In the Warlords of Draenor expansion, we're making a number of changes to key World of Warcraft features and systems with a focus on adding sought-after features and quality-of-life improvements—things like easier inventory management, account-wide storage systems for toys and heirlooms, new higher-quality character models, and more.
That focus on refinement extends to PvE group content as well, and that’s what we’ll be going over here. Each expansion brings improvements to the dungeon and raid experiences, and Warlords of Draenor will be no different. Let's go over some of the dungeon and raid content that we’re planning to release the day the expansion is available, and then go into some of the changes designed to bring dungeons back to their roots and make raiding even more accessible and flexible than ever.
We’ll be introducing six new dungeons and bringing back a classic: Upper Blackrock Spire. This dungeon will play a prominent role in the Warlords of Draenor storyline, and we’re excited for people to experience this beloved old dungeon in an entirely new context.
We’re also looking to get back to the roots of dungeon content this expansion, and ensuring that they’re not only a significant part of the leveling and story experience as they always have been, but that they also play their part in helping you gear up and get ready for raiding. To that end we’re going to bring back max-level “Normal” dungeons, which—along with Scenarios—will help bridge the gap between level-up quest gear and Heroic dungeons. As Heroics won’t be the first thing you jump into at level 100, it also gives us some room to make Heroic dungeon content a bit more difficult.
We’re also planning our content schedule to include additional max-level Heroic dungeons beyond the initial expansion release. One thing we heard from players during Mists of Pandaria was that they missed having new dungeon content later in the expansion, and our plan is to get back to that and adding new dungeon content beyond the initial expansion release.
Last but not least, players looking for the ultimate challenge will be able to test their skill in time-trial Challenge Modes for most of the dungeons.
Mists of Pandaria saw some pretty big changes to raiding, including the introduction of Raid Finder (aka LFR), and very recently the addition of a new scalable difficulty called Flexible Raids (or Flex for short).
Since its introduction just a couple months ago, Flex has become an extremely popular way to raid, offering a true progression raiding experience while also allowing the freedom to pick up and go with a variable number of players. The lower-stress environment accommodates a big segment of raiders who need some wiggle room in their schedule, empowers raid leaders to fill in spots and add more people just for the fun of it, and lets everyone get together with friends and guildmates to take on giant demons and ogres and pilfer awesome loot from their corpses. We’ve learned a lot from Flex already—and we think we can continue to use its power for good.
For quite a few years now, we’ve offered parallel 10- and 25-player raids with the goal of providing the same epic raiding experiences to as many players as possible, regardless of their guild size. While the two different raid sizes intended to provide similar challenge with similar reward, we’ve always encountered inherent issues balancing content between them—and, of course, some guilds and raid teams have struggled with the social tensions that come with wrestling with a rigid raid size. Now with the Flex system, we can capture and expand upon the advantages of the existing raid system, while shedding the inconvenience and complexity of set 10- and 25-player sizes.
With the release of Warlords of Draenor, there will no longer be a distinct mode called “Flexible Raid”—because flexibility will be the underpinning of how most raiding works. Normal mode will scale flexibly to support groups of any size between 10 and 25, as will Heroic. There will no longer be “10-player Normal” or “25-player Heroic”—there’ll just be Normal and Heroic, and they will both scale to fit the number of players present. Even Raid Finder will benefit from the addition of our Flex scaling tech: no more needing to stand around staring at a boss waiting for your group to fill back up if someone has left.
The only place where Flex scaling doesn’t quite suit our gameplay goals is the most extreme difficulty of raid content, where razor’s-edge tuning would be impossible to achieve while supporting incremental raid sizes for each additional player. Thus, we are introducing Mythic difficulty with a single, fixed 20-player size, which will offer the pinnacle of raiding for the best of the best and the highest-quality rewards and prestige.
1, 2, 3, 4, I Declare a Thumb War
One of the major points of feedback we’ve heard about the current Flex implementation is about the lack of traditional looting. While personal loot has obvious advantages in a world of strangers in Raid Finder, most Flex experiences involve a coordinated group of individuals gathered together by a raid leader, and so it makes sense to at least have the option for traditional tradable loot that you pluck directly from a boss’s smoldering corpse—and that’s what we’ll be offering in the new flexible versions of Normal and Heroic raiding coming in Warlords of Draenor. The number of drops will scale with the number of players, and loot can be distributed in whatever time-honored traditions you choose: DKP, Suicide Kings, karma, dice rolls, coin flips, rock-paper-scissors, “guess what number I’m thinking of,” nepotism, thumb wars, etc.
