It’s definitely fair to say that Battle for Azeroth, as a whole, has been a relatively underwhelming expansion. The game hasn’t necessarily been engaging in the long term on an all-encompassing level, and much of the content that’s been presented this expansion hasn’t exactly been worth playing to the fullest.
However, if there’s any one area where BfA succeeded to the greatest possible extent, it’s with dungeon content. All eleven dungeons that got released over the course of the expansion have been genuinely fantastic to play through and have remained solid over the course of the expansion’s lifespan. Each one felt unique and intricate, while remaining true to the themes of their respective zones.
With each dungeon, the material at hand was unique enough to stand out, but legitimate enough to make sense. Whether it was the regal gold tones of Atal’Dazar, the earthy, salt-ridden aura of Freehold, or the haunting ambience of Waycrest Manor, each instance presented tonal distinctions from one to the next. And while this has definitely been an arguable point throughout most of WoW’s history, the level of consistency at which BfA pulls off this concept is immaculate.
In many cases, there will be certain dungeons in an expansion that just don’t hit the mark – for whatever reason. Whether it’s because of tediously long encounters like in the Halls of Stone, maze-like layouts like in Blackrock Depths, or uninspired designs like in the Stonecore, there’s seemingly always one or two dungeons per expansion that stick out like a sore thumb in the instance lineup.
Remember back in Wrath of the Lich King when The Oculus was a dreaded mess of a dungeon that brought down the rest of the expansion’s instanced content? There’s nothing like that in BfA. Every dungeon is as solid as the last and the entire lineup from top to bottom is well-rounded and more importantly, well-designed. Not only are dungeons like Waycrest and Shrine of the Storm S-tier dungeons by the standards of Battle for Azeroth, they’re S-tier by the standards of WoW as a whole.
Even the dungeons from BfA that don’t blow you away are still really impressive in their own right. Instances that are lower on the list like The Underrot and Siege of Boralus are still a fun time and hold up well enough when compared to some of the weaker dungeons from other expansions.
And perhaps that’s because of the modernity of the BfA dungeon content. When you compare what got released in 2018 to what got released in 2010, of course there’s going to be improvements over the years. However, the steps that Battle for Azeroth took when it came to the vast improvements of the dungeon system are downright incomparable. Not only are the dungeons presented in the expansion breathtaking and immersive the first time you run them, they’re just as good several months down the road as the content is heavily repeatable.
The reason for this is clear. Battle for Azeroth’s dungeons were designed with Mythic+ in mind. This expansion was only the second where Mythic+ was at the forefront of the game’s content. And while Legion most definitely showed signs of the dungeon content being designed around the system, BfA takes it to an entirely different level.
Each dungeon is plain and simply built for the most optimal (and repeatable) experience at a foundational level. There’s little to no gimmickry in BfA’s dungeons, as the intricacy is left for the encounters. And still, when you consider that the dungeons this expansion focused more on simplicity and the roots of instanced WoW content, it would be reasonable to suggest that the game’s long-plaguing issues like linearity and repetition would arise once again. However, BfA does an amazing job of leaving those problems at the door as most dungeons give players the opportunity to down bosses in any order they so please. In fact, dungeons like Freehold and Atal’Dazar are actually optimized to complete the bosses in an order that isn’t represented in-game.
It’s this mix of flexibility and competitive drive that makes the BfA dungeoneering experience appealing to any level of player. Whether you’re pushing for a ridiculously high keystone, just stopping by for a weekly chest, or running dungeons with your friends for the hell of it, there’s a little something for everyone. That same healthy mix is what made the dungeons this expansion so memorable. Each and every one of them was incredibly unique and brought something to the table. And as we move on to a new era in the game’s history, it would make sense to forget much of the black stain on the franchise that has been Battle for Azeroth. However, if one aspect of this expansion does get brought over to Shadowlands, I sincerely hope it’s the level of quality presented in the dungeon content.
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