With the launch of World of Warcraft: Cataclysm patch 4.1 we are going to be able to explore two classic raids once again. The two raids are ZulGurub and ZulAmon and are being changed over to 5 man heroic instances. This is pretty exciting for many players as there were long time favourite raids for a huge number of players. They will also offer some additional near raid level gear out of heroic 5 player instances.
Today we are going to focus on the instance of ZulGurub and see what it has to offer in its re-release. Keep in mind though that this is all based off of the PTR servers and is essentially in beta mode, anything and everything could change before being released onto the official servers.
There are some big changes leading up to the instance itself with a completely new quest line that leads players to it. The quest starts in any of the major cities where you can accept the start of the chain that leads you to the zone and starts a series of quests that explains all of the new lore around the instance. You will be introduced to the various bosses and at least some hints as to their abilities and the gods they represent. The chain tells a great story and is what I wish more quest chains were like.
There will be 5 bosses in the revamped version of ZulGurub down from the original 8 when it was a raid instance. Some of the bosses are new while some are revamps of the original bosses found in the instance. Even the re-used bosses get some new mechanics though so dont expect to walk in knowing the fights. The bosses and a little bit about the fights are as follows, keeping in mind that this is still PTR and the fights are subject to change.
High Priest Venoxis This is a two phase fight. In the first phase Venoxis uses poison that spreads around the room following players that you need to avoid. He also channels poison at a random player in a beam that does heavy damage and needs to be avoided. Lastly he can link two players with a poison beam, and they need to run apart to break it or suffer heavy damage. In the second phase he has a frontal cone effect that kills anyone caught in it and a beam effect which chases players. After the second phase he becomes exhausted for a short time suffering double damage, after which he reverts to phase one.
High Priestess Kilnara (New) In this fight you need to deal with the boss as she throws shadow bolts at players who are at range and AoE damage at players in melee range. She also transforms into a cat form and summons swarms of panther adds that need to be picked up an AoEed down.
Zanzil (New) This fight uses cauldrons that are in the area as a mechanic so that you can do various additional abilities. There are fire cauldrons that do AoE damage, ice cauldrons that freeze enemies, and green cauldrons that reduce poison damage. While dealing with the boss you use these abilities to deal with his abilities. Fire kills zombies, ice deals with the trolls, and green deals with poison. All this must be dealt with while killing the boss.
Bloodlord Mandokir In the first phase of this fight the boss can switch targets quickly and kill players. Dont worry too much though as you will rez by a nearby spirit healer. Every time he does kill someone though he levels up and hits harder. After a while you enter phase two and his raptor mount enters the fight. The raptor will target the spirit healers which, if killed, can not rez you any more. Your job is to protect the healers and kill the raptor as fast as possible, then switch back to the boss.
Jindo the Godbreaker This is an interesting two phase fight that occurs in both the real realm and in the spirit realm. In the real realm players need to get into a summoned shield to protect themselves from big incoming damage. In the spirit phase players need to drag the ghosts of dead trolls over chains that are trapping Hakkars Spirit so that they take more damage and free the dead god.
To go with the new bosses and new boss mechanics is some awesome new gear. All of it is item level 353 which is just below the current first tier of Cataclysm raid gear which is item level 359.
In addition the itemization is excellent on most of the pieces. They also fill several holes that existed in pre-raid itemization from previous heroics. This is seen especially with the trinkets and weapons which are all excellent.
The one concern though is that the gear is so go that it almost replaces raid gear for effectiveness. In fact, with this you will be close enough to raid geared that you may be able to skip the first tier of raiding and move onto the second tier of raiding when it becomes available.
The Messiahs Take on ZulGurub 4.1
I am kind of split on this instance and the re-hash of old content. I am going to discuss the down sides as I see them first though so that we end on a positive note and not a negative one.
First off I question how fair it is to start giving out epic level 353 gear in this quantity so early into an expansion. Are we on the road to another WotLK where there is no more running tier 1, then tier 2, then tier 3 raids, but instantly running the latest tier due to gear escalation from instances and justice points? Is this sudden ramp up in gear an effort to get more people into raids since raids actually have some level of challenge again, and hence 90% the WotLK raiders can not finish the new content?
Also I have a big issue with recycled content being used as a major patch release, and especially the first major release after an expansion. The issue here is two fold. First, Cataclysm has been out for over 3 ½ months and this is the first new content addition for it. The second is that it is not even really new. I know it has been revamped heavily and that it does take work to do that. However, is it really worth 3 months of 12 million players subscription fees for 2 recycle instances? That is how I take it, after all we paid for Cataclysm, therefore all the fees since then are for operation expenses and the next patch. We all just paid a big chunk of cash for two old instances. I know thats potentially a very cynical look at things, but it is what I and many other players I have spoken to feel. Its almost like the WoW subscription funds, and the staff they employ, must be being funneled off to other projects, because there is no way it should have taken this long for two old instances.
Ok, after some pretty harsh bad points, there are some really big good points that counter them. To start with, the gear is awesome, especially for non-raiders. While I would prefer top level gear be kept for raiders, I understand that raiders are a minority in the game and the masses must be kept happy as well, or there wouldnt be funds to develop raids. The gear is cool looking, well itemized, and fairly accessible for non-raiders. It even fills holes in itemization for many raiders, so its win win all around.
Next up, even though I complain about the instances being recycled, old content, it is done well. Better yet, this was an awesome instance the first time around, and continues to be great in a five player version. In fact, in some ways it is great to see it used again so that the many players that never saw it the first time around can see it this time. If this was thrown into a content patch as an extra, or if we were seeing new content patches on a monthly basis I, and many others, probably would have no complaints at all about seeing some recycled content.
Also a very positive thing is that the fights in this instance are interesting and varied. The fights make you think and are not easy by any stretch of the imagination, which is good. This almost makes it acceptable that it gives out near raid level gear, as it is almost hard enough that non-raiders may not be able to complete it anyway. On the other hand players that know what they are doing but simply do not have the time available to raid will be able to complete this instance and get some very nice gear.
So overall, I think the instance itself is very good, and if Blizzard put out more content more often I think everyone would be super excited about this instance making a second appearance. In fact even though I feel a bit cheated by it, I still look forward to fighting it on the live servers.
Do you have any thoughts you'd like to share? What is your opinion on recycled (updated) content? Be sure to leave them in the comments below!
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