In the Warlords of Draenor expansion, we're making a number of changes to key World of Warcraft features and systems with a focus on adding sought-after features and quality-of-life improvements—things like easier inventory management, account-wide storage systems for toys and heirlooms, new higher-quality character models, and more.
That focus on refinement extends to PvE group content as well, and that’s what we’ll be going over here. Each expansion brings improvements to the dungeon and raid experiences, and Warlords of Draenor will be no different. Let's go over some of the dungeon and raid content that we’re planning to release the day the expansion is available, and then go into some of the changes designed to bring dungeons back to their roots and make raiding even more accessible and flexible than ever.
We’ll be introducing six new dungeons and bringing back a classic: Upper Blackrock Spire. This dungeon will play a prominent role in the Warlords of Draenor storyline, and we’re excited for people to experience this beloved old dungeon in an entirely new context.
We’re also looking to get back to the roots of dungeon content this expansion, and ensuring that they’re not only a significant part of the leveling and story experience as they always have been, but that they also play their part in helping you gear up and get ready for raiding. To that end we’re going to bring back max-level “Normal” dungeons, which—along with Scenarios—will help bridge the gap between level-up quest gear and Heroic dungeons. As Heroics won’t be the first thing you jump into at level 100, it also gives us some room to make Heroic dungeon content a bit more difficult.
We’re also planning our content schedule to include additional max-level Heroic dungeons beyond the initial expansion release. One thing we heard from players during Mists of Pandaria was that they missed having new dungeon content later in the expansion, and our plan is to get back to that and adding new dungeon content beyond the initial expansion release.
Last but not least, players looking for the ultimate challenge will be able to test their skill in time-trial Challenge Modes for most of the dungeons.
Mists of Pandaria saw some pretty big changes to raiding, including the introduction of Raid Finder (aka LFR), and very recently the addition of a new scalable difficulty called Flexible Raids (or Flex for short).
Since its introduction just a couple months ago, Flex has become an extremely popular way to raid, offering a true progression raiding experience while also allowing the freedom to pick up and go with a variable number of players. The lower-stress environment accommodates a big segment of raiders who need some wiggle room in their schedule, empowers raid leaders to fill in spots and add more people just for the fun of it, and lets everyone get together with friends and guildmates to take on giant demons and ogres and pilfer awesome loot from their corpses. We’ve learned a lot from Flex already—and we think we can continue to use its power for good.
For quite a few years now, we’ve offered parallel 10- and 25-player raids with the goal of providing the same epic raiding experiences to as many players as possible, regardless of their guild size. While the two different raid sizes intended to provide similar challenge with similar reward, we’ve always encountered inherent issues balancing content between them—and, of course, some guilds and raid teams have struggled with the social tensions that come with wrestling with a rigid raid size. Now with the Flex system, we can capture and expand upon the advantages of the existing raid system, while shedding the inconvenience and complexity of set 10- and 25-player sizes.
With the release of Warlords of Draenor, there will no longer be a distinct mode called “Flexible Raid”—because flexibility will be the underpinning of how most raiding works. Normal mode will scale flexibly to support groups of any size between 10 and 25, as will Heroic. There will no longer be “10-player Normal” or “25-player Heroic”—there’ll just be Normal and Heroic, and they will both scale to fit the number of players present. Even Raid Finder will benefit from the addition of our Flex scaling tech: no more needing to stand around staring at a boss waiting for your group to fill back up if someone has left.
The only place where Flex scaling doesn’t quite suit our gameplay goals is the most extreme difficulty of raid content, where razor’s-edge tuning would be impossible to achieve while supporting incremental raid sizes for each additional player. Thus, we are introducing Mythic difficulty with a single, fixed 20-player size, which will offer the pinnacle of raiding for the best of the best and the highest-quality rewards and prestige.
1, 2, 3, 4, I Declare a Thumb War
One of the major points of feedback we’ve heard about the current Flex implementation is about the lack of traditional looting. While personal loot has obvious advantages in a world of strangers in Raid Finder, most Flex experiences involve a coordinated group of individuals gathered together by a raid leader, and so it makes sense to at least have the option for traditional tradable loot that you pluck directly from a boss’s smoldering corpse—and that’s what we’ll be offering in the new flexible versions of Normal and Heroic raiding coming in Warlords of Draenor. The number of drops will scale with the number of players, and loot can be distributed in whatever time-honored traditions you choose: DKP, Suicide Kings, karma, dice rolls, coin flips, rock-paper-scissors, “guess what number I’m thinking of,” nepotism, thumb wars, etc.
We’ll also be doing away with the wing-based queue system currently used in Flex. While Raid Finder offers a flat difficulty—each boss is approximately as difficult as every other boss in the raid—Normal mode is intended to be a more standard, escalating progression. We saw some frustration in Siege of Orgrimmar as people would jump into the later wings of Flex as they unlocked and not understand why the bosses were so much harder, expecting it to work like Raid Finder. With this new structure, only Raid Finder will have wings to queue for. The new Normal and Heroic scalable difficulties will still require you to go to the raid entrance, zone in, start at the first boss, and progress as far as you can in that week.
We Found Your Keys
Last but not least, Normal and Heroic will allow groups to be built out of Real ID and BattleTag cross-realm friends, and all raiding options will be on separate lockouts—meaning boss kills in Raid Finder, Normal, Heroic, and Mythic will not be shared between them, and you can kill each boss in each difficulty for a separate chance at loot each week.
Bench Stocks Plummet
These changes will provide a more straightforward and approachable set of difficulties and options that lets people focus more on the excitement, fun, and social aspects of raiding, and less on the logistics of how to even begin forming a group.
We’re looking forward to your feedback and revealing more details as development continues.