Mists of Pandaria - Scenarios

Posted Mon, May 21, 2012 by Messiah

One of the features that I am really looking forward to in Mists of Pandaria is the Scenario system.  This system is for all the players, like myself, out there that love PVE group content and want some additional challenges besides just dungeons and raids, since most world group quests have disappeared.  What exactly is this new system though?

Since they are not in beta yet we still have to go by what has been stated at BlizzCon and online by Blizzard. We can also get a little from the achievements found in the game and some of the information that people have dug out of the files.  Keep in mind though that all this is very much subject to change before they actually go live.

With all that in mind, let’s take a look at what Scenarios are going to be.

What are Mists of Pandaria Scenarios

We know for sure that scenarios are described as short, staged instances for a few players that you could think of as PVE battlegrounds.  

What all that means though is open for interpretation.  How man is a few and what does short mean? 

Let’s deal with the easier one first, what is a few?  A few probably means less than 5 since that is what a full dungeon instance requires.  Presumably Blizzard is looking to fill a gap and allow players to jump in something really fast to blast through some content with some other players.  This means that they will likely be for 3-4 players, although I could see this being flexible either based on scenario or have the scenario scale based on the number of people interested or grouped.

Next on to what is short?  Again, I think we take a clue from instances.  Most instances run about 20-40 minutes depending on your group and which instance.  If Blizzard really is trying to fill a gap for players that want to group, but don’t have time for an instance then it probable has to be in the order of 7-15 minutes for a scenario.  Any longer and you probably would just queue for an instance, any shorter and there isn’t much time to tell a story or get across the point of the scenario. 

What is a Staged Scenario

Now onto what exactly staged means, and for that let’s look back at some exampled that Blizzard provided back at BlizzCon.

They provided two examples, which to paraphrase were essentially:

  • Kill 25 enemies, escort an NPC past some additional enemies, and then kill a boss.
  • Kill 50 enemies, destroy 6 towers and a barracks, kill a boss.

So what this equates to for me, is essentially 3 small link quests.  When you finish the first part, it sends you to the second part, and then the final part.  This could be taken and stretched into more than 3 parts, but so far the ones that we have seen are only 3 different parts.

With at least three separate parts it allows Blizzard enough time to tell a little bit of a story with the scenario.  I suspect that some in the game will be more than three sections but we will have to wait and see.

This is just one of the sample slides they showed at Blizzcon to show how a staged scenario might play out.

Scenarios will be Queue and Go

Next up Blizzard has also described scenarios as a Queue and Go type system with a tool that will be very much like the Dungeon Finder tool to get into them.  However one big change from the dungeon finder tool to the scenario finder tool will be that there is no role requirements.

Yes, you heard that right.  There will be no designated healer or tank, just whoever wants to go, as whatever they want to go as.  Which will mean that everyone will be DPS.

What this also means is that the queues will be extremely fast.  By extremely fast, I mean pretty much instant.  Think of queuing for an instance as a tank, where you click the dungeon finder and are immediately put into a group.  It will be that fast, however it leads me to wonder how it will all work.

What, no Tank or Healer?

Since scenarios will be fast and use a queue and go system with no role requirements, that means you will almost never have a tank or healer in your group.  That means it will be up to you to manage your own health, threat, and control your enemies.

I do worry though, that players will expect any class that is capable of healing to heal when they jump into a scenario.  If this becomes the case then I can see a lot of argument and stress for players that do not like healing but are guilted into it.

While controlling your own survival could be ok for many player, I worry that the scenarios will have to be tuned way too easy to accommodate the players that are not able to string together more than 2 kills without running out of mana or health or taking a break for cooldowns.  If the scenarios are so simple that they can be done without a healer and survived even by the most lack lustre player, then what will be the point to them?  If there is no challenge or skill required, then what is the purpose of them?

The obvious answer to that questions is Valor points.  Blizzard wanted to find a way to give points to players that didn’t want to raid, run instances, or PVP.  Why, I’m not sure, since if you don’t do any of those things you really do not need better gear than you can get through questing, but regardless, this will give the very casual player a way to get some valor points to improve their gear over time.

