Recently there’s been a lot of discussion about LFR and raiding (particularly since patch 6.2.3 was announced). The point is often made that LFR is not real raiding, it’s too easy with no mechanics worth talking about, people are in there just to get loot that they don’t really deserve (since it’s all too easy) and people in there don’t try at all/don’t need to try (in fact the little sausages are probably tabbed out watching Netflix). It’s also said that because it’s so watered down & easy it does not either (a)prepare anyone for proper raiding nor (b)encourage people to try out proper raiding. Therefore Blizzard have failed in all their intentions. Shame on you Blizzard.
I want to challenge some of these points. I admit that what I’m saying here is from my own personal perspective and my arguments will not apply to everyone. However, I suspect they will apply to more people than just me and I think it’s a perspective worth exploring.
First: the “too watered down/no real mechanics” argument:-
For me this doesn’t feel true. There are sufficient mechanics in LFR for my abilities.
For example -in Highmaul Kargath has a Chain Hurl ability that will move one tank, one healer & three DPS to the stands. If you don’t know about it & you are the one picked it’s going to be disconcerting to say the least (I’ve not experienced it yet but that kind of thing always throws me – literally in this case) and you need to know what to do (basically just kill things and survive!). There is also his Berserker Rush ability which can do huge amount of damage if not tanked correctly (according to Wowhead in LFR Kargath should be tanked in, or near, an active Flame Pillar).
Similarly in Blast Furnace Phase 1 there are Heat Regulators to destroy. While (according to Wowhead) in LFR only 5 bombs are needed to destroy each one you still need to know what to do with the button should it appear on your screen.
And finally Iron Reaver. The guide on Wowhead for the Normal level encounter provides paragraph after paragraph of information on dealing with mechanics that include Barrage (the advice is not to try and out range but instead run to the sides), Pounding (during which you should use raid cooldowns & move in close to the boss to avoid Immolation patches that are being pushed away) & Blitz (which you should avoid by watching Iron Reavers’s feet). In the LFR section it says, “There are no mechanical differences in the Looking For Raid difficulty of this fight. Players should still focus on survivability”. Helpful! So unless things have changed since Wowhead was last updated this means there are mechanics in the LFR version of Iron Reaver- indeed the same mechanics as in Normal, but without any of the proper raid team benefits of good communications and strategy (& I say this sadly as I died in the LFR Iron Reaver encounter- clearly mishandled Barrage, Pounding & Blitz and never noticed her feet).
I accept that Iron Reaver is not typical & that in most cases the mechanics in LFR are more like the first two examples – nowhere near the level of the normal raiding. But nevertheless there are mechanics. There is stuff to avoid, disperse and use cooldowns on. It is not stand in one place & hurl your spells. And these mechanics can feel more difficult to deal with because they are being dealt with by a group of random strangers. Of course your LFR group could be filled with overgeared raiders who can pretty much blitz through everything. But these pros are not in every LFR & arguably while they might speed up each phase of a fight, you are still likely to experience most of the mechanics in each phase & and these – for me anyway – mean I must give the encounter my total attention. Even concentrating so hard I ground my teeth to dust I died in the Iron Reaver encounter and I’ve felt totally frazzled in the others. This may say more about my ability than LFR but I can’t be on my own here (surely – please say there are others like me!). One reason LFR exists is so that people like me (with less ability than others) have a chance to experience some raid content at a level I/they can deal with. I would say LFR gives me that.
As a side note: this doesn’t mean other people are not coasting on the back of the more experienced/better geared raiders who are running LFR. This probably explains all the raging and arguing. The pros get angry with all the poor abilities/presumed lack of effort on show. They have done this at a harder level – why can’t the rest of us get it? Are we all AFK (no we are not – but some might be). But in any case none of this is specifically an LFR problem – it’s a people problem. People could choose not to coast & people could choose not to get angry. Everyone could choose to give 100% effort and help/guide where they can. That people don’t is a sad indictment of people. But not necessarily a sad indictment of LFR.
2. Onto the gear argument – people run it just for gear & don’t put any effort in and don’t deserve the gear. I’ve run Highmaul a number of times in one week just to get more experience with the encounters and to practice healing. I know I might be atypical here (again) but surely I’m not the only one doing this. I want the practice. And while I know I’m healing LFR & not a Normal Raid, for me there are still numerous challenges – raid boxes to look at and understand, an addon to get used to, mouseovers to practice etc. So LFR offers more benefits than mere loot – LFR gives me a place to practice abilities I can’t practice when I quest alone. And while I know there are always 5 mans I don’t feel confident enough for them yet – one mess up on my part could cause a wipe & I’m not ready for that.
3. The final argument – LFR does not prepare anyone for raiding nor does it encourage anyone to raid. Again for me having completed a few LFRs as a healer I am now curious enough to read up on the normal raid equivalents to find out how the mechanics differ. So eg I read about what you need to do if you are on the Chain Hurl team in the Kargath encounter and I consider what it might be like to be a healer on a Normal Raid dealing with this. If it was a team of like minded folk (i.e. nice, supportive & friendly) and there was time to plan out the approach, agree the strategy & also agree that heads can stay firmly on necks if there is a wipe, would I be interested in trying? I find myself thinking yes maybe I would like to try this out. I am interested. I might do it. So Blizzard perhaps chalk me up as a partial success (only partial mind – I still have to be brave enough to do it). Again LFR is (for me) working as intended.
Indeed the only bit of LFR that definitely isn’t working for me is the Tourist Mode idea – ie LFR as a way to let casuals see the end of the story. In LFR I am normally concentrating so hard at what I’m doing that I do not take in any of the story & barely notice any part of my surroundings. And when there’s a cut scene I escape out of it so that I’m not left behind. I really do think that story completion should happen elsewhere. I take in far more of the story when I’m questing alone.
But back to LFR. Is it real raiding ? Umm no – not if you only class raiding as what you get in a Normal Plus raid. But who cares? Is this not semantics? Would everyone feel better if it wasn’t called Looking for Raid but was instead something else – Looking for Fun perhaps (although that could be embarrassingly misconstrued!)? Perhaps Looking for Practice which would at least convey the idea that this could be approached as a form of training – not training for being in a raid team per se (since you’re not going to get the raid team communication/strategy side in LFR), but more a type of Proving Grounds for using skills/abilities within a larger group setting (I mean all those people on the screen – takes some getting used to) and for dealing with mechanics that give a flavour or the type of thing you will get in a raid. LFR could be seen as a way to start flexing muscles that do not get flexed on solo quests or on 5 mans. Perhaps LFR is the raiding equivalent of a Couch to 5K running programme, with Normal Plus raids being the 10K, Half Marathon & Marathon equivalent. It could be said that LFR, like a good Couch to 5K running programme gets you out there doing something different and flexing muscles that haven’t been flexed before (or in years). But like training for a marathon, normal raiding is a whole different ballgame that demands a different level of commitment, dedication and focus.
In summary: I would argue that with the right frame of mind & intention LFR can be an experience that makes someone at least curious enough about proper raiding to think about what it would mean to join a proper raid team. I know this because it has happened to me. Would I be thinking about all this had I not tried LFR? No. And that for me is why LFR is worth doing and worth keeping. It’s got me off the couch.