Tobold's Blog
Thursday, December 02, 2010
Dungeon changes in the Shattering

I recently mentioned that my new low-level warrior had done 3 dungeons in a row, gained 4 levels in the process, and outleveled all his quests. Apparently Blizzard noticed that as a problem too, and significantly lowered dungeon xp. I think that is a very good idea. I love dungeons, but people tend to react strongly to incentives, and if one type of content gives too good rewards, other types of content end up getting neglected.

What surprised me more was to see the new list of dungeon levels. For example Scholomance as a level 38 dungeon feels strange to me, I will need some time to get my head wrapped around the new order. But I must say the new list will probably work better with the Dungeon Finder. When I leveled my previous character, the druid, before the Shattering, the Dungeon Finder tended to land me in the same dungeon for many levels. The new list is more evenly spaced, and so offers more variety when you choose a "random" dungeon.

My only concern about the leveling process right now is that between the renovated Azeroth from 1-60 and the already very good Northrend at level 70-80 there is this really sub-standard level 60-70 experience of Outlands of the Burning Crusade. The last time I did it, I refused to quest and leveled exclusively through dungeons; but even that wasn't optimal, because the expansion has a lot of level 70 dungeons which I never saw through the random Dungeon Finder. So I hope that as part of the next expansion Blizzard renovates Outland as well, at least streamlining the dungeons there as they just did for Azeroth. And fix the "Satchel of Helpful Goods" for level 60-70, which is currently just giving junk rewards.
I plan on using the heirloom item once I reach Outlands. Also, I'm thinking of doing as much Azeroth quests as possible when I hit 60. Hopefully it will get me to 61/62 maybe (delay going to Outlands as long as possible).

They did mention recently they are aware of how out of place Outlands, and even Northrend, is to Cataclysm, and they will revisit it. I hope it happens soon, and not as an expansion.
I love dungeons, but people tend to react strongly to incentives, and if one type of content gives too good rewards, other types of content end up getting neglected

I see a much bigger problem:

People who ignore the incentives and continue to quest grey quests with grey mobs will experience terrible gameplay.

Grey mobs die while spamming one or max two abilities. On my feral druid I stopped going to my trainer some time ago, because for questing I only need one ability: Mangle.

Needless to say this is abhorrend gameplay. Not only do I need to press only and exactly one button for every mob I encounter, but it is 'inefficient' to press any other button. And obviously so. Depending on crits I press the button 2-4 times with a GCD of 1 second for cat form.

The only reason to continue questing is to experience the story. And the only reason I am interested in that, is that I have played WoW for 6 years now. Otherwise, the story telling is only partly good and mostly rather bad.

During leveling it is now basically a single player game with the option to join a group of player-controlled NPCS in mostly story-unrelated 'dungeons'.

The real reason I play WoW at the moment is probably the flawless technical and graphical abilities at Blizzard.

Those dungeons runs are massively undertuned. During dungeons I started to heal and I found out that I do not need to heal the tank during boss fights. lvl37 tank vs lvl39 boss: No healing necessary.

In scarlet monastery we accidently pulled the boss before the right wing was cleared. That pulls the entire right wing. I put thorns on the tank for aggro and healed through. I had 50% when the last mob died.

In Uldaman I tried not healing at all and it worked. All I did was thorns and dps. Oh and I pulled mob groups with moonfire to the tank.

These are random groups. Mostly Tauren Paladin tanks that are not always high level compared to the dungeon!

It's is somehow fun - otherwise I wouldn't do it. But it is hard to claim that this is polished quality. The only thing that is polished is the technical part of WoW - which is a major accomplishment - still ... The whole experience is somehow lacking.
I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised at the number of positive comments to this fix - I only saw one commenter who was glad: "wow glad i got mine out of the way before this nerf"

But yeah, gaining 3 levels through Scholo sounds a little over the top!

I did see though that they have no plans at present to make any changes to the Outland or Northrend dungeons.
Last patch they cut back on the damage thorns provides and reduced Druid healing potency. I've noticed I'm usually having to work harder now in the 5 man heroics.


Healing Rain, Efflorescence, Holy Radiance, Holy Word: Sanctuary now have a diminished effect when healing more than 6 players at once.

Rejuvenation has had its mana cost increased by 30%.

Thorns: beginner tooltip revised to no longer imply the spell could be kept up at all times. In addition, Thorns damage has been reduced by 60%.
Wow Nils, the dungeons are that easy now? So the leveling game now is really just about going through the motions, I guess.
Hellfire Peninsula is still easily the best zone in the game.

I absolutely adore questing in Outlands; it feels so...connected, without being too gung-ho. I don't know. I just like it.
Well, I have returned to WoW for I really want to experience flying in Azeroth.

Installed the game last weekend, been trying to quest and do dungeons and I'm already lvl 73 by playing mostly 2 hours per evening...

Most quests are more of the same, the Death Knight starting area is a big yawn and don't get me started on the dungeons. Dungeon finder is great but the dungeons themselves are piss easy when compared to BC or Vanilla... It's an AOE fest... I know people have been saying that for a while but this is ridiculous. And they are linear.... gone are the days of loosing oneself in BRD or Sunken Temple.

I will say that I'm having some fun as I'm not a masochist but before it was much better. Not the LFG for 2 hours of course, but the fact that you had to know how to play in order to complete a dungeon. I would prefer to be really pissed off at PuG's than having all PuG's work due to instances being so easy...
I'd think part of the ease of running dungeons as horde is the OPness of the low level paladin. Every sixth gcd can be a Word of Glory if the tank wants to, and with Hammer of the Righteous aoe threat is a bit of a laugh.

