Raiding is perhaps the single most infuriating, challenging, and enjoyable activity one can thrust themselves into when it comes to online gaming.
Popularized by MMOs in the 2000s, raids brought forth challenging scripted content that was meant to be cleared through by anywhere from the size of 10 to 45-man compositions. Over the years, their dominance as the be-all, end-all form of end-game content has slipped, but modern iterations are keeping their design fresh and frenetic.
During their heyday, raids were a testament to the technical prowess of cutting-edge video games such as Everquest 2 and World of Warcraft. Since then, many MMOs have included them as a staple in their content gamut.
Now, with over a decade of field time, they’ve become something of a mixed bag. Publishers will often play with the format in attempts to give the player base something new, but more often than not, they end up on the same tried and true formula. With that in mind, let’s take a gander at what digital worlds offer the best environments for raiding in 2018.
Final Fantasy XIV
There’s something to be said for Square Enix’s persistence in reviving a once-dead MMO into the international hit that it is today. With an entirely renovated engine, combat system, and ground-up framework, raids are no exception to the rule.
In Square’s interpretation of what a raid should be, all trash mobs (any enemy NPC standing between you and the boss) have been wiped clean. As such, the devs are focused much more on giving players elaborate fight mechanics in a boss-rush-style setting, where there is next to no downtime between attempts, and there is constant heart-pounding action.
Despite there being no trash between pulls to break up the tension, the raids don’t punish you from taking your sweet time. Additionally, as there are no trash mobs to pad out the locations, some raids can feel less like actual locations and more like elaborately-designed rooms where you get to take on some big baddies within a unified narrative aesthetic.
You probably won’t care when you’re taking your team of eight against some of the toughest content in the game though.
The only FPS MMO on our list, Destiny 2 merges what our first entry and last entry do in spectacular fashion. Fielding only 6 players at a time, Bungie’s take on raids are as expansive as some of the narrative threads that lead you to plunder their unknown depths.
With a focus on team communication, marksmanship, positioning, and mobility, D2’s raids differ from any others on the market. Despite being designed for a significantly smaller team size, they offer some of the most gruelling encounters out there – with the best loot to compensate, of course.
So far, Destiny offers two raids, The Leviathan and The Dreaming City. One being a world-eating starship and the other a trans-dimensional city. The lack of quantity is supplanted firmly by an incredible sense of presence and highly-detailed zone design.
With two raid lairs – mini raid encounters centred in the raids – being added to Leviathan and subsequently to the Dreaming City, players will be plumbing their depths for years to come.
World of Warcraft
Did you think there was any other? The king of them all. No other game popularized raiding more than Blizzard’s World of Warcraft – and no other game has managed to match their ability to pump out consistent raid content to a forever-ravenous raid crowd.
The only MMO to feature world-first competitive runs to clear incredibly difficult raids across three difficulty levels, Warcraft takes raiding the closest it can get to be an esport – but it’s not without its pitfalls.
Nestled in the bosom of a notoriously toxic community, WoW raiding is not for the faint of heart. If you’re looking for an uncompromising experience both in terms of difficulty and community, look no further. Blizzard may have made some missteps in regards to their beloved virtual world, but their commitment to their raiding scene has never been up for doubt.
In truth, there’s never been a better time to raid than now. With years of development and refinement, the experience up for offer are second to none in the world of gaming. Just make sure to have some high blood pressure medication or breathing exercises on standby – you’re going to need them.