We’ll also be doing away with the wing-based queue system currently used in Flex. While Raid Finder offers a flat difficulty—each boss is approximately as difficult as every other boss in the raid—Normal mode is intended to be a more standard, escalating progression. We saw some frustration in Siege of Orgrimmar as people would jump into the later wings of Flex as they unlocked and not understand why the bosses were so much harder, expecting it to work like Raid Finder. With this new structure, only Raid Finder will have wings to queue for. The new Normal and Heroic scalable difficulties will still require you to go to the raid entrance, zone in, start at the first boss, and progress as far as you can in that week.
We Found Your Keys
Last but not least, Normal and Heroic will allow groups to be built out of Real ID and BattleTag cross-realm friends, and all raiding options will be on separate lockouts—meaning boss kills in Raid Finder, Normal, Heroic, and Mythic will not be shared between them, and you can kill each boss in each difficulty for a separate chance at loot each week.
Bench Stocks Plummet
These changes will provide a more straightforward and approachable set of difficulties and options that lets people focus more on the excitement, fun, and social aspects of raiding, and less on the logistics of how to even begin forming a group.
Sharpen your axes! In World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor, a slew of savage new challenges, rewards, and user-interface improvements wait for PvP combatants. All it takes is a hardy constitution and strong will to face off against ferocious foes—we’ll handle the rest.
New World PvP Zone
For players looking to engage in PvP combat on an epic scale, Warlords of Draenor introduces a new world PvP zone off of the north east coast of Tanaan Jungle. This new experience involves a raging battle that has no distinct beginning or end—instead, it offers constantly evolving objectives for participants to take part in. There will be items to gather, creatures to summon, and tons of action on multiple levels. While you can enter the fray sooner than level 100, you may find yourself biting off more than you can chew—enter at your own risk!
When first joining the battle, you’ll be presented with objectives based on the current status of the battle. The closer you get to your opponent’s base, the more difficult your tasks will become. Objectives will change at a moment’s notice based on events within the zone, and you may quickly find yourself switching from offense to rebuilding your fortress and gathering the materials needed to do so. There will also be faction-based vehicles—and some Iron Horde war machines—at your team’s disposal.
To provide a truly epic world PvP experience, the number of players and the amount of faction members allowed in the zone won’t be capped. Don’t worry, though—with cross-realm technology, the pool of potential allies (and enemies) is wider than ever.
Battleground Score, UI Improvements, and Updated Rewards
The Battleground scoreboard is being updated to provide better insight into your performance in Battlegrounds. A new stat called Battleground Score will take into account objective-based gameplay you engage in, such as returning flags, interrupting objective captures, healing, doing damage, and more.
In addition, flag timers and other objective timers will also be viewable on the map, complete with an additional animation. This will make it easier to identify the time until an objective is captured for players on either side to defend or attack to disrupt the capture.
To the victors go the spoils . . . and we’re upping the ante in Battlegrounds even further. Winning in Battlegrounds could garner players extra random rewards such as a PvP set item, a random bind-on-equip item, consumables, and more.
Trial of the Gladiator
If you’re looking for some great Arena action, then Trial of the Gladiator is for you. Building on the same system used for the Arena Tournament realm, players who take part in Trial of the Gladiator will be able to enter and purchase gear, enchants, and gems from a vendor, and then match skills with other players. Similar to the Arena Tournament realm, an array of equal-quality gear and items will be available to all players, putting everyone on the same footing from the start of competition.
Any player will be able to queue for this new feature once it’s available, but you’ll only be able to earn a rating during specific days and times of the week that rated competition opens up. This will help make the pool of serious combatants more concentrated, allowing the system to match players more accurately based on skill and helping ensure rated battles provide a highly competitive experience.
You’ll be able to practice whenever you like outside of those times, but if you want to earn the prestige awards, you’ll need to hone your skills and climb to the top of the ladder at the appointed times. We also don’t want to penalize people too heavily for missing a scheduled combat or two, and we’re looking into ways to make sure the system strikes the right balance between flexibility and cutting-edge competition.
We’ll provide more information on this system and more as we progress further into development. In the meantime, don’t let those blades get rusty!
A lot of questions answered during Q&A, now will wait til the expansion so I can see it all play out.
I love this new raid structure. I cant wait to try out the Mythic 20 raids :D
I can't wait! the raids are gonna be soooo epic!
So the Trail of the Gladiator will be some instanced zone like the Proving Grounds of MoP?
Arena with no gear advantages? This is going to be fantastic!
Very interesting with a fixed high-end raid size again!
