Inches

I first heard about Blizzard’s decision to not release any new 5-man dungeons this expansion from The Grumpy Elf, and confirmed from this post on MMO-Champion. The interview itself is written in Foreigner, so I will just have to take the translation at face value.

On many levels, Blizzard’s decision makes sense. The revamped ZA and ZG heroics in Cataclysm were (true to title) a disaster, reducing entire tiers of content down to all trolls, all the time. New 5-mans were handled a bit better back in Wrath when integrated into the normal rotation, but even then you could experience wild swings in difficulty depending on whether you got Gundrak or Halls of Reflection (shudder).

Had Blizzard released new 5-mans in Mists, it could have shaken out in only two ways. One: the dungeon(s) still dropped 463 gear, at which point it would be largely irrelevant to everyone. Or, two: it released 476 or higher gear, and now nobody wants to run the obsoleted dungeons again (assuming they wanted to in the first place). And besides, in a world with LFR, there is little reason to double-down on raid catch-up mechanisms, right?

On the other hand… does this not strike anyone as profoundly lazy?

Let it sink in. There will be no new dungeons in 5.3, nor 5.4, nor a potential 5.5. There will be hundreds more garbage daily quests in which the writers don’t even bother papering over the naked time-sinking, of course. Will anyone still be doing Shieldwall dailies in 5.3? Or even in this patch, for that matter? Is all that “content” being obsoleted worse than a 5-man? There are a lot of in-game cinematics and lore going on in Krasarang Wilds, after all. It strikes me as odd that your dailies change from patch to patch, but the daily dungeons never will.

Then, I start thinking about the existence of 5-man dungeons to begin with. Why have them at all? Scenarios offer 50 Valor now (compared to 80 from LFG). And, most importantly, offer DPS players an instant queue. If LFR has replaced heroic dungeons as a raid catch-up mechanism, have Scenarios not usurped dungeons by the same token? The only thing holding Scenarios back is the asinine reward mechanism in the form of a random-stat blue item from the box (when it isn’t empty). Seriously, I got a 2H agility axe yesterday. Neither druids nor monks can use axes, so it amounts to wand with strength on it.

Maybe they're bringing back 2H Enhance Shaman?

Maybe they’re bringing back 2H Enhance Shaman?

Simply migrate all heroic dungeon gear to the random Scenario box, bump the Valor a bit, and now you never have to fashion another 5-man again.

Indeed, from the same interview I referenced before, this paraphrasing emerged:

More scenarios are coming in future patches. We may see very challenging three player scenarios with pretty good rewards.

Speaking of Strength wands, my thoughts then drifted to tank gear. Why should it exist? Blizzard came oh so very close to obsoleting all tanking gear this expansion, probably by accident. Indeed, up until the 5.2 changes, Dodge and Parry were the two worst stats for a Protection paladin. The two worst! For a tank! Since it seems “active mitigation” is here to stay, why not simply go all the way? Critical Strike rating is the only thing that marks something as being “for DPS only,” and it is a simple enough thing to add a passive to tanks where critical hits procs a Dodge buff or something. While there might be an increased competition for gear between tanks and DPS… oh wait, individual loot. Problem solved. And if necessary, Blizzard could keep the gem/enchanting situation the same, so that a tank in full DPS gear could gem for Stamina or whatever to differentiate himself/herself.

I am not trying to craft a reductio ad absurdum here. I am just asking what the actual point of 5-man content is supposed to be under this new “build some once and done” paradigm. Are they necessary for anything anymore? “Practice for raiding?” I don’t know if anyone would agree that they have such an effect, if they ever did. Group content is handled by Scenarios or daily island hellholes stuffed with overlapping elite mobs. Dungeons are almost quaint these days, vestigial relics propped up only by their rewards. If Scenarios offed 80 Valor, would anyone run dungeons? What if the box at the end dropped spec-appropriate gear from the dungeons?

This is how close we are: mere inches. The slightest of nudges, and we could be upon unknown soil. And, perhaps, not even notice a difference.

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Posted on March 13, 2013, in WoW and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. > and it is a simple enough thing to add a passive to tanks
    > where critical hits procs a Dodge buff or something.

