Dungeons have always been an auxiliary part of leveling process and a step to gear up before raids. There were two important changes in Legion:
First, it’s lore. I think never before the dungeons were so much incorporated in the whole story. You could travel at Stranglethorn and meet a gnome who would like you to help in Gnomeregan which is half a continent not here. Or why on earth would Alliance go and deal with ogres in Slagmines at Frostfire Ridge? Even the flight master there tells Alliance players: go away! It just didn’t make any sense. Dungeons surely helped to fulfill the picture of the zone or the world, but they were more like an extra story.
In Legion, dungeons are heavily tied into lore. Actually every zone questline leads you right to the dungeon entrance and asks you to proceed there to see how the story ends. So you don’t kill no-names. You’re motivated to clear them and deal with the last boss, and there’s a uniting story arc of pillars too.
Second, it’s Blizzard’s trademark over the top. They put much effort into dungeon design and calibrating, and then they become useless as people go to raids. Let’s do them relevant, Blizzard says – which is a good intention.
And that’s where it all goes wrong. I see the dungeons in Legion as a complete failure to understand the balance between interest, challenge and obligation.
You see, there was nothing wrong with the old model. You face a challenge of normal dungeons which teaches you to play in group and do your role. You gear up, and you do heroics which offer more complex mechanics which you should follow in order to win – and so you get prepared for raiding content. You gear up, and you go for raids.
I’m ok with the profession quests, class order hall quests and world quests which lead you into dungeon. For professions and order hall campaign it’s an extra single run. You could skip world quests in dungeons, or if you’re there anyways, it’s a nice bonus for you. These things add up to variety – you peep into dungeons corners to find more challenges.
I’m holding a grudge against mythic dungeons.
Challenge modes are ok – it has never been a problem before. There’s an extra challenge mode for hardcore players, it’s a content for smaller groups, and it’s an opportunity to gear up somewhere beside raids. I’m fine if people get cool gear, achievements, and artifact weapon appearance – they earned it.
What I’m not fine with is mythic requirements for lore and professions.
You cannot hide important chunks of lore beyond the ultimate difficulty. You can’t kill Cho’Gall in mythic Highmaul raid, with other players completely unaware of his fate. You can’t kill Archimonde in mythic HFC Twisting Nether and know that it’s not a setback, it’s final – with other players awaiting him pop up in Legion as it happened before.
Legion offers three mythic dungeons that you can’t have access to at other difficulties and can’t queue up for: Suramar dungeons and Karazhan.
And there are professions too. Some recipes and third stars are from mythic dungeons only. You must go get a bag recipe from Karazhan – and the bag is worse than Draenor’s. It’s supposed to be motivating – well, it’s not. I’d better spend 6 more ore for crafting an item than go to a mythic dungeon with a hope for a 3-star recipe drop. It’s professions, guys. A mundane, supporting activity – and you could live without them recipes in the end of all.
It’s not that you can’t beat them. With no intention to do any mythics at all, I accidentally got in a very mediocre performing guild group, and we cleared a Suramar dungeon with much pain and many wipes, yet we did it, and I finished a quest. We spent two and a half hours for this – and it’s not the type of gameplay I’m eager for.
Pushing the lore and professions – the things which should be accessible to everyone – into hardcore camp is a definite fail.
Next, it’s Illidan lore. Once you’ve completed the first parts of the story – which are perfectly fun, sensible and to some extent challenging, you’re suddenly supposed to be running 80 dungeons or more to see what happens next. Thanks, but no thanks. After I’ve grinded the dungeons for quests, for professions, for more quests, and for class order hall campaign (and already sick of them all), I’m supposed to run 80 more.
And they hid Illidan’s story behind this outrageous grind. Mark you, as Illidan is the central lore figure in Legion, you will see him a lot when he returns. For all we know, he was kidnapped by Gul’dan and kept in a cage. I guess we’ll all be very surprised when he comes back without a single explanation how that happened. Unless you grind.
That’s not how lore works.
Next, it’s what they didn’t expect I guess: a social aspect. Never before people were so awful to each other in LFG dungeons. It’s a miracle in Legion if an initial party stays to the end. Groups call each other words, rage quit, disband, kick everyone out for a slightest mistake – it’s actually a living hell. The reason could be the enormous amount of dungeons people have to run – and they have no tolerance for the slightest possible delay.
Everything is in dungeons now, and that’s not relevance, that’s grind.
Emerald Nightmare – finishing the Val’sharah story arc. I’m admired by the raid design, and encounters are nice enough. They also seem easier than Draenor’s Highmaul.
What I don’t like about EN is its ‘somewhere there’ vibe. Alternative time, alternative universe, beta-version of Azeroth… And it’s nice when you could recognize a place – like with Ursoc encounter. But you can’t get a slightest clue where are you at Un’Goro or Mulgore parts – even if you walked on foot in every corner of proper version. So the whole raid is just out of my timeline, and I don’t feel myself solving the current problems. Just let the druids deal with it.
Trials of Valor – finishing Stormheim arc. Now that’s perfectly logical. Yes, we also enter some ethereal realms, but at least it’s not an alternative version. The encounters are pure gold: quite fun, each of them.
There’s also a very important new thing in ToV. As you could get your gear somewhere else, you could only do a transmog quest there. 3 to 5 runs, and you’re guaranteed a gear appearance set for your armor type. So you won’t have to go there desperate for lacking shoulders if you’re way above with ilvl. That’s a great innovation, so I hope they keep it for the other raids.