We have been hearing a lot about the warlords gearing pyramid and that dungeons would become a basic part of the gearing system in warlords but I worry for the lasting success, or even usefulness of dungeons, for many reasons.
First think of why you run dungeons. I'll gladly share why I do. I run them as a starting gearing measure on my main thanks to the LFG dungeon queue. I hit max level, usually one of the first on my server, so it is not likely there is anyone to run them with. So I use the LFG dungeon queue to get a group.
I learn the dungeons usually during this time (plus my beta experience) so as guild mates hit max level I can help them and explain what is going on. I do this not because I am a nice person, but because it makes their lives easier which in turn makes my life easier. Call me selfish if you must but someone usually has to teach others, might as well be me being I was there first. Selfish would be those people that call people out for not knowing how to do things but refusing to tell them how. Well, maybe if you told them and didn't keep it to yourself than they would not mess up. Sorry, that was a little side tangent there, but that always does come up in new dungeons.
I then run them to knock out the achievements but I am never in a rush for them. I got most of this expansions solo toward the end of ToT when I was a little bored. I went in on heroic and did the achievements myself. I never use the LFG system to get achievements. Any I get when doing them in a random is pure gravy.
Then as the expansion goes on I might pop in there for some valor, some justice to convert to honor or to buy heirlooms with, and maybe to get some gear on newly or under geared alts when a guild group is going. Also as an added plus in mists there was the addition of reputations you could get and some alts got their reputations up completely just doing one dungeon (and one scenario) a day.
Looking back on how I use dungeons as a tool to play with in the game I can't help but think they are going to be basically worthless in warlords. Don't get me wrong, they will or could still be a stepping stone for many, but over all there will be little to no repeatability with them and that has me worried not only for the dungeons and their usage, but for the future of the game if this is the design they choose to go with.
Let me explain why I think dungeons will serve no purpose at all in warlords unless they change something. And yes, there is still time to change something. One positive is that there can be warforged loot in dungeons, but that is not really all that great of news, as you will see, because the warforged loot would still be greatly lower than LFR gear.
1) Sub Par Gear:
On my main I will surely run dungeons on day one. There is no doubt about that. Getting that gear will basically be the only way to get gear on day one so, as always, I will do whatever it is within my power to get the best gear I can get outside of guild to better prepare myself for the guild runs when they do start.
With that said however the gear that comes from dungeons is sub par at best. If you can manage to round yourself up 3 crafted pieces and finish up all the quests in nagrand you can probably just enter LFR when it comes out and get better gear than dungeons. Being LFR is insanely easier than dungeons that does seem like a compelling reason to just wait for the LFR if you can already meet the item level requirements to enter it.
Yes, you heard that right. As much as blizzard says you do not need to do LFR when push comes to shove and you only have time for one thing which one are you going to choose, the one that drops lesser gear or the one that drops better gear? You will choose LFR. So yes, you still need to do LFR people. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but blizzard lied to you.
Sure you can do dungeons and go straight to normal raids in dungeon gear but that requires three things. 1) That you are a really skilled player that can pull off doing the numbers needed for normal while only in dungeon gear. 2) Someone willing to take you if you are only in lower, possibly much lower, item level dungeon gear. 3) You need to be ready to raid before the LFR comes out. Because lets face it, dungeon gear will be great gear until LFR comes out, but once LFR comes out dungeon gear moves to the back burner because there is better gear out there.
All in all, there are no decent gearing options in dungeons. You might run specific ones for a specific drops but you might not if it is only one or two pieces and you are already downing raid bosses at a decent pace. So the gear in dungeons is a major issue. Lets not forget that much better gear will drop from much easier content. Just think about that for a second. Better gear and easier content vs worse gear and harder content. No contest.
Sometimes blizzard learns from their mistakes. Sometimes they don't. This is a case of they don't. The idea of making heroic dungeons harder is admirable. I will admit that. But the bottom line is that anything you allow random people to group together for with the in game finder will be destine for failure when you add any degree of difficulty to it, even if that is only minimal difficulty. How could blizzard have not learned that by now?
Hasn't blizzard learned anything from cataclysm and over 2M lost subscribers thanks to difficult dungeons? It sure as hell does not seem so. While mechanics wise nothing in any of the ones I have done seem all that difficult, I can say, without a doubt, that I am the only person to ever have lived through a dungeon and not died once on a beta.
Not saying I never died. I died plenty. But I have never met anyone in any of the dungeons I have done on beta that lived through the entire run, besides me. I know, beta is beta, but still, if a group of people that are going there with the intention of testing and learning, working together and sharing strategies before the pull, all with hellscreams downfall titles, and some idea how to play their classes, can not get through dungeons without dying, how are your random people doing to do this? Seriously.
