Scratching My Head About Scenarios

Scenarios are another one of those features that have been new in Mists of Pandaria and thus new to me. I haven't done all of them yet, but I think I've seen enough of them (plus a couple of heroic ones actually) to be able to form an opinion. Generally speaking, most of them seem to be pretty fun the first time around - for the sheer novelty value if nothing else - and then become dull as dishwater once you start repeating them. I've been trying to put my finger on why that is.

I think one of the major issues I have with them is that they just feel a bit... clunky. In terms of gameplay, scenarios seem to fall halfway between a regular quest and a dungeon, but it seems to me that the aspects they chose to incorporate from both sides don't really go well together. Like many quests, scenarios seem to like telling a story, but unless you just happened to find the intro quest to that specific scenario out in the world, you'll be dumped smack in the middle of things with no explanation of where you are, what's going on, or why you're doing what you're doing. In a dungeon, not knowing the background usually isn't as much of an issue, since they all share the overall "theme" of clearing an area of bad guys and defeating a big bad or two, plus the dungeon quests tend to at least give you a brief summary of the most key points. In a scenario you got that little box to track progress and that's it.

To add to the confusion, many scenarios seem to like to make things "interesting" by requiring lots of special actions from you and your character, such as collecting supplies, planting explosives, firing cannons, swinging from ropes etc. They are always marked quite clearly and big red text in the middle of the screen usually tells you what to do, but still... let's just say that expecting people to figure out new game mechanics while being thrown into a typical "rush rush" style WoW pug was not the smartest idea Blizzard's ever had.

On top of that, scenarios seem to be extremely unrewarding, which makes repeating them feel like a waste of time. If you queue for a random, you do get a small reward for that, but if you do a specific scenario you get absolutely nothing for it, nada (unless you count the satisfaction of actually getting the one you had a quest for). The bosses drop nothing, and you won't even get a couple of silver off the trash. I don't know why that is; it's a small thing but it really leaves me feeling disappointed after every scenario completion.

The sad thing is, for all these flaws I could see scenarios make for an interesting addition to the levelling game, just to do something slightly different from questing or running dungeons all the time. Just getting XP for each one would already make doing them a lot more worthwhile. But no, Blizzard restricted all of them to max level, where players will have a dozen other things to do that are more fun, more rewarding or both at the same time. It just strikes me as a lot of wasted potential.


  1. It has been a while since I've done them, but don't you get Valor Points for completing scenarios even beyond the first daily random?

    Not that Blizzard's implementation of Scenarios has been perfect (I get the feeling the tech was originally developed for the Pandaren brewmasters but then they realized they could use it for more ambitious things), but I suspect that their main niche is as a quick thing to do, faster than 5-mans or LFRs, especially for DPS. I know I did a lot of them when I was trying to Valor cap each week and not feeling up to healing, and pretty much every scenario popped for me in like a minute and finished very quickly. Personally, I expect scenarios to be improved upon in WoD.

    1. You do keep getting rewards for doing randoms, but you get nothing when you queue for anything non-random. Dungeons are the same really, but at least you always get drops from those.

  2. You stymied me on the "no reward for picking specific scenario" thing... I'm trying to remember if I've ever done a non-random and I'm not sure that I have. You might be right about that and if that's the case, that seems wrong.

    With randoms you get some VP (a significant amount of you do a heroic with a premade group of 3) and, once a day, a loot bag that can drop gear or pets/mounts/etc (with really damned low drop rates).

    In terms of scenarios themselves, I found the solo scenarios to be the most fitting... you did encounter them as part of dedicated questlines, they made sense and you didn't have 2 other people to be accountable to while figuring them out.

    The normal and heroic scenarios are more watered-down 5-mans with more story and less role specificity. With enough gear I still prefer a trinity group (tank/healer/dps) but it's entirely possible to do them, even heroic ones, with other combinations, including 3 dps... wouldn't recommend 3 healers, though.

    They're also instant-queue for all roles, which is a significant bonus. When I was still doing weekly VP capping I'd regularly queue up for LFR, a 5-man heroic and a normal scenario together... I'd get the scenario pop immediately and when I was done, my 5-man queue was ready to pop, after that I was usually near the front of the LFR line as well. Very little downtime... scenarios were great for that. Chaining heroic scenarios is better but that's a higher level of difficulty and requires a premade group.

