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The casual raider?

November 29, 2011

I do not consider myself a raider. Raiding endgame in games like World of Warcraft, EQ2 and a number of other games has never interested me. Yet, but one definition of raid, I have raided 7 times in the past week and 8 times in the weekend before that.

Most of the time when raids and raiding are being brought and discussed in terms of game features, especially new games – then the definition seems to be “content experienced by more than 1 team”.  This is also the definition by which I have raided 15 times in the past 10 days.

However, it is a bit silly definition IMHO. Games with small team sizes, like World of Warcraft, have  raids with 10 people it seems. This is only slightly smaller than the regular team sizes of for example Guild Wars and City of Heroes, who have a team size of 8. In the old days of Star Wars Galaxies, you could have up to 20 persons in a team.

More correctly raiding seems to be about a lot of things besides the size fo the whole group, in particular when you read people’s comments about good and bad things about raiding in various games. It is never really about the number of people per se, at least when it comes to complaints, but rather the consequences of trying to execute or do things according to certain patterns with a larger group.  It may also be about the way your efforts are rewarded and the time needed for it.

Similar to that MMO for many has a lot more context into its definition into it than just a lof of players playing the same game online, I think raids also carry a lot of implicit context for many what it actually is.

The raids I play are, I think, probably fairly different beasts from raiders in other games consider raids. For me, the “raids” are all in City of Heroes and they are:

  • Zone and seasonal events – Rikti Invasions, Zombie attacks etc
  • Giant Monster fights
  • A few specific events & trials – Rikti Mothership raid, Hamidon raid, Cathedral of Pain trial
  • Incarnate trials

Zone/seasonal events and giant monster fights do not have to be raid sized – you can do them at any size combination pretty much, although you likely need a certain amount of people to be successful. Trials typically have some size limits, as they are instanced rather than in the outdoor zones.

For the outdoor ones they usually work that the more people, the merrier. Goals are simple typically and rewards perhaps more geared towards badges/ackomplishments rather than “über loot”.

The trials have more structure to them and perhaps a bit more challenge as well, although probably quite simple compared to any devoted raiding in some other games.

Gathering for an Incarnate Trial run in Pocket D

While I cannot speak for how it works on all servers, I am fairly happy with the way these work on my main server, Defiant.  There are nothing similar to raiding guild, but it is rather handled as server wide events and activities. Someone starts to organize it and gather interested people and off they go.

For the most part is it mainly about whoever is interested, rather than specific builds and specific number of certain archetypes or roles. The roles and capabilities are not unimportant, but the spirit is more about getting people together for some fun rather than optimizing the teams in certain ways.

Doing a trial generally means a mix of people – some are old veterans, other maty be doing a trial or raid for the first time and there may be all sorts in between as well. The good raid leaders (or league leaders, as “raids” are called leagues int he game) and experienced player do take time to explain what should and should not be done for the less experienced ones.

For Incarnate Trials everyone gets some drops/loot/rewards and there is nothing to roll for. A successful and well-executed trial will provide more rewards, but generally no-one will walk away with nothing regardless of the outcome.

Theya re also rather short in time, compared to some other games. I have done trials that lasted maybe 15 minutes and was pretty much fun-packed most of the way – very little dead-time or “trash” activities. Rikti Mothership raids belong perhaps to the ones that take the most time of those that I do regularly and that amounts to about an hour.

What I also like about those trials and events on my main server is that people are generally quite civil and courteous to other players – thanking everyone for teaming together afterwards, thanking however was running the trial/raid for taking the effort to lead it. It also happens that people get praised for doing good support/heal if they have been focusing on that – even if a trial failed if they had put good effort into it.

Taking out turret defenses in Lambda Sector Trial

If there are any complaints then it may be that there are too few of these trials, it can get repetitive. Also, since it is not a high-population server there may sometimes be challenges with getting enough interest for a certain event/trial/raid, at least when someone tries to organize something on-the-fly.

Technically there is a kind of match-making tool in the game for the Incarnate Trials primarily, called the Team-Up Teleporter. In theory it lets you queue up for a trial and when there is enough people it will automatically teleport everyone into the trial instance from wherever they are.

I say in theory, because at least for a somewhat low-population server as Defiant, the tool is pretty much flawed. You cannot be in a queue if you are play in an instanced mission and with like City of Heroes which is heavily instanced – you end up not being able to do much at all while you are in queue. So instead people set up for these trials the old-fashioned way through the global chat channels and when there are enough people gathered, then the leader enters the queue with the whole league.

I am pretty ok with that leagues are formed this way, because it becomes more social than getting people bundled together instantly.

So for me, my “raids” are pretty much an extension of my normal gameplay to a bit more people and perhaps some additional challenges, but otherwise a lot in the spirit of the of the regular game. This is what makes it work for me.

Categories: City of Heroes
  1. November 30, 2011 at 00:14

    That sounds pretty similar to open world “raids” in games like Rift (scenarios) and WAR (PQs). One of several things that CoH did earlier and better than anyone else, and nobody seems to notice. CoH also just generally has a better community than most MMOs, in my experience, which can’t hurt for PuG raiding.

    • November 30, 2011 at 21:49

      I agree, the community aspect here is a key factor here. The game has kind of an “everybody wins” approach to rewards – you are not competing with other players for rewards and that probably has helped in forming a more friendly community.

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