Blizzard decided that to random for the dungeons you would need to get a proving grounds silver. Again, an admirable idea with the best intentions, but this has to be the worst idea ever. I managed a silver on my rogue the very first time I tried it and I suck at my rogue. I would not even bring myself into a dungeon and inflict myself on others as bad as I am. I also have failed silver on my priest the first time I tried it. Failed. I heal heroic raids just fine, not great in any sense so don't get me wrong, but I am capable. So my priest whom I am okay at would not be capable of queuing up for a dungeon but my rogue which could not fight his way out of a paper bag could? What is wrong with this picture?
You want a better gate to using the LFR system for heroic dungeons I got one for you blizzard. To queue for a heroic dungeon you need to have deadly boss mods downloaded, updated and active. If it is not downloaded, updated and active, you may not use the random group finder for heroic dungeons. I think that would help the quality of game play in dungeons a hell of a lot more than a proving grounds silver which, as it turns out, proves absolutely nothing about a players ability to play.
Everything, even more so lower content, needs to have an incentive to do it. I mentioned the early characters will have the gear incentive, but once LFR comes out and crafted gear becomes more available that will decrease a great deal if not completely.
But what about other incentives? Exactly, what about them, there are none. In mists we could run dungeons for reputation. No need to do that, you can not get reputation that way. We used to be able to run dungeons for valor so we could buy gear, or upgrades to gear. No need for that, there is no valor which means not valor upgrade or valor gear. We used to be able to run dungeons for justice that we could buy older gear with, heirlooms with and convert to honor so if we wanted to test the waters in PvP we could get starter gear. No need for that, justice is being removed so all the things justice were good for are gone as well and so is that incentive to run them.
I am finding it very hard to think of any reason to run the dungeons other than to get the achievements from them, which if I do them like I did this expansion, I can go back and solo them all later when I am bored. Or create a guild group for them, but not use the random system for them.
4) Wait Time?
I put this one with a question mark because no one can tell the future, but I really worry about the wait time for these dungeons after the first month or two when even the slower levelers have all manged to pass them on the gear scale. With sub par gear, more difficulty, and no real incentive to do them, why would any geared player ever do them? Why would any skilled player ever do them, even more so if they can get much better in LFR or normal if they are that skilled?
So if no geared player would do them and no skilled player would do them what exactly are you left with? You are left with really really under geared people (which are the people that actually should be there) and people that might very well be on characters that they are not very good with, like me on my alts and many lesser players.
So you are left with poorly geared poor players in slightly more difficult content. How well do you think that is going to go? Be honest, I already know the answer. Not to mention, with no incentive to do it less people will queue for it and with the sliver proving grounds requirements less people will queue for it, so this in turn means longer wait times.
I really worry about the future of dungeons in warcraft because they have no future as they stand now in their current state offering a piss poor gearing option with a higher difficulty level than those that would need that piss poor gear can probably handle and no incentive and quite possibly a long wait time for them.
Now, what post would be complete from the grumpy one without offering my idea for a solution. Get ready to shoot this one down because I know there are going to be faults with it but I believe it can both bring life to dungeons and make them more what they should be, the back bone for the beginning of the gearing process and a viable option to do not only to pass the time but maybe gear up slowly.
Give all players, not just tanks and healers, a baggie for completing the dungeons. Tanks and healers would of course get their additional bribe bag. Have this reward (as in baggie here) offered all the time. Not once per day like in BC, wrath and mists, and not 7 per week no matter when you do them like in cataclysm, but each and every dungeon completed.
When you complete a dungeon you get 100 apexis crystals and a baggie. The baggie would contain one of the follow guaranteed, one sorcerous air, one sorcerous fire, one sorcerous water or one sorcerous earth, which are crafting materials that are slightly harder to come by and needed in massive quantities by professions. They could even give it a slight chance to contain two just to mix it up, like 30%.
But that is not where it ends, that is not enough. You would also have a chance to get a extra bonus roll coin which would be a very small chance and not count toward your 3 per week total. Added to that you would have a small chance to get a item for your current spec selection when you open the bag that will always be, even in later patches, equal to the current raid tiers top LFR pieces. In this case, it would start at 650 items.
Oh, and I really would like that must have deadly boss mods (or an accepted equivalent) downloaded, updated and installed part. So much better than I like the proving grounds idea.
Now, the solution might not have cured much of anything but it did add incentive. It made the content repeatable. If there are two things this expansion needs, and dungeons more so, is incentive to do them and a reason to repeat them. Giving people a way to get apexis crystals, gear, crafting items, extra raid rolls, and other junk would most definitely give people an incentive to continue to run it. And when those knowledgeable people with better gear and more skill are around when those people with lesser gear and lesser skill get into a group it will not be the nightmare it would be without them.
You know what I love about dungeons in mists now? The fact I can solo them. I love being able to go in there, even more so with two or three guild mates, and just burn through the thing for fun. You see, I want my scheduled content to be challenging, like raiding, and I want my time sink just for fun stuff to be fun, like dungeons. I might be different from everyone else but it would not surprise me if a fair deal of people agreed with me on that one.
So with nothing really to offer in warlords (as it stands) will you be running dungeons or just skipping them like I will most likely do on every single character past my first because there is really no incentive to do them?