Patch 4.1 has just been released for World of Warcraft and the most notable of the new content is the Zandalar heroic dungeons, Zul’Gurub and Zul’Aman.
These new heroic dungeons drop epic quality items with an item level of 353, a notch above the item level of the standard Cataclysm heroics which is 346.
While the patch has just come out within the last few days there are already very strong opinions in regard to the new content, some positive, most however are of a far more negative nature.
The Zandalari dungeons are supposed to bridge the gap between the easier standard heroic dungeons and ten-man raid dungeons.
While this is good in theory, the practical application of this concept seems to have been lost in the shuffle.
The new heroics are hard. Very hard.
Blizzard seems to have made them in such a way as to discourage Pugs, (Pick-Up-Groups) from attempting them period, which makes the new dungeons mainly aimed at organized guild endeavors.
This is where I feel Blizzard has completely alienated their targeted audience.
A well geared and organized guild group will be able to clear the dungeon, but still will have a difficult time of it, that being said, many guilds are simply deciding to skip the new heroic dungeons all together.
Most guilds have cleared ten-man raid dungeons, and while they still might be working on the final bosses, have a regular raid schedule which rewards their players with gear of the 359 item level category. Now comparing a successful raid schedule with better quality items to the hassle and frustration of the newer heroic dungeons, where even good groups will be spending hundreds of gold in repair bills and to be rewarded with lower quality epics, many will simply decide its not worth the time investment.
These dungeons are supposed to be accessible to players looking to gear up before raids, but instead these dungeons can really only be done with any certainty by players sporting all epic quality raid gear.
Any tank or healer who tried to run Zul’Gurub or Zul’Aman in 346 gear would be thrown from the group. They simply aren’t able to mitigate or heal the amount of damage being done in the dungeon.
So that leaves us with the question of who are these dungeons really made for? They certainly aren’t for players looking to gear up, they difficulty curve and gear requirement is too high.
They aren’t made for core raiders, they item level is too low to be worth the time investment.
This being said I can only conclude that Blizzard has some serious re-modification to do to the new content to make it even remotely accessible to the targeted audience.
Hopefully we will see some changes promised for the near future.
Until then I would stick with ten-man raids and save yourself some hassle and repair bills.