The first scenario in WoW appeared right before Mists of Pandaria launched as a prelude to the intensifying war between factions. When 5.0 was released, a handful of scenarios came with it. When 5.1 was released, a few more came out.
What are scenarios?
They’re basically like dungeon-lites, except that they have no role requirement. Instead of being for a group of 5 people, they are for a group of 3. You can go in with a prearranged group or queue up and play with strangers.
Scenarios are a way for casual players to experience some of the lore that they’re missing out on by not doing dungeons or raids. I think this mark is reached, but just barely.
There are quite a few pros to this mode, but some of the pros are mirror images of cons. It really depends on who is in your group.
- They are accessible. Anyone can pick up and play without very much effort.
- They are (usually) fun. They did a good job setting up the phases, making each one flow into the next, creating interesting gameplay without prying you away from the immersion.
- No role requirements. If you and two friends are DPS, you can queue together and play anyway. This means you don’t have to spend time looking for players if you want to premade, letting you get directly into the action.
- THE LORE! I can’t reiterate enough just how this mode makes you feel like you are a part of the main storyline.
*SPOILERS* As a Horde member, I got to do Dagger in the Dark, the scenario where you team up with Vol’jin and take on sauroks in a cave near the Veiled Star. After venturing further into the cave and defeating the sauroks, Vol’jin is ambushed by Kor’kron assassins sent directly by Garrosh. You are able to fight them off and save Vol’jin’s life, but he has you take a blood oath with him to promise not to tell anyone he is still alive, as he needs to retreat for his own safety.
*SPOILERS CONTINUED* This was probably the coolest thing I’ve ever seen in World of Warcraft. Not just because it’s Vol’jin, but just because of how intimate you got to be with one of the main leaders of the Horde. There are moments where you get to interact with the leaders, but there’s never been a way to do it quite as effectively as the way you can do it in scenarios.
While I do love the ability to interact with important characters in a big way, there are a number of glaring flaws that make scenarios sometimes a pain in the butt.
- They are too easy. As I said before, they’re accessible, but it’s as if they made them with the worst players in mind. Hopefully in the future they either give two difficulties or at least pump up the difficulty level enough to keep you engaged when you’re fighting non-boss characters.
- They are sometimes dreadfully un-fun. If you get queued with two butthorns, you’re not going to have a good time. Some people will just push you on without giving you a chance to talk to NPCs and take in the dialogue. Others will be outright rude. This is a problem that happens in other modes, but when scenarios are only supposed to be ten minutes or so and they take forty minutes because some dringus keeps ruining your run, it makes you want to break your keyboard on their head.
- There are no role requirements. This was a plus before, but it’s also a huge negative. If you get stuck with someone who cannot heal themselves, be conservative in mob pulling, or utilize the NPCs that will sometimes heal you in scenarios, then they will die and significantly slow you down. Tanks aren’t necessary, but if you’re playing with someone who is particularly bad, you might want to bring in a healer.
- No real rewards. You are much less likely to run scenarios than dungeons if you play seriously primarily for this reason. I don’t think it should reward you in the same way other PvE functions do, but I do think there should be something significant enough to motivate you to play through scenarios more than once. Maybe a point system to buy pets related to the storyline of a specific scenario or even little items that have special functions, like a lot of the items you get through questing in Pandaria.
Scenarios are a great way to make players feel involved with the storyline and can be quite fun, but when you get stuck with terrible party members and have no real incentive to complete them more than once, it makes them feel kind of lackluster. Scenarios have definite room for improvement, but if they can bring up the other aspects of the mode to be on par with the lore aspect, then you’ll have something people will be running just as much as dungeons.