Battle for Azeroth’s third full raid came out in Patch 8.2, which ended with confronting Queen Azshara herself. These first three bosses in the eight-boss raid were fun and unique. The most unique fight being the second boss, Blackwater Behemoth, being that it’s a fight done completely underwater. I was excited for that fight and how it would work, but it ended up not being as cool as I hoped it would. In reality, moving around in water is clunky and awkward, and it’s hard to make a super-awesome fight from that. The good news is that the Blackwater Behemoth fight is the only one that I didn’t really find fun. My favorite fight from this video is probably Radiance of Azshara, and even though there are a lot of frustrating times (those tornadoes, mostly) the mayhem of it all can be a blast.
Content update 8.2.5 went live on September 24th in North America and brought with it the conclusion to the long-running arc that was set in motion after the burning of Teldrassil. The update came with a couple of fantastic cinematics to tie up the story, but mostly I was left with questions. While 8.2.5 was the end of the war campaign, it’s now clear to the players that there are many other things happening behind the scenes that I’m guessing will become the main story focus in 8.3 and beyond.
The Future of the Horde and Alliance
During the first cinematic, called “The Negotiation”, Anduin meets with Saurfang in secret to ready for the coming battle, but also to inquire about the future of the Horde. Saurfang talks about how the Horde was built on dishonor, thus the problems and conflict among their rank, but the future of the Horde has a chance to change all that. Right now there is an uneasy peace, or, as the soldier NPCs call it ingame – ceasefire- between the Horde and the Alliance. Many wonder if it will last with all the fighting and actions that have been committed by both sides over the course of the expansion (looking at you, Teldrassil and Undercity).
My guess is that it won’t last, because this game is built on conflict and the faction system . Although I can hope for a relaxing of those factions, especially seeing as the Forsaken have been left by Sylvanas. Many will remain loyal to her, but some might want to follow the newly-undead Calia Menethil, who was the Princess of Lordaeron. Lordaeron is the place that many of the original Forsaken come from, and still picture themselves as citizens of the city.
I also know that the game can’t keep on injecting points of conflict for the Horde and Alliance just to see them fight, it gets old. It’s getting old for me, and I think that the conclusion to the war campaign was a good end for any major Alliance/Horde conflict. I’d like to see them work together more (because they have in the past), but still have a distinctly Horde and Alliance faction line. It would be cool if members of one faction could join the other, like Blood Elves or Nightborne. I know the Alliance have Void Elves now, but I would love to see Blood Elves and Nightborne switch sides. Basically I want all Elves to be in the Alliance.
Tyrande and Vengeance
The (former?) High Priestess of Elune and leader of the Night Elves was pointedly absent from the final war campaign battle in Durotar. In her place was Shandris Feathermoon leading some Night Elf archers and Sentinels, though it was a small force. After the burning of Teldrassil, it really doesn’t surprise me that not many Night Elves – or even Tyrande herself- showed up to support Saurfang’s rebellion. But a deeper problem is hinted at with Tyrande when Anduin says he fears that she has been consumed by vengeance. Ever since Tyrande underwent the ritual of the Night Warrior and became the avatar of Elune’s wrath, she’s gone rogue. Who knows if she’s in her right mind, but she’s definitely focused on getting justice for Darkshore and all of the Night Elves.
We need a questline, maybe next expansion or the pre-patch to 9.0, revolving around Tyrande and the abilities she’s been granted by Elune. The Night Warrior is still a mystery, and we don’t know the long-term effects of channeling the wrath of a goddess (or whatever she actually is). My dream is for Blizzard to remake Teldrassil, like they did Darkshore, and for players to go back there and assess the damage. Then, in the process, learn more about the nature of Elune. I can only hope that the burning of Teldrassil is going to lead to a big story arc with Elune and the Elves, because otherwise it seems like a waste. And Tyrande isn’t going to like the new peace with the Horde, which will hopefully lead to more story involving her. The fact that Teldrassil wasn’t really dealt with in this expansion leads me to believe its a setup for future story.
