GW2’s Tequatl Rising, AKA Boss Week, is here. The star attraction is the undead dragon of Spatkfly Fen, Tequatl the Sunless, but formerly known as Piñata The Lootless because, like most of the world bosses, the encounter had become a routine of turn up, turn on auto-attack, and then bitch about the contents of the reward chest.
No longer. There’s been a general upgrade pass on the world bosses, but old TQ in particular has been turned into a proper raid encounter, of the “Jesus H Christ, we wiped bad, how the hell are we ever going to beat this?” variety. The couple of (outside peak hours) attempts I’ve taken part in on Gandara have managed to get the lizard down to about 97% health before the 15 minute timer ran out. That’s down TO 97%, not BY 97% – apparently the prime time attempts have gone better but we’ve not had our server first kill yet. I don’t think it’s impossible, but we need to get to the point where most of the players understand that the encounter mechanics are not optional. That’s second nature to anyone who has been a raider, but I think this encounter is making it clearer than ever that raiders are a small minority of MMO players. ArenaNet have challenged their player base to raise their game, rather than have all open world content dumbed down to the spoon-feeding level. We’ll have to see how that goes.
The other bosses haven’t been ramped up to anything like the same level of difficulty, but they aren’t exactly snooze-fests now. The encounters now have timers they must be completed within (15 minutes in most cases), the health totals have been increased to counter the way zergs make some of them melt like ice cubes on a barbecue (I’m looking at YOU, Svanir Shaman) and some damaging mechanics have been upgraded from minor annoyances to “move or die, fool!” Last night I managed to visit the Thaumanova Fire Elemental, Inquest Golem and Mt Maelstrom Megadestroyer events. All three were completed successfully, although the timer got fairly low on the elemental and golem, and there were a lot of folks downed and defeated in the process.
The key question to ask is, do we actually WANT a bunch of world bosses that fight back? Bhagpuss isn’t convinced although in fairness to him that’s because he enjoys a more mellow and relaxed experience, and not because he’s a cheap-ass loot farmer who is indignant at having to actually work for his shinies. There will be plenty of indignant cheap-asses out there, though. There will also be dedicated soloers who hate having any dev time spent on group content, and there will be people genuinely frustrated that this is ‘too hard’ because with the whole bell curve of ability out there, wherever you draw the line it will be too hard for some people and not challenging enough for others. On the other hand, some of us relish a challenge and enjoy working with others. Having harder massive content creates opportunities for leaders to emerge, and working together (as opposed to simply turning up en masse to collect a hand-out) builds communities… if only the players rise to the challenge rather than shunning it as not worth the collective effort. As I said above, we’ll have to see how that goes.