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For new players: dungeons and raids - an introduction to PvE
Welcome to our series of guides for new players! If you want to explore the vast, ever-changing world of Azeroth, you've come to the right place. We will try to provide you with the most important information about World of Warcraft, starting with the purchase of the game and finishing with the more complicated elements of gameplay. If you have additional questions, we recommend visiting the newcomers section of our forum.
PvE (Player vs. Environment) is one of the main aspects of gameplay in World of Warcraft. PvE covers a very large part of the game, starting with the usual quests and ending with the dungeons and raids, which we will take a closer look at in this article. This guide is compatible with the 8.1 update.
Dungeons are special locations in the game where players go in groups of 5 to face the dangers that await them. Each dungeon has a distinct story and its own set of enemies and bosses with different skills and tactics to learn. Progressing through the dungeons is an easy way to get better equipment and advance your character. Inside you'll often find quests that offer a fair amount of experience.
Access to the first dungeon unlocks for players at level 15, where you can open the Dungeons & Raids window (default shortcut: I) and sign up for your first dungeon adventure. Before that, however, you will have to choose one of three roles: Tank, Healer or Damage (DPS). Some classes are limited to only one or two roles. Groups going to the underworld always consist of three DPS, one Healer and one Tank.
The Tank is in charge of drawing the attention of enemies to himself so that they won't directly attack other players in the group. For this, he uses taunt skills or area attacks on larger groups of opponents. The role of a tank can be played by warriors, paladins, druids, death knights, monks, and demon hunters. Only one specialization of each class is responsible for tanking (e.g. Protection for warriors and paladins, or Blood for death knights).
The healer, as you can easily guess, deals with keeping the whole group alive by using healing spells. Classes with healing specializations include Monks, Priests, Paladins, Shamans, and Druids.
Damage (often referred to as DPS or DD) is a role for characters whose primary goal is to deal as much damage as possible. When a Tank focuses enemies on itself, it's up to the DPS to get those enemies killed as quickly as possible. Every class in the game has at least one specialization responsible for dealing damage.
After selecting your role, click the Find Group button. The game will begin to search for a group for you (a green eye icon will appear next to the mini-map), and when the time comes, you will be invited into the dungeon. After accepting, the game will automatically teleport you to its interior. Once there, you'll notice two changes in the interface - on the left you'll see a list of other members of your group (1.), and on the right you'll see a list of activities (2.) you need to do to complete the dungeon.
Levels of difficulty
At the beginning of the game you will only encounter dungeons in Normal mode for players who are advancing their characters. The slightly more difficult Heroic mode becomes available at max level in each expansion, but you shouldn't really bother with it until your character is at the highest level. As you can guess, the higher the difficulty mode, the better the items you can get in the dungeon.
The game also features a slightly more complicated Mythic mode, which requires you to gather a group yourself (e.g. from the guild or through the Group Finder tool) and go to the entrance of the instance. Mythic dungeons are distinguished by the fact that their difficulty level can be infinitely increased with the help of special keys (keystones) granted after completing any dungeon in this mode. They are activated at the beginning of the dungeon and depending on the level of the key, stronger enemies, additional difficulties (affixes), but also better equipment to get. It should also be added that in the mythical mode using keys there is a time limit to deal with all the bosses.
Timewalking is a somewhat separate mode, available every few weeks during special events (they are displayed in the in-game calendar). Players can then travel back in time to the dungeons from previous expansions. Character and inventory levels will scale down upon entering the instance, but after leaving the instance, items gained will have normal value. In addition, in Timewalking mode, you can earn an Infinite Timereaver mount and Timewarped Badges to exchange for additional rewards.
Raids can be simply described as an extreme version of dungeons. They can involve anywhere from 10 to 25 players at max level, require more coordination and teamwork, take more time, and are more complex in terms of boss tactics. In addition, raids are often the culmination of important story stages and you can face off against major antagonists in the game like The Lich King, Deathwing, and Kil'jaeden.
At higher difficulty levels, raids require a bit more preparation from the player. It is a good idea to become familiar with the tactics for each boss (e.g. on Wowhead or Icy-Veins), download the appropriate addons, upgrade your equipment and stock up on food and potions granting additional stats (so-called flasks), although some guilds provide such "provisions" for their members on their own.
The opening of a new raid is also connected with the race for first place in rankings - world, server, or even Polish. Guilds with the highest ambitions race to be the first to defeat all the bosses on the highest difficulty level.
With each new addition to World of Warcraft players grow stronger, making old challenges much easier for them. For example, characters at level 120 are able to complete raids available at level 100 on their own without much trouble - this is usually done in order to gain unique equipment design or special rewards such as mounts.
Levels of difficulty
Just like dungeons, raids are divided into four difficulty levels. In order from easiest, these are Raid Finder, Normal, Heroic and Mythic modes. As you might guess, each successive mode offers better quality items and additional rewards and achievements.
Raid Finder is the only mode that doesn't require you to gather your own group. It's mainly designed for the less committed - raids are divided into wings with a few bosses each, and dealing with them is pretty easy since they have simplified or limited abilities. You won't get very powerful items here, but it's a good option for those who don't have much time or just want to explore the storyline. You can join a raid in this mode via the Raid Finder tab in the Dungeons & Raids window - the game will automatically find a team for you.
Next difficulty levels require you to gather your own group (e.g. from your guild or via Group Finder). Normal and Heroic modes differ mainly in the level of advancement of the bosses - in the latter you can expect a few extra skills to avoid. The strength of opponents scales depending on the number of players in the raid (from 10 to 25), so the missing DPS is not such a serious problem here.
The biggest challenges await you in Mythic mode, of course. It is worth noting that this is the only raid type that requires a certain number of players - namely 20. Since defeat here can be a matter of one mistake, guilds expect quite serious activity, knowledge of the game and their class in this mode.
Weekly reset and second chance token
Every raid boss on every difficulty level can be defeated as many times as you want, but the chance to get loot from it only occurs once a week. This means that if you kill G'huun on Friday, for example, the next chance to get any items from him on the same difficulty level will only occur after the weekly reset, which is on Wednesday after 9:00 AM. This rule also applies to bosses in the mythical dungeon.
If you have a special token before the raid, you can "roll the dice" a second time after defeating the boss and get another chance for loot. Every expansion (since Mists of Pandaria) has a separate token of this type - in Battle for Azeroth it is the Seal of Wartorn Fate, sold for War Resources, Marks of Honor, or gold.