Sylvanas and Death
Horde players who remain Sylvanas loyalists through the whole war campaign get to see a special ending in the Ghostlands, where Sylvanas escapes to after the Saurfang cinematic. Sylvanas lets slip that she is gathering souls and that the whole point of the war was a large body count. Obviously she is an undead creature and serves Death, but she talks about it like its a person or creature. It sounds like she’s serving Death, and she has a deal with it to create more souls.
The Shadowlands is a part of WoW not really talked about in detail, but we know that it’s a realm that mirrors our reality like the Emerald Dream. Will we go there and find whoever Sylvanas serves? I hope so, because I’m curious what the Shadowlands would look like and how it would tie into Old God/Void stuff. In the comic with the Windrunner sisters, it is hinted that Void fears Death or at least that they’re opposing forces. Yesterday I saw that an encrypted 8.3 build is being added to the PTR soon. I wonder how many of these things will be set up for 9.0, and if our questions will be answered or just replaced with more questions.
This is likely to be the only post I make on the topic of WoW Classic, but I am very happy with this video and had a great time making it. It was fun to go back and get as close as I could to recreating a memorable – and tedious – moment from Warcraft history. I am a person who is heavily affected my nostalgia, and I definitely felt it when I remade Aurashot as she was about 14 years ago and logged into the Night Elf starting zone of Shadowglen. Even though all the WoW Classic videos that show the original game developers talking about the magic of “coming home” are totally cheesy, there is a bit of magic when you log back into a world that’s as close of a recreation of the original as it’s going to get. It brings to mind the memories that I made and places I got to explore because of this character I made one day in what was, at least at the time, just an MMORPG. In a lot of ways I grew up with this game that at the same time also grew and evolved with each new expansion and story development. Even though I do not see myself playing WoW Classic in any serious capacity, for reasons that I will talk about, the nostalgia effect has definitely worked on me and has brought with it some emotions.
The Point of it All
First off, before I delve into the deeper part of this post, I should probably explain why I made this video. Back in 2005 there were only 2 major continents on Azeroth – Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms. Each race in World of Warcraft has a starting zone located on one of those two continents, and Eastern Kingdoms has some major hubs like Stormwind City and Ironforge. Now, back in those days, players couldn’t learn the Riding skill until level 40 and even when they did become eligible to ride mounts they had to pay for both the skill and a mount. I don’t remember how much it cost to learn the skill but I believe a mount – say a horse – cost around 100 gold, which was a lot. My point is that being able to get increased movement speed was much more difficult than it is in WoW today. I’m not even going to talk about the mount that level 1 characters can use, although it has decreased speed than a normal mount.
Players who created Night Elf characters and wanted to get over to where Stormwind City and Elwynn Forest was, had to run there on foot from the Kalimdor continent. Many people made this journey at a very low level, much lower than the levels of enemies inhabiting the zones they had to run through. In the video we started our run on fresh level 1 characters, but in usually people waited until about level 5 when they were finished with the beginning tutorial area. PvP added to the danger of this run for players who were on PvP realms, which meant that when they ran through Contested zones they were easy prey for members of the opposing faction. We created characters on a PvP realm for this video but never ran into any Horde, although we were on a low population realm.
We also commonly had to “corpse-run” through the Wetlands zone, which was probably the most dangerous place we had to run through given that enemies there were around level 20. Corpse-running means that every time you die you pick the maximum distance from your body to resurrect, and do that over and over again until you make it out of whatever bad situation you were in. Another thing to note is that aggro range was brutal back in the day, especially for a low-level, and you really had to stick to the road and hope a bad buy didn’t spot you. Once you finally made it to Stormwind, it felt like quite the accomplishment.
The whole goal of this video was to see if the difficulty of this run in Classic is similar to the one I made many times back then. There are definitely similarities, like how slow and tedious it was, and how big the world seemed when you had to run from one continent to the other. But there were too many differences, like how there weren’t enough enemies close enough to the road to see us, or how some enemies that would attack on sight wouldn’t attack us in Classic unless we attacked them first. There were also only three deaths, which seemed like too low of a number to me. There was only one corpse-run where we had to get far enough away from an enemy, and no Horde waiting by the road to kill weak lowbie characters. Although the Horde thing is understandable since we were playing on a low population server. This run has always been boring, but it was largely uneventful in Classic. The accomplishment this time around for me was when I made the video, and not when we reached our goal of the Human starting zone.
