I’ve been enjoying the new World of Warcraft Expansion, the main reason I haven’t returned to Overwatch. And considering the Raid Season just started, I’m not likely to go back to it anytime soon!
Every expansion in World of Warcraft has one or more Raid Tiers, with an introductory raid early in the expansion’s lifetime to train newer players in what raiding is like and introduce new and old to some of the new boss mechanics that will surely become a staple of the expansion.
In World of Warcraft: Legion, the first raid is the Emerald Nightmare, a place that I’ve wanted to visit and play in for years. After reading the novel Stormrage and many other pieces of lore, I wanted to see the Emerald Dream for myself, as well as the corruption that taints it. The expansion itself, in its druid Order Hall showed me the Emerald Dream and this raid gave me the Nightmare.
When we raid, we have a simple goal: 1 new boss downed every week. For The Emerald Nightmare though, by the end of the second week we only had the last two of seven to defeat and clear the raid, but their complexity and overall difficulty spike considerably, at least when you compare them to those that stand in the way to them.
Cenarius and Xavius are on another level entirely, with Cenarius reportedly being the harder of the two and I say reportedly because we’ve only had one kill attempt on the first of the two. On Normal mode though, we cleared the entire place—particularly because the challenge difference between the two difficulty modes is massive—though the difficult difference is so staggering that even these two monsters were trivial.
Overall, I love the raid. It has a wonderful visual style, showing you a dark reflection of the natural beauty of the world. From the Emerald Dream’s pathways, which all Druids see on their way to the Order Hall, to various natural areas across Azeroth, the lush green takes on a crimson colour, with dark veins, putrid insects and patches of dead earth. The more twisted areas bring out elements commonly associated with the Old Gods, such as faceless abominations, giant tentacles and mutated creatures.
The Emerald Nightmare is a place of madness and the bosses, the first set for World of Warcraft: Legion, reinforce this idea. Each of them was once a proud defender of Azeroth, now consumed by the corruption and trapped in a personal hell, or aware but incapable of stopping themselves.
To give an example, you begin your journey into the depths of the Nightmare with the dragoness Nythendra, now a consumed husk with a swarm of insects for skin. She is corruption incarnate, her mind twisted to the Nightmare’s ideals. To her, the waking life is an abomination, the nightmare and its endless disturbed sleep being the natural order.
Her boss fight design is actually pretty interesting and features the first set of recurring mechanics for the raid: damaging puddles aka void zones and damage-pulse debuffs that force raid members to step out of the group, not just to avoid hurting others, but also to drop the void zone once the debuff’s counter reaches zero.
She has two phases, the first one you just deal with the debuffs and then a highly damaging breath attack (aka Breath Weapon for the D&D players), but it’s the second that’s really challenging, as you need to fight while avoiding some explosive bugs and the different puddles you dropped during the first phase, which she slowly draws towards her collapsed frame. After this, the battle resets.
It’s a simple fight, made grueling by the absolute need of on-point positioning and debuff handling, as well as the tremendous health pool the boss has, but it’s a very fun fight, without any random nonsense. If you’re doing things properly then you have a lot of control over what’s going on, and that’s good boos design.
This same style of challenging but fair boss fight where the lore and mechanics reinforce the madness of the nightmare are prevalent in World of Warcraft: Legion’s first raid, which for me makes it one of the best out there, even more because of what happens after the end of the raid, where you end up, the people you meet and the things you see.
I won’t spoil it, at least not yet. Once we clear the raid in full, on Heroic mode, which is the one that counts for us, I’ll be back with a detailed review of the raid, from the boss designs to annoyance level on the different trash packs.
So far, I absolutely love it, both in visual style, lore and boss design. I’m slowly picking up my damage output, figuring out the best talents to use in each fight and pushing my DPS one inch closer to the top every single time, which will only get us closer to the goal: ridding the Emerald Dream from the terrible Xavius.