Attitudes to Raiding in 5.0

No matter how long you've been involved in MMOs in general, the concept of Raids shouldn't be a stranger to you. The toughest content requiring decent groups to clear the hardest difficulties has blessed or plagued MMO culture for years now, and SWtOR is of course no different.

What is changing nowadays is the general feel and attitude towards this type of content in SWtOR, and not just from the player-base.

Since Nightmare Dread Fortress and Dread Palace launched, there has been a noticeable slow steady decline of 'raid interest', which was only heightened in 3.0 when we only had SM and HM Ravagers and Temple of Sacrifice as 'proper' raids with nothing else bar the Colossal Monolith (which very few people consider to be an 'actual raid') being brought out during this time.

4.0 and 5.0 have both elicited very similar responses. Although every Operation was scaled to the highest level, thus meaning that there was far more to do than just one or two Ops, veterans can't help but feel that they're trapped in a never-ending cycle of 'sameness'. Command XP hasn't helped with this in the slightest given that Operations drop no actual loot and, presently, are a somewhat inefficient way of getting CXP compared to PvP and Uprisings.

BioWare hasn't helped matters much; they're constantly stringing people along on the potential mere implication that maybe there will be Operations simply because they aren't 'allowed' to talk about the future until they consider the time to be right.

All of the above raises a very serious question: is there a 'correct' attitude to raiding in 5.0?


I have to say that I think the answer is very much a case of "depends on the people". You can have the most charismatic group composition possible and still only be able to do Story Modes. Similarly, you can have a very hostile and exclusive group which can clear the harder content and be unwilling to take any new players on board because they'll cramp their style or something like that.

Because 5.0's raiding environment is the exact same as 4.0's, this in many ways makes it less bearable for many people. Not only has Command XP replaced the actual gear from Operation bosses, but people who cleared the content in 4.0 have got to clear it in the exact same difficulties all over again. At least for 4.0, clearing the older Ops which were boosted to 65 presented something of an interesting challenge even for grizzled veterans given that it had been years since some Operations were relevant, and mechanics couldn't just be blitzed through as they could previously.

Unless it's Torque, in which case it could have been blitzed through without worrying about mechanics so quickly that the popular Parser StarParse renders the fight as being too short.

Raiders who keep raiding in 5.0 can thus be seen as either masochistic, persistent, or clinging to a lost cause, depending on what your own point-of-view is. We're masochists because we keep wiping on the same bosses over and over, we're persistent because we keep going back to stuff we've already done, and we're clinging on to a lost cause because obviously BioWare is never going to release a fabled new Operation.

That last sentence is not my personal view of the situation; it's just hypothetical "from the perspective of..." fluff.

Attitude is thus very important. Granted, 5.0 being less bearable than 4.0 has started driving away people because the sameness is getting to them even more now; I understand that. Again, this all depends on the player.

A player who views Operations as "just things to do" likely has little investment in the repetitive nature if they're continually killing things. If the content can be cleared, that's great, it's done, move on to the next. These people are also the most likely to attempt bosses for several hours, even going into late nights and early mornings.

A player who views Operations as "hanging out with friends" then they're more likely to overlook the repetitive nature entirely, since they put their friendships first. Admittedly, this does then lead to a chain reaction if enough of the player's friends leave and the replacement members just don't give off the same vibe. How many people have we seen say "I'm leaving the game because my friends/guild have stopped playing..." in the past months?

A player who views Operations as their main interest in the game is the most at-risk of calling it quits, since once more there's nothing new to tide them over and there's no more fun in killing anything that's been killed many times before. Increased challenge is one thing, but the "same-old, same-old" feeling towards the details and mechanics of the fights are something else entirely.

Finally, we have the idealistic up-and-comer. Realistically, a healthy raiding guild does need a decent number of these to replace the more-established old-timers when they eventually and inevitably do leave, but the problem is right now that there are very few incentives for these new players to get involved in Operations in the first place. Sure, you do get multiple CXP packs per Operation, but if all these players get involved in per night is one Story Mode, then proportionately they will receive more for indulging in several PvP matches or Uprisings instead (if you do any Story Mode Operation with 5 bosses you'll presently get roughly 2,070 CXP, which is the equivalent of at least 4 PvP matches or 2 Veteran Uprisings).

Again, this is what made 4.0's Priority Ops system so useful; it provided incentive for people who had never raided before to start raiding since they'd have a chance to get some of the best gear from doing it. 5.0 provides more ways to get gear, sure, but there are very few reasons why Operations should be a serious focus for 'casual' players.

Another problem with 5.0 and how it 'sits' in relation to the previous expansions, and particularly 4.0, is that a lot of people are just so used to doing Story Mode once and then heading straight into Hard Mode or even Nightmare Mode with the top-tier gear they earned the previous expansion without much by way of upgrades. In the past, this was fine since a player in this situation who knew what they were doing could cope fine, but since 5.0 has tuned its bosses in harder instances to actually be hard, DPS checks are a fair bit harder to reach for these players now.

