Coming from Blizzard is a pretty surprising, thorough breakdown on changes to upcoming raid lockouts.
We’re continuing to refine the raid progression paths in Cataclysm, and we’d like to share some of those changes with you today. Please enjoy!
The first of the refinements being made is that we’re combining all raid sizes and difficulties into a single lockout. Unlike today, 10- and 25-player modes of a single raid will share the same lockout. You can defeat each raid boss once per week per character. In other words, if you wanted to do both a 10- and 25-person raid in a single week, you’d need to do so on two different characters. Normal versus Heroic mode will be chosen on a per-boss basis in Cataclysm raids, the same way it works in Icecrown Citadel. Obviously the raid lockout change doesn’t apply in pure Icecrown terms though, as this change goes hand-in-hand with a few other changes to raid progression in Cataclysm.
We’re designing and balancing raids so that the difficulty between 10- and 25-player versions of each difficulty will be as close as possible to each other as we can achieve. That closeness in difficulty also means that we’ll have bosses dropping the same items in 10- and 25-player raids of each difficulty. They’ll have the same name and same stats; they are in fact the exact same items. Choosing Heroic mode will drop a scaled-up version of those items. Our hope is that players will be able to associate bosses with their loot tables and even associate specific artwork with specific item names to a far greater extent than today.
Dungeon Difficulty and Rewards
10- and 25-player (normal difficulty) — Very similar to one another in difficulty; drop the exact same items as each other.
10- and 25-player (Heroic difficulty) — Very similar to one another in difficulty; drop more powerful versions of the normal-difficulty items.
We of course recognize the logistical realities of organizing larger groups of people, so while the loot quality will not change, 25-player versions will drop a higher quantity of loot per player (items, but also badges, and even gold), making it a more efficient route if you’re able to gather the people. The raid designers are designing encounters with these changes in mind, and the class designers are making class changes to help make 10-person groups easier to build. Running 25-player raids will be a bit more lucrative, as should be expected, but if for a week or two you need to do 10s because half the guild is away on vacation, you can do that and not suffer a dramatic loss to your ability to get the items you want.
We recognize that very long raids can be a barrier for some players, but we also want to provide enough encounters for the experience to feel epic. For the first few raid tiers, our plan is to provide multiple smaller raids. Instead of one raid with eleven bosses, you might have a five-boss raid as well as a six-boss raid. All of these bosses would drop the same item level gear, but the dungeons themselves being different environments will provide some variety in location and visual style, as well as separate raid lockouts. Think of how you could raid Serpentshrine Cavern and Tempest Keep separately, but you might still want to hit both every week.
We do like how gating bosses over time allows the community to focus on individual encounters instead of just racing to the end boss, so we’re likely to keep that design moving forward. We don’t plan to impose attempt limitations again though, except maybe in cases of rare optional bosses (like Algalon). Heroic mode may not be open from day one, but will become available after defeating normal mode perhaps as little as once or twice.
In terms of tuning, we want groups to be able to jump into the first raids pretty quickly, but we also don’t want them to overshadow the Heroic 5-player dungeons and more powerful quest rewards. We’ll be designing the first few raid zones assuming that players have accumulated some blue gear from dungeons, crafted equipment, or quest rewards. In general, we want you and your guild members to participate in and enjoy the level up experience.
We design our raids to be accessible to a broad spectrum of players, so we want groups to be able to make the decision about whether to attempt the normal or Heroic versions of raids pretty quickly. The goal with all of these changes is to make it as much of a choice or effect of circumstance whether you raid as a group of 10 or as a group of 25 as possible. Whether you’re a big guild or a small guild the choice won’t be dependent on what items drop, but instead on what you enjoy the most.
We realize that with any changes to progression pathways there are going to be questions. We’re eagerly awaiting any that we may have left unanswered. To the comments!
This… this is something I did not expect.
I love it, don’t get me wrong, I just never expected it.
