So I finally got around to running a couple of expert 5-mans tonight, and I just have to say weeeee!
Trion did a nice job of rebalancing the existing content for a bit more oomph relative to the dungeons as you encounter them on your way through the levels. Every boss we encountered tonight that you can fight in the non-expert dungeons has a new twist of some sort. Sometimes it's as simple as more adds or more damage from familiar mechanics, other times you get your **** handed to you in ways you never expected.
Our first dungeon tonight was Foul Cascade. I'd run this dungeon twice before. Once during beta 6 and then again after headstart launch. You get a hint of what's to come when you zone in and the automatic quest activates showing you the list of bosses you have to kill. Two extra bosses in expert mode! Let's just say that dear Alsbeth isn't endearing herself to the denizens of certain planes with her antics...
Next up was King's Breach expert. Pretty familiar for the first two bosses. First boss spawns two adds instead of one. This is where Toughness for tanks kicks in. Toughness cap for tier 1 expert dungeons is 50. I have 50. i was still eating 3k crits. Second boss is mostly the same except that his ground-based AoE fields tick for ~600 damage/second and it can cause serious problems, especially if he puts it under the tank and follows it up with a 2400 damage gaze attack. But then you get to the third boss which, for those familiar, is a random selection between one of two different manticore mobs in the regular version. In the expert mode, you fight them both. At the same time. It's lunacy. And when you down them and the fourth boss comes out, he spawns twice as many adds that have a rather large ******* of ways to send you back to the GY. Sadly, the last boss was bugged and his primary mechanic wasn't working. Let's just say Indiana Jones-style ground hazards only add to the challenge if they do something beyond show you that they're there. We're expect a fix soon.
And before any of that goodness, I got together with the guild for a daily raid quest in Stillmoor above Greenscale's Blight. Nothing particularly involved but fun for a first raid outing nonetheless. And after that we did a couple of expert rift events using the charged husks you can get with notoriety/planarite.
All in all, starting to get into early endgame has been an awful lot of fun. And the nice thing about it is that the gearing curve through tier 1 gear isn't bad at all. Some people feel that gearing quickly makes progress less meaningful. I say that once you've run something a half dozen or so times, it's time to move on. 200 Plaques of Achievement will get you a full set of entry level epics leaving weapons and accessories to fill in from rep and dungeon drops to get you squared away to raid.
So far, so good!