Thursday, April 28, 2011

Early 4.1 PUG Impressions

I hadn't bothered to do much dungeon running in Cataclysm because of the lengthy queue times - an hour in the queue plus at least that long to clear the dungeon when the expansion was still new was longer than I could commit to.  In the two months or so I spent away from Azeroth, the situation has changes substantially. 

In the regular five mans, it does not appear that the touted "call to arms" feature is active on my server, perhaps because the queue times are already very reasonable.  My guess is that the non-heroic level 85 5-man experience is now very tightly focused.  At Cataclysm's launch, your level 85 in the queue for a normal 5-man had a 40% chance of being tossed into a level 82 dungeon that offered you almost no possible benefit.  At some point between then and now, the list was narrowed to just the three normal dungeons that are actually level 85. 

The bad news is that there isn't much variety.  The good news is that you can gear up and move on very quickly - I completed each dungeon once, with an extra run through Grim Batol, and I was at the gear threshold to LFG heroics.  Maybe this tier is now much less over-crowded with DPS now that the majority of endgame players are already 85 and in heroics, compared to when everyone was leveling. 

When I queued for a random heroic (T1, the new ones are at a higher tier), both tanks and healers had the "call to arms" bonus and queue times were indeed back down to reasonable levels.  I'm not sure that Call To Arms can be credited with this - when I've encountered players who said they haven't done much tanking or healing and asked whether they were trying it for the loot, they had never even heard of the system before.  Perhaps overall gear inflation and greater familiarity with the encounters is making the dungeons more palatable once again. 

You're still looking at about an hour and a half to two hours counting queue times to run a dungeon, which is twice as long as it took in Wrath and long enough that I can't necessarily get a dungeon run in every evening that I would like to run one.  That said, the compromise between difficulty and time is much more tolerable, especially since gear inflation in the next patch will likely speed things up further. 


Shannara said...

Blizz has admitted to screwing up with CtA, it is not activate on most of the US servers yet.

Yeebo said...

A comment to the side:

I got my gear score up high enough doing PvP that I qualified for heroics. However, knowing that my hit wasn't high enough to do well against most of the bosses, I didn;t run any heroics. TB offers an interesting transitional item, you can grind there for a trinket that adds 400 hit. However, burnout with WoW set in again before I managed to grind up enough points to get it.

Azuriel said...

A number of people have blogged about shorter queue times since 4.1, but I am not particularly convinced that is from the CtA feature itself. Rather, I think it is from the release of 4.1 - while it will pale in comparison to the dungeon frenzy that will occur in 4.2 once the Valor items become JP items, new content stimulates bored people even if they aren't necessarily even running the content (ZA/ZG in this case). The DPS queues were 45+ minutes a week ago, and I fully expect the queues to creep back up before mid-May once everyone realizes that these stupidly long heroics are still stupidly long.

Kring said...

CtA is only for heroics, you won't get the CtA bonus for normal modes.

Aracos said...

I'm with Azuriel. I think this will settle into the usual cyclical pattern in which queue times will improve temporarily as people are excited about the new content, and then things will go "back to normal" after the new shininess wears off. CtA probably enticed a few more tanks and healers to come out of the woodwork, but they too will disappear again once they get what they wanted out of the system.

Jacob said...

On Thursday I ran one dungeon with the CtA bonus. My reward was 50g and two healing potions. I am underwhelmed.

It's nice, and it does cause me to eye the Dungeon Finder window more than I did in the past, so it'll help a little, but it isn't enough to make me scream "wow I should sign up as much as possible!"

There's an additional interesting change this patch: the Dungeon Finder now attempts to group people with others from their own realm. It's too soon for me to say whether I like this, because I haven't seen how the details plays out over time. (Crudely put: if groups tend to be three from my realm plus two "strangers" from other realms, I'll be happy. If groups tend to be three "strangers" from another realm, and me alone with them, I'll be unhappy.)