With 8.3 on the World of Warcraft PTR and the dev release of what we generally have to look forward to in the next major patch, we’re full swing into looking at what’s next. I spent some time on the PTR poking at what’s next to get a feel of everything, and while I’m looking forward to new things to do, I’m also hesitant about getting too excited about everything. I had been really enthusiastic about 8.2 in the lead up to it, but I was also pretty disappointed with how quickly the new zones started to feel a bit old hat to me. So, this time around, I’m trying to keep my expectations set to a more realistic level. Nonetheless, what I’ve seen of 8.3 so far has been fun and exciting.
One of the first things I did on the PTR was to head over to the Heart Forge, and I was greeted by a much more mature looking Wrathion. I always forget he and Anduin tend to look to be about the same age, so I should have expected Wrathion to have aged some since I last saw him, but I did not. My assumption currently is there’s some questline that has not been activated yet, and will end with Wrathion showing up in the Heart Chamber. Presently in retail, there is questline where we go searching for him, but although we find his notes and meet some of his followers, we don’t actually see the dragon prince. There’s certainly the chance he shows up randomly, but I’m hoping for a bit more here.
It also seems a bit weird to me the normal Kul’tiras and Zandalar Assaults by the Horde and Alliance are still happening on the PTR. After the completion of the War Campaign we are supposed to be ramping down our war efforts, which to me means we shouldn’t be actively attacking each other anymore. I guess these could have been left in to help players who are catching up, but I would think doing quests in Nazjatar would be far more helpful. I’d understand leaving these assaults in if completing one was a requirement for the War Campaign, but I don’t remember needing to do them for any reason. I hope these will be discontinued when 8.3 goes live, though; it’s a bit of a weird dissonance having them still happen. Also, I’m always annoyed the assaults get automatically added to my quest log, and they have pop-ups every time I enter the zone.
The first real content I went to check out on the PTR was the Titan Assaults, which take place in the Valley of the Four Winds and Uldum. There’s a little eye of N’zoth on the bottom left-hand corner of the map, which can be clicked to see where the assaults are happening. This works similarly to clicking the emissary banners on the map for world quests. Currently the assaults are running in both the Valley and in Uldum at the same time. However, I don’t think this will be the case once we get to live because if they are always running, there’d be minimal point to clicking the eye because you’d always know there’s an assault going on. These assaults work similarly to how some world quests do where there’s a progress bar that needs to be filled up, and there are various quests that can be done in addition. Once the progress bar is filled there’s a boss who needs to be defeated. Being an ilvl 426 Guardian, neither boss was much of a challenge. Though they did take me a couple of minutes to kill.
Both zones are interesting nightmare versions of themselves, but Uldum feels a bit more complete currently. There seemed to be more quests to do, or at least the quest givers were all centrally located, whereas in the Valley the quest givers were spread out. Additionally, in Uldum, there was a gate situated near Ramkahen called the Vision of the Twisting sands, which when clicked took me to and even worse off Valley of the Four Winds. Before I could use this gate, I had to acquire the new Legendary Cloak, and sadly this questline is not available yet. The extra effect of the cloak is it reduces sanity loss by 5% from all sources. As a result, when I went through the gate, I would only lose three sanity every few seconds. Since I started with a pool of 1,000 sanity this meant my time there was very limited.
In this alternate version, the Valley has succumbed to the power of N’zoth. Aside from this meaning tentacle everywhere, it also means for anyone who has ever leveled a Pandaren; there are some familiar faces that have been corrupted. Killing these key characters creates what looks like a pillar of light, which restored some sanity while I stood in it. I’m not sure if there will be more to do in this alternate version of the Valley, but currently once I finished the quest from Wrathion’s follower I could wander around killing things until I lost all my sanity, but there wasn't a point to it. Once my sanity was gone Mother reached in and pulled me out. Sadly, there seems to be some cooldown on being able to go back in, but there was no indication of how long it might. I think it’s probably a once a day type of thing, but I’m not sure.
Speaking of mother and the Heart Chamber, Wrathion wasn’t the only new thing in there. There are also the Expedition Gateway doors to Stormwind and Orgrimmar. These lead to alternate versions of each city where N’zoth reigns supreme. These instances are designed for 1-5 players and will fill the same kind of role as the Mage Tower did during Legion. Sadly, I haven’t been able to mess around in these yet because you need a Vessel of Horrific Vision to enter each. These should come from completing the assaults, so I don’t think this content is active yet. Aside from the new raid, I’m most looking forward to these scenarios. I had a ton of fun with the Mage Tower, even though it was sometimes incredibly frustrating, and being able to do something similar with friends sounds wonderful.
In the coming weeks, I’ll be spending more time on the PTR, so hopefully I’ll be able to report back on more of the content once it is opened up for testing. Also, the next edition of this column will be the Monday after BlizzCon, so I’m sure there will be a ridiculous amount of things to talk about then. In the meantime, hope everyone has fun poking things in Azeroth!