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Optional boss modes making a comeback in Mists of Pandaria?

Kaivax hit the forums to answer a player's question about Ulduar and talk about the fondness the dungeon has retained amongst the playerbase and where the optional boss modes have gone. Back during the first half of Wrath of the Lich King, "choose your own difficulty" encounters and in-fight hard mode triggers were staples of the encounters in Ulduar and the Obsidian Sanctum. When Trial of the Crusader launched, Blizzard implemented the UI-based difficulty toggle. Players have expressed desire to return to the old days, feeling that the toggle method is just too robotic when encounters could be designed around cool difficulty-swap mechanics. In his post, Kaivax hints that the design teams are thinking about bringing back these mechanics for some fights in the upcoming expansion, Mists of Pandaria.

Rather than selecting a normal or hard mode toggle before pulling an encounter, Ulduar raid groups were tasked with completing different objectives during the encounter or defeating the boss mechanics in a different order to activate hard mode. Famously, players would press a large red button behind Mimiron labelled "DO NOT PUSH THIS BUTTON," activating the encounter and a rather angry Titanic watcher. Other fights during Wrath of the Lich King such as Freya and Sartharion featured a "choose your own difficulty" mechanic wherein the player's choices before the encounter increased or decreased the boss' overall difficulty. Harder combinations of abilities would yield more impressive items.

Will Mists of Pandaria bring back our beloved "choose your difficulty" encounters and in-fight hard mode triggers? I know I'd like to get another Sartharion-style encounter, especially with mount rewards like the original provided.

Read the full blue post behind the break below.


Optional Boss Modes Making a Return in MoP?
What a coincidence! We happened to talk about raid design and results with Ghostcrawler and Mumper yesterday, and everyone looked back fondly on Ulduar, among others.

Yes, the same designers and artists who worked on Ulduar are still working on raids.

Here's the thing -- Ulduar is an example of a raid where lots of players got to enjoy the first few bosses, and very few players ever saw the last few. Yogg Saron and Algalon were among the least-killed bosses ever, and not because they were exceedingly difficult. Rather, clearing the dungeon all the way to Yogg took up a big chunk of a raiding week (and you only had an hour to kill Algalon), and the ability to extend raid lockouts came later in 3.2.0 (but extending raid lockouts means getting less loot overall). Raid Finder partially resolves the length-of-raid problem, so we can consider designing longer raids, but that's not always an easy call. Long raids mean longer development time, and while some players might be willing to wait, we understand why others might get impatient.

Of course, having multiple raids in a tier (like the combination of Bastion of Twilight and Blackwing Descent) has the advantage of giving players different environments to play in while potentially making scheduling and logistics easier.

Pushing a big red button for Mimiron was very cool, and again is fondly remembered. We have created something like 40 raid bosses since the creation of those encounters however, and we cant help but think that it would start to feel really gimmicky and forced if every raid encounter had its difficulty set by pushing a button, (or not killing adds, or changing the order you kill the bosses, or the other mechanics we used in Ulduar). We think Mimiron would feel less special if there were six more bosses in the game with big red buttons, and we're just not sure the design space is there to have a near infinite variety of means by which players launch a heroic mode in game.

Nonetheless, because there are so many requests for those style mechanics, we are considering doing a few bosses with optional modes (in the same way Mimiron, Freya or Sartharion had them) in Mists of Pandaria.


World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria is the next expansion, raising the level cap to 90, introducing a brand new talent system, and bringing forth the long-lost pandaren race to both Horde and Alliance. Check out the trailer and follow us for all the latest MoP news!

Filed under: Raiding, Wrath of the Lich King, Mists of Pandaria

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