One of the most interesting features that came into the game in patch 5.4 is the new Proving Grounds. They were announced as a solo PVE instanced area where players will be able to challenge themselves to accomplish role specific objectives.
It all sounds interesting, but what does it all mean and how do they work? Let's take a look.
Where to find the Proving Grounds
To get access to the Proving Grounds you need to either visit your class trainer or head straight over to the Temple of the White Tiger in Kun-Lai Summit and talk to the NPC there.
What are the Proving Grounds?
The proving grounds are a new PVE solo instance area. In them players can prove their skills in any of the three key roles in the game: Tank, Healer, or DPS.
You can do this at three different levels for each of the three roles. You can compete at either bronze, silver, or gold level. Once the three basic levels are completed you can also try to set a record on the endless mode, which continually spawns wave after wave of challenges.
Gear in the Proving Grounds
Once in the proving grounds all items are item level normalized down to level 463. This means you don't get an advantage over other players that may have much higher level gear. Therefore the ability to complete the challenge is more based on your ability than your gear. However, items with item levels lower than item level 463 are not scaled up, so make sure you get everything up to 463 before heading into the proving grounds.
One important note in regards to item scaling is how hit and expertise caps work with scaled items. If you are at cap before your items are scaled down, you will remain at cap in the Proving Grounds even if the new values on your now scaled down gear would not normally provide enough of either hit or expertise to reach the cap. Other stats do not function that way though, so for example if you are just at a haste break point as a caster to get an extra tick on a HOT or DOT, expect to lose that tick once scaled down.
Also there are several items that do not fully function in the Proving Grounds. These include: raid tier gear (the set bonuses will not be available), Sha-Touched gems, and legendary meta gems will not be active either. This means that you may want to replace effected items before entering the Proving Grounds for items that will not be affected.
Vendors in the Proving Grounds?
Inside the Proving Grounds you will also find several vendors that offer services to help you out. There is a vendor for jewelcrafting supplies, a healthstone provider, a reforger, and a food vendor.
In addition you will be provided with all standard raid buffs while in the Proving Grounds.
What are the Role Challenges in the Proving Grounds?
The challenges vary based on role. They are roughly as follows:
DPS Challenges - The challenges for a DPS player are pretty straight forward. You need to kill various enemies all on your own in a set time period. The enemies will get harder over time and require you to either interrupt, AOE, or single target. If any enemy lives past the timer to kill them in, you will lose the challenge.
Healer Challenges - The challenges for a healer involve a full group of NPCs that need to be healed through various encounters. In the group of NPCs there is a tank, a caster, a hunter, and a rogue. Waves of enemies will spawn and your group will attack them, you need to keep them healed through each wave of enemies, if one dies you loose the challenge.
Tank Challenges - The challenge for a tank is to protect an NPC who will both heal and DPS the enemy waves that spawn. You will need to make sure that you pick up all the enemies as soon as possible and keep them off the NPC. If the NPC dies you will lose the challenge.
Proving Ground Achievements
The proving grounds don’t really provide any reward other than the achievements that you can earn. Those achievements are as follows:
- Proving Yourself: Bronze <role>
- Proving Yourself: Silver <role>
- Proving Yourself: Gold <role>
- Proving Yourself: Endless <role> (Wave 10)
- Proving Yourself: Endless <role> (Wave 20)
- Proving Yourself: Endless <role> (Wave 30)
Overall I like the Proving Grounds and the way they are implemented in the game. They are a system that puts a form of challenge into the game that is PVE based that is also a solo event. This makes it a perfect challenge system for players of all specs to try their skill against and be able to compare what they can do against other players. They are very much like dungeon challenge modes but for just you as a player. They are fun and different and most players will get an hour or two of enjoyment out of them.
The challenges in them though are fairly easy if you know your class, at least for the bronze level, but can get pretty tricky to complete at the gold level if you don't. For those players that just jump on and play, and don’t really understand stats, gear, reforging, and other key parts of the game, these will be way over their head.
I do have two concerns with the Proving Grounds though and they stem from the difficulty and level.
First, they don’t really do a whole lot to teach you how to complete them. Sure there are some hints and the difficulty ramps up over the stages so that you can figure out what you are doing, but they don’t really teach a player what to do if they don’t know the role. I was really hoping they would teach the role that you queued for, at least on the easy level.
The second concern and this one leads to a huge question, is why on earth would Blizzard make this for level 90 players only? Tying into to above point about teaching players. I feel this whole system would have made a whole lot more sense as a learning tool for players getting into the game than an ego achievement thing for players that are already at the end game.
I would think that turning the proving grounds into a tutorial system for players at around level 20 (when they are getting out of their starting zones) to teach them how to DPS, tank, or heal, would be a lot better use of this new feature. Even if it was a bit later at say level 30 or 40 it would be better than waiting until max level to use it. Early on many classes are missing too many of their role specific abilities that the challenges would need to be tuned accordingly, but I still believe it would be a better use of the system.
Well, that’s the Messiah’s say on the Proving Grounds, what are your thoughts on the whole Proving Grounds.