When it was introduced, World of Warcraft’s Random Dungeon Finder might have been the greatest feature that Blizzard introduced to the game.
Even on high-population servers, finding a group for an Instance could be an hours-long chore that ended with hurt feelings and antisocial tendencies, but the dungeon finder removes much of the hassle. And even rewards players for grouping with strangers, which is never a bad thing in an MMO.
The system is not without its flaws, but overall, more good has come from the dungeon finder than bad.
- Incredibly fast queuing.Healers and tanks never have to wait. As a healer, the longest queue I’ve sat in was 4 minutes, which is still crazy low when compared to DPS queues that can approach 30. For someone with limited playtime, this system is a Godsend. I used to loathe trying to get the daily Heroic quest done because of the old, cumbersome LFG system combined with travel times. I could spend two hours in chat before the group ever even started. Now, I queue up, get teleported to the instance, and get my heal on and over with in under half an hour, which is the number one reason I fell in love with World of Warcraft five and a half years ago—quick, casual gaming that gave a sense of accomplishment.
- Incredibly fast gearing.Dungeon finder runs often take 15 minutes or less. And if one chain runs randoms, those items that cost 30-50 Emblems of Triumph can be bought in no time flat. If I have enough time, my characters can often get a new piece of armor every two or three hours of playtime. The Emblems of Frost add up, too, but at only 2 per day, non-raiders have to wait a long time before they see any Tier 10 pieces. The dungeon finder really helps (finally) balance out those who can raid hours on end and those who can play half an hour. Sure, my T9/10 isn’t 25-person or Heroic, but it’s enough to let me stay competitive and see any content I in the game. To me, that’s enough.
- Better, more efficient leveling. I’m a healer. Always have been, always will be. So when I leveled my Death Knight as my first level 80 and started raiding with him, I made a big mistake. When the healing bug hit me like it always does, I had a buddy who wanted to play WoW, so he leveled my Shaman when I was offline simply because he loved the class. I, however, did not. I wanted a Priest. So when the random dungeon finder was implemented, I took my level 73 priest and alternated between random PvP battlegrounds and random Instances because I hate leveling through Northrend. I did no quests at all during those final 7 levels. Even sub-80, the healing queues were 4-6 minutes at their longest.
- Tomb-like silence. I’m a pretty social guy. I’m a talker. The people are the entire reason I play MMOs in the first place. In random dungeon groups, however, it is all business. No one talks or communicates because we should all know our jobs and do them, because talking affects speed, which means fewer Emblems of Frost/Triumph per hour. The most conversation I’ve had with a group is when the Tank called one of the DPS a name and tried to get us to vote him out. If you’re looking at the random dungeon finder as a way to make friends, I’d look elsewhere.
- Easy to burn out. The pool of instances at level 80 in World of Warcraft is fairly limited. If players run even two or three random dungeons a day (30-60 minutes), it won’t take long before the same Instances keep coming up over and over again. The Heroic dungeon lockout does not apply to randoms, either, so it’s possible to run the same place multiple times per day. Because of the quickness and utility of the Random Dungeon Finder, it’s very easy to hit saturation and throw your hands up and walk away from the game, especially if you use the system for leveling up as well as gearing at 80. It’s easy to burn out on running the Culling of Stratholme or Drek’Tharon Keep seventeen times a week while trying to grind out a full set of gear. Just remember to take everything in moderation. Even awesomeness like the dungeon finder.
- Skipping bosses, missing Emblems. Because the dungeon finder has now become an efficiency machine where human error is not tolerated, lengthy sessions of doing things like killing bosses has also become passé. It is a time vs. reward situation. People can be so dead-set on getting to the finish line that they couldn’t be bothered to play the game. If you’re a player who wants the most Emblems in as little time as possible, skipping bosses and powering through the dungeon may be the best route. However, if you’re looking for a leisurely session of actually getting to enjoy being in an Instance group, think again.
All in all, the random dungeon finder does its job and does it well. None of the detriments I listed above are enough to detract from the ability to finally log onto WoW and have something to do even if all you have to play is half an hour or so. The feature is worth its weight in gold for that alone. The badges and gear are just icing on the cake.