The unannounced feature or the unannounced unannounced feature: Flex raiding in WoW

When Blizzard lost subs in the last quarterly earnings call, they went out of the way to say they had lost two types of player – players in the Far East and casual players.  Today they announced a feature clearly designed to appeal to the second group of players – a new raid difficulty called Flexible raiding.  Now a new difficulty had been the last thing the WoW community had expected, but this has a bit of a twist.

What is Flexible raiding?

  • Harder than LFR, easier than normal (with an ilevel for drops that fits in there)
  • You can bring between 10 and 25 raiders and it scales for that number.
  • Uses the LFR personal looting system.
  • Has a different lockout to LFR and Normal/Heroic.
  • Can be run cross-realm.
  • Can be used to get Glory achievements.

My first reaction
Huh? Is this the unannounced feature?

My more considered reaction
I 100% welcome the idea of producing content for more casual players.  I am one and the difficulty level of normal right now is such that all the players in a 10 man team need to perform to a reasonable level.  You can’t take The Undergeared or One Who Stands in Fire.  Whats needed here is something that keeps the mechanics of normal, but is a bit more forgiving in terms of damage done to players and outputs needed from players.   It needs to retain some challenge.  There needs to be wiping and learning, but not so much that it breaks guilds.  Make no mistake here: there needs to be a chance of failure and a learning curve.  If you want to guarantee success, LFR is for you.

This has been more carefully thought through than you might think at first.  The use of the LFR loot system and cross-realm supports PuG raids, something that has declined notably since Wrath of the Lich King.  This raid system should allow you to recruit more people, but not worry so much when one doesn’t show up.  There will be little to no benching in this system, as long as players are a little flexible in terms of roles.

My first big question here:  how will healers scale in this environment?  Tanks shouldn’t really change.  You still have one and two tank fights with 25 people.  Use of a third tank is optional.  But the number of healers does vary.  This is what I mean by a little flexibility in terms of roles.  We will need back-up healers.

I also think this will bring back the alt raid.  It will encourage alliances between guilds.  It will encourage small guilds to become larger guilds.  It will encourage people to PuG and make new friends and new contacts who in turn might become guildies.  It will allow people to PuG without ninjas.  It will prepare more people for Normal/Heroic raiding.  It will be a positive influence on the community and for that reason its a good thing.

Is this the unannounced feature?
Possibly, but also possibly not.  The hints were dropped before the earnings call, following an earnings call with more possible outcomes.  Blizzard might not have felt the need for this development then.  Or it might be they’ve had this in mind for a long time and it is exactly what Ghostcrawler was hinting at.  For some people, after all, the reaction to this will be ‘thats it?’.  Also, the comments coming from the Blizzard camp in recent times have been hinting strongly that they would address this problem.

What do people think of this?  Does it make you go ‘ooooh’ or ‘meh’?  Will you use it?  Will it mean you never have to set foot in LFR again?

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