So the new hotness in Patch 3.3 is the new Dungeon Finder system. Level 80’s are running instances like crazy right now to get prepared to beat the living daylights out of Arthas. Even lowbies and alts benefitted to this change, as it’s now easier to get at-level groups for early dungeons, thus rejuvenating the leveling experience.
I’ve been having some interesting discussions regarding how DF will impact guilds, especially smaller social guilds. There seem to be two points of view. Some are very concerned and feel that the DF will trivialize guild groups. After all, you get extra badges, extra gold, and extra loot if you use the DF to find random PUGS, whereas you don’t get those same benefits with guild groups. It’s now incredibly easy to get online and jump straight into a PUG heroic, so why wait on guildies? Now you don’t need a guild to run instances… anybody can do them on their own with no fuss.
The other viewpoint is that the DF tool is actually very beneficial. Most players in smaller guilds stay there for the low-key atmosphere and the close relationships they develop with their guildmates. These players enjoy grouping with their guildies, and will nearly always prefer a guild run over a PUG group. But, on those occasions that there are more than enough guildies online for one group, but not enough for a second (or third) group, this offers a better, more improved system for those odd folks out. Missing 2 or 3 people to fill out your team? Jump in the queue, grab a couple of puggers, and go get some badges. Everybody who wants to instance, gets to instance, but within the guild they keep that same homey atmosphere that they enjoy.
Another interesting idea that I’ve been mulling over is how this will affect gear-progression and raiding. Right now the Dungeon Finder is designed only for 5-man content, but it wouldn’t be a huge stretch for Blizzard to add raiding content as well at some point in the future. If that were to happen, it could reduce the number of players from smaller guilds that “trade up” to large guilds for gear progression and raiding. The guild would be for the social aspect, and Dungeon Finder for the progression aspect. Who said that successful raids can only be run by guilds?
Of course, this is all speculation and we’ll have to see how things work out over the next few months. The Dungeon Finder could be one of the best things to happen to the game… or it could be detrimental to developing camaraderie within guilds. Only time will tell, but at this point I think it will be far more beneficial than anything else.