Lessons learned: WoW game director using Shadowlands criticism to improve Dragonflight raiding

"The team was collectively at a bit of an arms race with Echo and Liquid ... we give up."

Image via Blizzard Entertainment

The Sepulcher of the First Ones Race to World First in World of Warcraft Shadowlands was one of the most tumultuous grinds in the history of the game.

The top guilds in the world needed multiple resets and an exorbitant number of split raids simply to make some fights mathematically winnable—without any mistakes whatsoever.

After seeing many of the ludicrously high pull counts that guilds like Team Liquid and Echo had on their RWF journey, WoW’s game director Ion Hazzikostas made a statement yesterday during an interview with WoW streamer Towelliee that was probably assumed. But it needed to be said.

“[Dragonflight raiding] probably won’t be as punishingly difficult as Sepulcher [of the First Ones],” Hazzikostas said. “There were some lessons learned there. There probably won’t be abilities where failing to execute it on heroic wipes your entire raid.”

Hazzikostas admitted that the level of skill and effort that Liquid and Echo put into the RWF made the development team progressively attempt to make encounters that would challenge even the best guilds in the world. It was to the detriment of the game as a whole, however.

“We give up,” he said. “The team was collectively at a bit of an arms race with Echo and Liquid, and you know, we give up. You guys win. We’re not going to try to make encounters that are uniformly challenging at that level because it’s not the best experience for the player base as a whole.”

Echo, which won the RWF for Sepulcher of the First Ones, took a whopping 1,121 pulls across the raid’s 11 mythic difficulty bosses to win the race. The Jailer, the instance’s final boss, took them 277 pulls. The race lasted more than two resets, which made it tied for the longest RWF since 2010. The sheer calendar time that the race required resulted in Team Liquid cutting bait on their day-raiding efforts due in part to mental fatigue.

While the RWF is typically seen as more of a marathon-type esports event, it tends to be most popular when it lasts six to 10 days. Having it drag on much further typically results in complications for broadcasting teams and is a strain on players who may have full-time jobs.