All posted Information looking great. I will love the new Addon. Garisson is the one thing i will love the most. I cant wait to see how it interact with the world and the additional quest we can get. And how much the Garisson will be impact with our Professions. All these Mini-Games are great for moments when you are done with the normal week progress.Also i like to mention the Stat Squish. These changes was required.I like to see the new World. Cant wait for it. I loved tbc and now it comes back, better then even before. regards
I am not a full time raider anymore, so the Mythic raid change doesn't hurt me (though I understand how 10m guilds must feel about this).However, the changes to the other raid difficulties will mean a much larger pug community. Things like OpenRaid and oQueue will become much more popular. Unless Blizzard's in-game finder replaces the need for these.
I'm hoping 20m mystic works out. It's quite a drastic change from what we currently have. On the upside I can raid with multiple people since I have many friends cross-server. The loot-based lockout seems almost as cool as the 10-25m flexable difficulties. So looking forward to the next xpac already
For my guild the biggest news has been the conversion from 10 & 25m heroic raiding to the new 20m mythic size. This is a major change for both current sets of raiders. Most 10m hc guilds will be forced to make one the following choices: 1) Stop raiding or at the same level. It is inevitable that the 6.0 changes will cause the collapse of many 10m hc raiding guilds. 2) Recruit. Considered the best option for a lot of guilds, although not the easiest. I have already seen guilds trying to put together a second 10m team, which can obviously then merge with the main raid team for the next expansion. Even on our medium pop server (albeit dominated by the opposing faction), it is not easy to recruit.The flip side to that is that with 6.0 and the collapse of other 10m hc guilds as well as the cutting made from some 25m guilds (many 25m raiding guilds will have a larger roster than just 25) there will be a larger player pool to recruit from. That doesn't even take into consideration new or returning players. There will also be more connected realms in the meantime. 3) Recruit on a different server. It is entirely possible that guilds aren't willing to wait until the last minute to recruit and don't feel that their server offers what they need thus decide to relocate. This would normally be an expensive operation but with a free level 90 each and the profession support from the new barracks it may be doable. 4) Guild merge/raid co-op. This is the option that many guilds are worried about and although 'loss of identity' sounds like a very drastic term it is understandable. Some guilds have been together for a very long time and it is not that they are "exclusive" as I have seen in a previous comment, but rather they have a certain atmosphere in raids and as a group have similar attitudes towards raiding. Define casual, semi hardcore and hardcore springs to mind - guilds that describe themselves as any of these labels, who raid on the same nights and at the same time, can still have very different attitudes. I have been very interested reading about how other guilds feel about the upcoming changes and I am very positive. I will enjoy having another 10 people online for random guild fun... I get lonely... The fact that normal (6.0 hc) raiding is going to be flexible is great as it means we no longer have to sit people out but can keep a comfortable roster and if someone wants a night off it makes no difference to the raid. Tuning will be the same for everyone so no more unintended brick walls e.g. some 10m guilds on Horridon. Not having the 10 vs 25m difficult argument might also be a positive thing for the community. I think raid mechanics are going to get a lot more interesting now tuning for two raid sizes is no longer an issue. It should also take less time in beta. So really it is not all doom and gloom... except for maybe Mr Robot.
I love how this expansion is looking, a lot of little but notable changes.
This all sounds so AWESOME!. I cant wait for a release date !
This expansion has me so excited, I will be all over it like a tramp on chips come launch day! My only worry is trying to focus on work in the meantime as I try and digest all the content on its way. Thank you Blizzard for coming up trumps yet again! Now stop distracting me Wowhead!
Great Great coverage guys!
They say it's not going to be a reskin of Outland and I hope that is true. The garrison is kind of neat. I like the idea of having followers that I'm assuming I can rep with like the farm in MoP and they'll eventually do something useful for me. I'm sure it'll be a typical grind like usual though that they'll have to evenually nerf and dumb down for all the people that can't be bothered to actually put in a minimal amount of time. I'll just assume that they won't have any sort of attunement, which is what made TBC great back in the day. It forced people to work together to get things done and not just scrape along using things like LFR that we have now. Times have changed apparently and now I get to see Outland in the past. I'll still buy it and probably enjoy it. I've made it this far from Vanilla. Bring on the new content.
I wonder how the challenge modes for the new dungeons will be versus the current CMs? Further, I would assume this will also mean all new CM armor sets for each class? I hope so!
so excited for the garrison feature! Player housing has been long awaited and this definitely delivers! (:
So it sounds like the new UI will have a raid finder thats a cross between Oqueue and Open Raid? Less addons and more Blizz UI tweeks is always a welcome thing!