How many Scenarios will there be?

This one is up in the air and no one other than Blizzard is really sure yet.  Actually, they probably are not sure yet either, as there are so many things going on in the Beta, some planned items may or may not get in for release.  Not to say that there will not be any scenarios in the release, just that until it ships I think it would be impossible to guess if there will be 4, 8, or 20 at launch.

There are many names of scenarios floating around out there, either harvested from the beta files, picked up from talks from Blizzard, or pulled from past lore. Just a few of the names that I have seen floating around are: Black Ox Temple, Ancient Mogu Crypt, Valley of Power, Burgled Brew,  Arena of Annihilation, Temple of Kotmongu, and more Again though no one is sure how many will make it into release.

The Messiah’s Take on Mists of Pandaria Scenarios

So far, from what we know, scenarios seem like they could work to provide some very quick on demand fun for PVE centric players.  This is especially true for those that are online for short periods of time and are looking for something to group up to do, but don’t have the time for an instance, or can not commit for a raid.  It is also good for those that like the battleground idea, but don’t like PVP combat.

Even for harder core players I believe that if done correctly I can see scenarios as a really fun little distraction when you are done other things in the game, such as your raids for the week, dungeon runs, and more. The question is, can they be done correctly?

My biggest concern with them is that since they do not require a tank or healer, that they will have to be balanced to be way to easy to complete.  Also since they are for only a very few players, there can only be so many different mechanics put into them or they will get too confusing.  Potentially there will be some form of scaling in difficulty put in place so that the events get harder based on the players gear involved, or even potentially based on the players past records in the scenarios.

I also am a bit confused overall about the aim of the scenarios, as one comment that I have heard a few times is that this will allow players that do not raid or run instances a way to get valor points and progress in gear level.  However my problem is that if this really is for players that don’t raid, don’t do heroics, and don’t do PVP, then can someone please explain why they need access to valor point gear?  If they are not doing any hard content then there really is no need for better gear, and creating content that is easy enough to get raid quality gear that will not be used seems strange.

Lastly the whole lack of role requirements concerns me a little bit as well.  We all know how battlegrounds turn out around healers, with everyone whining that their side is losing because no one is willing to heal.  I am a little worried that could happen here as well.  That may not happen here, but a lot depends on how the whole scenarios are balanced.
While a lot of my comments may seem a little discouraging, I really am still very positive about the inclusion of scenarios as a form of new PVE content.  While I see lots of potential issues, I also see a whole lot of upside, as they could be really fun little events to participate in.  Also because they will be short, in theory they will be easy for Blizzard to create more of them for any patch they put out which could further expand content for players. 

What is your take on scenarios, are you excited about them, or could you care less? Make sure you make your comments known by posting them below.

Scenarios are one of the reasons I'm coming back to WoW for MoP. If anything, it's just because it's something new in the game and they seem fun to try out, and a stress-free way to group up with other players without having to worry about tanking or healing. I hope the scenarios are a success and we see more throughout MoP's content patches and in the next expansions.

So basically LOTRO Skirmishes...

I am also concerned about threat if I choose my main and go in tank spec will I be mobbed without a healer? I would die first horribly, quickly then the rest of the group would go. I wonder how Blizzard will change the mechanics in the scenarios?

I agree with the Anonymous poster above, reading your description of Scenarios made me think about LOTRO's skirmishes. I guess as long as it adds variety to the game it's all good.

One more thing, why you might not find the practical side of "casuals" getting new ways to obtain gear —since you argue that as long as they don't run any more demanding content they shouldn't need better gear—, you got to remember that, as casuals, they might not be after gear for the stats value, but for the looks or even the feeling of acquiring and/or progressing in the game in their own way.

@Messiah: regarding Valor Points as reward for scenarios: I can think of a group of players who will like this option, and those are the ones who never get allowed in a raid because they haven't got any raid quality gear yet (catch 22). Yes, I know, a helpful guild will normally help and bring a good friend along to the easiest raids as long as that player has shown promise and interest already.

