BlizzCon 2015 – WoW Legion Preview & Impressions [Part 4]: Dungeons

Hey everyone and welcome to part 4 of my WoW Legion Preview & Impressions series. In previous sessions, I have expressed my general thoughts on Hunter class changes, Hunter artifacts and the zones of the Broken Isles. Today, we’ll be looking at the previously announced dungeons, a very important game aspect when it comes to both leveling and end content.

My first observation was the presence of a very healthy number of instances, which is great. There is clearly a focus on 5-mans and small group content here and tying the dungeons so closely to the lore of the zones they’re located in is a big plus. Add that to the new Challenge Modes system and you get an (hopefully efficient) endgame alternative for non-raiders. Challenge dungeons will no longer scale players to a fixed power level, but their environment will instead change to specific difficulty levels and additional modifiers which can get more and more arduous throughout the expansion, thus resembling the gameplay of Diablo 3 rifts. I’m genuinely very curious to see how it all will come out. Also, I love the fact that Blizzard is taking and integrating functional aspects of their other games to create new features in WoW- that’s pretty smart, in my opinion.

Dungeons

There will be a total of 10 dungeons in Legion, which include:

  • Five leveling dungeons: Darkheart Thicket, Eye of Azshara, Halls of Valor, Neltharian’s Lair and the revamped Violet Hold in Dalaran;
  • Five max level dungeons: Black Rook Hold, Vault of the Wardens, Helheim, Suramar Catacombs and Suramar Noble District.

BlizzCon_Legion_Darkheart_Thicket5

The Darkheart Thicket is located at the foot of the world tree Shaladrassil in Val’Sharah. The Nightmare threatens to corrupt the entire zone and we must rush through the dark thickets to stop it from spreading. Blizz also mentioned something about “rescuing an ally from the clutches of the Nightmare”- not sure if this has been confirmed, but I am assuming Malfurion.

I can’t help but giggle about Eye of Azshara, after so many of us assumed it to be the name of an upcoming naga-related expansion. I’m not sure if Blizzard had in fact thought about this name before that famous leak came out or if they named the instance after that but, either way, I’m still hopeful for an Azshara expansion (maybe the final arc in Legion will lead to it?). No concept art of this instance has been showed as of today, but it’s pretty obvious that it will revolve around the naga and be located in Azsuna, maybe in some old elven ruins or, most probably, a partially underwater cave à la Blackfathom Deeps somewhere near or inside the Oceanus Cove.

halls-of-valor

High up in the clouds are the beautiful Halls of Valor, a Valhalla inspired place where the greatest Vrykul warriors go to after they die. The Stormheim storyline culminates in this instance as we will face off against the Vrykul God-King and the uncorrupted Val’kyr. I have noticed that some people feel like the Vrykul don’t belong in the setting of this expansion, but personally, I’m really glad that Blizzard decided to include them in Legion and the justification of their presence through lore sounds convincing enough to me. They felt a little too underused in Wrath, but this could be a tiny little bit biased considering how much I love them. (Seriously, they should be a playable race.)

Another dungeon we still know little of is Neltharion’s Lair. It is safe although to say this one will be located in Highmountain and serving as a home to the Drogbar, a race which had been living in peace with the Highmountain tauren until the Burning Legion’s arrival. A curious fact: these cave-dwelling creatures were once slaves to Neltharion himself.  Also, we were told during last Saturday’s Legion Q&A session that Wrathion will make a reappearance in this expansion; and what a better place to find the Black Prince than his dead father’s lair?

You may remember Violet Hold from Wrath of the Lich King– and most probably you used to dread it, like me. It’s now official that the prison complex of the Kirin Tor will be making a come back, as new mysteries we didn’t uncover in Northrend are now awakening. I am personally not a fan of the Black Morass concept of portals opening up in succession in a confined place. It really isn’t my thing, so I’m hoping that Blizz will surprise us with a different rendition (probably not).

BlackRookHold

Black Rook Hold is also located in Val-Sharah and is an ancient elven fortress carved out of a mountain, initially serving as a gathering base to fight the Burning Legion during the War of the Ancients. A shadow has fell upon it and some mysterious evil is now corrupting this place. Maybe the corrupted spirit of Lord Ravencrest? I don’t know, but it sounds like a good way to uncover Illidan’s secrets, since he used to be his mentor.

The well-known Vault of the Wardens will serve as both a dungeon and the Demon Hunter starting area. In this maximum-security prison, we will find out why exactly Gul’dan was looking for Illidan. Personally, I have no idea. Illidan hates the Burning Legion and the fact that he’s used Gul’dan’s skull in the past to absorb its powers makes it even more ironic. It just feels kinda off to me, to be honest. But who knows, maybe Blizzard’s storytelling will surprise me.

helheim

Promising to be an experience like no other, Helheim is the opposite of the Halls of Valor as the place where the Vrykul who failed to achieve their ascension go to after life, forever damned. Most of this dungeon is contained upon an actual ghostly ship (!!!), so I’m assuming we will get to know much more about the origins of the Kvaldir. When it comes to visuals this place is looking outstanding. What concerns me is that it reminds me of Grimrail Depot, whose concept was also really unique and captivating (I mean, fighting in a running train? That sounded so awesome back in time!). But when it came to its implementation ingame, it felt really underwhelming and even annoying in terms of gameplay, to the point that I will always try to avoid that place these days. I just hope Helheim won’t have the same fate.

Lastly, we have the city of Suramar which will feature two wings: the City District and the Catacombs. Here we will face off against the Nightborne to uncover the Legion’s ultimate plan. From what I understood, these dungeons (or at least one of them) will work as mini “attunements” eventually leading us to the raid of Suramar Palace- a pretty cool idea, if you ask me. I love this type of connections between different places ingame as it adds them more value and a certain purpose besides the superficial reasons why players run WoW dungeons.

That’s it for all the instances that will be featured in Legion, at least from the beginning of the expansion. Even though this is a very remote possibility, I’d love to see a couple more make their way in a later tier (something around Karazhan, anyone?). But for now, I’m pretty content. Oh, and if you’re still here and managed to read all of this, you’re awesome. Really, thanks for being here. 🙂

Suramar1

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