Hello it is me, Zhujiang, you might remember me from such threads as, Asmongold is right RWF is ruining WoW or Finally - Brave Community Council wants warforging back!
Today we are talking about M+ and how it now sucks. The glory days for M+ in my eyes were Legion and BFA. I will explain why in three different ways.
1) Dungeon design: When people discuss the best M+ dungeon of all time you hear a lot of different answers, the most common one though, is Freehold. If you bring up Freehold though, people will criticize you for just mentioning it because it was easy, but this shows a fundamental misunderstanding of what made Freehold a good m+ dungeon.
Freehold had amazing variety in routes. Very little annoying / needless complex trash which reduced the amount / creativity of pulls. This is very important, because in the end what WoW players love is getting very powerful and pulling everything and nuking it down. With all the mechanics constantly added to make M+ ´´harder´´ or to ´´challenge´´ the top players, this becomes less and less possible. Freehold also had great ways to pull trash into bosses or pull trash WHILST doing bosses.
Of course the aesthetics and music of Freehold were also just divine, the point is though, difficulty is not why Freehold was the best. It was just much better designed. It was also designed in a way that Shadowlands and Dragonflight dungeons are not.
Meanwhile Dragonflight and Shadowlands dungeons are, for M+ just poor design. I am having more fun doing Legion dungeons and even WoD dungeons in S1 than I am doing the Dragonflight dungeons. In Shadowlands S4, I had more fun than in any other season, because I no longer had to do Shadowlands M+ dungeons. Somehow dungeons from WoD that were not designed with M+ in mind were more fun than Shadowlands dungeons.
2) Competitiveness / fairness / e-sportiness: If given the opportunity players will optimize the fun blah blah blah. A big problem with M+ has, in my eyes been the misguided focus on competitiveness and justice instead of focusing on just being ´´fun´´.
Now why was this not a problem in Legion and BFA? First of all rIO was not as important in Legion as it became later, and even in BFA it was not as important. Why? Because M+ functioned very simply in both Legion and BFA, you just needed to do a SINGLE ´´max´´ key for m+, and you were completely done for the week. You would get the maximum reward. Doing this was very easy and very achievable. Then what happened?
Well, they added the great vault and they added rating requirements for valor. This suddenly meant that doing every dungeon on both fort and tyrannical was very important. Previously, you didn´t even care, you could just time a Freehold +10 S1 or +15 S4 every week, maybe even sneak into a Shrine of the Storm no leaver run to get it over with. It was all you had to do. Now though, you were forced into all these different dungeons. This is of course problematic, because, let´s be honest a lot of M+ dungeons just sucked even in Legion and BFA, but again, you never even HAD to do them if you wanted your weekly item. rIO was third party epeen, it did not matter. Worst case scenario you needed to time each dungeon once for ´´decent´´ rating.
Now however you are ´´forced´´ to do these awful dungeons multiple times, you are also heavily incentivized to grind m+ dungeons by doing them 4 / 8 times for better chances at loot. Feeling like you ´´have´´ to do dungeons that you despise and hate to increase your rating so you can upgrade gear is awful. It is also what makes the balance of dungeons so much worse. Because you feel forced to do these dungeons, the lack of tuning feels so much worse. At the same time affixes in the name of fairness have been reduced to nothing, why even have them in the game?
M+ used to just be a fun mini-game, this was ironically why the game-mode was so successful. The entire Blizzard rIO system is a massive awful failure that intentionally wastes players time to try and make a bad, bland and boring valor mechanic work.
3) Loot: This might actually be the most important one. Since Legion / BFA Blizzard have reduced the amount of loot you get from M+ significantly. You would get 3 pieces in Legion / BFA. Now 2 pieces. You got 50 % more loot in Legion and BFA!!!
Of course, even more important for spamming M+, they removed Warforging and Titanforging. This made spamming dungeons significantly worse. You did not have to wait for your weekly chest, you could actually just go, I feel like playing lots of WoW this weekend. Spam M+ and you could potentially improve your gear significantly in a single weekend.
Now however? Because of lack of WF / TF your gear improvements will mainly come from timegated content. Yep, Blizzard owned you. They removed WF / TF and timegated you. You need to wait for multiple weeks for the valor cap to significantly improve your gear (if you get any) and wait for the weekly vault to get gear as well. A weekly vault which you are encouraged to run 4 or 8 times just for one item.
At the same time, Blizzard have made it significantly harder to get the ´´best´´ gear in the game, whereas in Legion / BFA, all you needed to do was fail a +10 / 15 and you were done for the week. Now doing a +20, comparatively, is much more difficult (and is required to get the best of the best).
You can cry about RnG, WF and TF. The truth is though it was a much better and much more fun system. To actually have gear that would be an upgrade DROP after you finished a run. Instead of going into a dungeon knowing not a single piece of loot would ever be an upgrade. At the same time, anyone with a basic understand of probability will realize that WF / TF would in the long run always favour the best players who played the most.
I know some of you will accuse me of only caring about gear, but the truth is WoW never has and never will function without gear, because the game is just not good enough. If you truly do not care about gear upgrades, then I do feel bad for you, because there are other, better games out there, and you deserve to be playing them instead.
I will admit that there is a problem between gearing in raids and M+, but I honestly think Legion fixed that by having tier items ONLY be available from raids, as well as having the best trinkets be from raids (mostly) as well. Another way Legion ´´fixed´´ that was of course by just not having raids be as impossible as they later were in BFA / Shadowlands.
I am very sorry Blizzard, but the DF dungeons are just… at best kinda bleh. This follows a pattern from Shadowlands. At the same time a focus on e-sports challenging dungeons instead of just gearing up and enjoying running around and nuking stuff down has made everything worse. Lastly M+ gearing has been made intentionally awful. I already played on the beta and got to try out the M+ dungeons there. I do not feel any need or want to play the dungeons again on live, because… the gearing is like overcooked broccoli. The dungeons in question, already played them in Legion / the beta… M+ is just… no longer fun.