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Story Difficulty Confirmed and Explained by Blizzard

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It's official! We've seen the datamining already, but it wasn't clear what the intention was - but now we have official confirmation. Story Difficulty is coming to the Nerub'ar Palace in the War Within! 

Players will be able to face off against the final boss of the first raid of the expansion in groups of 1 to 5, with reduced mechanics and a greater focus on the narrative. This option will become available when the final LFR wing opens up and will be repeatable. No word on whether there will be any loot involved, but it seems unlikely (aside from quest rewards). We also didn't get any explanations on whether this is a one-time thing or whether this will stay as a staple for future raids as well.

Blizzard LogoStory Difficulty (Source)

Hello!

As mentioned in the article above, we’ve been working on a new raid experience for The War Within called Story difficulty.

Throughout World of Warcraft’s history, many of the most epic moments in our stories have been told in dungeons and raids. With the recent introduction of Follower Dungeons, we’ve been experimenting with new ways for players to see those stories, especially for those who may not feel comfortable playing within the social expectations of group environments.

With Story difficulty in Nerub-ar Palace, our goal is to offer players a way to see the epic conclusion of Azj-Kahet’s story who may not see the end to that story otherwise. This difficulty is intended for a private party of 1-5 players and will allow players to face off against Queen Ansurek without the assistance of other players or Followers. This encounter features reduced combat complexity and difficulty, instead focusing on the narrative elements of the encounter. Story difficulty is intended to be experienced as a one-time chapter in the game’s story, but is repeatable for players who want to revisit that part of the adventure.

We currently plan to release this experience alongside the final wing of Looking For Raid difficulty, for players who’ve reached the appropriate point in the questing experience of The War Within. We’d love to hear your feedback on this feature once it’s released.

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This seems completely pointless, we already have LFR which is basically the same thing but with other players. I really hope it doesn't reward gear if this has to be a thing.

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As someone who plays very casually, I barely step foot into dungeons and raids due to time. This is a huge QoL change for those who want to finish the story. BFA is a great example of requiring raids as a story-telling mechanic.

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From a story perspective, I'm cool with this. It feels similar to how FFXIV sometimes puts important main story fights in solo instances, rather than forcing raids onto people who aren't interested.

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What would have been really cool for this (since it is just story mode and there might not even be loot) if you could fight the boss with your warband!

It's good because they can add more story to the raids to make them more meaningful without the "I don't raid, it's not fair" backlash. I always felt they should build up the raid bosses more so we know more about them (all of the raid bosses). Work them into the quests and stories more. We have to know them well enough to really want to kill them! If we don't really know them- we are less invested in their defeat. You go to the raid and some of these guys- you never even heard of!

Edited by Ken007
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Add this to the many group think ideas that come about when no one has balls in the office to say you are off your rocker.

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3 hours ago, Q said:

This seems completely pointless, we already have LFR which is basically the same thing but with other players. I really hope it doesn't reward gear if this has to be a thing.

It's simply there to experience the story. No need to wait in queue, quite useful when this content becomes obsolete and barely anyone queues for it. Also no interruptions from other players, able to watch cinematics and do the raid at their own pace. LFR can remain as easy mode for some loot.

Edited by Arcling
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Just now, Arcling said:

It's simply there to experience the story. No need to wait in queue, quite useful when this content becomes obsolete and barely anyone  queues for it. Also no interruptions from other players, able to watch cinematics and do the raid at their own pace. LFR can remain as easy mode for some loot.

I suppose, but most of the time the cinematic gets posted on youtube, wowhead, or on this very site maybe a couple hours after the content is released so if that's what they want to see there are ample opportunities to see it without doing anything. Plus, this is only the final boss so they won't really be doing the whole raid and getting that experience.

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56 minutes ago, Q said:

I suppose, but most of the time the cinematic gets posted on youtube, wowhead, or on this very site maybe a couple hours after the content is released so if that's what they want to see there are ample opportunities to see it without doing anything. Plus, this is only the final boss so they won't really be doing the whole raid and getting that experience.

its not only the cinematic. I personally like this mode because with that i can acually concentrate on the dialogue in the raid without people talking over or pugs racing threw the raid. All in all a win for lore enthusiasts

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8 minutes ago, Hagersen said:

its not only the cinematic. I personally like this mode because with that i can acually concentrate on the dialogue in the raid without people talking over or pugs racing threw the raid. All in all a win for lore enthusiasts

Can't say I understand since I've never had a problem hearing the dialogue during a fight but good for those who can't, I suppose. Just reminds me too much of the "journalist mode" there've been talks of regarding sony games, not that I'll be giving them money after the bs with Helldivers and Stellar Blade.