    I do agree, the normal scenarios should have done a better job of integrating some sort of background prior to going in. Maybe have you do questlines to unlock particular scenarios before you can run them the first time.

    1. With the solo scenarios I'm torn between finding them a good use of the tool (proving grounds, that Thunder King treasure run) and being annoyed to be forced to play without my pet tank when it just feels like a slightly longer quest.

      I do see the appeal of an instant queue for dps... but with a tank/healer combo we haven't encountered any queues either way, except during a couple of levelling dungeons. :)

    2. Solo Scenario that you can't play with a group is the worst thing ever added to an MMO. If I want to play solo content, I would play a single player game.

    3. @Both, sure, for those who are used to questing in a duo or group they're going to be a temporary break from that but I suspect most of us quest solo for the most part. I've quested in a few duos over the years and usually found it more annoying than enjoyable. The questing solo scenarios are a storytelling device moreso than a gameplay one... in that context, I think they work even for those used to playing in a group.

      @Kring, that something is single-player-only doesn't necessarily imply that it's bad or inappropriate for WoW, WoW has always been a mix of single-player-friendly and group-required content, 9 years in seems to be a bit late to be complaining about that hybrid nature... 'tis what 'tis and many of us play the game both ways as appropriate. Shouldn't we all have some content that caters toward our preferred play style?

    4. Oh, that's not what I meant. Single player friendly content is perfectly fine. I like that.

      But waiting on the isle of thunder while your friend complains in TeamSpeak about this stupid scenario she has trouble with is not. The story telling wouldn't suffer if these story scenarios would use flex technology and you could go in with 1-5 people.

      Take a look at GW2. There you have your personal story which is instanced. But you can run it alone or bring a friend (or 4) along to help you, and they scale up in difficulty for that.

      WoW is an MMO, after all. It should never step in your way to play together (even if playing solo would be faster/better/more ideal/better rewarding).

  3. I don't know if you know this, because it is non-obvious, but all the PvE queues in WoD are concurrent. For example, if you sign up for a dungeon and a scenario queue, the scenario queue will pop first.

    But while you are in the scenario, you are still in the dungeon queue!

    When the scenario ends, if you are now at the front of the dungeon queue, the dungeon will pop immediately. So scenarios become a way for the dps to kill time while waiting for a dungeon or LFR.

    This same system applies to LFR wings. If you sign up for 2 wings, and get into Wing A, you are still in the queue for Wing B. But Wing B will only pop once you finish or leave Wing A.

    1. No, I didn't know that; it sounds pretty neat! However, doing everything as a tank/healer duo, we haven't encountered any queues worth mentioning yet either way, so whatever we want to do, we don't queue up until we're ready for an insta-pop anyway.

  4. My first assessment of scenarios was that they were like group quests from vanilla days. They need a couple of people, three is usually enough, doesn't matter what roles really because back then everyone was everything. You get the people to help you, complete whatever the quest was and go your separate ways.

    The good thing about the old way was there was a quest reward from it, usually one you wanted because it was a big thing, and you actually met people. In my case, people I still talk to even now.

    Scenarios seem to lack both. No real interaction, just a group quest group finder. And, as you mentioned, the rewards are dreadful, beyond dreadful even. Most of the time dreadful would be a step up.

    However, when heroic scenarios came out (which where not out originally being you just came back, they were added later) and you needed to make your own group and at the time they did offer something that might be of use, a 516 item, they were okay. But to be better they should have always given you a 516 on your first of the day.

    The one thing I liked about heroic scenarios is that if you can get a good group you can valor cap in less than 1 hour. But is that good enough to be worth it? Not sure. If something only works as a vehicle to cap, it needs something more to it.

  5. I agree, most scenarios are really bad and uninteresting to play multiple times. But, to be fair, the same is true for MoP heroics. There's not a single dungeon in MoP which I like for gameplay reasons.

    Scenarios are designed for a 3 DD group. They have no use for tanks and healers and if you run them as tank or healer you're really just prolonging the run. That's their biggest advantage. You can now cap valor as DD without the daily 45 minute wait for a random heroic we had during Cataclysm.

    And I'm curious to see when we get the first PvE battlegrounds, aka 25 man scenarios. That would probably work much better then LFR.