There’s a lot of information beginning to circulate about Warlords of Draenor. A French site Judge Hype posted an interview with Ion “Watcher” Hazzikostas in which it was revealed that players will be required to earn a silver medal in the Crucible to queue for Heroic 5-man dungeons. For those that don’t know the Crucible is the updated version of the Proving Grounds introduced in Mists of Pandaria.
Watcher chimed in with some clarifications on the requirements (full post here).
- We will have Normal and Heroic versions of our max-level dungeons. (Note that we did not have Normal level 90 dungeons in Mists.)
- There will be no special requirement other than basic level/ilvl requirements on queuing for Normal dungeons or LFR.
- Level-up quest gear will get you into Normal dungeons/scenarios, and Normal dungeon/scenario gear will get you into LFR.
- Heroic dungeons will be more challenging than the Normal version (not brutally difficult, mind you — just somewhat more demanding).
- You will need a Silver Proving Grounds medal in a given role in order to queue for random matchmaking for a Heroic Warlords dungeon. If you form a premade group, you can zone in regardless and no such requirement applies.
How do I feel about this requirement in Warlords of Draenor? Simply put, I approve this message. It’s a step up from the whole ilevel requirement that we have now. It does force players to do content they might otherwise choose to skip, and it requires them to do it pretty early on.
That’s not something I would consider a hardship or problematic in any way. In the current Proving Grounds, a silver medal in your role is not difficult to obtain. I personally didn’t have that much difficulty achieving gold, and as we know, a skilled Hunter can even achieve Gold in the tanking role.
The big question is can the Proving Grounds be an accurate test of skill? Proving Grounds are solo content, not group. If the Proving Grounds aren’t updated to reflect some of the challenges we’ll face in heroic dungeons then this will be akin to the SAT. Passing gets you in the door, but the exam doesn’t really prepare you for what lies ahead. A point not lost on Ion when he said, “we realize that by formally using Proving Grounds as a qualification, it will be incumbent upon us to further refine their balance and mechanics. We’ll be updating them for Warlords, and we’re confident that we can make them a fair test of baseline ability within a given role.”
Let’s assume that Blizzard gets it right and Proving Grounds become an accurate test for Heroic dungeons, will they change the pug experience? Will it prevent a group from forming with, as Ion put it, “a tank who may literally have never tanked before”? Will players pay attention? Will they read the dungeon journal or watch a video before entering the dungeon for first time? If a boss needs to be interrupted will the group communicate and determine who will be responsible for that? Will players take it upon themselves to assume that duty?
Proving Grounds as test is a great concept, but if it doesn’t weed out the bad, if it doesn’t improve the dungeon experience, then the benefit is lost. I’m dubious that it will have a real impact on the quality of LFD runs.
If Warlords plays out like Mists did, then it won’t be long before players out gear the dungeons, and the difficulty becomes trivial. In other words, this Proving Grounds requirement only applies to the first tier of the expansion, and mostly only the first few weeks of it’s life. The long-term benefits will diminish as the expansion pushes forward.
What’s curious here is that it does not apply to LFR. Now maybe that while 5-man Heroic dungeon difficulty is going up, LFR difficulty will go down? Unlikely, and nothing to that effect has been stated, other than the gear requirements to run LFR (i.e., normal dungeon gear) seem rather low.
If the ilevel to get into LFR mandated that you have gear from Heroic dungeons, then by default everyone who runs LFR has met the qualifications to run Heroic dungeons, ergo, they have achieved Silver Medal in the Crucible for their role. Makes sense on paper anyway. That’s not the case though, and LFR is excluded from this requirement.
I find this odd, because it seems to go against the philosophy they’re trying to establish, as Watcher said, “In the past, challenging content and random matchmaking have often not gone so well together… Everyone has to learn somewhere, but we’d rather not have that learning come at other players’ expense.”
Obviously Blizzard does not consider LFR to be challenging content or they would tack on the Silver Medal requirement. Scrambling an egg is not challenging. I put some butter in a pan, crack the egg, scramble it around, put it on a plate, and then eat. I know how to scramble an egg. Now if instead of cooking it on a stove I chose to go outside in the noon day sun and hold a magnifying glass over the pan, I might not get the same results. Therein lies the problem. LFR done by the book is not challenging, but it is seldom done by the book, and players have an aptitude to make their own hard modes.
This is why if it were up to me, I’d make some form of Proving Grounds medal a requirement for all PvE matchmaking content. Scenarios, normal dungeons, LFR and the like. If the difficulty and challenge were solely dictated by the content this would be fine, but unfortunately players often have a way of making content harder than it should be, regardless of the design.
Where do you stand on this change? Do you like the idea of Proving Grounds used to actually prove yourself? Should the requirement be lowered to Bronze or raised to Gold? Should it apply to more than just Heroic 5-man dungeons?
Let’s get this party started!
Hunter Durendil getting tanking gold.