The Emerald Nightmare raid is opening up this coming Tuesday, and a week later, the first LFR wing will open up as well.
LFR has been a pretty major part of WoW for about five years now - it was introduced in 4.3, the Dragon Soul raid patch (that also brought us the Hour of Twilight dungeons, which are some of my favorites.) While I was able to at least fight the Lich King prior to the launch of Cataclysm (we very easily took him down when we were at an average of level 83 or so the weekend after Cata launched) the general sense of raiding was that if you weren't in a serious raiding guild, you just didn't get to see endgame bosses. Even if you were in a casual raiding guild, you might finish the first tier and see the first boss or two of each new raid, but you'd probably not ever see the expansion's final boss.
So LFR's main purpose was to basically just let you see the conclusion of the expansion's story.
In Mists of Pandaria, LFR was tuned to be a bit harder - honestly, it was more on par with Wrath's 10-player normal mode, making it pretty difficult to coordinate in a group of random strangers. Warlords dialed down the difficulty but also tried to disincentivize people who could raid on normal from doing it by making separate (frankly, uglier) gear models and far less interesting trinkets - making sure that no one would feel forced to run it each week to fill our a tier set or get some very powerful trinket.
In Legion, with Mythic dungeons available from the start and world quests scaling their rewards up pretty rapidly (my Rogue, who has only just run his first heroic, now has an 845 cloak thanks to a lucky Titanforged world quest reward,) the gear rewards from Emerald Nightmare's LFR are surprisingly underwhelming at 835.
Now granted, Warforged/Titanforged upgrades seem far more common in this expansion than we've seen in the past. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if bringing in my main (who is currently at 845 item level) will mean it's highly likely the gear he'll get in there will be upgraded as well.
Personally, I'm eager to run Emerald Nightmare's LFR for two major reasons.
The first is that the raid just looks really cool - I love the aesthetic they've come up with for the Nightmare and have basically stolen it (description-wise) for the Shadowfel equivalent of my D&D campaign setting.
I also, of course, want to pick up the gear for transmog purposes.
But given that I basically already outgear it (and it's not unthinkable that I'll outgear Nighthold LFR by the time it comes out,) I wonder if there's going to be anything keeping me running it.
Because one thing we don't have this time around is a long legendary quest chain. Granted, we'll have to see what the "balance of power" chain is like once the raid opens, but I'm not even sure we'll be able to complete that chain on LFR setting (given that the previous quests require Mythic dungeons.)
So there won't be any major grind to incentivize making sure you down every boss in the raid every week.
That's a good thing, mind you.
But I do wonder what the LFR environment will be like in this expansion.