Blizzard is once again changing the way in which we trigger heroic modes of encounters. First there was Sarth, where you left up mini-bosses. Then there was Ulduar, where you (sometimes) triggered a particular event by defeating or leaving up particular bosses or objects. Then in the Trial of the Crusader you had four different raids to do depending on your difficulty setting.
Now in Icecrown Citadel, Blizzard has appeared to reach a final solution of sorts -- potentially even going back and changing the way hard modes in Trial of the Crusader are triggered. Difficulty (hard mode on/hard mode off) of the upcoming Icecrown Citadel raid in patch 3.3 will be set on a per-boss basis.
The full statement after the break.
From Bornakk today:
In the upcoming patch we are adding a new feature to the Icecrown raid instance that allows the raid leader to change the instance's difficulty setting on a boss per boss basis. The way the raid leader chooses to switch is the same as now, by right-clicking on the character portrait. The difficulty settings can be changed from inside Icecrown Citadel, with some restrictions. For example, you cannot change the difficulty in combat or during certain events specified by our design team. To enable the ability to change the raid difficulty to heroic, you must first defeat the Lich King on normal mode, as doing so unlocks the heroic version of this raid instance. There is no heroic version of trash; meaning changing the difficulty will only affect boss difficulty.
We chose this particular functionality because we didn't want to use the Trial of the Crusader method, and have four versions on a raid of this size. We felt the Ulduar method of having to know a certain trick to do on the boss was difficult to communicate and tied too heavily to achievements. We might eventually convert Trial of the Crusader over to this new system but Ulduar and Naxxramas will likely never change.
Patch 3.3 is the last major patch of Wrath of the Lich King. With the new Icecrown Citadel 5-man dungeons and 10/25-man raid arriving soon, patch 3.3 will deal the final blow to the Arthas. WoW.com's Guide to Patch 3.3 will keep you updated with all the latest patch news.