    Something like Elusive Brew?

    http://www.wowhead.com/spell=128939

  2. The game is at this point in a transition period. Both scenarios and LFR have cannibalized the design space dungeons have occupied traditionnally. Scenarios offer quick Valor points and a chance at random loot with the advantage of instant queues, while LFR is the new catchup mechanic gearwise. At the same time, LFR has also eaten into the design space of normal raids by becoming the entry point to raiding, which has the consequence of normal raids becoming harder. This risks pushing the guilds that used to raid just normal modes out of structured raiding and turning normal modes into an obsolete stepping stone to heroic modes. The obsolescence of dungeons also removes the traditional training grounds of novice healers and tanks, trusting them head first into LFR, which they are forced to run in those specs to get any chance at the correct gear.

    Blizzard needs to re-evaluate the design space each part of the game fills or some elements may just dissapear, like the absence of any new dungeon in MoP shows.

    • And the question becomes: is it worth having dungeons strictly for healer/tank training? I am not suggesting that Blizzard remove anything; rather, they could simply stop making new dungeons and instead rely on the ones already created. Hell, perhaps their “new feature” is broadening of Challenge Modes to all prior dungeons, and scaling the rewards up.

      For the record, I still believe this current paradigm and any new one without dungeons is incredibly lazy. But the tank shortage is going on its fifth year running…

      • Scenarios are nothing else then PvE-battlegrounds. And AV and WG are played since patch 1.5.0. Following your thought, wouldn’t it make more sense to then also no longer produce new raids but just bigger scenarios? Real PvE-battlegrounds?

        > But the tank shortage is going on its fifth year running

        I think they should completely remove any kind of raid wide damage from LFR and change the composition to 2/2/21. To be honest we all just ignore the raid wide damage in LFR and just annoy the healer, why not remove a mechanic that has no purpose and in the same way reduce queue time for everyone because of a better group composition? They reduced the effect of tank shortage by changing 1/1/5 to 2/6/17, I think it’s time to do the same with healer shortage.

  3. infamydeferred

    Well, 5-mans give you content to practice as a tank while leveling. Without them, players would be making their first real forays into tanking in LFR, which would be pretty bad all around, or in scenarios, where they’re not really needed anyway. Healers at least can do BGs to practice their group role in a world without 5-mans.

    • The current dungeons could stay where they are, just no new ones. It wouldn’t be a good system, but neither is the present one IMO.

  4. It’s a reminder that Blizzard’s design philosophy for 8+ years now has been the random walk. They started out as EQ done better and have just drifted and drifted makings lots of reactionary changes in response to previous changes. Not saying it’s a bad game, I still enjoy playing, but it’s come so far from where it once was and I’m fairly sure there’s little evidence of an intelligent designer behind any of it.

    • I agree. There is a lot more “throw things against and wall and see if it sticks” than I imagine should be in the design. A serious lack of long-term vision.

  5. Blizzard has shown themselves to be very financially driven with regards to content production – what gives the most ‘bang for the buck’.

    A 5 boss raid is no more difficult to develop than a 5 boss dungeon but has considerably more longevity. The major difference is players will happily grind away a raid for a few months vs a few days for a dungeon.

    Accepting LFR content over dungeons means:

    -Fewer drops overall = more grinding

    -Weekly lockout = more grinding

    • I don’t know that I would characterize weekly lockouts as “more grinding.” It is true that it stretches content way past the point where it would have been irrelevant otherwise, but I am unwilling to commit to the notion that that is necessarily a bad thing. It can come across as nefarious in a subscription-based game (“only four chances at raid loot before paying another $15!”), but when you instead look at the game as more of a social platform for doing things with friends, I enjoy not running out of content. I vastly prefer the raiding model to the daily model. For example, limiting the epic keys to the Treasure Trove scenario means I only feel compelled to do Thunder Isle dailies once a week per character rather than every day.

      This change in my perspective on things probably has a lot more to do with my 1.5 year break and how WoW is no longer the only (or even primary) game I’m playing anymore than anything else.

  6. I see this as the continuation of Blizzard’s “play our way” philosophy. 5-mans (NOT LFD) allowed some variation of gameplay for small guilds especially. We used to regularly 4 or 3 man heroics for the challenge. They were a great learning environment. Plus they were a safe space for casual roleplay (while running the dungeon) and for hanging-out away from the toxic community. I do not count Scenarios as a good alternative since they are 3-dps optimised. Where do you go to play a tank or healer characters thesedays? LFR?

    Blizzard is obsessed with set group sizes these days, all enforced through the LFD/R tool. Only the raiding proper community has avoided this so far.

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