Compared to other MMORPGs or more traditional CRPGs at the time of release, World of Warcraft, for the most part, was never really challenging, due to Blizzards intentions to make their games as accessible as possible.
With the release of the first expansion, the game didn’t get easier, but you could see a more streamlined design in the zones, that made content progression more straight-forward. The normal questing content was still as difficult as before and the endgame featured challenging raids and, with the intended gear level, very challenging heroic 5-man dungeons.
After that, things started to get easier with every expansion in an effort to remove any and all frustration for new players and to get everybody to the endgame faster. And now here we are in Warlords of Draenor, with crazy fast leveling speeds due to heirlooms, more powerful skills, more interface/profession/financial streamlining and reduced experience requirements.
So nowadays you literally faceroll through all instances and the whole questing content until max level, and except Heroic (Raid) and Mythic (5man/Raid) or Challenge mode content, even there everything stays mostly trivial, which is a shame, because World of Warcraft offers tons of great content, from thousands of quests to dozens of dungeons and raids, which are unfortunately completely irrelevant for todays leveling players. So why not change it up and find a way to make it fun and challenging again? Experience the content with new eyes and maybe even learn a thing or two about a class and encounters?
So here’s what we came up with:
Two players, one tank and one healer and no heirlooms. Only use items and enhancements from quests, drops, instance bosses or our own professions.
We enter all instances at the lowest possible level and try to see how far we can get. I kind of did something similar when I played on my test account in WoW, trying to get the lvl20 character the best gear possible and solo instances. If we get stuck on an encounter, we try our best to beat it without leveling up. That means working on new tactics and getting better gear from older instances and quests. If we absolutely see no way of beating the encounter, we will level up once or twice, usually just to get a new ability or unlock quests in older dungeons.
I don’t remember exactly when we entered the first couple of instances, because at first we used the end boss’ level as reference, then the LFG minimum level, which was still too easy and gradually entered at lower and lower levels until we couldn’t possibly get any lower.
Let me give you an example to show how it works:
Scarlet Halls is a 5-man dungeon and available in the group finder for characters from level 26-36. The end boss, Flameweaver Koegler, is Level 31 and the average group of 5 players would be around that level with a bunch of heirlooms equipped.
Technically you can enter the instance at level 21, which we did, after beating Gnomeregan. We couldn’t even beat the first encounter, which isn’t even a boss, due to mechanics that regular players during a normal or even “heroic” run, aren’t even aware of. We had to improvise on movement and eventually level up to get access to some skills that would enable us to win the fight, barely. Soon we would hit the next roadblock, the first boss, which we are currently gearing up for and if nothing helps, we might have to level up. But we’re still just two players and about 6-7 levels below the boss.
In Gnomeregan we also had to find new ways to kite bosses and work around the mechanics designed for a full 5 man group. When getting gear for Scarlet Halls, we re-ran Gnomeregan to do the quest and even though the end boss was still 5 levels above us, it was almost trivial, compared to our previous attempts. Now think how “challenging” and thus interesting the content must be for a regular group using the dungeon tool.
We have currently finished the following instances:
and we’re working on Scarlet Halls. There is a TON of content left for us, which will last for a -long- time and will be extremely challenging. Because we always use the option to turn off the experience gain, we can approach every level/encounter as “end game” and see how far we can get. With higher levels, encounters get more complex and we also gain more abilities, which will make it more interesting to figure out the encounters. We will also have access to Raids (40,10,25,normal,heroic) and Heroic Dungeons as we level up. It is insanely fun and I highly recommend it for anyone who needs a challenge and is bored of running the same end game content over and over and over.
We don’t have to care about the end game hype and always have new instances and encounters right around the corner, waiting for us.
Instead of ranting about World of Warcraft, I’ll try to write about our progress here in the blog, explaining which new bosses we were able to kill and how we did it. Hope you like it!