Short Story (TL;DR): The Seeds of Renewal patch in World of Warcraft introduces Follower Dungeons, allowing players to team up with NPC companions for tanking, healing, and DPS roles. The flexible feature eliminates stress associated with running dungeons with strangers. Testing on the PTR revealed an over-leveled run and a more challenging experience with a fresh level 60 character. Despite wipes, the absence of AI impatience and frustration made for a pleasant, stress-free experience. The potential for increased player engagement and the potential addition of iconic characters in future releases make Follower Dungeons a game-changing and commendable feature.
The upcoming patch for World of Warcraft, Seeds of Renewal, slated for early 2024, introduces a highly anticipated feature called Follower Dungeons. In these dungeons, players can team up with NPC companions, engaging in tanking, healing, and DPS roles. This innovative addition allows for seamless exploration of all eight Normal Dragonflight Dungeons, accommodating groups ranging from 1 to 4 players. The flexibility offered empowers players to delve into Dragonflight dungeons at their own pace, experimenting with and customizing their party makeup.
For me, this feature fulfills a long-standing desire, prompting me to eagerly jump onto the PTR and test it with The Nokhud Offensive—a dungeon crucial for unlocking regular flying in Dragonflight. It had been over a decade since I ventured into current content dungeons, as running them with strangers had lost its appeal over time due to the associated stress. However, with Follower Dungeons, that changed.
1st Run – Level 70
My initial run took place on a level 70 Hunter with a gear level of 422, entering a dungeon designed for 246 gear. The excitement blinded me to the fact that I was over-leveled. In the company of a Paladin Tank, Shaman DPS, and a Druid healer, I initially overlooked proper dungeon etiquette. Instead of following the tank, I carved my own path, engaging every mob I encountered. Realizing my misstep, I adjusted, allowing the tank to lead efficiently to the bosses.
Completing the dungeon on normal granted me the achievement, securing my claim to normal flying when the feature goes live. Reflecting on the experience later, I decided to run it on a fresh level 60 character.
2nd Run – Level 60
The subsequent run, on a level 60 character with 252 gear, proved to be a different challenge. The NPCs (AI) were appropriately tuned, requiring players to grasp mechanics to navigate the dungeon successfully. Wiping about five times on Graynth due to initial confusion about Dragonkiller’s Lance implementation highlighted the need for strategic understanding. The run became smoother once I figured out the nuances, though caution was necessary to avoid aggroing too many mobs, given their pack behavior.
My character gained experience, earned the dungeon completion achievement, acquired two pieces of 246 blue gear, miscellaneous items, and gold during the run. Crucially, the lack of stress throughout the run, despite the wipes, stood out. The AI displayed no impatience when I researched mechanics or frustration during wipes. It didn’t object to my preferred approach, offering a refreshing absence of toxicity—a truly enjoyable experience.
Follower Dungeons Make Solo Runs Fun
This game-changing feature prompts curiosity about how many players will opt for AI companions over human counterparts, especially when not playing with a guild or friends. Introducing Follower Dungeons alongside new normal dungeons could significantly boost player engagement. Imagining iconic characters like Thrall or personal avatars joining the adventure adds an exciting layer to the potential of this feature.
In summary, Follower Dungeons are a commendable addition to the game, and I eagerly anticipate exploring other dungeons with this innovative feature. Well done, Blizzard!