I want to take a moment and just discuss the state of keys and dungeons for this first season of Dragonflight. There’s some definite negativity going around with the dungeons, the affixes, and the season in general. I’m not immune to it and I understand it. But I’ve never participated in a season where I’ve witnessed players just bailing on keys mid-run.
This just happened to me the other day. I mean, yeah it’s Tyrannical this week, but I don’t think it was impossible. It would’ve been very close.
Anyway, I find the atmosphere around keys have been quite gloomy and not as optimistic. Some of my friends in previous seasons who aimed to push and test their ability to climb as high as possible aren’t going for it this season. They’re content to just get their +20s done and unlock their portals then call it until the next season.
Why Is That?
Because it’s not fun!
Thundering is just not enjoyable at all. You get a buff that’s difficult to discern in what is often a visual cornucopia of ground effects, spell effects, and other bullshit on your screen. In order to handle it effectively, you need to have some Thundering Weak aura installed that gives you and your team the best chance of clearing it at the right time so you can track who has what debuff and where they are. It can be hard to tell the differences between two shades of gray when you’re on other sides of the room or a mob pack without it.
Seriously, I would’ve made the positive a bright purple and the negative a Lucio green or something to make it pop that much more.
Furthermore, if you fail to clear it, you get stunned and you take damage that normally isn’t bad by itself and is survivable, but when combined with other incoming attacks is often lethal to one person. It’s at the point where I’ll clear it within 5 seconds right away to not have to deal with it. The 30% buff to performance just isn’t worth the risk.
Let’s look back.
Shadowlands Season 1
- Prideful: It was okay, but if you didn’t utilize the Prideful buff, you risked completely bricking your key. You sure did feel amazing though when you had the Prideful buff.
- Tormented: Better. You got to pick a buff. Your character got stronger and stayed that way for the course of the dungeon. Depending on your role, there were certain must-have picks. It may have been boring, but it wasn’t actively punishing.
- Encrypted: Easily one of my favourites. The relics were great and it spawned a mob that you had to deal with which buffed your party temporarily. Priest Boon of Ascendance with near-unlimited cooldown recovery was just fun even if it was for a few seconds. You could tailor your routes accordingly by targeting Wo and using invisibility to get around.
- Shrouded: Alas, this one was also kind of boring since it was just a flat stat buff as you progressed. But if you defeated the Infiltrators, you still gained a buff and you could feel your character get that much stronger over time within the dungeon.
None of the ones here felt overly punishing. Even if the affixes themselves seemed dull, that’s okay. Let the dungeon itself provide that fun factor.
I won’t touch too much on the BfA affixes. Those ones were just extra things that made the dungeon more challenging and didn’t offer much of a benefit except for Awakened which was neat and allowed for creative pathing with the Obelisks and the alternate universe.
In any event, Thundering doesn’t provide an impactful performance when playing. I’m not sure how I would really fix it. One thing I would do is make it less punishing — Remove the stun if two people don’t clear and just leave a DoT on the affected. At least it gives the players some chance of recovery. If they do it, great. If not, well they’re dead anyway. A DoT plus a stun is excessive. It’s so punishing that it leads average players (like myself) to not even risk a long duration of the buff. If it was just a few DoT ticks, I can make that tradeoff calculation in my head and decide whether it was worth that extra party damage and healing through it.
The seasonal affixes have the opportunity to make even the most dreadful dungeons appealing.
Shrine of the Storm?
De Other Side?
I absolutely hated healing through all of these, but give me Encrypted or Tormented and even the most hated dungeons go from “hell no!” to “okay, fine!”. As for the other dungeon affixes, I don’t have a strong opinion about them one way or the other. The Bolstering change has been incredible. This week with Tyrannical, Bolstering, and Volcanic is a great push week. Managed to get to +2400 on my alts to the point now where both my Mage and my Evoker have more portals than my Priest. But for the designers, I implore you. Incentivize the players with the benefit of doing the seasonal affix. Don’t punish them. If you want to make dungeons difficult, the rotating weekly affixes already do that. If you want a challenge, then let the dungeon trash or boss do that. But adding another pain point in the form of a seasonal affix that operates under “If you don’t do this, bad things will happen” is backbreaking. Make the seasonal affix something that players look forward to and are eager for.