Wanted to chime back in here now that we’ve had a few days to digest feedback around this and think on it some more. While we do still feel that adjusting the ilvl curve in the last half of the expansion would be a net positive to the experience overall we cannot argue with the idea that, taken at face value, a nerf is a nerf and that still stings. As a result we’ve studied the commentary from players carefully and come up with an alternative to the original suggestion based on that feedback.
Instead of “nerfing” item levels in ToC, we’d like to see how everyone feels about buffing item levels in Ulduar normal slightly (6 item levels) and Ulduar Hard Modes significantly (12 item levels). Past that, we’d make no other changes.
This would put Ulduar 25 normal gear at 232, placing it 6 ilvls above Kel’thuzad, Sartharion, and Malygos 25 gear and making even normal feel much more rewarding in comparison to Tier 7 raid end-bosses. This would also put hard mode gear at 251, which is definitely a very significant step up in power. This means that Ulduar 25 Hard Mode gear will be slightly higher in ilvl than Trial of the Crusader 25 normal gear (ilvl 245). This might be an alarming jump at first, but there are a few factors that led to us believing that this would be a net positive.
We are doing Pre-Nerf Ulduar
During Early interviews, we suggested we likely would not be doing a “pre-nerf” system to most raids in Wrath of the Lich King Classic, as the changes were not very extensive for most raid dungeons. This remains true, however, after we started actually digging into the data around raid changes that occurred during original Wrath, we realized that Ulduar actually had received fairly massive nerfs both while it was current content and immediately afterwards. As a result we will be implementing pre-nerf modes to Ulduar, including the hard mode bosses. These changes in some cases may make bosses and hard modes significantly more difficult than their final state, and we feel justifies the power gain in hard mode rewards. Just like in 2009, we are somewhat concerned that if we implement pre-nerf Ulduar and ship rewards as-is, it may not feel sufficiently rewarding.
Availability and Volume of Ulduar Hard Mode Gear
In contrast to heroic raids later in the expansion with fully fleshed-out, higher item level loot tables, the loot tables for hard mode boss kills are the same as normal but each boss (other than Algalon) grants one additional bonus piece of gear at the higher item level. Across the entire raid this means that there are a maximum total of around a dozen pieces of additional gear available at this higher item level, per clear. While we would be making these items significantly more powerful, they will remain difficult to obtain and this is not a huge amount of extra items at this level of power, at least not compared to a full tier’s worth of heroic-difficulty items.
As for how this impacts PvP, we still need to evaluate Season 6 gear for similar adjustments there so that Arena players didn’t feel they had to raid Hard Modes to compete. We don’t believe we’d totally re-itemize Season 6 gear, but a few upward adjustments would likely occur to offset this.
All told, our goal really is to make Wrath, and particularly Ulduar the best possible overall experience it can be. We love Ulduar in particular and we think many of you do as well, and want to see it shine. Rewards are one of the knobs we can turn that can really impact the experience, without having to make any kind of other mechanical changes. After some thought we think these changes are a good way to make this phase of the game feel better and maintain relevance for a bit of time after Trial of the Crusader releases, without making later phases feel worse.
As previously mentioned, this is still totally just an idea, and we’d love to continue to get your feedback on it.