It is exciting when a game that has been around for a long time comes up with such a good idea that they change the way the game is played. The random dungeon tool in World of Warcraft is exactly that: a game-changer for leveling characters and endgame characters alike.
Before now, if you wanted to get together a group to run through a five-man dungeon, you typically had to stand around the capital city calling out to anyone that would listen until you found four more like-minded people. The process was so long and irritating that most people just didn’t bother. Now imagine that you spend 20 or 30 minutes looking for the group only to find that two of the people you found are horrible players and can’t pull their weight. Do you try to push on through and make the best of it or do you head back to town for another 20-minute search? Surely there must be a better way!
Turns out, there is a better way. These days, if you are looking for a specific dungeon, you plug that into the looking for group tool, specify which role you’d like to play in the dungeon, and click submit. You are now in a queue with every other player in your battle group (a battle group is a collection of 18 or so servers. This is a LOT of players) and will soon be rocking and rolling in the instance of your choice. You remember that long run to get to the instance? That’s gone too. As soon as your group fills, you’re teleported directly into the instance with the other four players. When you’re done? You’ll be teleported right back to where you were when you queued. This means that you can get other things done in game while you wait for that group to fill and when you’re done, you can go right back to what you were doing.
The tool gets even better if you don’t actually care which instance you run. If you queue for a random dungeon, you will receive extra awards at the end in the form of money and badges (26 gold and two Emblems of Frost on your first run of the day and 13 gold with two Emblems of Triumph on every successive run). After grouping with 50 randomly chosen players, you will receive a new title “the Patient,” and at 100, you will get a non-combat pet, “the Perky Pug,” to follow you around in your adventures. The Triumph Badges turn in for tier 9 loot, which is some of the last patch’s top gear.
What that really means is that you can level a character to 80 and within a few short days (two weeks, tops) you can be ready to step into a 10-man Icecrown Citadel, the new endgame raid. This could be irksome to the players that were already in tier 9 gear, pushing through instances before the patch, but in my experience, they are all too busy leveling and gearing out alternative characters of their own to really notice.
Of course, there are the slight negatives here. You still have to deal with less “socially acceptable” people, but a quick vote of the group allows you to kick these people out and bring in someone else. Most damage dealers are reporting 15- to 20-minute waits to get into their instances, but this is due to the fact that there are so many of them out there as opposed to tanks and healers. I personally play a tank and I usually get a group within 5-10 seconds of entering the queue. Also, some instances are less desirable and players are dropping from them as soon as they join. This is, of course, the player’s choice, but they are having to wait 15 minutes for a cool down to go away before they can queue again. Also, Blizzard is now adding additional rewards to these dungeons to encourage people to stick them out. As of January 4, Oculus, the most commonly dropped instance, is giving an additional two Emblems of Triumph and a chance at a new mount upon completion of the dungeon.
Blizzard has really outdone themselves with this tool. A game like World of Warcraft thrives when the players are busy and, in my experience, everyone is busy running heroic dungeons these days. I know of a player that had taken an 18-month break and, after coming back and leveling from 70 to 80, he managed to get himself caught up gear wise to run with our 10-man raid within a week. That really levels the playing field and allows even the most casual players a chance to see the endgame content.