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Editorial > Off Topic > Video Games > WoWFeb 4, 2021 3:00 pm CT

How Hades got me super ready to run Torghast — and what I wish Blizzard would adopt from its model

Hades - Chaos Boon

Love it or hate it, Torghast has seen a lot of action following the launch of Shadowlands. There’s just so much to do! Fetching memories for the Runecarver, tackling increasingly difficult layers in the various wings (can towers have wings?), farming for Soul Ash… Torghast is many things, but boring? Nope. Interestingly though, it wasn’t the various updates and blogs that got me excited to tackle the Tower of the Damned.

No, a little indie title called Hades is what fanned the flames of my initial Torghast interest. Why? I’m so glad you asked.

What is Hades?

Hades is a roguelike dungeon crawler based on Greek mythology. In the game Hades you play as Zagreus, son of the god Hades, and are trying to escape the Underworld realm — also known as Hades — you’ve been raised in. Confused yet?

Hades has classic features of the roguelike genre — maps are randomly generated for each run-through, and your character’s power levels increase from semi-random boosts as you progress. The developer, Supergiant Games, highlights in their game FAQs that it’s never the same experience twice, and they’re right! Each run, you’re getting unique power-up options based on the various Olympian Gods supporting you, and there are more options for how your runs will play out as you unlock the story.

Like Diablo, the story plays out over the course of your various escape runs. Yes, you’re essentially playing the same character as everyone else and thus experiencing the same story, but between your power-up decisions, weapon choices, and keepsakes, you don’t feel bored. Your playthroughs feel like your own and make your game experience feel exclusive to you.

So what’s this got to do with Torghast?

Torghast, Tower of the Damned loading screen

Torghast, a roguelike within the MMO

Hades is basically an extremely well-tuned version of the model Blizzard followed when designing Torghast.  The Tower of the Damned is meant to be a roguelike dungeon within World of Warcraft — infinitely replayable, with you tackling randomly generated maps as you “climb” the difficulty levels of each wing. And when I first encountered the anima powers? Have them announced by various lore characters (instead of the Greek deities of Hades), and I’d be the happiest camper.

Most importantly, playing Hades got me really ready for… basically, frustration. Just like Hades, those initial deaths to Torghast were super frustrating. After all, level three isn’t that far along, right? Well, yes and no. Even if you progressed fairly quickly in Torghast, you outstripped the gear you’d received as part of running dungeons and progressing in your Covenant campaign. There are few ways to permanently upgrade your Torghast experience as you get with Hades‘ persistent Darkness upgrades in the Mirror of Night.

The gear issues are (mostly) resolved: the Castle Nathria raid is open for business now, and we can achieve max-item level legendaries. Fully fleshed out Soulbind paths are most here as we approach max Covenant renown. Rep increases with Ven’ari unlock more permanent upgrades to your Torghast experience. The permanent improvements are almost there. But there’s still something missing.

Zagreus from Hades

How to improve Torghast based on Hades’ example

At first, it seems like Torghast should be fine with the “improvements” we’ve unlocked so far in Shadowlands, right? Maybe so, but I’m still dubious. Here are a few things I think Blizzard could learn from Hades’ success.

First, I don’t really have any investment in the story associated with Torghast. We run countless times through essentially the same regions with Zagreus. Why? His story. With Torghast, Bolvar’s questlines have us return to the Tower of the Damned repeatedly, but outside of a few cutscenes only present when you have a quest in your log so you know they’re coming, it doesn’t provide a carrot of motivation to run again and again. The unique monthly events, such as the recent Beasts of Prodigum, give us something different to focus on, but really, we need something to keep us coming back.

Next possibility: resources. In Hades, we bring a few different resources back from our runs — such as Darkness, Gemstones, and Cthonic Keys — to upgrade varied parts of our overall experience, from actual power boosts to decorating Zagreus’ room. But I am surprised that we don’t see Anima as part of the Torghast reward system. Blizzard spends so much time reinforcing the impact of the Anima drought on the various Covenants. We see Sire Denathrius dump a whole mess of Anima into the Maw, so why can’t our efforts in the Maw and Torghast recapture some of that Anima by way of random rewards? We can select bundles of Phantasma as a reward from an Anima Power, but not Anima itself. I’d love to see this currency as a small reward since we are so invested in its existence.

Finally, player rewards — a. k. a. loot — should be possible. Our own Matt Rossi wrote a fantastic explanation on why loot is an essential part of the experience. Admittedly, Blizzard’s addition of the Twisting Corridors takes some of this into account and rewards pets, toys, and even a Maw-usable mount. But there’s no mechanic to save your spot, and 18 floors is a serious time investment. Please, Blizzard, give me something for coming back again and again — cosmetics unique to the Tower of the Damned (I want a Sylvanas transmog!), a mawrat pet, maybe a trinket that doesn’t provide any stat bonuses but blocks a specific debuff from bosses. There are so many potential options that we don’t have — yet.

Ultimately, what it all boils down to are incentives. Outside of legendary crafting, the drive to run Torghast is currently internal and — as a (commonly) solo player — I’d love to see more come out of what could be such a fantastic experience. And realistically, Blizzard could already have this handled in Patch 9.1 or 9.2. We have to wait and see.

P.S. — I wouldn’t say no to petting a skeleton puppy in the Torghast entryway, either. Cerberus is a good boy.

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