WoW Classic is not Vanilla WoW
Classic was a great idea, and probably a really fun project for Blizzard to work on. I would love to hear stories of the developers and designers trying to recreate a nearly 15 year-old game. But it’s just that – a recreation. Blizzard did a really great job making the game look like it did. There are things they had to approximate, like the old character models. Their game engine has gone through many changes and iterations throughout the years, and those original models couldn’t be replicated. You can tell by looking at the faces and noticing that they look just slightly off. However, it’s not because of any character models that I don’t find myself very interested in Classic.
I will never be able to recreate my sense of wonder and adventure from when I first started playing WoW. Like I said, back then WoW was just a game to me, and I had no way to predict all the memories I would go on to experience. I was a noob, I knew nothing about the game. Even more, I hardly knew how to play an MMO as I was pretty young at the time. I can never “go home” again because that home has changed. My “home” in WoW isn’t a singular place way back in 2005 that I can return to. My home is the place that I have spent countless hours in, and made so many great memories and met so many awesome people. I can’t experience those things again through WoW Classic, and that’s what makes those moments special. I made the video as a funny tribute to an infamous experience back in the day, but even that isn’t the same as I remember it. It never can be, and I’m not blaming Classic for that.
I am happy for those who are having a blast in Classic and have groups of friends leveling characters together. Personally, I’m really not ready to return to the days where I had to buy arrows as a Hunter and resort to melee when I ran out in the middle of a dungeon.
I’ve held off on writing about 8.2 for a few different reasons. One big one being that I spent all my time playing the game rather than thinking about things I’d like to write about. The other being that I had mixed reactions about each zone both positive and negative. I figure that each new zone will take up it’s own post, so today I will talk about what I think about Nazjatar – ancient home of the Night Elves which has been in ruin under the seas for ten thousand years, and since have been reclaimed by the Naga. I’m going to preface this whole thing by saying I haven’t completed the story in Nazjatar yet, I still have one chapter left.
What is Nazjatar?
Long before the Naga or the Burning Legion came to Azeroth, Night Elves had a vast civilization that spanned much of the planet. It was built around a gigantic magical lake called the Well of Eternity, where the Elves learned Arcane magic and advancements that would aid in a prospering society. Getting only glimpses of what it actually looked like from the Azshara Warbringer video and the artwork from the Chronicles Warcraft lore books, it was breathtaking.
Of course, that all changed when Queen Azshara opened a portal so that the demon armies of the Burning Legion could invade Azeroth, presumably with her as queen of the entire planet. But that never happened, as a massive war broke out and the Well of Eternity ulimately imploded and sent most of Night Elf civilization beneath the newly formed seas. Queen Azshara made a deal with the Old God N’zoth and transformed her and most of her people into the Naga. Over ten thousand years Azshara and the Naga have been living under the sea and rebuilding their once Night Elven civilization of Zin-Azshari into Nazjatar, the Naga capital city. Nazjatar is what Queen Azshara rules now, as she is referred to as the “Empress of Nazjatar.”
What Do I Think?
Queen Azshara and the Night Elves are a huge part of Warcraft lore that have been speculated about for years. By the time 8.2 came around, everyone (including me) had their own vision for what Nazjatar was going to be. It’s like with anything when you build up an idea in your head that seems so great to you, and when it turns out differently no matter what it’s going to feel like a disappointment. For me, I was hoping for much more area to explore and quests that revolve around Night Elf/ Highborne culture. I haven’t been completely disappointed because there’s some quests that show what life was like at the time and gives some insight into what was really going on. There’s also a pretty big area just filled with ruins and Highborne spirits and it’s pretty cool.
