Thinking about what kind of content I personally want to see more of in WoW had me lamenting once again how undertuned our current tier of "Heroic" 5-man dungeons are.
But then I feel compelled to ask myself why I don't just do Challenge modes? I mean, that's the answer for people at my skill level, right?
Challenge modes are too hard though, is my [whining] response. And putting together a group of similarly skilled players is not something I'm able to do easily. Which is fair enough I guess. In the last two months, the only really successful challenge group I've been in was both organised by, and comprised mainly of, some friends of mine on the Nagrand realm.
[As an aside, that run was one of the most fun things I have ever done in WoW. Ever. And I have to admit I'm proud to still have my name at the top of the Feathermoon leaderboard for Mogu'shan Palace.]
So I appear to be one of those entitled people who expects all content to be made for precisely the difficulty level that I play at, which in different ways both an unreasonable and completely justified expectation.
The reason difficulty matters is flow. Flow basically requires that the game be matched to the player's skill level, so that their gameplay input is what determines the outcome.
The current tier of ten-man raiding hits this spot for me. The Cata Heroic dungeons [at launch] hit this spot for me. Soloing Stonecore and Vortex Pinnacle at L85 hit this spot for me. PvP pet battles consistently hit this spot. Even tanking the current tier of undertuned five-man dungeons often hits this spot, because I can put my focus into playing better; designing and executing more elaborate pulls, controlling casters, maximising my damage...
[It's a bit funny to realise, but writing this blog post hit this flow spot for me. A moment ago I suddenly snapped out of it and realised I'm at work.]
And you better believe Challenge dungeons hit this spot for me. They just require more skilled party members that I'm usually capable of mustering.
What WoW has historically been very good at is allowing players to choose their own difficulty by the way they approach the game. Obstacles can be overcome by charging in with skilled play, through patience and tactics, by seeking friends to help, by working to improve your level or gear, crafting or buying potions or devices to assist...
Unfortunately so much of the game these days is so heavily structured, not to mention designed with the "majority" of players in mind, that allowing for emergent gameplay options is something which is often completely overlooked.
It's still there in places if you look for it though. I enjoy those Klaxxi dailies around the Heart of Fear, where the mob density is high enough that I can charge headfirst into a group of mobs, with the strong likelyhood of picking up two waves of patrolling adds while fighting, because I enjoy needing to play well to survive and the genuine thrill of not knowing whether I'll be overwhelmed or scrape by.
For Warriors, there's this moment that happens when you're fighting a group of mobs when you realise that you need to stop your AoE right the fuck now and dump all your rage into one mob because if you don't proc a Victory Rush in the next few seconds you're toast.
That's the WoW I love.