The two announcements that impressed me most during Blizzcon and had certainly gotten all my attention if there hadn't been a certain new race, are scenarions and the open world.
MMO Champion notes
The plan is to get people back into the world, instead of having players roam around Stormwind and Orgrimmar all the time once they reach max level.
World raid bosses will return!
Over time we have dungeons that existed in outside world, and there's a secondary thing to it. For example the stormbrew brewery where quests actually go inside/around the dungeon. Historically we have had to scale them to be smaller, here they are 1:1 scale so they have awesome impact to the zones.Now, as much as I agree with the first quote, the specifics of this announcement are insufficient. While I appreciate world raid bosses, they are just a drop in the ocean. I liked Azuregos during classic, but I saw him perhaps five times in two years or so. World bosses are nice-to-have, no more.
The same applies to dungeons that exist in the open world 1:1. I like this a lot, but it is not sufficient to bring the 'world' back. I simply are left wondering how exactly Blizzard intents to “get people back into the world”. I suggested one simple, common-sense way a few days ago. This is not difficult to implement and Blizzard should just copy/paste me. I won't sue, promised.
The more serious announcement were scenarios. Scenarios could change everything. Finally Blizzard agrees that 5-mans and raids aren't the only possible endgame group content. You can have content for three players, or 7 or 11. This adds the one thing WoW requires on all levels: diversity.
MMO Champion notes
Scenarios are a new type of PvE challenge designed for groups of as few as 3 or as many as 25 players, depending on what is appropriate for the content. Scenarios require players to band together to complete a specific goal, such as defending Goldshire against a gnoll attack or storming a beach near a Horde fortification. Each scenario will have its own set of unique objectives, and in general they will offer a different type of gameplay from the trash-and-boss design of 5-player dungeons.
Scenarios will allow for more flexible group compositions than dungeons do, so parties won’t necessarily need a specific number of tanks, healers, or damage-dealers (though exactly what’s required will vary by scenario). And while a scenario may take place in a familiar location within the game world, each scenario will be instanced. In general, expect a scenario to take anywhere between 10 to 30 minutes to complete.
- PvE Scenarios are a way to give new interesting content that doesn't make sense in a dungeon content.
- Scenarios are more about reusing parts of the world in interesting new ways, and introducing new types of PvE gameplay that we've never seen before like PvE battlegrounds.
- They are short instances for a few players, the amount of players can vary depending on the scenario, some of them can be for 3 players.
- You don't need the typical tank/heal/dps setup, you will just be able to enter and play your role no matter what it is.
- It will be a staged experience where you will try to accomplish some greater goal
- For example, a scenario might require you to kill 25 kobolds in stage 1, then find and return 4 goldshire children, and then kill the boss.
- Developers would like to do PvE battlegrounds, where you will have to slay 50 alliance/horde soldiers, destroy 6 towers and the barracks, and then defeat the enemy General.
- They could replace group quests.
- It uses the same queue system as the dungeon finder
- Since there is no role requirements, queues should be instant.
Scenarios: Join up with some friends to achieve a common goal, such as mounting a defense against invading monsters, in a flexible new type of PvE challenge.
[..] or adding PvE Scenarios to facilitate the quick formation of smaller groups to take on a series of event-driven quests.
[..] Whether that's through Normal or Heroic raiding, queuing for a Raid Finder run, hitting dailies for rewards and VP, busting out a scenario with some strangers, or joining some buddies for a dungeon Challenge, we want you to be making meaningful progression on your character. [..]Scenarios are going to be instanced and accessible by LFD. Blizzard explicitly said that you are going to beat them with strangers. First, this means that they will not help with “getting people back into the world”; quite the contrary. Second, scenarios will not be dramatically different from dungeons. The difference seems to be that they vary in the number of players/roles required and that you don't necessarily move through some kind of labyrinth. Instead, the mobs might come to you. This is a welcome addition and I like diversity a lot. I also understand the need to add 'content' that requires more damage dealers per tank and per healer. But I am not so blind to not see that this kind of content is also cheaper to produce.
To say that "Each scenario will [..] offer a different type of gameplay from the trash-and-boss design of 5-player dungeons." and at the same time present this example is impudent. Moreover, the two statements "[..] parties won't necessarily need a specific number of tanks, healers, or damage-dealers (though exactly what’s required will vary by scenario)." and "Since there is no role requirements, queues should be instant." don't seem consistent to me.
PvE Scenarios could change everything, that is halt WoW's ongoing decline, because they would finally give players some PvE content outside of random LFDs, raids and daily quests. But if the scenarios are all accessible via LFD, they will all be of similar length, and they will all be similarly difficult, because a LFD doesn't work otherwise. Blizzard has just painfully learned this lesson during the first months of Cataclysm.
If Blizzard created some scenarios that are not accessible via LFD, they were able to also add reasonably challenging content to groups of friends and more diversity when it comes to the duration of the scenarios. That would make a real difference. But it seems they are about to miss that chance.
Since we already have some "dungeons" that are nothing but a scripted event that plays in one area/room, the only thing really different about scenarios right now, seems to be the number of required players. While I welcome this, I'm not even sure it justifies calling them scenarios instead of heavily scripted dungeons with gimmick quests and more DDs per tank.
Finally, I still miss the announcement that Blizzard stops throwing away massive amounts of content. How can it be a waste of development resources if not every player sees all the content, but at the same time perfectly acceptable to throw away every raid instance of this and all prior expansions with every major patch?
I would love to have a reason to visit the Black temple, Ahn'Qiraj, Ulduar or Karazhan. While transmogrification is a first step - that is arguably a disaster for immersion - I would really wish to visit these many old raids. It would be great if old raids were reasonably challenging and consistent with Blizzard's rediscovered design maxim “[..] no matter what you choose to do, you'll be making progress.”.
I understand that Blizzard wants us to believe that changing the look of our characters is 'progress'. But it remains to be seen how many players agree after they got the look they wanted. Acquiring new looks by zerging through content also doesn't seem to be the best way to use these raids. And, if I may add, classic WoW's random loot system in combination with encounter-specific equipment was really good at making you progress all the time.
PS: I just want to note that it is possible that you will need to walk up to a NPC to start a scenario. Without the LFD's teleport I like this much, much more.