I think that players who never do PvP (I rarely do any PvP, mostly PvE) or who don't participate in a guild or don't do heroics should not need any better gear if they are happy with regular content. On the other hand, I get a slight feeling that Blizzard may be catering to casual players who spend very little time online and who otherwise would buy gold and gear from Chinese gold-farmers. (Just my opinion.)

@Darkundsoul: I'm thinking that in a perfect world, Blizzard would create auto-scaling mobs who tune themselves to the players' skill so it would feel equally difficult for everyone, but I think the loot should reflect how skillful the players are. On the other hand, that may be too weird for most players who would like to see predictable mobs within a chosen difficulty level (i.e. normal vs heroic mode). I may have misread the article, but I think the game mechanics will be set within a range for small groups to handle even without the dedicated tank and healer roles. At least I think the scenarios should be set up similarly to an instance where you would be able to stand still at the starting point without being attacked and to have "break spaces" further on. Anyway, we can't be sure until release day or when Blizzard decides to go public with release info.

Oh well, I'm looking forward to the quite interesting result... ;-)

This new system has nothing what so ever to do with dungeons or raids. It is a "group quest" (without interference), and that's all it is. Think back to the days of BC, you accept a quest that stated "Suggested Players (2), (3), or (5). That is what this is, except it is the Chain version. Not every piece of new content in an mmo has to be tied to endgame hyper raiders. If we are lucky, this new system will continue to grow. This very addition has the potential to bring questing back into the game. With BoAs, xp from mining/herbing, instant que tanks, and battlegrounds; questing has fallen to the wayside. But the point not to miss here is this IS NOT endgame content. I'm sure we'll start seeing more of these in the future.

Can you hoardies imagine participating in the sacking of Theramore in 3 man, instanced, chain quest groups..... w/o some a** hat screaming about your iLvl or spec? It's gonna be fun.

I'm one of the "casual" players you're talking about. :) I actually spend a great deal of time playing the game, I have a max level toon of every class and probably spend an average of 2-3 hours a day just doing my own thing. However, raiding, dungeons and PVP are not something I enjoy doing at all. Raiding just stresses me out, dungeons are frequently populated by rude and obnoxious players and PVP is just something I have to do for the holiday achieves. I admit that I'm something of an anomaly as WoW players go, but the beauty of the game is that it offers so much variety for so many different types of people. But here's the thing. Just because I'm not going to be killing raid bosses doesn't mean I don't feel the same rush everytime my toon becomes more powerful because of a gear upgrade. I don't want my toon's progression to hit a wall and come to a standstill just because they're max level, I want to get to a point where I can one shot those pesky mobs that gave me so much trouble when I first hit max level. I have a couple of friends/family members that I enjoy playing with, I can see myself having a really great time with them doing the scenario thing and I love the fact that I can use it to gear up my toons, just like all WoW players like to do.

I know this is a late comment but you ask "then can someone please explain why they need access to valor point gear? If they are not doing any hard content then there really is no need for better gear" and I want to answer it in light of the way I play WoW.
I have played WoW since early '06. I have lvl 85 toons on several realms and at least one of every class. However, I live in an area where the internet is very hard to come by so until recently I have not had a connection that was decent enough to consider playing with others as I would get d/c sometimes a dozen or more times in an hour and be unable to get right back on. So I have played alone. I would love to run dungeons and other things with a group that needs an extra body but my gear is not considered good enough to meet the groups expectations. I have tried many times and either been turned down or laughed at or ridiculed because of my mismatched gear. I do PvP and have decent PvP gear on most of my toons but try getting into a group to run a dungeon or a raid in full PvP gear and listen to what you are called. Maybe I am missing a way to get where I would like to be but I don't think so. So this is one reason why someone might need access to valor gear.

It is great to have the opportunity to read a good quality article with useful information on topics that plenty are interested in.White watch

I'm liking this game more and more. Can't wait to paly it with my buddies.

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