Loot Tables Shifting as Heroic Dungeons Gain an Additional Difficulty in Wrath of the Lich King Classic

In a Twitch interview with MrGM and Scottejay, Kris Zierhut, Technical Game Designer for Wrath of the Lich King Classic, shared some changes taking place in the upcoming re-release of Wrath of the Lich King with regards to loot and loot tables.

In order to avoid old loot becoming irrelevant as new content is unlocked, there will be a sort of ‘shifting’ that will take place between loot tables. When patch 3.1, Ulduar, launches, the following will take place:

  • Loot from 25-man Naxxramas, Obsidian Sanctum and Eye of Eternity will drop in the 10-man versions of the raids.
  • Loot from 10-man Naxxramas, Obsidian Sanctum and Eye of Eternity will drop from Heroic+ (name pending!) dungeons.
heigan the unclean
At least you won’t have to dance to get Demise past the first patch.

Heroic+ Dungeons?

In order to keep dungeon loot and dungeons, as a whole, relevant throughout the expansion (aside from grinding emblems), a new – at least, to WOTLK – type of dungeon is being implemented: Heroic+. Here’s the exact quote:

“The second goal is about making sure Heroic dungeons stay attractive throughout the entire expansion. The Emblems and items they drop should always be valuable, even late in the expansion. They should also remain an interesting challenge throughout the entire expansion, rather than becoming excessively easy as your gear improves. We are exploring plans to add challenges to Heroic dungeons as the expansion proceeds, which would also provide more valuable rewards.

Now, if you notice the wording – “add challenges to Heroic dungeons” – this could mean something closer to retail’s Mythic+ system, with a rotating set of modifiers that affect the entire dungeon’s denizens. There’s no indication of the keystone mechanic (endlessly increasing difficulty and item levels) being a part of this Heroic+ concept, so it might be safe to expect the system to play out more like the Challenge Mode Heroic Dungeons from Mists of Pandaria. Here’s a breakdown of it:

  • The dungeons are timed.
  • Any gear past a certain item level is scaled down.
  • No gear drops in the actual instance.

All of these aspects of Challenge Mode require creating entire systems around them which didn’t exist in the old WOTLK, so expect Heroic+ dungeons to be somewhere between Challenge Mode and Mythic+.

halls of stone tribunal of ages
The last thing players want is actually putting effort into this encounter.

Optimizing To a Fault

There is, of course, one concern. As any WoW player is aware, playing the game today does not have the same vibe as it did back in the day. The player base as a whole has taken optimization to a level unseen in 2004-2010. Back in Wrath of the Lich King, the biggest ‘optimizer’ was the Gearscore addon, which didn’t account for skill and simply made creating a group faster.

With Heroic+ dungeons adding an additional layer of challenge, I fear the cycle of optimization, with all its negatives (flaming the tank for pulling a skippable pack of monsters, berating the Shaman who cast Bloodlust three seconds later than the ‘perfect time’) will plague WOTLK dungeons – a much more casual endeavor than today’s dungeon experience – and chip away even more at what made this old expansion so great: The fact that the game wasn’t pushing you to be perfect, but just good enough to go through the content.

We can probably expect the same thing to happen once 3.2 and Trial of the Crusader rolls out: Ulduar 25-man loot moving to 10-man, while the 10-man loot is siphoned into dungeons. We can probably safely assume the Vault of Archavon will remain unchanged throughout the expansion, as its four bosses drop loot from every tier.

Additionally, the interview revealed the following information about bonus rewards being given out to Tanks and Healers when they’re in demand:

  • Bonus rewards will include pets and mounts.
  • Examples of mounts that have a small chance of dropping: Deathcharger’s Reins (from Stratholme), Ashes of Al’ar (from Tempest Keep – The Eye) and the Raven Lord (from Sethekk Halls).

What do you think of Blizzard’s decision to add an additional layer of challenge, as well as increased rewards, to WOTLK dungeons? Let us know in the comments below!