With 6.2 PTR patch notes making waves in the community, it seems a real major update is about to hit us hard and can hopefully make up for the lackluster 6.1 entry. Hellfire Citadel, gear upgrades, the Tanaan Jungle zone unlock, and so much more are coming our way and it all looks promising. Never mind the more glaring nerfs and buffs which most regard to be arguably unnecessary, the most promising (and lacking) addition to WoW’s content that has caught my eye (besides the continuing disheartening nerfs to Monks /cry) is the addition of Mythic Dungeons. For years, people have been clamoring for 5-man instances that become truly integral with endgame PvE or as an alternate gearing path altogether. Mythic Dungeons might be the key to that, but due to how things are looking, it might be far less than what one would hope. It is definitely very early to speculate on the actual outcome of this new difficulty, but the trend in which the game is going, many of us can tell how it will come out.
I’ve never played Burning Crusade, but those I know that have gone through it tell me of its glorious past, including the integral role dungeons served in gear progression, unlike that of today where dungeons can be, and are, neglected. When was the last time any of us got railed in Grimrail Depot? Ever get whooped in Skyreach? What about getting soul-torn in Shadowmoon Burial Grounds? Ok, maybe the last one is a bad example because of Ner’zhul’s noob sweeper, but the fact remains that, these days, hell, even at release where people had crap item levels, dungeons, regardless of how interesting they are, never were a challenge to players of commonly decent skill. Aggro everything and watch them burn with crazy AoEs. That’s about it.
While a casual perusal of item levels would indicate that these dungeons are necessary to progress further into raiding, they could easily be bypassed by simply heading off into LFR with a combination of basic crafted equipment to compensate for the missing item levels. The only reason anybody within the lower spectrum of item levels would go dungeoning back in Heroic or Normal is because they have some pieces that could still be upgraded and, therefore, settles for these instances as a last resort. As an expansion ages, these tuned-for-100 instances become nothing more than footnotes in the game’s history, overshadowed by raids that clearly grant bigger and better rewards, completely decimating the importance of 5-man parties. Perhaps Mythic Dungeons will bring back life to the original party-size, but then again, it might just be another roflstomping ground for us to frolic in.
I’m sure many of us have heard of blizzard’s plans of faster content cadence with their development team being “larger than ever,” so we can expect this new mentality to affect the way Warlords of Draenor is handled compared to previous xpacs. Mythic Dungeons are introduced at a time where item levels are clearly so bloated from the bare-minimum of a fresh 100 to get into normal dungeons, indicating that in order to access the new 5-man difficulty, one has to have a decent gear level in the first place. Unless Blizzard plans on re-itemizing again, the 630 ilvl gear from Heroic dungeons will hardly be sufficient to bring into instances that drop 680-700. It’s hardly what one would call a boon for alts and re-rollers, becoming nothing more than apparent filler for the content-hungry WoW players. One would still have to go through all the motions of regular gear progression through raiding in Highmaul and Blackrock Foundry, and only then will one be able to get into Mythic Dungeons. It certainly isn’t an alternate gearing path as one would suspect, but simply will act the same way we fall back to lower instances, and, again, its because we have something we can upgrade, and Heroic BRF and HFC wasn’t exactly very generous for that week.
The possible rewards, however, are ever so enticing! 680-700 ilvl gear? Just for a run through, let’s say, the Everbloom? But as much as it is exciting for filler gearing, that’s also the very reason why Mythic Dungeons, in the manner they will be probably introduced when 6.2 goes live, aren’t going to be the special gearing paths we would want them to be. When these Mythic Dungeons come out, so will Hellfire Citadel that has, at the very least, 695 ilvl gear on normal, surpassing the regular 580 dropped from the new dungeon difficulty. Even if, let’s say, that a player gets decently geared right off the bat due to obtaining those precious 700 ilvl gear that is stated to have a chance to drop at the end of every Mythic Dungeon, its not quite much of an advantage to the regular normal raider in HFC. This then shows again that these dungeons won’t ever be an alternative to raiding, that is unless, of course, one couldn’t care less about obtaining the best gear, but, come now, who really feels that way?
A lot of us are excited, myself included, but the point that we feel undaunted by the the difficulty increase goes to show how little we regard 5-man dungeons in the first place. Instead of giving us players new playgrounds to decimate, Blizzard, instead, opts for a higher difficulty of these pre-existing dungeons, giving more credence that this merely appears to be a band-aid solution to content issues. There isn’t any real production of new content, but rehashed crap of things we’ve come to know, just with bigger HP and harder hitting mobs. That is, of course, the impressions on PTR will drastically change upon release, but I kind of doubt that. But wait! Bigger HP pools and harder hitting mobs? Isn’t that already challenge mode? If the two will coexist, Mythic Dungeons certainly would not be the “challenge even the most hardened adventurers” could have. From how things are looking, the only distinction between the two is that one is a time-attack with scaled gear and the other is without pressure and can be facerolled by the uber geared.
With the use of the same dungeons, Blizzard runs the risk of saturating the gameplay and making players sick of the tired old content. Many suspect that Mythic Dungeons will lose their significance a few weeks after release. There are many ways to make these instances to feel more important like an extreme increase in difficulty with new mechanics like how Mythic Raiding is at present, but if it falls merely on turning that bears distinction to the name, then there certainly won’t be any suprises, or interest, for most players. Hey, if these were new dungeons with the same kind of reward planned, there wouldn’t even be a discussion. It would be completely new content that not only urges players to experience them, but also serves its original intended purpose of easier acquisition of gear. It also couldn’t hurt if these instances were actually important to obtain in order to gain access to HFC. On the contrary, I think it’ll become important to run HFC’s LFR (when it fully comes out) just to be able to run Mythic Dungeons for newbies, alts, and re-rollers.
But if there is one thing we can take away from this it is that they may alleviate the RNG-pained players and the ridiculous item level gaps are smoothed due to being in the middle ground. I also hope, as a development for Mythic Dungeons, that they bring back the fight planning. I still remember a time in WoW where CC, proper pulls, and other forms of strategy were a requirement just to survive the onslaught of regular mobs. Sure, Challenge mode sort of has that too, but because of its nature as a time-attack, it doesn’t have the same feel of older instances due to parties going for gold rush through the instance through a variety of other means that aim to reduce the time spent in the instance than on actually fighting. If Blizzard does it right, Mythic Dungeons could bring in a new-old thing to the table and it could be a great method of introducing new players to the more nuanced and necessary basic skills needed to survive in high-end raids like patience and coordination. Maybe if we had more instances like this and less of a zergfest that are normal and heroic dungeons, we wouldn’t have idiots pulling the boss before everybody is ready.
As it stands, Mythic Dungeons won’t serve as a true alternate gear path, but simply as a trite catch-up mechanic for alts and rerollers that don’t want to fully invest their time in Heroic BRF just to get started in HFC and they are neither integral to progression as what Vanilla and BC vets hope for. If anything, it’ll simply be part of the weekly lockout itinerary of the geared player. It’s a nice option to have, but certainly they aren’t going to be special, but unless Skyreach’s Ranjit’s Windwalls one-shot upon the slightest touch. A rehash can be forgiven so long that it feels like a true unique version and that’s what I’m hoping for.Related: Column, Update, World of Warcraft, WoW Wednesday