Putting the World back in Warcraft: Raids

Ragnaros the Firelord from World of Warcraft

A natural progression

Raids have, since the beginning of World of Warcraft’s life, been the crowning jewel of end game content. It’s the place the best gear drops, it has the biggest bosses and it requires a team of other committed players in order to complete.

Much like dungeons, throughout the years, the encounters in raids have only got better and better. Bosses now feature interesting mechanics that require some unique coordination and are truly the best any MMO has to offer.

Unfortunately however this is where the improvements end. Similar to dungeons in the previous years different difficulties have been introduced to cater to a more casual audience. Initially this appeared to be a great idea. Everyone gets to see the content and that’s awesome. Since only a few people ever got to see some of the best raids in the entire game such as Naxxramas, The Black Temple and Sunwell Plateau. But again similar to dungeons this dramatically reduces the feeling of accomplishment. Lets look a little closer at why this is.

Raid finder is arguably one of the worst things to be introduced to the game. When it was introduced it was basically a requirement to complete each week for better gear and was, after the first or second week, so mind numbingly easy that half of the raid just decided to go AFK, only returning to move to the next boss fight. While the other half had very little idea what they were doing and most of the mechanics were watered down to avoid people wiping over and over. This in itself isn’t directly a problem, the argument I often see is “you don’t have to do them” but it reduces how special the raid is as a whole. One of the major rewards to reaching the end of a raid was just that, reaching the end. Now everyone can reach it at some level it reduces the achievement.

So what can be done to fix it?

Having raided on and off for the past several years, the difficulty “normal”, the second difficulty in the array of four difficulties, is far too easy. It requires coordination and a good guild to topple the last couple of bosses but other than that it’s not challenging and should ideally be renamed to what it actually is, easy. Heroic however stops lots of guilds and this is where I think raids should start. It means they are difficult enough that you can’t just stroll in on day one and turn over the first 50% of the raid. This adds the feeling of danger and means you have to work at it if you want to succeed.

So if we remove the raid finder difficulty and the normal difficulty we are left with heroic and mythic. That’s great but perhaps we could go one further. Lets remove mythic and instead have mythic as a mode that can be activated inside the raid. This will require more design consideration because adding a dropdown with the four options is far easier, but will result in a much higher level of immersion. Every raid we then step in is the only version of that raid. I’m stepping foot in the same place that those great guilds are, given, they are likely going to activate the even harder version of each boss, but it’s the same place. Seeing how this has been done well in the past we can look at perfect examples such as the dungeon Operation: Mechagon and the amazing raid Ulduar from Wrath of the Lich King.

Before I post this I thought it’d be responsible to go back and try out raid finder one more time before I judge it so harshly. So here we are after I’ve jumped back in to the final patch of BfA and I jumped on with the goal of finding a raid finder group and it changing my mind. I ended up in the eternal palace against one of the better bosses in that entire raid Za’Qul. Having done this on heroic when it was current content and remembering how punishing it can be I was excited. Raid finder however required literally no tactics whatsoever. We stood in front of the boss and hit it repeatedly and ignored everything else, and yet some people still managed to die. It reduces some of the finest work in the game to nothing more than a chore and at the same time kills off some of the achievement of the harder difficulties.


In conclusion raids are much better than they were in many ways. But they’ve lost something that originally made them so special and I think this is in no small part by handing out participation medals.