I Have 5, Give Me 20

/cue nostalgia music

If I despised everything to do with the looking for dungeon interface, I would still give Blizzard the /nod for implementing it.  Despite all its flaws, the inherent asshat factor if you will, it does make forming groups easier, and, even better, makes non-80 dungeons viable for equivalent level characters.

No longer do I have to hope for guildie (or spouse) intervention to finish up quest lines, get really awesome loot, or just take a break from finding Zhevra hooves.  I like the old dungeons, and I’m glad I’m getting to play them again.

However, I really have to plan on queuing for a vanilla instance.  While a heroic takes me 20-30 minutes, Wailing Caverns, Uldaman, just about any old world instance is often at least 30 minutes, and more realistically an hour if no one gets lost!  And I realized, I miss that!

I’m not proposing that every instance that is less than an hour fails, or that I’d want every instance in the game to be as confusing as the colored lights of Maradon… nope, not happening.  But I am a bit disappointed in the way every instance for end-game is stream-lined for maximum boss time and minimum trash spawns.  You don’t spend time running around looking at the pretty lights, or get confused by a switchback in the fungal growths. “Why yes, I have seen this one before Ashtarak, perhaps, we should have taken the right fork.”

There are bad things associated with such long and complex dungeon schemes: the fear of never finishing, the epic search for Frostie who was drinking water while the tank forged ahead and cannot find the group again, and the inevitable fight between the two alpha dogs at every intersection that, of course, this is the right way.  Too true.

However, you also miss the good things, the feeling of accomplishment that you actually finished the entire dungeon, that little known feeling of immersion in the game-world… while short dungeons are quick and easy when you’re tea-bagging the boss during the “yes, I will crush them master” monologue, it does take away from the epic killing feel of the encounter… and somehow, length of time spent does add some of that back.  It also encourages you to get to know your fellow players a bit better.  I mean, tank and healer will likely suffice in a 20 minute fling, but after an hour, the ability to type out another player’s name when addressing them is somewhat expected.

In some low level instances, I even found myself discussing… strategy… with fellow players.  Shackles, sheeps, and frost traps aren’t dead pre-60!  It is refreshing and fun to think about mob packs as something other than… packs of trash that will be grouped together for simple and easy destruction.

The content has changed.  Ease of access is a good thing and I appreciate that when I only have a half hour of game time, I can still complete a goal for myself in-game.  However, I don’t think that all 5-man content needs to be homogenized to 30 minute frost badge grabs.  If my content time was restricted to 5-mans because I could not meet a raiding commitment, I would be disappointed in today’s dungeons.

Wouldn’t you like to see some more variety in the 5-man scene?  Does the 3-4 boss scenario have to hold supreme into cataclysm, or do you think a more robust dungeon scheme can be implemented for the true heroic runners?  As someone who immensely enjoys 3-5 manning old raid content with friends, that a robust 5-man dungeon would be a great diversion for those of us wanting to spend time together in a smaller setting, but that wouldn’t be as disruptive as continually queuing for new content every 20 minutes.