Well, Uldaman has been conquered.
We already cleared the whole instance up to the last boss at the lowest level possible (you can enter the instance through the portal at 30, which we did). Archaedas was difficult, but for the most part doable. What killed us was the third phase where he summons two strong elite adds in addition to his normal 10 second summons and of course his own significant damage and frequent stuns.
Getting killed within seconds after running out of cooldowns in Phase 3, we decided to level to 31. I wasn’t confident we were able to kill him at that level (he’s still 9 levels above us), but the next dungeon, Dire Maul, unlocks at 31, so we didn’t want to level too far for the sake of the next instance.
The original plan was to use the Monk ability “Touch of Death” on one of the adds and increase the time my “Guard” spell would last. The problem was: The mobs are very high level, unfortunately, and when the crucial moment came, my Touch of Death actually missed! The 90 second cooldown started and with it our death sentence…or so it seemed.
This fight was the first where I had to use a healing potion and the healer had to chug his first mana potion in this challenge as well. A lot of somewhat chaotic movement was involved to keep the adds away from me, until Guard was available again. In the end, Touch of Death became available again after Archaedas was almost dead anyways.
So, Uldaman clear at Level 31. It’ll be another four levels before we can queue with the LFG tool. We spent the rest of the session getting the last pieces of gear from this and previous instances. We’re already geared until Level 35 with the best dungeon gear and considering our progress, that’ll last a couple of months, leaving only the few pieces of quest gear to obtain.
Now Dire Maul, at least the first wing, is available. People didn’t run Dire Maul a lot in Classic, at least not in our realm on alliance side, so I don’t remember a lot, which is why I’m looking forward to exploring the new version at a crazy low level.
We cleared Scarlet Monastery at Level 25 and the bosses are 33 and 34. The final boss fight took almost 8 minutes.
Now we’re Level 31 and can actually wear the loot from the instance, which requires Level 30. So we did a couple of farming runs to obtain the final best-in-slot items for our current level.
We were quite surprised to discover that we could clear all bosses in less than 8 minutes. Of course we’re much stronger, having gained six levels, but we’re still only two players, compared to five, without Heirlooms and the bosses are 2-3 levels higher than us as well. But it was already a cakewalk.
I later tried running the dungeon solo, because I still needed a drop from the second boss, not expecting much progress at all. In the end I was able to do a full clear run of Scarlet Monastery, still a couple of levels below the bosses, solo and in about 15 minutes. The funny part is, that at my current level, the highest instance I can queue for is…Scarlet Monastery.
Of course my gear is quite solid, technically not best-in-slot, but I have the best quest items and regular boss drops available. Since I didn’t spend ridiculous amounts of gold on rare world drops or did crazy stuff like getting two Arena Grand Masters (already did that back in the day with my 19 PvP character), I’d say the character’s power level is high, but still reasonable and I simply shouldn’t be that strong…or the enemies that weak. I remember that fresh lvl 60 chars, depending on their class, had trouble soloing the old Scarlet Monastery in Classic sometimes.
But the best part is still coming: With most players wearing tons of Heirlooms, they are actually even better equipped than I am, with the Heirlooms being almost universally superior in every gear slot I have. They upgrade every level while I sometimes have to wait a couple of levels, even if I try to have the latest gear at all times.
But as I demonstrated, even without Heirlooms your character is ridiculously overpowered and I ask myself: What’s the point?
Even new players, that don’t have Heirloom access or try to get every last piece of gear from a dungeon, will be much stronger than what they’re facing when playing normally, so they won’t be learning anything about their class, their abilities and they will never feel the need to, because everything works with random button presses. They won’t try to improve their rotation, gear or learn the ins and outs of their abilities, because it’s completely unnecessary right from the start until the very end aka max level.
But more seasoned players don’t gain anything either. With Heirlooms they’re insanely overpowered and in no way shape or form are they forced to put any effort into the gameplay. Heirlooms are meant as a tool for players to level their characters (even) faster, but unless you’re leveling a class you’re already very familiar with, you’re not learning much about your class.
But except for the higher levels of endgame content, there is no need to ever put any effort into anything in WoW PvE at the moment, because content is so easy. Maybe that’s why the player numbers are dropping like crazy? Sure, the easy content doesn’t cause casual players to leave frustrated on their path to max level, but at that point it leaves them with literally nothing interesting to do and the content that’s challenging is so far out of reach for them, that they usually don’t see the point.
Of course it IS possible to have a great challenge in the game, but considering the lengths we have to go through to have challenging dungeons from 1-60, I doubt many people will be interested in something like that.
I’m not sure Blizzard can turn the ship around to return to Classic or TBC levels of challenging gameplay and I don’t think they want to. But looking at the last subscriber numbers, I can’t imagine they are completely satisfied with the direction of the game.