Last night my guild ventured into Emerald Nightmare (Normal) to kick off our Legion raiding effort. We had a full complement of 30, with a couple of standbys who will get a chance when we run again next week. All in all, it was a decent first attempt. We cleared the first four bosses, though one or two were just by the hairs of our chinny chin chins. Still, a kill is a kill, and kudos to our tanks and healers who kept things going even when we DPS did some stupid things. The main annoyance for me personally was that apparently my provider was one of the ones targeted by yesterday’s DDoS attack — it did not affect my latency, but it did cause me to dc 4-5 times, though I was always able to log right back in.
There are a number of third party sites that will give you details, lore, recommended strategies, etc. for each fight. I have linked the IcyVeins summaries. What follows are just my overall impressions.
We started out with Nythendra, a big old classic dragon fight with fairly uncomplicated but pesky mechanics. Of course, the standard dragon moves apply — don’t stand in front of or behind. The addition of the various kinds of rot targeting random players in Phase 1 was a bit different, but it just meant you had to run out of the raid and drop the junk in a more or less organized pattern. We wiped a few times due to the mechanics and visuals in Phase 2, where the rot spots move towards Nythendra and will kill you if you stand in their path, and where the room fills with big old grubs and bugs, some of which swell up and do a 3-pulse AoE burst. I had a hard time seeing the bursting critters and am ashamed to admit I never once made it through that phase. We ultimately Downed the boss on the strength of our heals, and by organizing a rotation of raid healing cooldowns.
This fight seems intended as a raid attention-getter, a way for a team to focus and brush away some of the cobwebs before tackling more challenging mechanics. It certainly did that for us. I am sure in a couple of weeks we will be breezing right through it.
Next up was Ursoc, whom we one-shotted. This definitely reminded me of Butcher in Highmaul, in that it was primarily a DPS check, and the mechanics included a boss charge that required breaking the team up into two groups to alternate soaking the damage. Once you get yourselves organized, it is a pretty easy pew-pew type fight.
For our third boss, we selected Il’gynoth, a creature that parks his eye outside a giant tree, then when you kill the eye you get to go inside the tree for 50 seconds and beat up on Il’gynoth himself. The way you kill the eye is to kill little amoeba type adds right in front of it. And there are also tendrils that spring up all over the place that you have to deal with quickly, along with a big old mist creature add. I liked this fight best of all four we did, found the mechanics interesting but not overwhelming. Of course, since you tend to be fighting a lot of spread-out adds, it is not the best kind of fight for a BM hunter because you lose DPS by making your pets charge from spot to another (and in the case of Hati, “leisurely amble” from one spot to another…), but I still liked it.
The last boss we tackled was Elerethe Renferal, and this dude gave us the most trouble. It certainly gave me personally the most trouble, as I am positively paranoid about tornado-type mechanics. (I never once made it through any version of the tornado-dodging back in Mists in ?Heart of Fear? or as I referred to it, Bugistan.) I do think the visuals could be improved in this fight. It really is not obvious, for example, where web bridges are solid and where they have holes that will let you fall to your death. Also, the change to camera distance made it quite a bit harder, in my opinion, to even know which platform the boss had fled to.
The actual mechanics of this fight are not especially difficult, they are just annoyingly vague visually, and we lost a lot of people trying to follow the boss as she moved from one platform to another. It seemed like for this fight Blizz just incorporated the most pesky mechanics from Ji-Kun, Madness of Deathwing, Beth’tilac, and Blade Lord Ta’yak.
In fact, my observation was that all the fights we did seemed to be mostly rehashes of old mechanics. This is not a complaint necessarily, but it kind of seems like the dev team was “creating” by remixing old stuff off the shelf rather than by actually coming up with imaginative new mechanics for at least the first wing of this raid.
So, pluses and minuses of Emerald Nightmare so far:
- Beautiful artwork for the scenery and environment.
- Fights seemed tuned well, at least for our 30-size group with decent but not maxed gear. It was normal mode, so in a few weeks we will check out heroic and see if there is a huge difference.
- Run-ins after wipes are not excessive.
- There did not seem to be any mechanics where one mistake by one player would result in a wipe, which is a nice change from WoD. Also, wipe points did not seem to be exclusively at the end of a long and tedious fight, another nice change from WoD.
- At least from the part I have seen, there are no real constant-movement fights that effectively render casters and most healers ineffective.
- Not a lot of innovation or creativity with the fights, all seemed to be reruns of pieces of previous fights.
- Loot seemed a tad stingy. Also, I don’t think any of the people who got loot (we had it on Personal) got any kind of upgrade. As a side note, it was hard to tell whether or not the ability to trade on PL helped, since the loot people got was in every instance an upgrade for them, so they could not trade.
- The portal mechanics within the raid are a little off-putting. You basically just approach the portal, you don’t click on it, and eventually you just kind of meld into the destination, no obvious sound or visual cues. Quite a few of us commented that we weren’t sure if we had engaged it or not.
- Some visuals need to be tweaked to make them more obvious — things like the web bridges in Elerethe and the bugs in Nythendra. There may be others.
Side comment: Blizz’s announcement a couple of weeks ago that as of Patch 7.1 they will no longer allow addons to access player locational data will, I think, have a significant negative impact on most raid teams. Much of the utility of DBM, for example, will disappear, as will some useful heal addon features. Similarly, the very helpful “playback” features of some log sites will be gone, removing an excellent analytical tool for players as well as for raid leaders.
As I said before, the professional raid teams will not suffer from this, but the vast majority of “semi-casual” teams will take a big hit. Having now seen a piece of Legion raids, I have to wonder if Blizz realized they were just going to rehash old mechanics and thus needed to artificially increase the difficulty for most players by taking away addon features. Just seems Like a lazy approach to me.
In summary, I think my overall impression of Emerald Nightmare so far is kind of a big “meh”. It was a great improvement over some of the worst parts of WoD raid tiers, and the artwork is quite compelling, but the mechanics are a bit worn and uninspired.