The third installment of Blizzard's three-part developer blog on World of Warcraft, "Raiding Azeroth," lead game designer Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas outlines the raiding philosophy and design changes coming in Warlords of Draenor patch.
With the upcoming patch, due out this fall, Blizzard is relabeling Flexible Raid mode Normal that will serve as a point of entry to organized raiding. The present day 10-player and 25-player Normal modes will be combined into a single Heroic difficulty. The 10-player and 25-player Heroic will be consolidated into a new fixed-size 20-player Mythic difficulty.
In Warlords, each raid difficulty will have its own weekly lockout and the patch will introduce the Group Finder feature, allowing players to form and search for raid groups with players from their entire region. In addition, the updated Raid Finder will be more generous than in the past.
The updated Raid Finder will almost double the rate of reward to better match the overall pacing of the content and will have different loot tables than the Normal, Heroic or Mythic versions of the raids, as well as different item art. The gear will fall in between dungeon loot and Normal mode raid loot in terms of power, bar the set bonuses and specific trinkets.
"Our intent is for Raid Finder to allow players to experience our raid content, see the conclusion of major storylines, and witness the epic environments that our artists create without needing to commit to an organized raid group," Hazzikostas wrote. "We'd like to focus on that purity of purpose, and minimize the elements that have made guild raiders feel like they needed to do Raid Finder each week as part of their core progression. After a player gets quickly geared up through Raid Finder and starts thinking about venturing into Normal mode for better rewards, their Raid Finder loot and combat experience should prepare them to take that next step-and Group Finder will make the process easier than ever before."
The blog series serves to put the raid changes included in the upcoming Warlords of Draenor into context. The trilogy of posts retraces raid design changes from Molten Core through Siege of Orgrimmar and explains why Blizzard implemented the changes throughout World of Warcraft's decade-long history.
Part one began at the launch of WoW and its first expansion pack, The Burning Crusade, as well as the following patches. Part two examined raiding changes from its 2010's Cataclysm, to present day with Mists of Pandaria.