Sure, there is a good number of guilds out there which have found ways to clear the hardest content already; whether they're buying 240 mods and enhancements, cheesing everything like hell (look at all the Commandos and Shadows abusing their new reflect potential, for example), or just actually doing everything 'right' and meeting every check, there are clearly ways to advance. It's just a matter of finding them.

This last point applies to whomever wishes to dedicate their guilds to raiding. There are multiple options open, it just depends on what those people who are interested in raiding feel like at the time.

The final thing to touch on is Command XP. Right now, doing as many bosses of whichever difficulties you feel like works well because you can currently only get gear from CXP, so farming it means that you get gear quicker. However, in 5.1, this will change, and gear will once again drop from Operations.

It may only be random up until the final boss, but if enough bosses are done within the week, and particularly mainly in Story Mode, I can see a lot of people getting disinterested with the whole farm; not only are Command Tokens going to be very easy to acquire across your entire Legacy, but the 'law' of instant gratification almost dictates that if people can just get their gear instantly from Operations they're not going to focus that much on the CXP farm itself. Yes, you can still get gear from the Command Crates, but this won't matter to someone who has their eyes set on that one final boss which drops the piece they still need.

The good news is that this should provide a decent incentive for more casual players to look to Operations. Well, decent compared to what there is right now. We'll have to wait and see.


My own raiding history has been somewhat irregular, but it has provided me with a decent amount of experience and insight, something which I believe a lot of people tend to gloss over when it comes to forming groups.

I seriously got into raiding roughly the time that Dread Fortress and Dread Palace came out. I'd dabbled in several raids before that, but never regularly largely because I was on a server which had a timezone directly in contrast to mine own and thus could only rarely get involved until late 2013 because apparently going to University means that early-morning gaming is an okay thing to do.

This guild was an experienced raiding guild; it had cleared EC NiM and up to TFB and Styrak in S&V and TFB NiM, but of course HM DF and DP meant that people could outgear the previous NiMs so they rarely got a look-in since these two raids launched, as I'm sure was the case with several guilds at the time.

By the time that DF and DP launched, the guild was not using multiple set teams, but was using a single group consisting of ten or so regulars who signed up on Enjin and the group was decided on the day. It made for a fun experience since not only could we clear the content but we didn't have much precedent to see it as anything but a group of friends just having fun since there was never anything serious about it.

Then NiM DF and DP launched. By this time, we had merged with another guild which actually did have multiple set teams, and we were distributed between them accordingly.

I don't know exactly what happened, but this seemed to cause a lot of issues pretty quickly. There were frequent personality clashes, inconsistent schedules, and we had various people come and go; I want to say that we recruited six or seven people over the months only to lose all but one (who himself left in 3.0 but rejoined when somebody who he didn't get on with moved on to another guild; in truth, I don't think he was the only one who had an issue with this individual) within three weeks of joining for various reasons.

It didn't help that several people from our own pre-merge guild - including the GM, from whom I learned a fair amount of Gunslinger tricks - left the game at this point, citing their boredom with there only being DF and DP 'to do' after over half a year.

Point is, it wasn't a fun time. I don't know if it was the transition from doing things moderately casually to doing things relatively hardcore and serious which did it, the frustration at losing so many people which did it, or just the fact that each of the new groups were all so different to what the majority of us were used to which did it.

It also didn't help that no group managed to best Brontes, whilst only one made any serious headway into NiM DP, managing to down Bestia and Tyrans once each.

I myself unfortunately had to leave the guild's runs shortly after 3.0 because I realised that it playing as I had been was being detrimental to my health, a decision I do often regret because I did make a fair few friends in both guilds. I moved on to join an Australian guild which did run things at a time that I could make, and this move cemented my enjoyment of raiding.

There was a lot of camaraderie between each member of the guild (so much so that the usual 'best friends always insult each other' facade existed between the two main groups), but both groups could actually clear a lot of the current content. Indeed, Hard Mode Revan fell to both groups halfway through 2015, which unfortunately caused a lot of people to lose interest (beyond various Dread Master title runs), whilst Coratanni was also downed by several people (although only one group themselves killed it as an eight-man group, one large sixteen-man group was formed on the fly by someone who was slightly intoxicated which somehow managed to clear it in one shot).

So there we have three examples from Harbinger; the 'casual hardcore' guild which has fun because it is running raids which aren't set in actual groups yet still clearing the content, the 'hardcore' guild which is running raids in actual set groups yet almost falls apart because various things just go wrong and thus people aren't having fun, and the 'hardcore' guild which is both having fun and clearing the content.

Since moving to The Red Eclipse, I've been involved in raiding with two guilds. The first was a hardcore progression guild, and I found pretty quickly that I just didn't fit in with them at all. They're a good guild, don't get me wrong, but I just felt that it wasn't the right place for me because of their general attitude and black sense of humour.

