Theo’s Thoughts #30: Looking Back on Tier 15

Today, World of Warcraft’s Facebook page released a teaser-photo saying that patch 5.2 will be coming to the PTR in early January. With this patch, among other things, will be Tier 15, the second raiding tier of Mists of Pandaria. With the next tier’s release on the horizon, I feel it is a good time to reflect back on Tier 14. It was definitely a solid tier of raids.

The first thing that stands out is that it engages players in multiple stories, making them feel even more involved in the happenings of Pandaria. This is achieved by having three full raids instead of just one. Now, this is not something new, as the past expansions also had three raids at release. However, this tier does a much better job of making the raids seeming more important. In Wrath of the Lich King, we had three raids, yet two of them only had one boss, and the last one was just a re-hashed version of a level sixty raid. Though they were fun, it was not a very engaging tier. Cataclysm did a little better of a job having three raids, two of which had multiple bosses. Yet, raiding in general in Cataclysm did not really feel engaging. All of the end bosses were just lieutenants of Deathwing; there was really only one story the whole expansion. Deathwing. On the other hand, Mists of Pandaria had a much better feel to it, as all three raids were their own separate stories. However, they still led into each other in a way that makes since. At the end of the Heart of Fear, we defeat the Mantid, but find the Sha of Fear, who we then chase to the Terrace of Endless Spring. This sort of leading makes the tier seem like a cohesive piece, while each still holds its separate stories.

The encounters themselves were also designed great. Though some bosses had mechanics that everyone has seen a million times over, many of them gave us new mechanics, or new twists on old mechanics. This helped make the tier feel even more new and exciting. Furthermore, The way that item levels differed from one raid to another was also interesting. It made the tier feel like it had an actual progression to it, something that many players say they miss from Burning Crusade raiding.

Overall, Blizzard did a pretty good job with this tier of raiding. Though there were some rough spots with how it was released, with many bosses needing hot fixes after release, the experience was definitely smoothed out eventually. It was quite a breath of fresh air to have this expansion. It was new and exciting, in both the mechanics, and how the story involved players into the world of Pandaria. With a new tier on the horizon, hopes are high that Blizzard continues with making Tier 15 just as good, if not better.