For years, raiding in MMOs has involved getting large groups of people together to overcome complex challenges and boss fights. Each member had a set job that they had to fulfill to the best of their classes ability or else they could lose their spot and their chance at loot and progression. As one would imagine, this often times led to intense competition for raid spots. It wasn’t uncommon for players to take part in small portions of raids, only to be replaced when a better option came along.

Due to the amount of people required (anywhere from 10 to over 40) raids would commonly take place in the evening when most players would be home from work and have their family obligations taken care of for the night.It wasn’t unusual for raid encounters to last upwards of four hours each, too, so these dungeon runs would frequently last until the wee hours of the morning.

Needless to say, a lot of players have become tired of the competition, drama, and lack of sleep that usual guild-based raiding would generally bring. The structure of raiding as a whole lended itself to these things and forced many players to weigh out the pros and cons to participating.

Some players enjoyed it, however, and they certainly deserve mention. I’ve gone back and forth on whether or not I think traditional raiding should be included in WAR. In a previous post, I even mentioned that I thought it would hurt WAR in comparison to WoW to go without it. Since then though, I’ve realized something: WAR doesn’t do away with raiding, it largely redefines it.

In my mind, there are three defining characteristics to raiding as we currently know it: it requires a lot of people generally in a guild or alliance, the encounters are more challenging, and they take more time than standard dungeon runs. In WAR, things aren’t quite the same.

Dungeons, as they are now, only require six players to complete; however, open world dungeons allow additional players in the trash mob areas. Now, one would think that having only six players in a group would mean that all of the dungeons are the equivalent to WoW’s five mans but this isn’t so for all dungeons. It’s been said that the Lost Vale, an end game dungeon and (I believe) culmination to players PvE endeavors, will require significant coordination and strategy to be able to complete. What I’ve read into this is that the dungeon will be *hard*. It won’t just be any PuG that’s able to complete it.

Yes, I’m speculating – but doesn’t it make sense? What WAR has done more so than most other MMOs on the market is make every aspect of the game more accessible to the average gamer. It’s difficult to get to get 10 people together, let alone 40, to complete a raid and in many circumstances, large scale raiding pushes guilds into a more rigid organizational structure; time demands are placed on players moreso than in casual guilds. By scaling down the amount of people required to complete an end game dungeon, they’re giving everyone a better shot at seeing all the content the game has to offer.

That doesn’t mean everyone will be able to complete it.

Now, some players would argue that a six person group doesn’t equate to the same level of epicness a 10-40 person raid would and that six person raiding would be more like “raid-lite”. I suppose in a way, this could be true but I believe that that’s a somewhat pessimistic assessment. Epicness in a dungeon encounter can be created in other ways too. Epic story arcs, grandiose environments, skillfully scripted and challenging encounters can also create that epic feel. I would argue that these ideas about having a certain amount of required players to create “epic” is just a preconceived MMO notion that could well be broken. After all, WoW was able to create that feeling in pre-BC simply by having huge sprawling dungeons. BRD comes to mind. Hell, even single players games have been able to do it.

This increased accessibility will also make it possible to get into the end-game before mid to late evening. In WoW, it could be a challenge to get a group for Kara, or any other raid, during the daytime. You were pretty much stuck doing heroics or five mans unless you could get a spot with a daytime raiding guild (and those filled up quick, believe me). In WAR, this won’t be too much of an issue. With less people required, it will be all the easier to set up a group, guild or PuG, any time of the day. PuGs may have a harder time completing the content, unless they’re well read with the encounters, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

That brings me to another important point though, six man raids also means that you don’t have to be in a guild to succeed. You could PuG yourself all the way to the end if you wanted. Now, guilds will always have the advantage, of course, but you, as the player, have the freedom to choose without being limited in what you can achieve. In my opinion, that’s smart game design.

In the world of six man raiding, we’ll still see some of the unfortunate side effects we’ve seen in other games. With less people, choosing appropriate classes will be all the more important. In a ten man raid, if one person was off the ball, you could still function at 90% capacity. With six people, if one person messes up you’re down to 83.3% and that’s enough to determine whether you live or die. Depending on how the encounters turn out, it may also be necessary to switch out players mid-run too. All of this is counteracted, however, by the simple fact that requiring less people in each group means that it will be easier to set up additional runs. If you get replaced, that’s okay because you very well may be able to get another group in short order anyways. Would it be frustrating? Sure, of course it would, but by making dungeons more accessible Mythic has made it so that you’re not necessarily done for the night if your first run doesn’t work out. So don’t be afraid to grab those boot straps and pull yourself over to that next group, even if it’s a PuG.

WAR has done a wonderful job of opening up the game to every player that wants to enjoy it. They want us to interact with each other, not just solo through it all, and they don’t want us to be tied down by precedents other games have set. Whether or not WAR turns out to be like I’ve theorized at launch, it’s almost inevitable that it will become like that in time. Raiders want challenge and Mythic would be silly not to give them their PvE fill. It will take time for MMO gamers to get used to big changes like this and not everyone will accept it. Slowly but surely, though, we’ll all come to see that just because we know something as it has always been doesn’t mean that it can’t be changed for the better.