When you hit level 90 in Mists of Pandaria, there was a lot to do. Sadly, most of it felt gated behind an avalanche of daily quests. With Warlords of Draenor, there’s also plenty to do at 100. Except daily quests.
I’ll be talking about life at the expansion’s level cap more next week, but for now I’d like to focus on one of the most popular high-level past times: running dungeons, specifically their heroic versions. Regarding their normal counterparts, I think that I can sum up my thoughts on them with two words: an afterthought. I understand the notion that a leveling dungeon is meant to help players level and progress towards the end game, but running the basic version of Warlords of Draenor‘s instances felt like a slap in the face. Any form of a challenge was completely non-existent. Sure, I picked up some cool gear along the way, but the way loot has been revamped for leveling, it felt far more worth my time to stick with quests and exploration.
Heroics, however, offer that satisfying challenge normal versions are missing. Fights revolve around their mechanics, relying on execution in order to complete some of the more difficult bosses. This helps ensure that a challenge will exist throughout the expansions lifetime. Just because our gear may far overpower any form of difficulty in the future doesn’t mean we can’t sit in the fire and power our way through encounters. The same felt true in Mists of Pandaria, but Warlords of Draenor has a different feel to it. This could be in part due to the fact that boss encounters never feel like they linger on far too long. More importantly, the mechanics don’t feel like an absolute chore.
Yet, anyway. I do see a future where some bosses are the absolute devil, but again, the fact that we’re already knocking these encounters out in anywhere between two to three minutes suggests I’m not going to despise running the same heroics for over a year.
In regards to challenge modes, the most difficult tier of Warlords of Draenor‘s dungeons, I have four words: you are not prepared. These bad boys are ready to kick your teeth in and knock your socks off. I’m not just talking about bosses, either. Trash can be incredibly brutal, requiring either an insane amount of area damage if you’re going for timed records or constant CC if you’re just hoping for a full clear. These challenge modes offer an call back to the days of heroics in Burning Crusade, even offering off epic quality loot via a daily quest from each faction’s Ashran hub. This reward gives players a tangible incentive to get their butts kicked for an hour or so, something that was lacking in Mists of Pandaria.
The most impressive feature regarding the high level dungeons, though, is the fact that I don’t feel obligated to constantly run them if I’m looking for content. Last night was the first time in a while where I ran several heroics back to back. It felt refreshing to get some action in before raids are unlocked, hence why I decided to run four or five heroics in a row. While I’m in need one or two more gear upgrades, I don’t feel forced to run heroics in order to get them. There are other methods of obtaining loot.
Hopefully this trend of “do what you please” continues throughout Warlords of Draenor.