Cataclysm Raid Changes Announced

Looking to get your raid on when Cataclysm finally lands? There are a few very serious major changes incoming that will rock your Vanilla/BC/Wrath world that may lead to the end of raiding and dungeons as we know them…or maybe it won’t make much difference to you.

All in all, this is going to be a lot to swallow for most players, and will represent some serious and significant changes to the way they raid. Some of the highlights?

First of all, 10-man and 25-man raids will drop the same loot, just in different quantities – that means 25-man raids won’t get higher item-level gear like they currently do – a lot of people have been fighting this point on both sides, and it looks like while at first Blizzard was coming down on the side of the people who favored better gear for 25-man raids, they’ve reversed course a bit.

Second, 10-man and 25-man raids will share the same lockouts. That means a 10-man group gets the same amount of time to complete a dungeon as a 25-man group. Yowch. That would be a problem if not for the fact that also announced is the fact that 10-and-25-man bosses will be very similar in difficulty, and not the pretty big difference they are today.

Blizzard also has some plans to change up the way raids are done, and create shorter raids with fewer bosses (much like the heroic Onyxia and Sarth runs) that are still difficult enough to accomodate a large number of people, but that just have fewer bosses.

Like I said, all of this is still up in the air, and Blizzard reserves the right to change all of it, but if anything I can see it’s a pretty big leveling of the playing field between 10-man guilds and 25-man guilds and the dungeons they run. If anything, it may lend itself to the thought that Blizzard’s noticed that 10-man runs are mostly guild runs with tight social groups, and 25-man runs are largely pugs that are done for efficiency and loot. Interesting.

What do you think? Will the new announcements impact you at all?

Read Blizzard’s full announcement and leave your comments behind the jump!

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!

2 Comments so far

  1. Deinera (unregistered) on April 28th, 2010 @ 7:12 pm

    Okay, so there’s a part of me that is excited for this change. I really hate that my server is so gear score dependent that you have to have such a high gear score to be able to participate in 25-man raids that it is unlikely that you will need loot that does drop. So this bringing to the table the ability to get higher end loot without having to be shunned by the elitists of the server makes me happy.

    I’m not happy about the shared timer, however. *sigh* I had a feeling something like this was going to happen eventually. The gap between casual player and raider is increasing to the point of no return. Only high end raiders get to go do anything and everyone else is left with the constant shunning and ignoring of requests to participate in events.

    It’ll be interesting to see how Blizzard plays this one out, and what kind of uproar it causes. I have a feeling this might take back-burner to all of the class changes… for now.

  2. Alan Henry (phoenix) on May 5th, 2010 @ 2:46 am

    See, the funny thing is that I’ve somehow managed to escape scrutiny enough that I don’t even know what my GS is. It’s not such a big deal that people can’t do things without having to have a skyhigh GS. That being said, the content that my guild runs (or more often fails to run) is mostly 10-man content; I haven’t seen a 25-man in a long time.

    I kind of like the re-orientation on 10-man content as the real pinnacle of the game, it makes it much more accessible to a larger number of players, and it also makes 25-man content more rewarding (slightly) and more of a challenge to organize.

    I’m not totally sold on the shared timer though, just like you mentioned. Only time will tell on that one.

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