Speaking of instances
The instances in The Burning Crusade range from good to incredible. There are very few frustrating experiences, and the one we had the most trouble finding group members for Ė Underbog Ė isnít bad so much as just not popular. Most would rather do its compatriot Slave Pens, or instances in Terokkar Forest. Typically the 5-man instances run under an hour and are well-planned with orderly progression and of course each has its own tricks. Some tricks, like the stealth rogue orcs in Blood Furnace, are better than say the fear bats in Underbog, but players are unlikely to find themselves frustrated even in a pickup group.
Blizzard has also dropped the 40-man raid instance. Whether itís to take mercy on smaller guilds or for performance reasons, the 40-man has now been replaced by the 25-man raid. The old 40-mans like Molten Core, Naxx, and BWL are still out there, but all new raid content is targeted at 25 players. Perhaps the popularity of AQ20 and ZulíGarrak has something to do with it. While we havenít been raiding yet, we do expect to see Blizzard continue improving the complexity and diversity of raid instances. The relative simplicity of Molten Core gave way to a few tricks in Blackwing Lair, and then Blizzard really caught its stride in the later parts of AhníQiraj and of course Naxx. To expect less in Outland doesnít seem fair.
The 25-man instances range from very short (like Magtheridonís Lair in Hellfire Peninsula) to being very large and long, according to Blizzard. Magtheridon has been described as the new Onyxia, in fact.
Items have been added to or modified in older instances as well. With patch 1.20, thrown weapons no longer come in stacks of white items, but can have quality ranging from green to epic purple as well. Rather than being used like a stack, it comes with 200 durability and loses one durability with each toss. Alliance loot tables have included Shaman gear for a few weeks since TBC, and of course Horde have had access to Paladin gear. This was done prematurely by Blizzard and resulted in many useless drops in all instances, ranging from Scholomance and Stratholme up to Naxxramas. As unamusing as it was to find a Shaman item in Scholo, we can scarcely imagine the annoyance of a 40-man raid that worked hours to see bind on pickup items that they couldnít possibly use. Whether through carelessness or laziness, itís hard to forgive Blizzard this oversight.
Also new is the option to run some Outland dungeons in regular or Heroic mode. Heroic mode increases the difficulty considerably (normalized to level 70) but also the quality of the drops. Players can expect epic loot to drop much more often. It has been suggested that Heroic 5-mans will be able to drop loot similar to some of the early 25-man instances. If true, itís yet another indication that Blizzard doesnít want to see players without huge guilds left behind.