Before I get started, wow, thanks KingsIsle for the stuff! I was shocked to find a code in my in-box this morning for a new house (a Fairy Palace!) and some other random items. Shocked, and overjoyed :) W101 truly does have the best community team — and the best community.
I’m so excited to be so close to Celestia. Some of the people on the Test Realm have already completed all the Celestia quests (aside from, perhaps, defeating the Umbra Queen, the final boss). One wizard claimed to have completed the expansion in less than 24 hours, which seems a little… over-enthusiastic. Nonetheless, wizards with their special level 58 class spells are not uncommon in the Test server. Dedicated players have almost solved the collection quest (“Lounge Lizards” — in a nod, no doubt, to the satirical bluegrass group, “The Austin Lounge Lizards”). Some players have already settled in to start farming the high level gear.
Even though monsters routinely cast the level 48 grandmaster spells, or start out with a large number of power pips, or use a higher grade of strategy than we’ve come to expect — even though many players complain that Celestia is too difficult — is it actually too easy?
KingsIsle has fiddled with the difficulty of the game in the past. Malistaire, the final boss in the story arc that brought players through all the worlds of the Spiral through Dragonspyre, was considered easy, and soloable once you got through the puzzles that required more than one player. Clearly too weak for a boss. KI buffed him so that he would do ever-increasing amounts of damage to the entire group, such that if he lived past the fourth round, the entire group would be wiped out. (And he suddenly gained 10x his normal hit points. Also, he had friends.) Players complained, and Malistaire was brought back to his original, humble station.
Encounters in Celestia SEEM more difficult at first, but it doesn’t take long before you adapt. Yes, you’ll want some heals available now. Yes, you’ll want to spend a couple of rounds setting up shields. Yes, you will want to carry an assortment of pets, wands, and amulets for various fights. But you’ll also get powerful new abilities through the Astral spells. Plus, if you level up with the crowd, you’ll never have to fight alone — and that’s a powerful equalizer.
But let’s say you’re a wizard without much time to play. Maybe you’re not even a grandmaster yet. For you, the old world suddenly became much emptier outside of the free areas. Those Celestia fights, when you get there, are going to be hard to do solo. Will Celestia still be easy then?
Celestia wasn’t designed to be done alone. Though KI may at some point lower the difficulty so that the solo player can complete it, Wizard101 remains a MMO — meant to be played with other people. I have friends who absolutely refuse to play with other people. For them, a MMO is just a setting for their solo adventures. Wizard101 encourages you to play with friends! Every player gets the ability to instantly teleport to any friend, even if it’s to a place you don’t yet have access. It’s easy to join in on the fun.
I suspect the people who think Celestia too difficult will be those who for one reason or another, tend to play solo. Some people feel bad about joining someone else’s duel circle, as it can make the fight harder. That’s the wrong way to think about it. If you join a duel and you have a heal or just the right kind of shield ready to cast on who needs it, you will be welcomed. And probably gain a new friend.