BlizzCon 2017: Hands-on with Battle for Azeroth’s Dungeons
Two five-man instances from Battle for Azeroth were available on the show floor. With the renewed emphasis on the Horde versus Alliance conflict, each faction had a representative dungeon from the leveling experience. At max level, both dungeons will be available to both factions.
The Horde dungeon of Atal’Dazar shares the architectural design of other troll dungeons like Zul’Gurub, Zul’Farakk, or Zul’Aman, as well as the Isle of Thunder. You start at the top of a huge ziggurat and work your way down. The mobs are also similar to those dungeons. I encountered dinosaurs, snakes and trolls of all types.
A couple of trash pulls proved challenging. A pterodactyl surrounded by smaller adds had a long fear. The fear caused an aggro drop. If fears cause aggro drops in Battle for Azeroth, it will be a problem for tanks without a fear break. Our group used crowd control on the pterodactyl to prevent the fear, but we could also have used interrupts. Some of the other problematic trash had an ability to shield other mobs.
Fire traps blocked the stairs and corridors leading to the bosses. It hurt, but didn’t do fatal damage.
After our struggles clearing trash, our group only had time to defeat a single boss on the run. Priestess Alun’za had an attack that did significant damage unless I had my active mitigation up. Many bosses in the current expansion have a similar ability. Her main mechanic centered around the spell Transfusion. She would put pools of blood on the ground. The pools gave the player who stepped into them a debuff. If a player didn’t have the debuff, Transfusion would heal her. I know we’ve seen this mechanic before, perhaps even in the original Hakkar fight in vanilla WoW.
The Alliance dungeon of Freehold had the look and feel of a port town full of pirates, brigands, and other miscreants, including a couple of Hozen who wanted to ook us in the dooker. The dungeon features many patrols and trash packs with little room between them making it easy to over pull. I can’t even begin to think how crazy this place will look on Mythic plus with Teeming.
The award for most annoying trash mob goes to the Oarsman. The mob puts a series of puddles on the ground that explode after a few seconds and threw us into the air. The closer to the center of the puddle we were the higher up we went. In addition to the direct damage, you also take fall damage.
You see Skycap’n Kragg as soon as you zone in, but then he flies up into the air and hurls poison bombs and insults on your party while you are clearing the trash. This is the first time we’ve seen a boss from Hearthstone come into World of Warcraft, instead of the other way around. He had a powerful attack that hit everyone. We had to spread out to minimize the damage. His other ability was a heal that had to be interrupted.
We then cleared our way up to the Council of Captains. Three captains made up the council, but as soon as we pulled, one of the Captains flipped sides and attack his former compatriots. The other two cursed the sudden, yet inevitable betrayal and fought on. One Captain threw a barrel on a party member, preventing them from taking any action until DPS destroyed the barrel — similar to the Coren Direbrew fight. The other Captain put down a cone fire that rotated around him. As the tank, all I had to do was run through him, but the ranged had to run to keep ahead of it.
The third boss reminded me of the arena fights from Nagrand and Zul’drak. You fight a series of bosses of increasing complexity. The first “boss” is a pig running around the arena. When you mouse over the pig, the cursor changes into a wheel and you have to click it before the pig moves and the wheel goes away. Once you grab the pig, the next boss shows up. This guy was a Tortollan from Un’goro, another Hearthstone influence. He threw an increasing number of spinning shells around the arena, like a wannabe Koopa Trooper.
After defeating the turtle power, we faced Trothak, aka Shark Puncher. The dev team designing this boss had a lot of fun. Trothak is a hulking humanoid dual wielding full grown sharks as fist weapons. Why stop there? Why not put lasers on sharks? Maybe next build. He has a spinning whirlwind attack called, and I’m not making this up, Sharknado. After Sharknado, the shark fist weapons fall on the ground and attack the party. My group enjoyed this fight the most in the entire instance.
The final boss of the instance was Harlan Sweete, the most goblin looking human I’ve ever seen, sitting on a huge pile of gold. We were out of time by the time we got him, but the Blizzard employees allowed us one shot. He called adds who threw down bombs that left pools of fire on the ground. We tried to kill the adds as fast as we could. He also threw out tornadoes that had to be avoided, and had a frontal cone ability, both of which are pretty standard boss abilities. By the time we figured out the adds the center of room was full of fire and we wiped. Had we time for another shot, we would have tried to place the fire on the outside.
Bring me another
Both dungeons were beautiful and a blast to play through. I didn’t really notice the effect of the item level squish. The biggest difference came from missing my Artifact, traits, Legendary, and set bonuses. I wouldn’t be surprised if we are using them well into the leveling process. Tackling the content without the aid of strategy guides or addons like Deadly Boss Mods was a new experience, though we did have the Dungeon Journal.
The dungeon is sure to get changes between now and release, but I will never forget the sheer thrill of sitting in side by side with four of my guildmates, yelling commands face to face, and high fiving each other as bosses died.
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