The LFR loot system works extremely well for what it's intended to do, it sees a ton of traffic, and gears people up in end-game content that just wasn't possible even a year ago. By all accounts it offers people not able to commit the time, or have the resources, to raid. That in and of itself is a major accomplishment, and the intent of the LFR system. Regardless of your personal circumstances, you can get in there, see the story, experience most of the content, and get some decent items. But I think the rub is the expectations it sets. It looks like a raid, and it smells like a raid, but there's fundamental differences in how it's perceived due to the format. For traditional raiding you get together with your guildies and friends, you struggle on bosses, wipe after wipe, and finally through teamwork and perseverance you overcome the obstacle, loot drops, and even if you don't win a roll you feel like you've made a meaningful contribution to your team and your chances at success later through the overall gearing up of your raid group. In LFR the entire dynamic has to change because you're being matched up semi-randomly with other players. Because of that there is no feeling of helping your team get better, you enter the queue alone, and it's mainly about personal goals to gear up, which then maybe help you in coordinated raids later. You're in there for loot for yourself, and because of that there's less tolerance for overcoming obstacles, so encounters are much easier, and the loot system is per-person and not a communal distribution.
As others have noted the chance to get items in LFR versus a traditional raid scenario are actually higher, but that doesn't change the expectations of people jumping into LFR that this should be a system that provides more consistency. Whatever the underlying reason is for that, I'm not totally sure it matters beyond there is an expectation difference between traditional raiding and LFR. It's something we're keeping an eye on for potential tweaks in the future. We have tech for quests that increases your chance for a quest item to drop if you haven't gotten one recently, and so that's something we're at least beginning to think about and how that kind of consistency system could translate into things like the LFR. If nothing else tweaking drop rates on prior tiers when a new tier hits is pretty low hanging fruit on at least ensuring people can more easily get those last few ilvls so they can queue for the new tier.
The whole raiding format is inverted. This leads to confused expectations.
LFR kills should not occur before many server firsts.
Normal/Heroic raiders should not farm tier in LFR.
LFR gear should not be simple reclours of normal/heroic gear.
The best source of Legendary quest items should not be LFR (it should not be a source imo).
You should not feel you're done the game when you finish LFR.
What would I do?
- Give LFR tier only a 4 piece bonus, equal to normal modes two piece.
- Make LFR gear recolours of heroic dungeon gear (since it's closest in difficulty). If heroic dungeon gear isn't available for a new tier, give the distinctive pieces different models.
- The LFR version of the 'legendary' quest should award epic items.Format
- Give LFR two lockouts, not shared with each other or normal/heroic. One would be cross realm like now, the other would be server only and require you to make your own group.
- Lock server only LFR until a guild on the server clears normal or heroic.
- Lock cross realm LFR until a set percentage of servers have cleared normal or heroic. Server only LFR unlocked for the remaining servers as well at this point.Result
- Progression races matter
- Normal/heroic gear is distinctive
- Player expectations set properly
- Increased LFR drop rate (2 chances instead of 1), but only if you make the effort to make a server group
- Improved server communities
- Greater incentive to try normal mode raids
- A desire for more after LFR, not a feeling of completionLong version
Coming to a blog near you (hopefully this weekend) with additional topics including: normal/heroic mode consolidation, item level structure, item upgrades, and server events among others.