I love the idea that these ruins have been untouched for thousands, and that maybe even the Naga are ashamed of them but also that they serve as a memorial for what was. For what could have still been. Queen Azshara could have ordered that the Naga destroy the remants of her failure, but that would mean that she had made a mistake. The Burning Legion was just one rung on the ladder in her quest for more power. I am glad that these ruins are intact rather than the whole land being rebuilt into a more Naga-themed architecture style. I also love the little detail where every statue has been ruined except for the Azshara ones, which are all still intact.
One of the biggest surprises about Nazjatar for me was the music, but only in specific places. Walking into the area with ruins from the city for the first time was magical. The music here is beautiful and somber like the ghosts from a land long forgotten under the sea. It’s the sorrow of all the people who didn’t have a choice and are now stuck as restless spirits in a place that was once their beloved home. It’s a testament to just how much pride the Night Elves had in Zin-Azshari and the shame they feel at everything they loved being destroyed. The music here had quite an effect on me, and I had to stop and listen to a story that was being told through a somber melody. The areas with all the city ruins play this music, and they are my favorite part of the entire zone. It made me realize how long I have been waiting to see this in-game. Even so, there are some things that did not live up to expectations for me.
What I Didn’t Like
I’m definitely trying to take into account what I said earlier about things not being able to live up to personal built up hype. But I just want more quests, like Suramar in Legion. Suramar was an entire questing zone where there was tons of quests to do to advance the story there. The whole story with the Nightborne was very interesting. I would really like to see Nazjatar do the same thing with Highborne, Naga, or even the new friends we’ve made there. I also haven’t finished the story yet, so I could be missing out on a lot. I think that I’m just hoping for more, and that I need to remember that Azshara didn’t expose the entire land of Nazjatar. That can be seen at the edge of the zone where the ruined part of Zin-Azshari is disappearing into the waves.
It would be cool if there were quests under the water, where players went diving through the parts of the opened up sea to uncover more mysteries about the Naga. Maybe even an entire Naga city to infiltrate kind of like Suramar City. However I also realize that many players did not like questing in Vashj’ir, which was WoW’s only underwater zone, and that I absolutely loved it. Vashj’ir is one of my favorite zones in the game, and I was hoping Nazjatar would have some underwater aspects to it.
It’s hard for me to pick out specific things I didn’t like about the zone. Both Mechagon and Nazjatar are grinds in order to get things you want or advance the story in some way. I think that I was just hoping for more, which is kind of ridiculous since Nazjatar is a huge zone. I find myself less excited to go there than Mechagon, which may be in part because Mechagon is a completely new concept. I am already familiar with the story of Queen Azshara and the Night Elves, so in a way I am not discovering much new information. That being said, so far the raid is awesome…
Azshara’s Eternal Palace
I don’t know how the raid ends. I haven’t watched the cinematic after the Queen Azshara fight, but I have pieced some information together thanks to video titles on YouTube and Facebook. So I’m not completely in the dark, but I’d like to experience the cinematic in its entirety for the first time after my guild defeats Azshara. So far we’ve done the first two bosses, but I was only able to make it to the second boss – the Blackwater Behemoth. Being thrown into this boss fight first was interesting, because the Behemoth’s the raid’s only fight that takes place entirely underwater. It takes some time to get used to direction being 3-D, but other than that it was a blast.
The raid looks very ornate and Elven and I’m having a good time with it so far. I haven’t seen many boss mechanics yet so I’m going to hold off on my thoughts on that, but I’m excited to see what Radiance of Azshara will be like. At the end of raid night last week we tried fighting it once, only to die spectacularly so I’m looking forward to next raid night!
A new short story in the style of mini-comics that has become customary for BfA came out a couple days ago and, like the other installments, this one is fantastic. The comic is all about Mechagon and giving the players a short but sweet introduction to the new content coming in 8.2, and the popular opinion seems to have been very positive. People (myself included) were surprised to have enjoyed a story that features solely Gnomes and Gnomish themes. I’ve been really loving that Blizzard has been spending more time on a race that hasn’t had much of a spotlight on it before, especially with Mekkatorque in the opening cinematic to Battle of Dazar’alor. As much as I can never get sick of a good Elf story, there are more races in the World of Warcraft (I suppose).
Why Mechagon? Why now?
