WoW: Breaking Down the LFR System
On November 29th, Blizzard released its heavily anticipated patch 4.3: The Hour of Twilight. This patch included 3 5-man raids which build up the story before we enter Dragon Soul, the new raid available in 10-man and 25-man modes. Blizzard also introduced a new tier of raiding called LFR (Looking For Raid). This feature groups 25 random people into a raid group, similar to how the Looking For Group system groups people up for 5-mans. These raid groups can fight through the new raid on a difficulty that is less then the normal difficulty for the raid. The lowered difficulty allows a 25 strangers to be able to clear the raid with out much trouble. After a little over a month of raiding the LFR system both the pros and cons of the new system are beginning to be show.
Accessibility- The new LFR system has made raiding accessible to a part of the player base that was previously unable to experience raid content. Many players simply do not have the time to raid Heroic or even Normal raid content with a guild. Even some that do have the time do not want to deal with the “seriousness” that some guilds make raiding into. Pugging a group was always an option, but even Normal raids can be difficult for a group of players who do not normally play together. Many servers also do not have the amount of players available to PUG a group. Now thanks to the LFR system a player who could not normal raid can queue up and get the raiding experience.
Time- The LFR system has provided a way to raid without spending 2-4 hours multiple nights a week progressing on new bosses. One of the two wings of Dragon Soul can usually be completed in 1-2 hours on the LFR mode. This benefits players of all skill levels. The more casual players are able to quickly do the raid and experience the content that WoW has to offer. The more serious player is able to bring their alts, who normal do not raid, into the LFR and even help gear their main characters up for Normal raiding.
Rewards- The LFR offers rewards that almost anyone can use. For the casual player it provides quality-raid gear and tier tokens. For the Normal mode and Heroic mode raiders it provides an extra chance on tier tokens as well as the chance to fill in armory slots until they find better gear in Normal modes. The LFR also offers 250 per wing the first time you complete which is beneficial to everyone.
Fairness (“Mostly”)- The LFR is attractive compared to Normal raiding because the gear is giving out on a Need Vs. Greed system that is similar to the one in LFG. The only difference is that this system adds a “Role Bonus” to anyone that can use the piece being rolled on for their main spec. This makes it so Tanks do not take Dps’s loot and vice versa. It also sets class restrictions on some pieces. For example, a hunter does not get the Role Bonus when they roll on a Strength trinket, since that trinket will be better used by a Paladin, Warrior, or Death Knight. I said that this loot system was (“Mostly”) fair because there are a few draw backs that I will discuss in the Cons section.
“I finally got to kill the big bad boss at the end”- This is something that I have been hearing on both forums and in trade chat: Players who are normally unable to see the last “main villain” in an expansion finally get the chance to kill him on a easier difficulty. Everyone wins right?
Coordination- This is probably the biggest problem with the LFR system. Trying to get 25 people on the same is no easy task, just ask any 25-man raid leader. This task is made even harder considering that all of the people in LFR are strangers. Though the bosses are not as hard as the Normal raid mode, the lack of coordination can make some bosses stressful on a raid.
Loot problems- For the most part, the Role Bonus in LFR helps make the loot distribution fair. However, the fact that the bonus is implied to a player’s “Role” and not his “Spec” is a problem for classes with two specs that are DPS but use different gear. For example Druids can be both Balance and Feral DPS, this allows Feral druids to roll on Balance gear and vice versa. The also is a problem for Elemental and Enhancement Shamans.
Conclusion- Though the LFR has its flaws, it is an extremely benfitical addition to anyone looking to PvE in World of Warcraft.