Perhaps I’m prejudiced after all. I have long considered the current structure of rewards for 25 person content being significantly better than those for 10 person content as being unfair, based on the difficulty of the challenge.
I say again, “as based on the difficulty of the challenge.”
For anyone that did both 10 and 25 person raids at the same gear level, it was frequently more difficult to do the content at the 10 person level, based on every single person having to bring their “A” game.
I’m talking about when Wrath first shipped. The people doing Naxx 10 did NOT have Naxx 25 gear. They had Naxx 10 gear, and Heroic loot.
And I’m not talking the new loot, I mean pre-ToC/Icecrown Heroic loot.
And no Frost or Triumph or Conquest or anything but Heroism emblems.
Do you remember? Emblems of Heroism, Heroic loot, and the awesomeness of Naxx 10 drops.
Where killing Kel’thuzad on 10 man mode dropped singificantly better weapons than anywhere else you could get.
Oh yeah, THAT level of content.
With fewer players, fewer overlapping classes and lower gear levels per the content, NO 25 man raid drops in the group, the 10 person raids played by 10 person raid geared players were just more challenging than the 25s.
I didn’t mind, and neither did most people I think, because at least from my point of view, I felt that the reason the gear was of greater power in the 25 man versions was simlpy to reward those that put up with having to herd 25 cats into some form of reliable group.
I’m serious. The challenge in the content was easier in 25s, but good lord, that’s such a higher level of stress to deal with. I’m not joking, I’m not being facetious, 25 person raiding is just far harder to organize.
If you judge the rewards on that basis, well, sure. Give the people willing to put up with a 25 person raid group better gear. I shall not envy them.
That’s why this announcement floors me.
I know that many people have lamented having to pug in 25 person runs in order to get gear that will better help them in their 10 man guild groups. Having to pug with strangers, in chaotic environments, in the hopes of improving their own capabilities for the benefit of their guild. Ouch.
I also know that there are people in progression raid guilds that get serious burnout from having their raid leaders expect them to run both 25 and 10 man version of raids in order to maximise gearing speed and Frost rewards.
What is the downside for this announcement?
Well, for me, none. But regardless of what some folks might think, I don’t consider myself the center of the universe.
Unless that universe is composed of bacon, in which case, I am it’s little god.
No, the downside is, there had better be enough raid content present in the game to keep raiding guilds happy each week, if their characters have only one lockout per raid instance regardless of size.
Will we see a return to 3 day lockouts? Ouch. Will they really have enough of the smaller raids ready to roll to prevent raid burnout between content patch releases?
I’m sure I’m not the only one that remembers the drought of raids in Wrath after Naxx had been run every week for 3 months, and the whining that followed. The seemingly endless, perpetual whining.
For myself, in my own little world, this whole thing sounds groovy.
Let me foresee the future for a second.
I’d bet that, with that system in place, content is going to start feeling very, very difficult to everyone. And that makes me freaking ecstatic.
People are so used to overgearing their content, and then bitching about “EZ mode” challenges.
It’s like people have put out of their minds older styles, and forgotten that Blizzard CAN design any difficulty of challenge they’d like. They choose NOT to make crazy stuff for everyone, and they choose to let 25 person gruops get better gear they then carry back to their 10 perso attempts.
They don’t have to. And now they’re saying they won’t anymore.
Everyone will have one set of gear and content tuned to a raid instance. Talk about a massive shock to the system.
Oh, dear Blizzard, let me praise you, for I foresee a golden age.
An age when mana is reduced for healers across the board, and content is tuned to require skill at crowd control and it’s frequent use, and DPS have to choose between crap AoE damage output on trash or very solid focused single target damage, where everyone doing a certain level of content has the same gear options available to them, where a Lich King kill would be a Lich King kill, without a qualifyer of how many people were in it, and finally…
Where you don’t get people sneering at other players because their guild has fewer than 25 raiders.
Will this golden age happen?
Damn me, but I think Blizzard is really trying their hardest to make it so.
If they’re not careful, I’m going to become a kool-aid drinking fanboy.