This week Blizzard announced a series of extremely serious nerfs to all of the current WOW Cataclysm normal mode raids; they are due to arrive in 4.2 just as Firelands launches. In the past they have often tweaked individual encounters over time by removing troublesome mechanics or just making the numbers lower but this time it was an across the board 20% reduction in mob health and damage output as well as a bunch of miscellaneous nerfs for all the hardest encounters to make them simpler and less stringent. No kidding around with this patch - in 4.2 every current normal mode will be a complete joke. The reaction on the forums is mixed of course with a few people being very bitter that their accomplishments will be rendered moot and others bitter that the challenges they had hoped to surmount would be removed but the majority seem positive.
I like it. The trouble with the early WotLK raids was that they dropped loot that was completely obsolete by the time Ulduar was released and there were 2 more tiers of content after that! The idea that anyone would be interested in loot that had literally half the stats of gear that could be obtained by running 5 mans is obviously silly so even though they were easy they were ignored. Ulduar's loot was much more relevant but you still needed to know and pay attention to the mechanics involved so it was almost totally ignored also. I think Blizzard is trying to avoid that situation this time by making sure that gear doesn't inflate as much in this expansion and that the zones are fairly easy. The first goal is already met because they aren't running 10 and 25 man raids this time so the gear progression will be much flatter. The second goal requires exactly what they announced - all the early raids will be very, very easy now even in blues. If their goal is to keep the entry level raids relevant they are taking the correct steps to achieve this.
I also think this will be a great things for people who like to PUG raids. Right now there are PUGs doing some content but they rarely beat the harder bosses and have to be run pretty tight. Once these nerfs go through we can expect lots of groups assembled from trade chat to be successful in clearing raid dungeons out as long as they have even slightly competent leadership. The benchmarks for dps and healing that are required are going to be ludicrously low given that everyone can go in with some Firelands level gear and lots of 359 epics so it will be entirely possible for groups with little coordination to power through the mechanics and win. I think this is key for the community - there are a lot of people who like raiding and want to do it but either aren't very good or have very little time to invest. Those people have trouble getting into real raiding guilds but many of them enjoy PUGging raids presuming there are raids of appropriate difficulty for them. It will also be a much better environment for new players to get involved in the endgame too as they can see groups forming up in public channels and can likely get into some of them and see some content. Right now there is a level of competence and knowledge required that is out of reach for a lot of new players and having just one boss to raid each week is really not enough for a new player to get a sense of what goes on in a raid.
One thing I find very amusing is the idea of players going from these new nerfed normal modes to the corresponding heroic modes. The step up right now is extremely steep but the step up once 4.2 hits will be monumental indeed.