Thursday, January 18, 2018

The State of Regular Mythic Dungeons

In Patch 6.2, Mythic dungeons were added to the game, which helped to provide some much-needed content during a time when subscriber numbers were dropping heavily. At the time, it was basically endgame content that awarded gear to allow players to comfortably run the Hellfire Citadel raid, the last raid of the Warlords of Draenor expansion. This meant that how Mythic dungeons would be implemented in the Legion expansion would be very different since it would likely be entry-level content that was available for who have done Heroic dungeons. At the start of the expansion, this was indeed the case but was quickly overtaken by Mythic+, which is basically a Challenge Mode-style dungeon with scaling difficulty and rewards. Because of the endless content potential comparable to Greater Rifts in Diablo 3, I praised this feature in a past article that also seems to have gotten a fair bit of positive reception from players.

However, in that same article I pointed out that I noticed that regular Mythic dungeons seemed to be on the verge of being outdated content and while the gear reward item levels got boosted twice along with Heroic dungeons to provide consistent progression towards current endgame content, Mythic dungeons themselves largely seem dead outside of Dungeon event weeks. This might not initially seem like a big deal but there are some quests that can only be done in regular Mythic dungeons such as many Balance of Power quests. Personally, I had a frustrating time finding groups to run regular Mythic dungeons for Court of Stars and Arcway even during an event week to do my quest.

Unfortunately, supplying anecdotes, especially for a couple dungeons that required attunement to begin with, is not a good way to support my argument that regular Mythic dungeons are in a sorry state. That is why in this article I'm going to provide a few reasons why I think regular Mythic dungeons aren't run much or, at least in the future, will likely not be run much.

Mythic is harder than Heroic, but arguably less rewarding

It's understandable that Mythic, being a step up from Heroic in difficulty, should be more challenging. While it initially started out only a little more challenging, some changes have made that difference greater. The reward difference also initially made sense since both difficulties were mostly known for their gear reward.

However, other fast methods of gearing were made available such as Dauntless and Relinquished gear tokens that made the method of gearing through Heroic and Mythic dungeons obsolete even when the 7.2 and 7.3 buffs came around. This means that gear-based rewards from Heroic and Mythic dungeons were not as worthwhile, meaning both modes needed other worthwhile rewards. I was personally partial to having bosses in dungeons and raids award Nethershards, which would've been a useful secondary reward to earn like with Badges of Justice and similar currency in the past.

Instead, this salvation came in the form of Writhing Essence, which was awarded in small amounts for running a Random Heroic through Dungeon Finder daily. Meanwhile, running Mythic+ had allowed the player to loot a high amount of legendary upgrade currency from the weekly chest. This left regular Mythic, which to this day awards no legendary upgrade currency or other major secondary reward. To make things worse, the most recent legendary upgrade currency can be used to buy legendary gear as of patch 7.3.5, which provides even more of an incentive to farm the currency.

Mythic requires a premade group

A few years ago, I thought Mythic dungeons in Warlords of Draenor weren't sufficient in terms of encouraging players to run party content with a premade group, which in turn would've cut down on Dungeon Finder reliance, so I wrote an article about it. While my suggestions didn't quite take the form I expected, I can't object to the success of Mythic+ dungeons as content that requires a premade group. However, it seems things have come full circle since once again I feel like Mythic dungeons are insufficient at encouraging players to run party content with a premade group.

Fortunately, with Mythic+ around, the need for Mythic to fulfill the role of serving as an alternative to matchmade group content is not needed as much. This then raises the question of why Mythic dungeons, especially since they're only a bit harder yet not as rewarding as Heroic dungeons, cannot be done with matchmade groups. It really serves as more of a drawback that makes forming a group to do the rare few quests (or whatever objective the player desires) that require a regular Mythic dungeon a frustrating experience that doesn't really have a place in the current game. This is also a different situation compared to the past when Dungeon Finder or Premade Group Finder didn't exist since players had to use chat to form groups for content that was generally worthwhile to do rather than using a convenient tool only to find no interested players.

Mythic+ is so much better to do

I alluded to this a little in the previous section but I might as well outright say it: Mythic+ is just better to do the vast majority of the time compared to regular Mythic dungeons. This has a lot to do with the fact that lower Mythic+ levels aren't that much harder than regular Mythic dungeons but they're far more rewarding to do. At Mythic level 2, enemies are about 10% harder and even a few levels up they're not too bad to steamroll since there's a good chance players will outgear the content or have someone in the party who is. Furthermore, players who do a Mythic+ even at a lower level are guaranteed at least one piece of fairly powerful gear from the weekly chest along with some of the aforementioned Wakening Essence. They are also guaranteed keystones to run more Mythic+ for the current and following week.

To contrast, regular Mythic dungeons provide several chances to earn some lower end gear they may not be able to use like with lower level Mythic+ and a keystone to run Mythic+ for that week. Aside from the fact the regular Mythic dungeon basically steers the player to run Mythic+ with its reward, the other rewards are inferior and based on random chance. This also brings up the point that players can effectively run Mythic+ as long as they have a keystone, which will always be the case if they do a run each week. Players also have the option to join an existing Mythic+ run to get a keystone instead of running a regular Mythic dungeon even if they haven't run any Mythic+ recently (or at all).

Solving the Problems

While resolving the apparent obsolescence of regular Mythic dungeons isn't that urgent, I think it's important to address it since it'll be relevant content in the Battle for Azeroth expansion for a brief time before falling into obscurity once again if nothing changes. Also, I don't think the changes I'm suggesting are major to implement, but they may be controversial.

The first change is to make it possible to queue for regular Mythic dungeons through the Dungeon Finder. My reasoning for this is that Mythic+ fills the niche of requiring a premade group for content better. The keystone system itself is strongly compatible with premade grouping since players are encouraged to create a group to run a keystone. The challenge and rewards also scale, meaning players are able to find a level that comfortably suits them best. Since Mythic itself is a singular difficulty that's a slightly harder version of Heroic it should be provided with similar features. Much like with Heroic dungeons, players can still make a premade group to run Mythic dungeons. My biggest hope is no more existing content needs a Dungeon Finder queue.

The second change is to alter quest objectives that exclusively require regular Mythic dungeons to either be completable in Heroic or Mythic+. Some quests do this already, but as I mentioned, others do not. The reason I don't specify towards one or the other is because I think the direction of quest objective flexibility should be at Blizzard's discretion. By doing so, objectives that are intended to be more or less difficult can be appropriately classified. I think this change should take place even if the first one makes it through since it provides players with more choice of the content they want to do, especially when it comes to choosing between Mythic and Mythic+.

With these changes, hopefully Mythic dungeons will be run a bit more or at least not produce a frustrating experience due to narrow quest requirements.

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