I feel, as do most of the people in NA, that the current end game encounters lack a certain element of creativity. While some may say "it's T1, the encounters shouldn't be complex / what do you expect you're not going to see anything new" I do expect more then this. I'll break down each boss.
This and SoA are the only encounters I feel are worthy of even being considered 'end game' content. It's a well designed encounter which requires people to pay attention (don't stand on the red circle, run out of LoS, etc) It's what we've come to expect from raid bosses. However, it's all down hill until we reach SoA.
This encounter is still bugged. Sometime you can just stand on the middle platform for 2-3 transitions. This needs to be fixed. Other then that, this is pretty much tank and spank. Melee can stay in for the pounce and run away for the frenzy. Seems like there should be more to this encounter then just run to a new island, and dps some dogs that come out after the 3rd frenzy.
This has no place in a 8/16 man raid. I mean come on, maybe if something came out that you had to fight after you solved the pylons it would be a good encounter, but as it currently stands it's a joke.
Joke encounter #2. On 16 player nightmare mode we had fresh level 50's able to down the person they were fighting. Again, no place in a 8/16 player end game content. It just feels like it lacks the creativity and design that we should expect to see. I feel that maybe after everyone kills their 1v1 adds that they should all form into 1 big dude that you have to fight.
I think SoA has some good elements in it, I don't think the enrage timer should be as tight as it is, and I think there are some tuning issues between 8 and 16 player. I also find the transition phase a bit silly seeing as you're doing that for ~4 minutes of the encounter and it really pretty pointless in the big picture.
As the MT, I find the hardest part of this entire encounter is playing with my camera trying to find the yellow flying object in phase 3. Would be nice if I could zoom the camera out and play with it above me at such a distance where I could actually easily see the stuff (ok, it's just bad design when you have to play with your camera to see an element of the encounter that you need to watch. Camera functions shouldn't be part of making an encounter difficult.)
Still there seem to be broken aspects of the fight. Balls are invisiable (yeah you can get around this if you turn name plates on). Nightmare mode seems impossible at the current time (250k hp mindtraps). Balls glitch out after the floor goes away in phase 2. Shield doesn't always go off SoA in p3 after being hit by the pillar things.
Enrage Timers - poor design
There have been multiple posts over the last few weeks regarding the enrage timers. Most people agree that this is a poor design element
Let me give you some examples of soft enrage timers. These will be from WoW mostly because it was the last MMO we played. These examples have nothing to do with being a fanboy of WoW, and if you know anything about history and why people study it you should understand why Bioware should look at other games encounters and try to learn from them.
1. Gruul - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q55D5...eature=related
- Gruul constantly grew and would eventually get to the point where healing your main tank became next to impossible if you didn't down him fast enough. However this wasn't a hard enrage, the raid could continue to fight the encounter since the only source of damage his growth had any effect on was his melee attack. This would be an example of a good mechanic.
2. Muru - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kd2ID57ZPz8
- One of the most difficult encounter in WoW's history.
3. Felmyst - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kd2ID57ZPz8
- This encounter did have an enrage timer, but if you didn't have people die you would kill the boss without hitting it. It was a great encounter from a design point of view. Multiple things happen here (skeletons spawn that have to die when the dragon flys. Dragon breaths fire in 1/3 of the area that you have to watch for, green laser that has to be kitted around by whoever it targets)
Part of the fun with raids was knowing that at X% of life, the boss will do something special that makes the encounter more challenging. Plus this is a good way to separate Normal and Hard mode. I think more raid engagement is key. In the video's I've posted, you can see how the entire raid has to do something for the encounter to be a success.
Gruul, must spread out for shatter otherwise you'll do too much damage to one another.
Muru, people have to tank the adds as they spawn on each side, tank the big voids that run around, CC has to be spot on, etc. Plus this encounter has multiple phase which are well designed. Void Zones spawn in phase 2, damage is all over in phase 2, etc. No enrage, but again a soft enrage in a way.
I think Bioware may have shot themselves in the foot doing 8/16 man raids. It limits what they can create quite a bit when you think about it. We have yet to see 1 encounter that requires a true off tank.
I don't see how we will ever see an encounter like Muru with raid sizes being what they are. But I guess that's another discussion.