The new World of Warcraft Dungeon Finder system was released with patch 3.3 yesterday, and it is a much needed improvement on the previous Looking For Group system. Unlike the old system, DF does not require constant attention by the party leader to seek out that elusive tank or healer to fill out the group before going to the instance. Instead, each person places himself in the queue for a particular role. Once DF has matched up a full, balanced group, you are prompted to enter the dungeon in a similar fashion to the Battlegrounds queue.
Also similar to the Battlegrounds queue, the DF system works across the entire battlegroup. The battlegroup is a cluster of 10-20 servers, vastly increasing the available player pool to find group mates. This makes matchups happen more quickly and the automatic matchmaking system insures you have a balanced group. Once you are in the instance, it operates just like the old instances, except for the reward system for doing random dungeons.
The reward system grants bonus money, experience and special Emblems as an incentive to use the random dungeon system to find groups. As a level 74, my first run of the day got me 14g, 33,100 xp (about 1.5 times a normal quest) and 2 Emblems of Triumph. Those emblems are currency for some exceptionally good equipment once I hit level 80.
This new system, as amazing as it is, does have its flaws. I tried three DF groups last night with only 1 ending in a successful dungeon run.
My first run was a run through Drak’Thalon Keep where I ran as a healer on my 74 Restoration Shaman. The group ran through DK just fine and upon completion, I was teleported back to Dalaran, which was my location prior to entering the dungeon.
My second attempt was trying to enter DF as a group with a 73 Rogue. Even that 1 level disparity was enough to block us from entering most of the dungeons I was allowed to enter on the previous run. Drak’Thalon Keep, Violet Hold, Azjol-Nerub and others were off limits due to the 73 in the group. I can attest, however, that this particular 73 can easily hold his own above his level. On a particularly odd note, even Utgarde Keep was marked off limits with a message indicating it was due to him. Not only has he already run UK before, but if either of us would block us from UK, it should’ve been me at 74. In the end, he left before we were able to find a dungeon.
My third attempt was another solo attempt that got an Azjol-Nerub run within 5 minutes, but locked up shortly after. At the AN loading screen, the game stalled until I was kicked back to Dalaran. However, I was still in my party and upon leaving the party I was given the Deserter debuff. This debuff is a disincentive to leave groups before the run is over and prevents you from joining DF for 15 minutes. I am all for this system, except when I am given it after being kicked from the dungeon.
Once these kinks are worked out, this system will improve the game in many ways. I know I will be running a lot more instances through this system than I ever would have with the older system. It makes it as easy as Battlegrounds to get in queue and then go about your normal business waiting on the group to form. I think Blizzard has done some great work here that keeps World of Warcraft fresh and keeps advancing the game.
Now, where is my aesthetics gear?