Posted by Michael Mitchell @MitchFizzl
Gamer, writer, occasional pedant. Mitch lives up to all these adjectives and more by writing for Now Loading and Blizzard Watch. @Fizzl_CTR.
Michael Mitchell

World of Warcraft: Legion is finally here and the responses have been overly positive. Not only are players enjoying the plethora of content, they're also having a fun time creating memes and jokes that are sure to never die.

As always, with a new expansion comes new raids. And with new raids comes the choice of figuring out how you're going to tackle those raids. One such option is the Looking-For-Raid (LFR) mode, which allows you to queue for a raid group and automatically join 20+ other players in taking down the bosses.

Of course, LFR isn't for everyone and your mileage will certainly vary depending on what you want out of the game. With tier sets back to dropping from LFR, there's a bigger draw to doing it before, but does that make it worth it?

Today, we're going to go over some of the reasons to do LFR and if those reasons are actually good enough to put yourself through the (sometimes painful) process.

LFR as a Group Activity

I'm gonna go away and start with a blunt one: LFR is not the place to go if you're looking for a coordinated group activity. You probably already know that, but it's worth reiterating.

If you like coordinated group content or camaraderie with the people in your party, LFR is very, very rarely going to provide you with that. Occasionally, you do find magical LFR runs with coordinated leaders, good spirits in chat, and even a few friends made at the end.

But those don't happen often and if you're looking for the most positive group experience, the game's other group content will get you there faster.

Verdict: LFR is not worth it if you're just looking for solid group content.

LFR as a Way to See the Fights

Every single expansion, there seems to be one consistent force on the WoW development team, and that's the dungeons and raids designers. Even in an expansion that seems universally hated now, Warlords of Draenor still received praise for how well the raids were designed and how fun the bosses were.

LFR is a toned-down version of the boss encounters you'll see on higher difficulties, but — especially before late-game gear trivializes things — you can still get a really solid idea of the raid design by doing LFR. If you're unable to find a raid team or other means of experiencing the raids on other difficulties, it's definitely worth checking out in LFR at least once, just to see what the developers have cooked up this time.

Verdict: LFR is a great way to experience must-see encounters and raid zones if you can't via other means.

LFR as a Way to Get Sweet Gear

Image via Reddit.
Image via Reddit.

This one is a bit trickier. In Warlords of Draenor, LFR stopped providing players with the "official" tier sets — which had long been a big incentive to run LFR. The thinking was that coordinated raid teams shouldn't feel obligated to run LFR to obtain set bonuses while also giving non-raiders an incentive to find/join a raid team.

That's changed in Legion, and we're back to the old system where we have LFR versions of tier sets that still provide the same set bonuses all other raid difficulties provide. However, there's still a catch.

Legion has made almost every single item capable of randomly upgrading as a "Warforged" item. So, if normally a 5-man dungeon boss would drop an item-level 810 helm, you might get lucky and have that helm be item-level 815 or 820. As a result, it's harder to definitively say when you no longer need to run certain content for gear upgrades.

If you are going purely for item level, other sources will definitely be comparable to what LFR can offer — and sometimes higher. However, it can also offer you much-coveted tier gear and the accompanying set bonuses. These set bonuses tend to far outweigh their item levels and are worth going after.

Verdict: There are better and less frustrating ways to raise your item level than LFR, BUT none of them offers tier gear.

LFR's Difficulty Compared to Others

This one is a bit trickier. LFR is technically the easiest raid difficulty out there. It's designed for 20-some random strangers to be able to be able to zone into and still succeed. Blizzard even added in a "Determination" system where you deal increased damage after each wipe on a boss.

On top of that, raids are broken into wings of 3 or 4 bosses, plus one wing dedicated to the end-boss, so you don't have to worry about a full clear. Plus, boss mechanics have been tuned down so that some of the more complicated ones just plain don't exist in LFR. Theoretically, LFR should be the easiest and smoothest raid experience in the game.

But it's not.

Especially when the content is newer, most people don't know the fights and your group is likely to wipe because people assume it will be more of a faceroll than it is. On top of that, you will occasionally zone into an LFR group that's already killed some of the bosses, which means your time in queue (which can be long for DPS) is wasted.

However, if you happen to get a group that is cognizant of the above, or even one with a few hardcore raiders looking for tier or just something to do, LFR can be stupidly easy. What makes it more difficult than Normal (and sometimes Heroic) is the disorganization.

Verdict: LFR is designed to be easy, but often ends up more frustrating with more wipes than organized raids might have at higher difficulties.

LFR as a Way to Experience the Story

Here's the big one for me. When you do LFR, you may lose out on some of the mechanics. You may not have the highest gear. Heck, you'll probably die a lot. But any bit of story that is to be had in other difficulties*, you'll still get in LFR.

No, LFR is not jam packed with as much story as a zone full of quests, but it still has enough story to make it interesting for those that want it. If you've ever gone into a 5-man dungeon and seen the culmination of a zone's story, or even smaller figures get a shining moment, LFR is going to have that too.

Verdict: If you have no other way of seeing raids and are interested in the overall story of an expansion, LFR is a must.

LFR For Easily Beefing Up Alts

If you're already a raider or just someone who plays a lot of classes, then LFR may be your place. Not only does LFR offer a way to get tier gear, but you can also use it to complete class campaigns, which unlock different appearances for your Artifact.

Granted, the verdict regarding item levels still applies to LFR, but LFR is a relatively low-stakes environment, which can make it nice for a bit of mindless alt-ing. No, I'm not saying you can completely turn off your brain for LFR. But if you know how to not stand in the fire and actually participate in fights, there's a lot less pressure riding on you personally than in smaller-group content.

Verdict: LFR can be a great place to help catch up alts without as much stress as other gearing options — but you should still be prepared to wipe.

The Final Verdict

LFR's usefulness has changed from expansion to expansion. Over time it's gone from a necessary step in preparing for raids to something completely optional to everything in between.

And while Legion has brought back some of its usefulness with tier gear, whether you run it or not will still depend on what exactly you intend to get out of the game.

There's no default answer, but the following signposts might mean LFR is good for you:

  • You don't have a raid team and still want to see raid content.
  • You're interested in the lore and the full story of the game.
  • You want to get a head start on class campaigns, whether you have a raid team or not.
  • You thrive on chaos and the cacophony of disorder.

Certainly there are other reasons to do (or not to do) LFR, but the breakdown here should hopefully help you if you've been away from the game for a while and weren't sure just what this whole LFR jazz was all about.


What's your reason for doing LFR?