Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Legion's Gameplay Loop: The Underbelly of Dalaran

Click here to go back to the intro article on Legion's Gameplay Loop to view other topics. Next article will be a brief announcement about a new blog tag. The following article will be on Withered Army Training.

The Underbelly of Dalaran once had many vendors, an inn, and even a bank. While it wasn't that noteworthy, players used to duel there if they could tolerate the framerate drops and it was also known for its fishing. Legion kept a lot of these, but reduced the accessible space by roughly a third (the final third of the Underbelly is now the Rogue Class Hall). It also added a couple new features that make venturing into the zone an adventure all its own, albeit a potentially frustrating and brief one. While the content that the new Underbelly offers isn't as considerable or appealing as some other content, there's still a relatively stable, action-filled gameplay loop that is highly accessible due to its location. In this article, I will review this small area and what it has to offer.

The Sightless Eyes

Sightless Eyes are a new currency exclusive to the Underbelly that is acquired from participating in various activities and spent on goods such as recipes and consumables (you cannot buy reagents). It can also be spent on various events in the Underbelly, including changing the status of whether guards are active or not, which alters the gameplay of the Underbelly. Sightless Eyes can be acquired at a modest rate, though it would be challenging to complete this achievement, which awards a mount, in a single sitting. Once the achievement is acquired, Sightless Eyes don't really have much of a purpose, though by that point a player will likely have determined whether the enjoyment derived from the Underbelly's activities is reward enough or not.

State 1: Guards are Active

When the guards are active, players can safely take part in Underbelly activities such as fishing, pet battling, and killing mobs, most notably mini-bosses, for Sightless Eyes. The latter part is comparable to mob farming and rare spawn hunting in zones such as the Timeless Isle. However, most likely due to the confined space, there are only a few mobs and mini-bosses to hunt and they're largely farmed for Sightless Eye drops. Because of this, the PvE aspect of the Underbelly can get repetitive very quickly and to a casual observer, the Underbelly might seem like a recipe for rapid boredom. When the guards go away, however, things take a rapid turn towards the chaotic.

State 2: Free-for-all Gankfest

If the head guard near the entrance to the Underbelly is bribed with Sightless Eyes, the guards are called away temporarily and most of the Underbelly becomes an open PvP area where all players can fight each other. Aside from all the regular activities while the guards are active, chests containing Sightless Eyes also spawn during this time that serve as objectives for players to fight over. Killing other players during this time awards a significant amount of Sightless Eyes, making it a great way to farm the currency for those interested in PvP. This to me is the highlight of the Underbelly since it provides an accessible PvP outlet that can be reached in seconds from the hub city and is an interesting take on a popular dueling area. It is nice that there is choice too since players who aren't interested in PvP but rather the other activities or BMAH access have the option to hire a guard for a fee of 5 gold to escort them through the unguarded Underbelly without being accosted by PvPers.

Final Statements

Overall, I find the Underbelly area to be a source of bite-sized content where one can relieve stress quickly and easily due to it being right next to the Dalaran Hearthstone location. It's not that great since in terms of content, there's not much to speak of and one has to have an interest in PvP to make the most of the Underbelly. In fact, I suspect most players will only visit every once in a while to do a quest and gradually acquire Sightless Eyes that way. Were it not for other content with greater quality, quantity, and rewards, the Underbelly would probably be something for players to complain about on a greater scale. It does help that there's a little variance in the gameplay loop itself however, since without the ability to send away the guards, the Underbelly would be an exceptionally dull source of PvE-oriented content. Ultimately, I'd consider giving the place a shot during downtime from other content such as raiding, but don't expect an amazing experience.

1 comment:

  1. i'm farming my hidden artifact skin. when the mode goes into pvp i can't and have to wait. sometimes i can only get one boss between pvp modes. i dont mind pvp and i dont mind the pvp in the underbelly. i do mind when your farming something and cant it gets annoying. if you could get the item of someone in pvp i'd be happy with that.