Earlier this week Blizzard opened up Nazjatar for testing on the PTR, and since it is another big piece of content coming with 8.2 I wanted to take some time to talk about it. Firstly, much like my post about the Heart of Azeroth changes I’m not going to discuss the story aspects of Nazjatar. I’m mostly focused on how being in the zone feels and if the new elements it brings will help everything stay fresher than it is currently. Also, keep in mind this version of Nazjatar starts slightly progressed. I'm not sure exactly how things will be when we arrive for the first time.
For anyone who missed the original reveal about Nazjatar at Blizzcon last year, this zone is an area which until recently had been underwater as such everything has a very underwater feel to it. In fact, I often felt a bit of dysphoria as I ran around the zone because it felt like I should be underwater, but I was not. There are even stingray type creatures flying around which adds to the underwater feeling. For most people, this wouldn’t be an issue, but underwater areas always make me feel uneasy, so this is honestly a testament to how well executed the zone is in its setting.
Nazjatar is also a much more vertical zone than most other zones in the game which makes it feel very different from the norm. This also adds a bit of a challenge to figuring out how to get from point A to Point B because it isn’t always obvious, especially if you are trying to get to someplace in the middle areas rather than the top level or bottom level. Some of the interest this verticality adds will be mitigated once flying is unlocked but requiring revered with the new factions will help ensure players spend a fair amount of time in Nazjatar before that happens.
I’m not sure how exactly bodyguards get unlocked in Nazjatar, because they were already unlocked before I did any quests. I’m hoping there’s a questline which in some way introduces you to the bodyguard options though. For Alliance the options are between a warrior, a shaman, and a hunter. All of them seem capable and I noticed when I was running around with Farseer Ori he would stealth up anytime I went into stealth, which was an awesome surprise. The system seemed to work well and should be a particular help to anyone who tends to be on the squishy side of things.
One thing I am disappointed in is the fact nothing I’ve run into (except for the new world boss) is at all threatening to me. Often most things can’t even deal damage to me. As a 410 ilvl Bear this isn’t unusual. I can’t remember the last time anything out in the world was even vaguely threatening to me. However, I had hoped the new zone would up the difficulty a bit. Now, I realize making it across the board more difficult would be unfair for people less geared or just returning to WoW, so that’s not really what I’m looking for. What I‘d like is scaling based on gear level. Nothing which makes moving around frustrating, just enough difficulty so it’d be a bad idea for me to lol my way through whole sections and aggro everything without a care in the world.
The more significant issue for me in Nazjatar is the apparent lack of Artifact Power rewards. Considering we’re going to have to level our Heart up 15 more levels (assuming you have lvl 50 on your heart before 8.2 hits), I had hoped the questlines, and maybe the World Quests would give Artifact Power. There are some, but not many which I have seen so far, and the amounts are currently the same as they are in Kul’Tiras and Zandalar. I’m sorry, but a reward of 166 Artifact power when I need 520,384 to get to the next level feels BEYOND pointless. Hopefully, these amounts are just placeholders for now, and they will be significantly increased before 8.2 hits. I also want to point out there are a few quests which don’t have rewards listed currently, so it is possible they will have AP rewards added.
World Quests, for the most part, follow the same basic types we’ve come to expect, but there are a few which are different and are a nice change of pace. There was one I came across which took me a bit to figure out what I was supposed to do in the first place, and then actually executing was quite tricky as I’m extremely jumping challenged. Currently, there are no emissaries listed, but I’m hopeful those unlock after I’ve progressed the zone storyline more. If the plan is no world quest emissaries in Nazjatar at all that could potentially make earning reputation with the new factions a bit of a bear.
In addition to world quests, daily quests are also making a bit of a comeback in Nazjatar in the form of Bounties and Requisitions. Bounties are obvious; kill this thing or a certain number of things. For example, one bounty is to kill three Nazjatar Rares. Requisitions are more of the collect this thing or do something a certain number of times. I’m not sure how I feel about dailies making a return though. They seem to pair up with some world quests nicely, but I worry about feeling like I need to log on every day to do these, which is a feeling I was happy to leave behind when world quests became the thing.
Some of these dailies reward the new currency Prismatic Manapearls which can be used to buy a mount (Alliance or Horde) and a pet. Manapearls can also be used to purchase ilvl 385 gear which you can boost up to ilvl 430, though it does get pricey. At the current prices in game it’ll take a total of 85 Manapearls to buy one piece of gear and level it up to 430. For most people, this will be a good way to take care of specific gear slots which are lagging behind the rest of your gear, though for people below 385 ilvl it will also be a quick way to gear up as well.
Lastly, the Manapearl vendor sells essences for the Heart of Azeroth. This is not a way to get around the achievement requirements though as you’ll need the required achievement for each essence. Honestly, I’m disappointed I have to buy these with a random new currency. I’ve accepted getting each one is a matter of doing random achievements rather than being drops but tying them to a new currency which I’m going to need to farm is just frustrating. Granted not every essence appears to be on the vendor so maybe some of them are a simple matter of “do the thing.” It feels like an artificial way to slow down players from unlocking all the essences. Oh, also once I bought the essence, I had to go back to the Heart Forge to learn it. Which, I get since we can change essences almost anywhere sort of renders the Forge as being inconsequential. However, having to go back there to learn something I already had to jump through two hoops to get, was an annoying surprise.
Overall, I’m enjoying questing and exploring Nazjatar. I’m having fun learning about the people we are encountering and seeing where the story is going from here. Unfortunately, some of the systems seem to be the stumbling block again. I get they want to make unlocking all the essences take time and slow down the consumption of content a bit because players will always consume content faster than it can be created. However, the way to do that is by making it an actual journey not by smushing our faces against a grindstone.