Which Difficulty is Artificial and Which Is Real

510 words.

I see a lot of people on Neverwinter forums complain about the “artificial difficulty” added to boss encounters. The argument they use is that bosses aren’t difficult to kill, but the adds that spawn make it difficult to focus on the boss, so this was a cheap and lazy way for Cryptic to “artificially” make boss encounters hard.

This logic makes no sense to me.

Most of my instance experience comes from Rift, but I’m led to believe it is typical of what you might find in other raids and dungeons like from, say, WoW. Usually there is a boss which has some “mechanic” that makes it more difficult than just standing there pouring DPS into it. For example, it has a big cleave that will kill anything in the way, or it will drop a bomb that must be focused or the group will wipe, or there are lasers on the ground that you have to avoid, or sometimes you have to stop DPS so it doesn’t reflect back on you, or something like that.

Now I’m sure those things are difficult when you first run into them, but for the most part, once you’ve seen it, it’s basically the same every time. And then 50 people will write how-to guides that you can Google, and then 50 people will record YouTube videos, and then 50 people will write Boss Mods which basically tell you on the screen when you need to move out of the way. So apparently “real difficulty” is something that you need to memorize once and then repeat ad nauseum. And by the way if it weren’t for that mechanic, everyone would simply stand in a circle and pew-pew at the boss until it died.

Whereas with Neverwinter, you can hit any encounter cold and know how to succeed. There’s no “mechanic” you need to memorize beforehand. Stay out of big red circles unless you’re a tank, and focus down targets. That’s pretty much it. The thing is, it’s not easy to *do* that in practice. You have to keep moving around. You have to keep re-acquiring your targets. You have to watch your health. You have to constantly re-evaluate the situation and decide where to attack, or who needs your help. The only way to improve in a Neverwinter boss fight is to practice the fight. Whereas the best way to improve in a traditional MMO boss fight is to - read and memorize the “dance steps” beforehand.

Lair of the Mad Dragon is a great example. I’ve attempted the final boss about thirteen times now. If it were any other MMO, I would expect to be able to Google something that tells me how to beat it. What I find instead are many different stories and videos from people who did it many different ways with different group compositions. There’s nothing that says, “Oh, you just stand here and you’ll beat Chortlefax every time.”

So it seems to me that, if anything, the traditional boss mechanic is more artificial than what Neverwinter does.

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