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I think this is fine.

It had always been so odd  that the "champion" do all the story alone. Then when we have to fight the big bad, we have to bring a mercenary army of other "champions". Even though we have the full support of the horde/alliance army.

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This is fine since we all play WoW at our own pace.  Those that do not wish to Raid or do Dungeons should not be pressured into group activities like these.  FFXIV has similar features like this and so does GW2 when it comes to story components and questlines.  If you are solely against the idea of it because of plausible loot/gear then you are missing the point.  Not all quest gear/items are going to be uber effective when it is just going to be replaced shortly in the next vault upgrade, dungeon run, or raid encounter.  If anything  and if there is a reward for completing a story activity it will be either gold or a small reputation token in some form or fashion.

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Adding more mode bloat to a game that doesn't get tested by their own developers 😬

Edited by Cham79
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13 hours ago, Ken007 said:

What would have been really cool for this (since it is just story mode and there might not even be loot) if you could fight the boss with your warband!

It's good because they can add more story to the raids to make them more meaningful without the "I don't raid, it's not fair" backlash. I always felt they should build up the raid bosses more so we know more about them (all of the raid bosses). Work them into the quests and stories more. We have to know them well enough to really want to kill them! If we don't really know them- we are less invested in their defeat. You go to the raid and some of these guys- you never even heard of!

I really like the idea of being able to do it with your own warband for the story. Also since it would feel more that your personal 'party' is going through the story.

They definitely have been trying to get you more connected to certain raid bosses, but I agree this can be way more. For example Skitra from the Ny'alotha raid. I found it fun that in the questline you ended up killing your own people because Skitra was making illusions for you. Sadly, that's the only time you saw him and you don't hear from him again until fighting him in the raid. Most of the times Blizzard thinks showing an boss a single time gives us enough reason and background to kill him/her, but I agree with you that that isn't enough.

Though I do think unknown bosses are fair as well. We had a LOT of background on Majordomo Staghelm before facing him in the Firelands raid, but it doesn't sound right that we would know a whole story and background on the spider boss over there. It's simply a wild beast that lives there and is a danger to us, so we get rid of it. Extra information and scenes on bosses is definitely a good thing, as long as it isn't forced.

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I'm okay with Story Mode as long as there's no loot involved. Raid Finder is easy enough. If Story Mode is used to complete the final campaign quests so you don't have to queue for Raid Finder to defeat the final raid boss, I wouldn't mind at all.

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15 hours ago, Q said:

I suppose, but most of the time the cinematic gets posted on youtube, wowhead, or on this very site maybe a couple hours after the content is released so if that's what they want to see there are ample opportunities to see it without doing anything. Plus, this is only the final boss so they won't really be doing the whole raid and getting that experience.

Seeing a cinematic in game after completing the relevant quest/dungeon/raid/etc and watching it on youtube are not even REMOTELY the same. The fact that the cinematics are on youtube long before any casual non-raider could see them in game is the main problem.

Locking major story content exclusively behind raids has always been a terrible idea. Whether you go back decades to almost no one seeing Illidan's defeat, or mere months to the Emerald Dream and casual players having to wait 6 weeks for the final LFR wing to finally open in order to finish the campaign, it has ALWAYS felt bad. Especially since the people who care the most about the story also tend to be the ones least interested in raiding.

Personally, I'm of the opinion that LFR and/or story mode should release FIRST, not last. Let the people who want to see the story and such have fun with it in the week or two before the season starts (just disable tier drops until after the RWF is over to prevent "required" farming.)

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4 hours ago, Pandabuffel said:

They definitely have been trying to get you more connected to certain raid bosses, but I agree this can be way more. For example Skitra from the Ny'alotha raid. I found it fun that in the questline you ended up killing your own people because Skitra was making illusions for you. Sadly, that's the only time you saw him and you don't hear from him again until fighting him in the raid. Most of the times Blizzard thinks showing an boss a single time gives us enough reason and background to kill him/her, but I agree with you that that isn't enough.

