Over the weekend we had two very different experiences of trash fights in MMOs. These packs of weaker opponents are usually placed through a dungeon or other instanced zone to slow progress to the various bosses (the big fights). They sometimes drop the odd item of value or some coins but otherwise are more of a background to the set-piece challenge that each boss presents.
In SWTOR we did some heroics on Taris and attempted the Foundry flashpoint (a k a dungeon) and found by the end of the second session that we were getting tired of the very dense, and not inconsiderable ‘trash packs’ in both types of instance. I really like droids in this game but by the second boss of the Foundry we were getting bored – when you have a zone task of killing 50 droids just as the first stage that’s a lot of to get past!
In Neverwinter we have been questing through the Pirate’s Skyhold zone. The open zones in the game have plenty of trash packs to cope with, and patrolling groups and more elite monsters as well. But the story instances, not the full group dungeons, but rather the shorter story instances (like Skull Fortress in this zone) are tuned for a much quicker play-through. There are a few trash packs, then a mini-boss, then some more trash and the end boss. Some instances might have two mini-bosses before the end fight but they’re never that long.
So two, not directly comparable, examples of dungeon design. One with dense packs of weak opponents, another with much shorter gaps between the real challenges. My thoughts after the weekend is that I generally prefer the latter model. I’ve never been a great fan of spending hours and hours in a dungeon slogging through trash. My days of clearing Blackrock Depths are behind me I fear.
Do you think trash mobs still have a valuable role to play in instanced content (i.e. dungeons), are they ok in moderation or are they simply an artifact of an older MMO design model?