We are happy to announce that the 2.3 Content Patch will be released on the Netherwing realm on the 10th of January 2024! Venture into the heart of the Amani tribe capital of and face Zul’jin and the gods of Zul’Aman!
Zul’Aman will be the first raid to feature our new, experimental raid difficulty system. When it comes to PvE encounters, we always strived to balance content around one difficulty for all players with just occasional buffs and nerfs as time went on or when needed. This worked quite well and provided both an appropriate challenge to the spearheading guilds as well as something to strive for to the weaker guilds either still learning the ropes or gearing up.
There were raids that were buffed a bit but still not particularly hard and were never meant to be (Karazhan, Gruul) and raids that were intended to be difficult, either in their entirety or partially (SSC, Tempest Keep). The one instance that never quite hit the mark on any of our previous realms was Zul’Aman. It’s meant to mainly be a catch-up raid, but some of the later bosses are quite a step-up from others. It features a cool and challenging Prisoner Event with an Amani War Bear prize which is meant to be a reward for the best raiders but at the same time is meant to entertain and provide enough content for all players to keep everyone busy before Sunwell Plateau arrives. It has always been a nightmare to balance as nobody could agree on how difficult it should be - it was too easy for some and too difficult for others.
To solve this issue, we decided to introduce a normal/heroic difficulty split for Zul’Aman. Sort of. Players will be able to switch the difficulty of their raid similar to how normal/heroic dungeons work, but with a twist that it will function within the same scope of the same raid ID lockout.
The first four bosses (Akil’zon, Nalorakk, Jan’alai, Halazzi) will have a normal and heroic version and you will be able to choose the difficulty you wish to challenge them at any point - you can first try beating the tougher version and if it proves to difficult, all you need to do is leave the dungeon and switch the difficulty to normal. Defeating the harder version will yield an extra item drop, so if you’re capable of such a feat it’s always worth trying it first! Additionally, the entire Prisoner Event (and therefore the Amani War Bear) will only be available on Heroic difficulty. The moment Harrison Jones opens the Zul’Aman gate, your event status will be locked to whichever raid difficulty you are on so after that point you will not be able to attempt the Prisoner Event if you’re in the Normal version of the dungeon.
You will still be able to switch it at will for any of the four bosses regardless of the event state (even if you fail it), but keep in mind that going from Heroic to Normal will cause it to fail the event immediately as well. Hex Lord Malacrass and Zul’jin will only have one, tougher version independent of what difficulty you’re on, at least for the first few weeks, so they should still provide a decent challenge to everyone.
Our biggest worries with introducing a raid split earlier was continuing the mistakes of retail and future expansions where multiple difficulties diluted the accomplishment of clearing the raid or not being able to provide enough of an incentive for players to attempt the harder version. With the way our system is designed, we can allow only selected bosses to have an easier version for weaker guilds to clear and gear up and prepare for a harder challenge while keeping later bosses of a raid the same for everyone, retaining the prestige of beating them.
We can tweak the heroic versions better, make them a bit more challenging and not nerf them as much later on as we can simply give them a normal version instead while also adding an extra reward for guilds doing it on the harder difficulty. We feel that this system will be of great benefit to everyone and more guilds will be able to enjoy Zul’Aman to the fullest.