Previously, when I talked about my ideal endgame wishes for 8.0, I did somewhat gloss over the instanced PvE side of things.
Well, let’s address that.
I think that we are in an interesting spot with instanced PvE content in WoW as of right now. We have assumptions about the things that would survive into 8.0, and some doubts about the features that will move on. Let’s talk about each of those for a moment:
5 Player Dungeons: These are always a cornerstone of our gameplay through at least the early stages of the expansion, but Legion has changed the game here as well, in a huge way. I’d expect, and hope, that level-scaling normal dungeons continue. I’ve also not been shy about my wish for level-scaling normal mode gameplay to be brought to all dungeons currently in the game, or at least all dungeons that might be relevant to where we are headed in 8.0. I really think that a massive variety of content that can be done at endgame, including old stuff, is fun and gives more incentive to queue up for a random dungeon. Further, if they do end implementing level-scaling throughout all content, it only makes sense for dungeons to follow.
I do hope to see at least 8 really solid new dungeons, and maybe 1-3 Mythic only dungeons on top of that. I actually really liked the model of the Suramar dungeons and the addition of Return of Karazhan – and I think it makes a great bullet point on a patch 8.1 release to then open up a Heroic mode for them. New content can also include casting a wider net with stuff already in the game, so I’d be on-board for that. I also want to see the big patches continue to add at least 1 new dungeon. Over the course of Legion, getting new 5 player content was great.
In terms of overall systems, I think we’ll still have 3 difficulties, and some new Normal dungeons that only open up during leveling – maybe 1 at 115 and a handful at 120. I liked that model in Legion, and the strength of placing story content into the dungeons. Sure, sometimes we got awkward bits of story, with world content having us vanquish a villain who then runs away to the dungeon, but overall I still liked it. I would also like to see Mythic open up a smidge as a queue-able difficulty. You can still make people run to the dungeon, sure – but it’d be nice to be able to queue up to find a group. If not that, I’d settle for improvements to the Group Finder interface to better sort groups and find them.
But let’s talk about the main reason I want the Group Finder UI cleaned up…
Mythic Plus Dungeons: I think these will continue. It feels like a foregone conclusion, given the extent to which they have made dungeon content forever relevant. Further, they also have strong business interest for Blizzard, in that they open another, different avenue by which WoW can be monetized as an eSport, one that tends to be more relatable to the WoW player-base, since PvP can sometimes be impenetrable to watch, and tends towards toxicity in gameplay.
Similarly here, I’d really get a kick out of seeing an attempt made to retrofit older dungeons to have a 120 Mythic mode, including Keystone difficulties. I’d also like to see the affix system improved slightly, with more affix options, and some that impact DPS in more ways than simple endangerment. Something that requires burst DPS, like shields that can be popped, or a debuff that requires you to change targets or incur a stacking DPS reduction. The current affixes, while interesting, largely rest on the shoulders of tanks or healers, which can make some weeks nearly impossible to find a group since said tanks and healers opt out of running them that week. I think the affix system should have further increases past rank 10 as well, with affixes perhaps at 13, 17, and 20 – maybe tweaked, lesser ones, but still.
Raids: I believe that the current, 4-difficulty system will continue on here. There are design lessons that are being learned from LFR, particularly in Tomb of Sargeras. Many of the fights there are toothless shells in LFR, like Desolate Host (whose namesake mob never appears on LFR) or Fallen Avatar (where Maiden has just gone on vacation and the energy mechanic just serves as a timer). Having said that, however, I think balancing and mechanical variety must be emphasized by the team.
Legion has been a tough expansion for raiders, make no mistake. Between the hardline balance in Nighthold, requiring excessive AP grinding, and the constant soak mechanics in Tomb of Sargeras, raiding has burned out a lot of good players in Legion. A new expansion might win them back, but the raid content will need to be on-point to really retain them. I’ve long advocated for a diversity of raids, not just in the first tier, but overall – with the multiple themes we expect to see, I hope we get multiple raids per tier, even if the number of bosses is the same overall. Little, bite-sized raids alongside the larger, more epic zones help break up the monotony of the larger zones and allow them to shine.
Doing this, alongside better balancing of difficulty, will go a long way to keep those raiders.
New Stuff: This is where we veer fully into speculation and my own wishlist, just to put that out before we dive in. This is pure speculation as well – I haven’t seen anything suggesting these next bits, but hey! A guy can dream.
I’d love to see more evergreen dungeon content, and not just in that it’s an existing dungeon that scales – but something that is new everytime, without requiring the development resources that would entail. How do I think they could pull this off?
Two words – deep dungeon.
For those that haven’t played Final Fantasy XIV, the concept as expressed there is called Palace of the Dead. It is a multi-floor dungeon, run in segements of 10 floors. Each floor is a randomized layout with a collection of trash mobs, and the final floor of each run is a boss fight. This is a dungeon that can be run with any party, regardless of roles, and has it’s own indepedent leveling, so while your job/class matters, you basically start at 1 and level as you go, gaining skills as you would while leveling for real, but on a very condensed timescale.
I don’t think the WoW version should be it’s own leveling experience, or that it would even need to allow 5 player groups with any mix of roles (and I’ll add why I think that is in a moment) – but imagine this.
-You queue for a Nightmare of N’Zoth (just a fun name I made up assuming Old God/Void themes)
-You pick a difficulty and length modifier (let’s say you can do it on any dungeon difficulty level and choose 3-5 bosses as the length.
-The group comes into a random dungeon layout, with cool tilesets (these could be based on existing dungeons, they could be themed after world content and have more open layouts, maybe elemental planes, etc) and clears through like a normal dungeon, with each boss dropping loot corresponding to difficulty.
-You could add in bonus loot or bonus item level based on a difficulty modifier (Mythic Plus affixes, or something similar)
-They could be tied in to a Mythic Keystone too, allowing you to run a Mythic version, fixed number of bosses, but random layout, and beating the timer for a reward.
Overall, I really like this randomness because it allows for some cool options, and is truly evergreen. You could add new tilesets and maybe even new modes each patch, and continue to expand upon it indefinitely. I don’t really expect it to happen, but I think it would be great.
An Unlikely Scenario: Scenarios, before they were the technology underpinning the cooler story quests in the game, were a thing you could queue for in Mists of Pandaria. They were 3 player, fun bits of content that didn’t require a role balance. It provided a nice method for DPS-only players to quickly run some content for fun and rewards, and in patch 5.3, a Heroic difficulty was added to allow more challenge in these.
I think these could be a fun option to have – imagine bringing back the Mists ones, alongside the quests that have used the technology, including end-zone stuff from Warlords of Draenor, many of the Legion quests, and the Artifact acquisition quests. You could also add in the Mage Tower challenges for fun! Alongside some new ones, this could be a fun little bit of added content, allowing everyone a chance to complete some simpler content on a quick time table.
If all of my wishlist items were to come true, you could have some great repeatable content – a smorgasbord of dungeons, alongside randomly generated dungeons, multiple raids per tier, and scenarios – all on top of new World Quests, PvP, and patch/end-game zone storyline quests.
I think that would be a fun, strong foundation for a potent endgame!