Raiding in WoW remains the best way to get gear. At level 80 there are very few options for players to improve their end game besides Raiding, Heroic Dungeons, and PvP. This is what the world’s premiere MMO has given us. Leveling through the game, which now is more of an annoyance than anything else, to get to 80 and then you have these three options. Raiding has become elite. The top players and guilds now work through dungeons on Hard mode to get the best items for their characters. Warcraft added in the Achievements with Lich King to give players a new sense of accomplishment in the game. When they designed the system did they ever think it would be used to keep players out of top raids? Have WoW’s achievements made the game even more elite than before? Or has Blizzard created a system to get the best players to work together?
Pick up groups are tough to deal with. Nothing is worse than when your pick up group falls apart on the first boss because people cannot play. Every player has been through this in some form. Guilds form and fall apart because of this simple fact, learn to play. Yet, PUGs are what MMOs should be all about. Looking for players online to run adventures together to gain glory and gear is at the heart of the MMO philosophy. While PUGs can be incredibly frustrating, it is still great when you find a good one and crush a dungeon.
In running PUGs for the last few months I was able to get enough heroic gear to do Naxx 10. I am ready to go, and every group I try to get into says please link Achievement. I have never been there. My DPS is up to par, my equipment is solid, and yet, I am told no because I have not done the dungeon yet. Do I get mad? Of course. Do I understand why I am not able to join? Yes. Knowing the raid fights in WoW goes a long way. You can read all the guides you want, but until a boss fight starts for the first time, it can be tough to figure out. For a while I was out of the Raids because of my lack of Achievement. I did get the Achievements eventually and am happily raiding now.
Game developers put ideas out there and never truly know how they will work in the context of the players. Achievements in WoW are a social badge of accomplishment. I defeated Ulduar on Hard mode without taking a point of damage. Well, that is damn cool. Yet, now you can use that against other players. Your guild can say, sorry we’re only recruiting players with certain achievements. There is nothing wrong with this system, but it does divide players.
Imagine being told you cannot play in a Magic: The Gathering tournament because you don’t have the Power Nine in your deck. That is an extreme example, however it does prove a point, when does a social game design element become a bad thing? Does the Achievement system alienate players? While no one likes to be told they cannot join the cool kickball team, I do agree that nothing is worse than failing on a raid. When I join a raid I like knowing that everyone is capable and can play their classes correctly.
Overall I do not think Achievements being used to form better pick up groups is a bad thing. I definitely see the point of the players. I just wonder if there is a better system out there which is designed to help newer players who are geared properly get into raids for the first time. The guild system can work in this way but most elite guilds only recruit top players, they don’t want noobs. Yet, why not offer rewards for guilds who recruit and help new players on raids, achievements, and gear etc. Imagine a system where your guild can gain access to top epic loot by simply helping out new players. Why not give players achievements for recruitment so that when a new raider completes a dungeon, the whole guild gains rewards.
My point is, WoW has created a great system with achievements, but can they make it better for the social aspect of the game. Can they offer rewards and achievements for recruitment, casual play, or helping other players. Some MMOs have tried to do this system with leveling, but never in a way that can change the social aspects of the game entirely. Who knows maybe one day your epic drops won’t come from a boss, but from the fact that you included a few new friends on a raid.