The second is the one I'm in currently. Similarly to the third guild I got involved with on Harbinger, it ran content in multiple set groups and was able to clear a good portion of the game's hardest content (I saw NiM EC was cleared entirely, NiM S&V up to Styrak, and HM Ravagers up to Master and Blaster in my time raiding with them in 4.0). Admittedly, we spent a lot longer on Master and Blaster HM than we should have done, but nonetheless it was another case of clearing content and having fun in the process.

Now, with 5.0, we're seeing the potential need to change. People are coming and going, or giving vague answers to what their plans are, so we can't really plan all that much. All we know is that we don't have enough people to run two set teams with, but then where does that leave us?

Is it a case whereby we run with one set group? The issue with this is that at the start of 5.0 we have had several people (at most sixteen at the time, with no room for backups) interested and capable of running Hard Modes, and eventually NiMs as well, so if we did 'set' one group with at least two backups this was at most six people who'd be disappointed, which obviously was never going to work.

Is it a case whereby we just go 'semi-casual', as in continue the present situation of seeing who's online from the group of (now) eleven-or-so regulars and go from there? This is fine, but then the issue comes if an 'unofficial' set team is formed from the 'most capable' of these players which is selected to experiment and clear untested content, since this could well make people feel excluded if they're mainly selected to go on other pre-tested Hard Mode runs.

Or is it finally a case whereby we just go 'full casual', have open sign-ups, and don't focus much on Hard and Nightmare Modes at all? This will allow for potential new/returning/'casual' players and raiders to get involved whilst still having fun and clearing the content, but at the cost of potentially not attracting the correct number of regular HM/NiM-ready attendees to get it kickstarted in the first place.

It can't be denied that when debating this question one has to ask exactly what groups may be formed from each of the above options, and in my view the 'worst' options for change can be seen to be one of the two extremes. A semi-casual-turned-hardcore 'set' group could become too competitive and ambitious, and round on every little perceived mistake, thus driving people away and inevitably dying, whilst a semi-casual-turned-true-casual group could become far too apathetic and potentially wither away and die.

At least a flexible semi-casual, yet still familiar, group should be able to switch out members whilst still being able to indulge in some of the more challenging content. We've only hit a few roadblocks where our DPS or survivability isn't up-to-scratch so far (DPS-wise it's Firebrand/Stormcaller and Styrak HM, survivability-wise it's Raptus HM), no matter who's in the group at the time, which is nice.

Unfortunately over-ambition has begun infecting certain members. We haven't even managed to clear all the Hard Modes yet (which we're going to need to be able to do in 5.1 to get the most guaranteed gear out of the system) and already there's talk of trying various bosses in the hardest difficulty, based on how our DPS output theoretically sits against other groups which are clearing these things.

Could just be my over-cautious self speaking here, but I'm not a huge fan of over-stepping boundaries without making sure we can cross the others comfortably first.

That said, this debate - combined with all other debates which have happened across the years regarding raids - is really quite interesting, since it does reveal a lot about players and their expectations. It's certainly been making me wonder what my own true attitude towards the activity is, and I certainly wouldn't be posting this if the debate hadn't been making me think thus.


It's a question which does require a lot of insight to answer even adequately. In my view, there simply is no correct way to run Operations in 5.0.

If I had to pick my favourite way of running Ops from all the guilds I've been in, it's the very first; running the content with a group of regulars, thus keeping things familiar, but never actually setting the group in stone, since I've had enough bad experience with the 'seriousness' of set groups getting to people's heads to last me for a good while yet.

This 'seriousness' is even affecting people in my present guild at the moment; I've seen people round on others or go behind their backs and talk to other players about their concerns about the perceived 'weak links', which obviously doesn't result in good fallout if word leaks out.

Of course, I've never been one for "too much" variety anyway. I'm an absolute stickler for trying to keep as many things as familiar and yet as fun as possible. I know I'm not alone in this, but sometimes the ambitious voices overpower the realistic voices in this regard.

I just find it amusing that, having started raiding one way and having gone through various guilds which did 'serious' progression raiding, I may now once again be seeing the 'semi-casual' raiding method once again. I don't mind this in the slightest, however, since I did really enjoy that time.

1 comment:

  1. The Nickster13/01/2017, 13:31

    I'm a filthy casual now, but I led raids back in the day. I've been in the situation where we had 12 people for a 10 man raid. Even if your guild got along before you had to pick your favorites, they wont' get along AFTER you pick your favorites!

    Raids that scale up would be such a game changer. I might still be raiding if we could just take all 12. Also, I wonder if SWTOR needs lockouts anymore. Lockouts were a system to prevent you farming the "current" operation for the best gear. Now that all ops are "current", and all ops will be dropping random gear pieces in 5.1, do we still need it? If there were no lockouts, then you could have a "core" ops team that runs multiple times with different guildies, so everybody gets a piece of the action.

    As for those guildies that want to go hardcore NOW, remind them that 5.1 will provide the first catch up mechanics, and gear holes will get patched fast from there.