So although theres a few details to iron out, we basically know how LFR will now work. The points below have either been explicitly stated or are implied.
- LFR will offer 25 man current tier raiding at a lower difficulty level than normal raiding
- LFR will offer gear below the current tier, but (I assume) above the previous normal tier. If this had been implemented for Firelands I suspect it would ilevel 365 gear. Its not clear if the gear will be the same items, or different items. Its not clear how trash drops or tier items will work.
- LFR will be a mirror of LFD in many ways. It will be cross realm. It will put together the group for you. I suspect it will have the same loot limits.
- LFR will work the same way as LFD for lockouts (this was explicitly stated). I am not clear exactly how this will interact with normal/heroic lockouts. I suspect it will be completely separate.
- LFR will have its own separate achievements.
What LFR is not going to do
Its not going to eliminate the problems of current raid PuGs if you can’t use LFR for normal difficulty raids too (so far it appears you can’t do that). Will people still want to PuG normal raids? Probably. Because the gear in LFR raids just won’t be as good. LFR is a bit of a misnomer because its not really the equivalent of LFD for raiding. It won’t stop people doing PuG raids and it won’t prevent the ninja problem. I think less people will PuG normal raids. And I think a lot of people will complain about how they can’t get the loot in normal raids. But in all honesty those are very small down sides compared to what it does do.
What LFR is going to do
So if its not really LFD for raiding, what is LFR. Well, its quite a few things rolled into one.
- Its Heroics in a 25 man format. If you can’t raid right now for whatever reason, you never get to experience the epic feel of raiding. If theres enough interest people should be able to dip in and out.
- Its introductory raiding. Its where you learn how to not stand in bad and jump through hoops on a larger scale and over a longer period of time. Its where you learn to tank, heal, dps, etc. on mobs that last long enough to stretch your mana or allow you to manage your cooldowns over time.
- Its where you can gear your alts without dealing with the ninjas and fail-PuGs (when I said I was feral cat that was feral cat – c-a-t not b-e-a-r!!!)
- Its where people who like 25 man raiding but don’t like the politics and pain of a 25 man guild can still get a dose of 25 man raiding.
- Its going to make for smoother normal raiding in guilds by allowing players to go and practice their raids in advance. Either as a formal part of guild activity, or informally. I hope that groups up to 25 people will be able to queue so we can take all interested guildies when we go.
- Its going to offer an option if you are short a few raiders one night. An option where players can bring their mains or alts or whatever.
- Its going to make using alts viable in guilds that aren’t top end. I do find players who learn a fight only from their point of view and if they are on an alt, they have no clue what they are doing. In LFR they can practice and gear!
- It creates a use for Archeology. You need something to do while you wait for your queue to pop.
And on the down side:
- Its going to bring back the repetitive play problem we had in Wrath, where you felt obliged to do a raid more than once a week. However, I think this format is better. You can front load your LFR raiding for gear and because you are getting practice too it will feel valuable. You shouldn’t need to LFR on your main after a point.
- Its another thing to do. I really hope an LFR run gives a time appropriate amount of Valor Points to make it a viable alternative to heroics. For example, Firelands has seven bosses. So 20 VP per boss leading to 140 (the same amount as a troll heroic) would seem logical.
Overall I like it. In an ideal world LFR would be LFD for raids, but when you start to think about the complications of that … its just too restrictive. What happens on a one tank fight? How do you ensure the people going in are vaguely ready without a gear score so high no one would bother? How would you stop people gaming any gear score with PvP gear? These could be overcome, but not without changing key game mechanics and restricting raid design. So this is a good alternative. I love what this system offers players who can’t commit to raiding and I think it has something to offer raiding guilds too. It seems a far better implementation that the 10/25 system of Wrath.