My feelings on Mechagon have changed since Patch 8.2 was first announced. My first thoughts were that it was underwhelming and that the Gnomes were not interesting enough to me. Now, I like Gnomes for their quirky personalities and their Gnomish culture, I just wasn’t 100% Mechagon. To me this chunk of content seemed random and out of place when contrasted with Nazjatar, with its Naga and Old God themes. So why did Blizzard choose to release Mechagon Island, the lost and fabled home of the Junker Gnomes, alongside content that thickens the plot of Old God corruption?
A Little Bit of History
Way back in time when Azeroth was young, the Titans of the Pantheon cultivated the newly discovered planet and helped it grow into a world abundant with life. The Titans were drawn to Azeroth because of the World Soul that dwells within the planet even today, which will eventually mature into a new Titan. The whole concept of Titans being birthed from World Souls within some (not all planets have Titan World Souls within) planets is kind of weird, so imagine it like how Celestials are explained in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. In the movie Ego, a Celestial, is a being of great power who’s true form turns out to be the planet that he takes the guardians to. The humanoid being that he uses to communicate to them throughout the movie is merely an extension or avatar of himself. That is how I like to think of Titans, because every Titan in the Pantheon originated as a slumbering World Soul until it was mature enough to create a form for itself. One day Azeroth will mature and become the first Titan in a new Pantheon, and I think that day is soon.
The Titans helped Azeroth prosper. And to quicken that process the Titans created constructs with skin made out of stone, just like theirs. Some of these creations would be known as Dwarves, who shaped the mountains and the land, and Gnomes, who tinkered with and created Titanic machines deep beneath Azeroth. However, there was a huge problem with Azeroth: Old Gods. The Titans found that several monstrously huge Old Gods had embedded themselves inside Azeroth, seeking to corrupt the planet and spread chaos and disorder. After a time many Titanic constructs populated Azeroth, and the Old Gods saw an opportunity. The Old Gods could not corrupt these Titanic creations that were immortal and made of stone very easily, so they cursed them and turned the Dwarves and the Gnomes (and some other races) into mortal beings with skin made of flesh (1). This tragedy is known as the “Curse of Flesh,” and the Titans could not reverse it.
In the mini-comic an old, flesh and blood Gnome finds Mechagon Island in the hopes that the Junker Gnomes will teach him their secrets of immortality. King Mechagon talks of returning to the old ways, the way that the Titans meant for all races to be. Mortal bodies made of flesh cannot be sustained forever, and are prone to error. Mechagon’s Junker Gnomes are notably different from the original Gnomes which were created by the Titans because they were created as mechanical beings called Mechagnomes. Junker Gnomes were originally mortal Gnomes that have gradually been augmented with machine parts.
I found the set up for the villainy of King Mechagon to be compelling because there is truth to what he says. He seems to be genuinely concerned with finding a solution to the Curse of Flesh not just for Gnomes, but for all races. He is right to be concerned, seeing as Azeroth’s intelligent races are only mortal because Old Gods wanted to find a way to corrupt us easier. But it’s the way he goes about it, using force and maybe other ill intentions, that make him a villain. I think that by replacing most of himself with robotic parts, King Mechagon has lost some vital mortal characteristics. But maybe the way that we finally defeat the Old Gods on Azeroth lies with studying the Curse of Flesh in more detail. Once I drew that parallel between Gnomes and Old Gods, Mechagon made more sense to me. I love Titan lore, so I’m excited to see what all this means for Azeroth.
So today was a good day. To me, it feels like a holiday when Blizzard announces the release date for a patch I’ve been excited about. 8.2 especially so because I love Queen Azshara. She’s a key part of Azeroth’s history, and a catalyst for a lot of things that have happened throughout time. When I was still new to the game I would read about Warcraft lore for hours, and back then I had a small glimmer of hope that Azshara would be even just mentioned in the game. She was like this mysterious character that seemed so far away, and we only got vague hints that she was even still alive. I want to know what her plan has been, ever since she sank beneath the sea ten thousand years ago. It has to be good, right? I just hope that Blizzard takes the time to give one of their coolest characters a fitting story. I already made a post about Queen Azshara, so I’m not going to talk about why I’m fascinated by her here, but I am glad that we are almost here. I would be even happier if we got a continuation of the Teldrassil story with maybe some insight into who/what Elune is, but I’ll take what I can get.
