Yesterday, I was doing my usual flip through the World of Warcraft forums, concerning a poll of whether or not the latest patch has ruined the game. A couple pages in, I noticed several people addressed Cataclysm as Casualclysm, and it got me thinking: how can anyone in their right mind claim Cataclysm as casual? Do we forget that easily?
The first four months into Deathwing's expansion, I saw more rage quits and friends leave for easier games (Rift mostly) than any other time. People I knew left in droves, when failing in dungeons over and over, then entering raids and failing to progress beyond the first boss or two. I was in three guilds that collapsed because of lack of progression. I have just one real life friend that stuck out Cataclysm with me, though he's on a separate server and different faction; the rest, if they were raiders, quit. My pvp friends stuck through the mayhem, regardless of the class-balance issues that plagued this expansion. I die a little inside just thinking about Heroic Deadmines at the start of Cata...
Sorry, folks, if Cataclysm was so easy everyone with a keyboard and subscription would have the Dragonslayer title. We're about to enter the next expansion, and I have seen a total of two guilds with a Heroic Sinestra kill on my server, one of which was achieved not long ago and nowhere near current content. Majority of players didn't start clearing Bastion of Twilight, Blackwing Descent, and Throne of the Four Winds until we received dramatic nerfs and higher end gear. Yeah, they're pretty easy if you enter now, but have we all forgotten what it was like in those raids head to toe in 346 blues? Make a raid, put on some blues, try to fight Al'Akir, and get back to me--I bet most will fail, despite the nerfs to his mechanics.
Zul'Aman/Zul'Gurub: we can all agree a lot of groups in dungeon finder crumbled to their bosses. I don't know (I'm glad I don't know), the number of times I waited half an hour to get into ZG, only to have multiple groups wipe on Venoxis and finally be left standing alone, wishing there were guildies online to join me, then be forced to quit and queue again. Mob pulls required some planning, CC, and awareness of what was around in the instance. Boss fights required precision and high dps/heals/occasional CC. Anyone can say what they want, but ZA/ZG did not become faceroll until there were nerfs and people started running them in Firelands gear.
Firelands: again, only the best really downed Ragnaros and H Rag prior to nerfs. We received two or three nerfs until it was pugable, and there are hardcore raid guilds out there that still haven't downed him on heroic while wearing Dragon Soul gear.
I think players go into DS today, have an easy time with their 35% buff, and equate that to the rest of the expansion, which just isn't the case. Yes, you can get an epic from LFR if you have 45 minutes to spare. Yes, by far, DS was the easiest raid in the entire expansion. Yes, it makes no sense to have the easiest raid double as the final raid. Having said that, less than 6% of players (last I heard from Blizzard) have downed both Heroic Madness and Heroic Deathwing with a 35% buff to healing and damage, which makes me believe that a lot of the players saying Cataclysm was designed for casuals are basing that opinion solely on LFR DS and, to a certain extent, normal DS.
Overall, Cataclysm was nowhere near as easy as Wrath of the Lich King (outside of Ulduar). It's not even a contest, unless we're talking about the ease at which you could level, and the only hardship leveling in Northrend had over leveling in Cataclysm was time. Leveling 1-85 (boa gear plays a huge role in this) and possibly the cookie cutter talent trees might be the only arguing points for why Wotlk was less casual than Cataclysm, but then we would have to discuss what we mean when we say casual, because, for me, casual means easy content/progression, and most of Cataclysm, especially when it was current content, was not that easy for the average gamer a.k.a. the casual.