WoW: Scenarios and what they could have been

I feel that scenarios in World of Warcraft are a somewhat under-utilised system. At present they are trinity-less (no need for tank or healer) mini-dungeons for three characters. Each has a story, and some have a heroic version with harder difficulty. You can queue for a random scenario from amongst the available set to get bonus valor points as a reward for completion. Beyond that they are also sometimes used for the solo “story mode” dungeons, notably on the Isle of Thunder’s long quest chain and reputation grind, each represents a mini raid-like experience with a potentially tough boss-monster fight.

Crypt of the Forgotten Kings

Crypt of the Forgotten Kings

Scenarios, especially the solo story-oriented version, could of course have been used like Chronicles in Rift. These solo dungeons were designed to allow the more casual player a chance to see the stories hidden in raids without needing to gear grind and find a raid willing to take someone who will want to pause occasionally to watch cinematics or scripted NPC dialogues.

River of Souls raid as a solo Chronicle

River of Souls raid as a solo Chronicle

Now WoW does have raid finder raids to allow ‘easy’ access to the stories in raids at least from the gear-requirement perspective. But raid finder runs are generally either fast and efficient on-the-run experiences or messy and argument-ridden nightmares full of overpulls and wipes. Personally I’d say neither is particularly conducive to following a story.

I can already imagine a criticism of this approach would be that it would reduce the pool of potential raiders since X% (I won’t bother guessing at numbers) of those running raid finder currently would have a self-paced alternative to experience the content.

I would argue in turn that forcing players to play raid finder just to see story is simply bad design in the modern MMO era. More importantly beyond the players who could now avoid the headache of pug-raiding and actually pay attention to the story without feeling like their holding up the group; it could also offer a proving grounds style opportunity. The story mode “raid scenario” could be used to allow players to experience certain key mechanics of each boss fight in a less tense and frantic situation than when surrounded by 9 – 24 other players. Watching videos cannot always teach these increasingly complex fights, in some cases it’s better to experience them yourself. A solo scenario would allow you to practice such fights without worrying about wiping a whole raid.

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