Azshara is also a big part of Aurashot’s story. In fact, Aura’s life would have been much different if it weren’t for the invasion of the Burning Legion and the subsequent War of the Ancients. I haven’t gotten around yet to organizing her story so that I can make sure it fits nicely into a series of blog posts, also because there’s a lot of revising to be done, but I can’t wait to talk more about that. The bottom line is that this upcoming patch holds special meaning to a story that I have been writing and re-writing both in my head and on paper, and I’m not quite sure yet what will happen next for Aura. I’ll be excited to do some exploring around Nazjatar, and gather what I can about Night Elf lore.
8.2 is going to be a pretty big content update with different things to choose from. The key points are going to be the two new landmasses – Nazjatar, capital of the Naga and Queen Azshara, and Mechagon, island of the mysterious Junker Gnomes. There’s a new raid, Azshara’s Eternal Palace, and a mega-dungeon called simply Mechagon. The island of Mechagon is going to function a lot like the Timeless Isle from Mists of Pandaria, in that there’s lot of re-playable content like rare bosses that drop cool items or treasures to discover. There’s also a new type of engineering on Mechagon, and when you explore the island and collect resources eventually you’ll be able to construct cool things like mounts or pets. Nazjatar will be a smaller area in comparison, and it’s primary focus is to help deliver the story of the new patch to the player. After all, Queen Azshara lured us into a trap by allowing us to find Nazjatar, so now we need to figure out her plan.
One of the things that surprised me the most about 8.2 is how my opinion about all the Mechagon stuff changed. At first I wasn’t excited for it at all, in fact I thought it was going to take away from how cool all the other content seemed to be. But the more I saw pictures of Mechagon City and I read a little bit of the story with the Junker Gnomes and some of the things we’ll be able to craft, I changed my mind. Gnomes are cool. I never thought I’d openly admit that, but there it is. Plus we need to find out what happened to Mekkatorque after the Battle of Dazar’alor!
Until then, Aurashot will be preparing for what’s sure to be a relaxing beach vacation…
The idea of a mini-raid is cool, it helps bridge the gap between major content patches. It helps blend the line between faction war and the Old God/Naga stuff that’s coming in patch 8.2 and definitely served as an interesting transition. I enjoyed it, but I want more! I think mini-raids are a good idea and really help to carry a theme or story without giving us too much information before a big patch hits. That being said…
I have questions! Where is Xal’atath now and what is her plan? Who does she actually serve, or is it just herself? And why are we, the player, suddenly so important to N’zoth? Or maybe he’s just manipulating us, I hear Old Gods are great at that. And furthermore, why did N’zoth need Xal’atath to free him and not his powerful servant, Azshara? We assume that the Naga are attacking and preparing dangerous rituals to aid N’zoth, but maybe it’s something totally different. Maybe Azshara was never going to free N’zoth. She made a deal with the Old God ten thousand years ago, who at that point was still trapped in his prison. Azshara is known for her cunning, so maybe she saw an opportunity to control N’zoth’s power while he’s still in chains. It would make a lot more sense because I have a hard time believing Azshara would fail at such a task, given she was actually loyal to the Old Gods. Queen Azshara does not serve, she rules. Watching this story play out in 8.2 and perhaps 8.3 will be very interesting.
The raid itself looked pretty neat. It has that creepy feeling that all Old God things do, with eyeballs on the wall and misleading whispers. Or are they? It took me a little while to figure out that, after the first boss when we fall through the Crucible, we are falling into part of N’zoth’s body. I’m not exactly sure what the anatomy of Old Gods are, other than that they’re ginormous. So that’s pretty cool. The bosses were cool for sure, although they aren’t very memorable compared to Battle of Dazar’alor. This raid was exciting to me from a lore standpoint and that it helps to get me into the mindset of Old God/Naga stuff instead of faction warring. I’ve also been doing a pretty good job staying away from spoilers, and especially spoilers about the new raid coming, so I’m excited to see what Azshara’s Eternal Palace will offer.