As for druid levelling, manglespam is actually suboptimal. One tick (one tick!) of Rake does more damage than mangle (maybe a high dps heirloom changes this?), and at least for me a 3 point ferocious bite also outdamages mangle. So the optimal rotation is rake, 2x mangle, bite. The mob either dies to the Rake tick which hits just after the second mangle, or to the FB. With the talent that gives extra combo points for crits the FB may even be at 4 or 5 points.

rake, 2x mangle, bite may do more damage than 4x mangle, but it also takes 4 GCDs to killt he mob. the bite also drains you of all energy.

Those low-lvl paladin tanks are, indeed, absurd. How can that get through the QA guys?
@Nils: It may depend on the level range, but it's certainly not like that in all lowbie instances. Try running RFC, the Deadmines or SFK and watch tanks without heirlooms die in a few hits and the healer running oom before the boss is dead.
I agree, Shintar. Level 15-20 were ok. Not great, but ok. I even had to manage my mana form time to time.

Fortunately, this mess seems not to be a design goal, but unpolished content. It is symptomatic that there is room for doubt.
"People who ignore the incentives and continue to quest grey quests with grey mobs will experience terrible gameplay.

Grey mobs die while spamming one or max two abilities"

Well, that's a matter of opinion. If the quest is interesting in itself (well-written, intriguing, amusing) then the less fighting that gets in the way the better. I enjoy quests a LOT more when I go back and do them when at a level when the opposition is trivial.

Similarly I get much more pleasure from exploring dungeons once the mobs in them are "greyed out" than when I have to fight through them.

Fighting stuff has to be the least absorbing part of most MMOs (it certainly was the least enjoyable part of WoW for me) and the more options to skip over it, the better my experience.
@Wyrm >> I agree 5 man pugs tend to be too easy, but I also look at them as the junior leagues to 10 & 25 man raids. A place to practice, perhaps learn the dungeons, learn OTHER character abilities and play, gear up, etc.

Obviously some of that can be done via questing, but learning other character play styles can't be done via solo questing. Simple things like whom else may have/use an interrupt, which spells won't stack, allowing a tank to maintain aggro, etc.

in that case I suggest reading a book or watching a movie. That is the kind of media where you can experience a story without doing anything yourself to drive it forward ;)

So, I respect your opinion, but this can hardly be the design goal behind WoW.

Besides, it hurts my immersion immensely if Blizzard doesn't even try to hide anymore that mobs are just mosquitos and silly obstacles to be removed with the wave of a hand.

I would like to actually sometimes have doubts about whether a bossfight will at least be non-trivial this time.
I also think that Outland is the weakest link. I'm on my fourth character through that area now and I really don't like it.

Northrend is much better, even though I've been through it three times already.
My biggest quibble is with dungeons that havnt changed. After you've experience the new tricks and thrills offered up by Ragefire and Deadmines, wailing cavern's old tank and spank everything style is really really repetitive and dull. It use to be one of my favorite instances.

I agree about the linear dungeons. I don't seen why we can't at least have one dungeon like BRD every expansion.

In regard to difficulty, dungeons really are much easier than they were in TBC. But the end game (heroic raids) is still very challenging.

Also, northrend heroic dungeons used to be a decent challenge for pugs when everyone was doing them in ilevel 187 blues. I remember wiping on loken a number of times anyway. I imagine the cataclysm heroics will be challenging as well initially before people out gear them.
Couldn't agree more regarding Outlands: I took my (newish) level 80 Shaman to Zangarmash yesterday as I work to gain the Loremaster title.

As far as I can tell, nothing has changed in Outlands, especially including the abysmal (compared to Azeroth 1-60) drop rates for collection quests. I'm one who prefers questing to dungeons, but I have no idea what I'll do with any new characters, if Outlands remains as it is. Right now, it's a great, big, huge screeching halt in progress, compared to 1-60 and 70-80.
Once you get to Outland, it's almost a shock at how they are feeling so outdated after the new revamped dungeons. No quest givers near the entrance, no pop up quests, no maps. I made a night elf mage last tuesday when the servers got back up, today she's 72. i was getting a level a run in the old world randoms, scholo got me two levels in one run. I do have almost all the heirlooms i could purchase though, so that sped it up. Once i got to outlands, the only zone quests i did were Hellfire and Zangamarsh, then hit around 69 or 70. Now it's slowed down again, but i'm glad they reduced xp for those.
The level changes really irritate me, I used to think I knew the "way things go" in wow but now it's like I can't help a wandering newbie anymore by telling him where to quest next! =(
You can't have one long/hard instance because of random Dungeon Finder - it's guaranteed to be come the dungeon nobody wants to get as their daily.
Resubbed a day ago, just ran RFC and Deadmines on my warrior tank... with the class revamp I feel like I have less tools than ever given that dps are going to go all out from the first hit. Not going to be a great experience for a new player. Revenge at 40, eh... ugh.

Had a couple close calls with healer mana due to dps chain pulling, and once because I clicked on a cannon by accident... otherwise the instances feel very "safe". And it gets easier? ...hmm, the whole reason I resubbed was because of complaints they made dungeons challenging again.

Out of dungeon... underwhelming changes so far in Mulgore and North Barrens, but the streamlining is pleasant enough. Quest rewards so convenient I haven't bothered with the AH at all.
With regard to Outland and levelling 60-70 with the way the new 1-60 content is right now there is good reason to NOT jump into Outlands before 62 and every reason to jump to Northrend at 68 meaning the Outland content is only required for 6 levels, for old timers not a major problem, but for new guys they'll never work this out until it is too late.
Nils: I think the dungeons are undertuned but also paladin tanks are crazy overpowered (especially with heirlooms) at lower levels.
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