Monday (15 Jul) - Just When I Thought It Was Safe
Just when I thought I could get safely away from WoW a new feature of the forthcoming Patch 5.4 has piqued my interest. It's called the Proving Grounds.
Essentially, the Proving Grounds is an instanced dungeon for one player. Using scaled down gear (so that it is talent, not gear, that is tested), you can choose any role (healer, DPS, tank) and then, sometimes with NPC (non-player character) help, you complete a challenge that is designed as a training tool to improve your skills. There are four levels of difficulty: bronze, silver, gold, and endless. The theory is that players can use the Proving Grounds to hone their skills or learn new roles without having to find a group or worry that you aren't ready enough for live action.
There are achievements for completing challenges and, in endless mode, competitive scoring to brag about how many waves of baddies you survived. I'm going back a few expansions, but the "waves" part of this harkens Wild back to the days of Mount Hyjal (Burning Legion expansion) and the waves of mobs we fought against to bring down Kaz'rogal. Those were the good old days. At least that's how I remember them, the many wipes notwithstanding.
Were I to come back to the game (note that I haven't actually left the game yet) I would take advantage of the Proving Grounds to learn what had changed and get some practice where I could try things and wouldn't feel embarrassed. For example, Fist is a level 90 geared well enough for heroic dungeons and the LFR, but her only experience is as a DPS. Were I to run a dungeon or LFR raid, I would want to do it as a healer, and I have little experience at it with Fist. The Proving Grounds might help Fist get comfortable enough with healing to try a real dungeon.
The impact of the Proving Grounds could prove interesting, too. Will it encourage players to join more raids? Will raid leaders require raiders not only to endlessly run the LFR, but reach "endless" level in the Proving Grounds, too? Or, from another perspective, will anyone bother to use it, when such skill is hardly needed to defeat an LFR raid?
No, don't expect me to be extending my account. But I can't promise that after the launch of 5.4 I won't take a peek at it.