One of the cornerstones of how World of Warcraft has operated, at the very least since Wrath but it might have started before then, is to have a constant eye on what’s next. Often right after a patch goes live, the next major patch is announced, and once it shows up on the PTR it seems like most people forget about the current patch. This effect gets even more apparent when talking about the last raid patch before an expansion, in this case 8.3. Shadowlands has only been announced for a few weeks, and that’s where the attention has been. I get it; Shadowlands is new and shiny. But 8.3 still has some significant story elements to take care of and a whole raid’s worth of story. So, this week, I’m going to be talking a bit about the 8.3 PTR and what we have to look forward to. I will talk about various story and lore elements so there will be some spoilers.
Battle for Azeroth has been building towards the final conflict with N’zoth since before the expansion even started. Sure, we had a lot of flashy Horde vs Alliance things to distract us all, but most people knew the war was just a feint away from whomever the real enemy was. So now we are gearing up to face this monstrosity we unintentionally released on the world, and who knows how this will go. All of the other Old Gods we have fought previously were shackled in some way, whereas N’zoth has been wholly freed to run amok as he sees fit. The stakes are higher than they ever have been.
Currently, the PTR has all of the intro quests which get the events of 8.3 going. As alliance we are summoned to Stormwind to meet with Anduin because he’s heard nothing of what N’zoth has been up to since he was freed. Interestingly Baine is also hanging out in Stormwind. I haven’t seen any explanation of that though I’m going to assume he’s there as a Horde emissary and visiting his friend. I haven’t done this Hordeside yet, but I’m guessing Horde players are likely summoned to Orgrimmar to meet with the new council. Since Baine is in Stormwind Lor’themar is probably the one who is leading the council. As much as I’d like to see Baine in charge, Lor’themar probably makes more sense.
After talking briefly to Anduin the words “Awesome in-game event” pop-up and suddenly Magni and Wrathion are also in Stormwind. From the conversations it sounds like N’zoth made some sort of assault on Stormwind. Probably not a full-on assault since it’s just an event that will be taken care of fairly quickly, so it’s perhaps just a probing attack to see how we will handle it. This may just be a cutscene because every time in the story there is a cut of something happening; this phrase is used. There’s been about five so far, so I wouldn’t expect all of them to be literal events where we get to do something actively. I hope this first attack is some kind of scenario we get to play through actively, and to have both Magni and Wrathion show-up to help us out.
There is an interesting bit before we head to the Heart Forge, where Anduin returns Fearbreaker to Magni. It makes sense in a way for this to go back to Magni; it is a Bronzebeard clan heirloom; I just hadn’t thought about it in quite a while and I’m curious if there’s some significance with it later on. Since Magni awoke at the beginning of Legion he’s played an important role, but it’s been mostly on the sidelines. Magni has been for the most part guiding everyone else on what they should do without actively doing anything directly. Perhaps with him asking for Fearbreaker back we’ll seem him fighting alongside us throughout the patch.
After finding out the titan array in the Halls of Origination has been disabled, we jaunt over there to check things out. After poking around trying a few different things, we can’t get it working again. At the same time, N’zoth starts invading Uldum, so something should be done about that. And that’s pretty much how the whole assault system is introduced. The same basic process is used to introduce the assault in Valley of the Four Winds. Assaults seem to be a bit less dynamic than they were in previous iterations; each zone has a specific area where the assaults happen rather than everything being spread all over the zone. Outside of these areas the zones seem to be mostly as they were previously (minus the massive scar in the Valley).
For doing the daily assault quests I also was earning coalescing visions that have the tooltip of Wrathion can use it to craft something to reduce the amount of corruption you’re exposed to. It seems likely these opening quests happen before introducing the mechanic where players get to enter the visions and the whole crafting of the legendary cloak. I’m also slightly concerned the legendary cloak stuff will be “hey collect this stuff, and I’ll make you a thing.” I was hoping for something more interesting. Either way, that questline doesn’t seem to be active currently.
That seems to be as far as the quests on the PTR currently go because there’s an item which I have to get from an assault boss, which they don’t seem to be dropping. It’s an exciting start to this patch, but I’m still not convinced we are going to kill N’zoth at the end of all of this. Ostensibly this is the last tier patch between BfA and Shadowlands, so there should be some story to start bridging the gap a bit. Maybe the raid will end with us all dying after all.