The Pinnacle of Raiding: Antorus, The Burning Throne

More than a decade in the making, the time for the Burning Legion to face defeat in the halls of Antorus has finally come to pass.

Released on November 28th, Antorus, The Burning Throne throws players into a full-on assault on the Burning Legion’s central keep – and it does not disappoint. From Legion ships chasing the Army of Light’s flying constructs across the sky in a fashion that would make a TIE fighter blush to hellish demons guarding the innermost sanctums, Blizzard has pulled out all the stops.

It’s remarkable, really, that the development studio has managed to maintain such a strong presence in the realm of Player vs. Environment encounter design. Despite a handful of recycled mechanics peppered throughout, there’s no denying it: the final raid of Legion is one hell of a sendoff to the demons that have plagued Azeroth for decades.

With eleven bosses peppered throughout the hellish halls of Antorus across four difficulties, there is plenty for players to occupy themselves with as the expansion naturally winds down. If pushing Mythic difficulty is on your radar, prepare to have your life consumed as you put together the perfect team to take down the Dark Titan.

Yet, despite the A-list encounter design, Blizzard’s mammoth of an MMO still struggles with archaic issues that have plagued it for years on end. While Looking For Raid allows players to seamlessly hop into a group and tear through the content at an easier level, the Normal, Heroic, and Mythic difficulties still require groups to form manually or through the Looking for Group tab. A small inconvenience on the surface, but the issue compounds itself when the group composition shifts several times over during a progression run.

“Use a dedicated guild” you might say in response. And while that is still a fair argument to make, the fact remains that gamers have begun to demand more convenience from their online worlds – long-gone are the days when farming for several days on end was an expected pastime, now it’s just poor game design.

There’s hardly a fault to find with Blizzard’s encounter design for their almost decade-and-a-half old game, but there remains much to be improved over the social infrastructure of the game. Should Blizzard want to ensure the viability of Azeroth well into the next decade, they’ll have to find creative ways to let players maintain groups without compromising on the difficulty of content.

It’s a good thing, then, that they’ve announced massive upgrades to their service. The platform will see itself receive built-in VOIP for and social groups management not unlike the popular gamer-centric service Discord.

Although Blizzard have only shown mock-ups of how the app will feature, we may see an era where guilds exist more as loosely connective nodes across multiple games, and less as game-specific institutions that require all your extra time and firstborn child.

And yet, despite the drawbacks, there’s still nothing like storming the castle of an intergalactic horde of demons with twenty-four of your closest friends.

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