I’ve been playing WoW on and off for a long while and experienced a wide variance in the quality of the content. Some stuff has been great, while other parts have been lackluster. Overall though, I think that the quality of the content has steadily improved; a good example of this is the new (to me, I’ve been off WoW for a long while) Ice Crown Citadel 5-man dungeons.
I’ve decided to document my first impressions of these dungeons, as well as the new content in Cataclysm. I’ll take a look at the art, boss mechanics, music, and lore and just give you all my thoughts.
The newest 5-player dungeons in Wrath follow the infiltration of the Ice Crown Citadel. Led by Jaina Proudmoore, the players work their way through three dungeons: The Forge of Souls, the Pit of Saron, and the Halls of Reflection, in an attempt to assault the Lich King (or something, I haven’t had the opportunity to do any of the associated quests and read the lore just yet). The dungeons are for players level 80-83, with both normal and heroic modes available. The player must complete the Forge of Souls before advancing into the Pit of Saron for the first time, and must complete both of those before ascending to the Halls of Reflection.
The Forge of Souls begins the assault on Ice Crown Citadel. It’s a little sad that the first of these new(ish) dungeons is the least exhilarating. The soldiers of the Alliance have distracted the main defenders and allowed the players and Jaina Proudmoore to infiltrate a side passage.
But really it’s just a simple dungeon crawl. The players advance through a few packs of trash and then are confronted by a pair of relatively uninspired bosses. The trash packs are your usual fare of melee and caster mixes, with a few ghost skulls appearing periodically. I’m not really sure what the point of these skulls is; they are alone, and don’t seem to spawn any additional monsters like the Floating Eyeballs in Stratholme.
The first boss, what’s-his-face, also known as Bronjahm, the Godfather of Souls, is a straight tank and spank. He’s a mage that casts a variety of spells at you, but doesn’t do anything particularly exciting. His only ability of note is an AoE damage ability that does damage based on the distance from the boss, which causes him to look rather baller as pink and purple magic weaves around the combat area. Another ability has something to do with harvesting a player’s soul, but I haven’t seen it do any significant damage or have other negative effects.
The second boss is a giant disembodied head with several faces, the Devourer of Souls. He spawns some ghostly adds that can’t be tanked as far as I can tell. But the best part of the encounter is the boss’ damage reflection spell: he will absorb damage for a few seconds and then nuke whoever he targets with that damage. The first time that I played this encounter our DPS didn’t stop for the damage reflection and I got nuked in the face for about 25k. Overall, an easy fight so long as your DPS isn’t completely horrible and can stop when the damage reflection comes up. Actually, if your DPS is horrible then even the damage reflection probably won’t matter since the damage reflected will be small. Just be wary if you have well-geared DPS that is undisciplined.
While the gameplay innovations in the Forge of Souls are lackluster, the design of the dungeon is quite good. The music is eerie and fits the mood very well, with the possible exception of a small piece that played right after the death of Bronjahm; it was more upbeat and was more like hard-rock than the cool orchestral tones of the rest of the dungeon.
The architecture and decorations all reflect Arthas’ Death Knight heritage, and his complete lack of soul. Probably my favorite part of the dungeon are the giant chains that suspend catwalks and two main rooms over several giant fan-things. And yes, you can fall off the catwalk to get a closer look at the fans. Hint: you die.
Overall, the Forge of Souls looks nice and has good music, but the gameplay is utterly lackluster. In particular, I wanted the Devourer of Souls to have a more unique fight with multiple phases based on his many faces. It just seems like too cool an idea to pass up, but apparently Blizzard decided otherwise. Luckily, the other dungeons in Ice Crown Citadel are more interesting and unique, and I’ll get to them in my next entries.
Till then, cheers!