Though I do think unknown bosses are fair as well. We had a LOT of background on Majordomo Staghelm before facing him in the Firelands raid, but it doesn't sound right that we would know a whole story and background on the spider boss over there. It's simply a wild beast that lives there and is a danger to us, so we get rid of it. Extra information and scenes on bosses is definitely a good thing, as long as it isn't forced.

Yeah, that's something that's always bothered me. How they show a raid boss outside of the raid once and expect us to get really excited about killing them. It worked somewhat with Fyrakk, at least for me, since he killed a bunch of the niffim back in 10.1 but in the build up to Amirdrassil, he felt like a nonentity or worse a minion since he could've ended everyone right at the start of 10.2's story but decided not to at some random night elf's word. Sure, Fyrakk wanted it to sting and to prolong the suffering he could inflict on Alexstraza and the rest of the Aspects but it feels like he was just too stupid to make good use of an opportunity.

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3 minutes ago, Brightamethyst said:

Seeing a cinematic in game after completing the relevant quest/dungeon/raid/etc and watching it on youtube are not even REMOTELY the same. The fact that the cinematics are on youtube long before any casual non-raider could see them in game is the main problem.

Locking major story content exclusively behind raids has always been a terrible idea. Whether you go back decades to almost no one seeing Illidan's defeat, or mere months to the Emerald Dream and casual players having to wait 6 weeks for the final LFR wing to finally open in order to finish the campaign, it has ALWAYS felt bad. Especially since the people who care the most about the story also tend to be the ones least interested in raiding.

Personally, I'm of the opinion that LFR and/or story mode should release FIRST, not last. Let the people who want to see the story and such have fun with it in the week or two before the season starts (just disable tier drops until after the RWF is over to prevent "required" farming.)

It isn't like normal mode is difficult, could probably clear it first week easily if you've just been playing the game. I was once like a lot of the casual player base, I was afraid to get into raiding because I'd had poor experiences with it prior, being brought to a raid only to be kicked shortly before the final boss on multiple occasions, but you've just got to power through it if that's what you want. For those that don't, I can't understand why you wouldn't. For me, that'd be like buying an ice cream just to watch it melt because you think that's more fun than eating it. It just doesn't compute for me.

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2 hours ago, Brightamethyst said:

Personally, I'm of the opinion that LFR and/or story mode should release FIRST, not last. Let the people who want to see the story and such have fun with it in the week or two before the season starts (just disable tier drops until after the RWF is over to prevent "required" farming.)

Yeah, at least story mode should be released first with all wings available. It's really strange if they are going to time gate it.

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2 hours ago, Q said:

I was once like a lot of the casual player base, I was afraid to get into raiding because I'd had poor experiences with it prior, being brought to a raid only to be kicked shortly before the final boss on multiple occasions, but you've just got to power through it if that's what you want. For those that don't, I can't understand why you wouldn't. For me, that'd be like buying an ice cream just to watch it melt because you think that's more fun than eating it. It just doesn't compute for me.

LFR isn't waiting for your ice cream to melt. It's Blizz handing you an already melted bowl because the Filthy Casuals™ apparently don't deserve to eat it cold.

And again, that's not really comparable. Just because you can do something doesn't mean you want to.

I could raid if I wanted to. I'm not any sort of amazing player, but I've done normal and heroic raids I have in the past, and could (probably) do it again if I really wanted. Thing is though, I don't want to. 2010 me was perfectly happy to fight all the way through ICC to kill Arthas and whatnot. 2024 me is no longer interested in that type of gameplay and would rather just do some casual world questing and queue for heroic dungeons and LFR and call it a day, and I don't feel like I should be punished for that.

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I don't get why some people have a problem with this. It doesn't affect your gameplay at all if you're not going to use it. As for casual players getting loot from this, it's a moot point - they've already said eventually you'll be able to upgrade loot from delves that's comparable with heroic raids. 

Edited by VictorVakaras

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On 5/22/2024 at 1:04 PM, Q said:

This seems completely pointless, we already have LFR which is basically the same thing but with other players. I really hope it doesn't reward gear if this has to be a thing.

The point is that some people do not like raiding and dungeoning with others and this is a way to get them an end of game experience that they otherwise wouldn't receive. In that case, it is not pointless as it is nice for some people. Just because it doesn't cater to you, doesn't make it pointless. It will likely reward gear, but I doubt it will be raid-level gear. 

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