Mists of Pandaria to be Packed Full of Max-Level Content
Challenge Mode Dungeons
On the opposite end of the spectrum from the more casual pet battles is Challenge mode, a decidedly hardcore way to spend your time in World of Warcraft. Challenge mode basically puts players on time trial runs through dungeons, with specific times resulting in winning bronze, silver and gold medals on that dungeon. Those medals can result in some spiffy looking armor that can be used in transmogrification.
Chilton described the mode as “competitive PvE,” with the emphasis on gathering teams and trying to kick ass. Challenge mode is supported by leaderboards that display the global best times in dungeons, and can be honed to show best times among friends, guilds and the like. The idea is to allow top-tier players a place to flex their skill muscles, and the leaderboards are designed to show lots of information — like who you took with you on your run, for example, and what classes were involved.
The idea is two-fold: first, players are able to see exactly what kind of skill went into a specific dungeon run and who was involved; and second, so other players can emulate those choices to their benefit.
Chilton said difficulty will ramp up pretty steeply.
“We assume the vast amount of players can bronze with their friends,” he said. “For that, you’ll earn an achievement and title.”
Meanwhile, armor gets handed out at the silver level, and gold challenges might hand out special mounts to players — but Blizzard is making sure that, like pet battles, players won’t use Challenge mode to gain power. Rather, the mode is about prestige.
“It’s really a way for me to set myself apart,” Lagrave said. “The Challenge modes are going to be huge.”
Scenarios and Daily Content
The new Scenario system falls somewhere between the Challenge mode and pet battles. It’s more involved than the pet battle system, but requires less skill than Challenge mode, mostly because Scenarios are class-agnostic, as Lagrave put it. They’re similar to daily quests, except their larger, more involved and group-oriented.
Blizzard didn’t reveal much on any actual Scenarios — though he said about five were either completed or close to it in Pandaria — but the idea is that they’re multi-step quests that can be completed out in the world and refresh daily. Any band of characters can take on a Scenario, as they’ll generally be less difficult, than, say, dungeon runs, though it seems as though they’ll be just as involved. They’ll also include their own complete story arcs. For example, a Scenario might involve helping a Pandaren Brewmaster complete a special sort of ale, which requires defending it from attacks as it ferments, escorting it over open territory, and so on.
Warcraft players aren’t strangers to group quests, but Scenarios will work differently from the kinds of quests players might find natively in the world. They’ll include a queuing system, which Chilton said is designed to make it easy to get into Scenarios instead of just bypassing them, as many players do with group quests because of the pain of finding people with whom to run them.
Blizzard is increasing its commitment to supply daily missions to play through as well. Faction quests, for example, will be available on a daily basis for players, and Blizzard is looking to make those include contained story arcs, as well.
“Factions will be more than just a bar that fills up at the bottom of your screen,” Chilton explained.
Players will progress through a story as they work with a faction, rising in its ranks over time. Chilton used the example of a Pandaren faction of farmers called the Tillers, whom players can build their reputations with by working through daily quests. Player progress with the Tillers will be quantifiable with a personal farm — it’ll start out overgrown and covered in rocks, but before long, players will be able to plant their own crops and harvest them each day. There’s even the possibility of a plantable pet that would be accessible with the faction.