruby drake does, other than "tank, sort of", and I'm pretty sure that very few people (even if they are good players otherwise) know all the different abilities of all three drakes and when exactly they should be used. Not that the whole thing is extremely complicated or anything, but if you've never done it before it can still take some getting used to. So you wipe. And wipe again. And nobody really knows what's going wrong because they aren't exactly sure what should be happening either. And you wipe some more. Oh god, the memories... It's like learning the whole game all over again just for one dungeon.

But in both of my pugs today, everybody knew the instance. They knew what the dragon's abilities were all about and discussed the strategies accordingly. ("Make sure to always use time stop when he enrages.") And wham, bam, things died while we didn't. Mostly. And if something didn't work, we at least knew why.

So, next time someone asks for more people to join their Oculus run, I'll at least consider it. Though I still could do without all that clunky mounting up and dismounting again. Maybe in the next expansion.

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