I’m back after a crazy month IRL! Finally I got around to editing and posting the last bit of footage from our Battle of Dazar’alor clear on Normal difficulty. While the Jaina fight stole the show for me, another standout fight is definitely Mekkatorque. The neat mechanic there is when he uses his Gnomish shrink ray on three random players, who then have to communicate in order to deactivate robots that shrunk players can take control of.
I love how this expansion has really been show-casing Jaina’s powers and showing the extent of her Frost Mage abilities. She left her home of Kul’tiras to study at Dalaran, the city of mages, and was apprentice to the late Antonidas. Her story in Battle for Azeroth has been one of my favorite parts of the expansion, and I’m looking forward to seeing her make that ship fly again!
After the Mekkatorque fight, we see him escape in an ejected pod into an unclear fate. He is apparently being kept alive in a machine with magics the likes of which even Jaina hasn’t seen, so it’s probably a big deal. My guess is that it’s going to serve as a lead in to Mechagon in 8.2. For this last wing of the raid, Alliance players were turned into Horde in order to play out the story of how the Horde defeated Mekkatorque, Stormwall, and Jaina. Blizzard has made quests like this in the past, where a quest-giver is telling a story that you participate in, in order to see the ending. Being on the opposing side of Jaina was awesome because we fought her at full force (and she gets away at the end), whereas with Mekkatorque it was sad because we don’t know yet if he survives.
A huge part of this expansion is the story, told through cinematics and quests to get the point across. This raid is no exception, as it’s the next step in a progression of battles in this expansion. The Battle of Dazar’alor, with it’s beautiful design and music, fits right in with the “Battle for Azeroth” theme. While I have issues with how this expansion began and think the whole war theme was forced upon both Horde and Alliance, I do really enjoy this raid and think that Blizzard did a great job creating a raid which carries that theme.
Deep beneath Stormsong Valley, and hidden underneath the Shrine of the Storms, an ancient and powerful evil has rested. Waiting for the right moment to reemerge after countless millennia. N’zoth has been described as the lesser of the Old Gods in terms of power, yet what he lacks in other areas he makes up for in cunning. The God of the Deep has been planning something, and making deals with some very powerful individuals. The most well-known is Queen Azshara, who originally made a deal with the Old God after the Well of Eternity imploded and drowned the queen herself and much of the remaining Highborne. Queen Azshara and her Highborne were transformed into the monstrous Naga, where they rebuilt their city and boded their time for 10,000 years… But another entity has taken the forefront recently, one that players who have finished the little intro questline for the Crucible of Storms raid will recognize.
Xal’atath, Blade of the Black Empire
Xal’atath is the mysterious artifact weapon that Shadow Priests wielded to fight the Legion during last expansion. After the wound appeared in Silithus, players used the remaining power in all their artifact weapons to stabilize the world and we assumed Xal’atath was lost as well. Surprise, surprise, the dagger winds up in Stormsong Valley in the hands of the Naga. Wielders of Xal’atath knew that the blade occasionally whispered to you, just like Old Gods love to do. That, and the fact that the Black Empire was a vast Old God civilization on Azeroth before the Titans brought order, tells us that Xal’atath is an Old God-like creature. Is she an actual Old God? Does she fight for the same team as them? Who is Xal’atath? We don’t have the answers yet. But this questline, in which we accidentally help and free her, helps to provide answers while giving me a whole lot more questions!
She is clearly a creature of void and very old, if her whispering is to be believed. After the player collects the three artifacts used for a gigantic storm ritual, they are lured to the bottom of the Crucible of Storms for a meeting with N’zoth himself. After Xal’atath delivers the three artifacts and you, “the Opener”, she strikes a deal with the Old God to set her free from her imprisonment. So, was she merely a herald for N’zoth who struck a bargain in exchange for greater power? Was her allegiance to N’zoth only as far as securing her freedom from the dagger? I think that the story is hinting to something else, and that Xal’atath has some big plans of her own. Now that she has been freed, there’s nothing stopping her from doing as she pleases. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we see her again soon, because she tells us as much before she departs the Crucible. I have just finished the raid myself which might give us some answers, but really just a lot more questions.
