World of Warcraft

While the new player experience in exile’s reach is pretty good, dungeons still remain a massive complexity and difficulty spike.

wow6 - While the new player experience in exile's reach is pretty good, dungeons still remain a massive complexity and difficulty spike.

I'm a recently ex-new player (basically I've recently gotten somewhat comfortable with the game and how it works, hitting lv 50+). I wanted to share my perspective and offer some feedback, as well as check others' opinions.

I've experimented both with the exile's reach start and the racial starting areas, and the new exile's reach start is definitely an improvement. It explains things a bit better, especially the combat training part that, for priests as an example, teaches you that you can use smite while sw:pain ticks away.

It also has you run through a dungeon at the end, but here's where the issue lies:

It's not a real dungeon. First issue is, everyone is queued as damage. There's no dedicated healers, tanks, etc, it just shoves everyone in as damage. However, these aren't necessary because of the second issue: It doesn't play like a regular dungeon. No tanks means enemies aren't dangerous by design, so even healing classes can pretty much just damage and don't have to heal.

Imagine my surprise as a new player when I queued for Freehold in kul'tiras, the first "real" dungeon the game introduces to you. Some immediate differences I noticed:

  • Roles exist now. I was playing a priest, so now it queues me as healer. We have a tank, and 3 damage. Game doesn't really introduce this concept other than very briefly when you're asked to pick a spec. Stuff like threat and how wow combat "works" is never explained.

  • Enemies are way more dangerous. I die really quickly if I accidentally pull anything to me. The tank takes all the damage, ideally. Again, in the Exile Reach dungeon, threat didn't matter.

  • The game introduces a bunch of new things at once:

Interrupts. Your class's/spec's interrupt should be given to you on exile's reach, and the game should teach you how and when to use it. Many dungeon bosses become dramatically harder if nothing is interrupted.

CC (the game never CCs you until this point, so it's a sudden shock of not being able to do anything for a bit, especially getting barrelled by the second boss of freehold and nobody knowing how to free you).

Boss mechanics. Gotta step out of this area! Attack the people with barrels on their heads to free them! Better dispel this debuff before it CCs everyone!

The map is way larger, and you don't kill everything (again, unlike the ER dungeon, which is fully cleared and linear). I watched a fellow new player accidentally go the wrong way, get caught by enemies, and dazed to death.

  • Since the game mixes new and old players together, you have people in heirloom gear rushing down predetermined paths, while new players do their best to keep up and not pull anything their tank didn't. Better follow close or you'll get lost… fuckin' Waycrest Manor… more like Waycrest labyrinth…

So for some suggestions to make the dungeon introduction smoother, by fixing the end of ER's dungeon:

  • Have people hit lv 10 and be able to choose their spec before entering the dungeon. Have roles like any other dungeon.
  • Along the path to lv 10, give the player their interrupt, and teach them to use it. ("I'll try to hit you with a spell, you use your interrupt to stop me!") Kinda like the way it already teaches Warriors to use execute. Also perhaps teach healers how to dispel.
  • Explain how threat works at a basic level (this could be done with a simple explanation by Captain Garrick, "be careful not to do too much damage, enemies will prioritize the person killing them the fastest or healing their enemies!"), covering the fact that tanks generate the most threat, but you'll take aggro if you do too much damage or spam too much heals. (Oddly enough I learned this from addons I installed, seeing "HIGH THREAT!" pop up when I healed too much then getting attacked, I put 2 and 2 together)
  • The final boss of the ER dungeon (the reanimated dragon) ACTS like a regular dungeon boss, but the mechanics aren't necessary to know or avoid. For example, one of her attacks is a massive blast in front of her (necrotic breath?) that should be avoided, but it does no damage so you can just facetank it. The game should try to teach boss mechanics and how to physically move to dodge stuff, in preparation for real dungeon bosses, where it's "you step out of the circle or you get chunked/die/CCed for eternity/explode".

I'm doing fine now because I took the time to do heavy research on all this stuff after having a… unpleasant and confusing first experience in freehold (thankfully my teammates were very understanding and didn't roast me) and installing addons like GTFO and deadly boss mods that help greatly with not getting destroyed. Hell, I'm still learning stuff with each new shadowlands dungeon I do. Did you know that it's really important to dispel the final boss of necrotic wake's ice root thingy? Like really important, because if you don't he'll pelt everyone with comets while they're chain-rooted and basically auto-wipe your squad.

I'm the inquisitive type and enjoy researching the games I play, but not everyone can be expected to do all that research out-of-game before they queue for their first real dungeon, especially when the game gives no indication that freehold will be significantly harder than the ER dungeon.

TLDR: The Exile's reach final dungeon and the island itself doesn't teach all (it does get most of them, but not everything) of the core tenets of WOW which are needed to be a good teammate in BFA/Shadowlands dungeons. There's a noticeable difficulty spike that can make new players struggle in their first real dungeon.

The final ER dungeon can be improved to cover this and make the transition smoother.

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