For me, the best part of Patch 3.3 in World of Warcraft is the new dungeon finder. I’ve used it a bunch in the past couple of days, and can say this: PUGing is now fun (though it’ll change the way we look at guilds).
PUG stands for pick-up group, a term to describe a ragtag collection of players thrust together to run though a dungeon, or instance. Prior to this latest patch, setting up a PUG was a pain the the ass: you’d join a specific chat channel then submit yourself to a pretty rubbish queuing system. It would take an awful long time to get five players together. We’re talking 30+ minutes. Inconvenient, yes. You’d get prepared to run a dungeon, have all your potions and items and whatnot on you, then enter the queue… then you’d wait. And wait and wait. Needless to say, by the time you got a group together, you were often no longer in the mood to run the dungeon.
And then you’d find that the group itself was rubbish. Not fun, no.
The new system changes things. The biggest change is that the dungeon finder looks across servers, so even if your server has, say, only 100 people in it (for argument’s sake), that’s no longer a problem. You’re no longer handcuffed by your server’s inadequacies!
The queueing system has also improved, and dramatically. Now you select your role in the group (damage-dealing, healing, or tanking), then the system scours several servers to find other plays queuing up for the same dungeon. What used to take 30+ minutes to set up now takes around 10. I say that as a damage-dealer (Warlock); healers and tanks, being more rare, are placed into groups even quicker. (Groups consist of three damage-dealers, a healer, and a tank.)
Like I said, I’ve used the new system several times since the patch went live. I couldn’t be happier. Within 10 minutes of entering a queue I’m fighting my way through the game’s dungeons.
Yes, this is what I do with my life, such as it is.
But the new dungeon finder may change the way people look at guilds. Before, you’d join a guild so you can get to know a bunch of other people who you’d run dungeons with. It was a lot quicker for a few guildies run a dungeon than sit though the old PUG system. But now that you can have a dungeon run up and ready in just a few minutes, why bother with a guild? This is especially true of people who like to play the game alone like I do: I have no interest in asking my fellow guildies “hey, what’s up guys?” If I can find a group in a few minutes, then be done with a dungeon in double-quick time, why put up with all the drama of a guild?
This only speaks to pre-endgame raiding, of course. That’s a whole different animal where being friends with people and knowing what are people’s motivations (what gear they’re after and so on).
So there you go. Running dungeons is infinitely easier, and faster, now, but it may change the way people look at guilds. Are they even worth the trouble now, especially at lower levels?