The Crucible of Storms
This is a two boss mini-raid that serves as a good bridge between the faction war of 8.1 and the Naga and Old God-themed story in 8.2. Over the course of the expansion we have received hints and tidbits of Old Gods, just knowing that it’ll be a much bigger deal in the story. In fact, I believe that the faction war is laced with Old God influence and the disorder on the surface of Azeroth is ultimately helping the Old Gods regain power. This raid is excited more than just for the reason of story shift. Crucible of Storms is important because it is N’zoth. After wondering where a gigantic kraken-like Old God could possibly be located, we finally found him resting in the deepest part of the ocean off of Stormsong Valley. It’s fitting that he’s been hiding under a giant stone statue of a kraken, but I guess I thought it a little too obvious. But it’s from the Crucible of Storms that he’s been planning something that he says will change the world. And I believe him.
As we enter his “sanctum” (room with the largest Old God eyeball) and fight the final boss, he tells us that we show promise. That we are going to serve him well and help him achieve whatever his goal is. It’s almost as if he has been waiting for us there, and expected that we’d kill one of his most faithful servants. Uu’nat, Harbinger of the Void, serves N’zoth’s will. What if his ultimate purpose was to be slain by us, the Opener? And then, after the fight, we notice the Blade of the Black Empire is missing. When we alert King Anduin, he expresses concern that Sylvanas has somehow stolen the dagger. With that, she could cause even more damage and keep the faction war going. And what’s the deal with players receiving N’zoth’s gift? Are we walking around Azeroth cursed by the void, unaware that we are the reason for N’zoth’s arrival? The future is uncertain, except that Azeroth might never be the same. And what is the circle of stars?
This wing was super fun! I had to cut out a lot of footage for both Opulence and King Rastakhan, both of which were long fights and it took us a while to figure out mechanics (Opulence wiped the floor with us for a while). We did actually defeat Conclave in two pulls, which is funny to me because my guild just cleared them on Heroic and it’s a totally different story. Conclave is one of those fights with a lot of things happening at once, and as time progresses in the fight it seems like it gets easier to mess up or miss a step.
It’s hard to remember that this raid opened at the end of January and that some of my thoughts about certain bosses have changed in all that time. Opulence is definitely one of those bosses. I was really excited to fight him because of the preview we get during the Alliance war campaign where we sneak into the Dazar’alor treasure vault. That, and he drops a golden crown which I am the proud owner of! Opulence is a two-phase fight, with the first phase splitting up the raid in order to defeat two mini-bosses before getting to Opulence. It’s completely possible to skip the two mini-bosses and head straight for Opulence, but then you’d have a ridiculously hard fight against the main boss and two mini-bosses that each have their own sets of mechanics. Although, the phase one bosses were nerfed so it’s easier to imagine people attempting this now.
Anyways, figuring out the logistics of the fight and how to divide the raid for phase one is challenging but Opulence itself isn’t very difficult. I was discouraged by phase one for a while but once we learned the fight and were taking down Opulence like pros, I was having a blast. Now it’s one of my favorite fights and I look forward to it every time we start a fresh run. I thought I liked Conclave at first, but then I just realized that’s because we defeated them pretty easily (on Normal). Compared to Opulence and Rastakhan, Conclave just doesn’t stand out to me.
Rastakhan is a good mix of difficulty and fun. Watching this little story unfold between Bwonsamdi and Rastakhan is still really cool to me, while at the same time the fight has a good difficulty level that fits the two characters. There’s a lot going on in this fight, and getting sucked into the death realm by Bwonsamdi is tricky, but it’s presented in a good way that allowed us to make good progress during each pull. After defeating King Rastakhan, and feeling a bit sad, we all felt like we had fought an epic fight. Onto the third and final wing of Battle of Dazar’alor and, more importantly, the Jaina Proudmoore fight!