Updated Thu, Feb 21, 2008 by Messiah
Xerin did a great job covering the basics about the Burning Crusade and giving some images of the world in his article TenTonHammer's First Look at The Burning Crusade, so I thought I would check out something not looked at yet, the instances. With that in mind I transferred my character into the Beta and headed straight away to the Hellfire Citadel, home of four instances!
The instances are as follows:
|Instance||MOB Levels||# of Players|
|Hellfire Ramparts||60 - 62||5|
|The Blood Furnace||61 - 63||5|
|The Shattered Halls||70 - 72||5|
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The Outlands! A complete map of the world and where everything is in it
The first thing to figure out was how to get to the new instances. For that I headed over to our trusty map of the outlands. Having brought an undead priest into the Beta, I headed through the Black Gate and then to Thrallmar to find a group to enter with. I found that I just had a short trip south to the Citadel (or a short trip north if you are an Alliance player) which is very nice as you know that most of us are going to spend a ton of time in these instances as soon as the game is released.
While making my way to the Citadel and finding a group I learned two very important things; the new looking for group feature ROCKS, and so do meeting stones now!
It may be just because everyone is trying the looking for group out, but I had a group instantly that consisted of a warrior, 2 mages, a druid and myself. Pretty good group, in about 30 seconds. I can only hope it works this well when released, meaning: "I hope players are not too stubborn and think its a piece of crap and ignore it like they did meeting stones". The second thing is the meeting stones themselves. They can now be clicked on and used to summon players just like a warlock summon, however they only need one person to help. Hurray! It makes getting groups ready to go so much easier. A very nice change.
Ok, So I now had a group and was ready to go in, what was it all about...
|WARNING: What is described below is from the beta, anything described may change before release and / or be completely invalid. Upon release of The Burning Crusade, return to TenTonHammer for a complete guide to The Hellfire Ramparts.|
Once in the Citadel and having zoned into the Ramparts we were all excited about it. A new instance! Hurray! It looked shiny and new, all the MOBs were exciting and new, even the loot would be new!
Green loot with these kinds of numbers???
The Ramparts starts with several easy pulls to get you going, however you quickly run into some more difficult pulls. They were not hard for our group as we were all equipped with mainly tier 1 and 2 epics, however they still required some strategy. Some of the more interesting groups we encountered were a circle of casters surrounding a close combat DPS'er and a beast master. We very quickly learned that the DPS'er in the center of casters got a buff after each of the casters died, so he had to go down first of you could get into trouble. The beast master also had to go down quickly or he would call for his hounds and you would get a pack of hounds attacking you. The loot was pretty impressive right from the start too. The image to the right was the first green we found, a cloth hat with +25 spirit and +38 stamina! Turn the spirit into intelligence and that's a damn fine hat!
Amazing Paladin loot from the first boss, and then a sword on the second run through!
After about 15 minutes we came to the first boss, Watchkeeper Gargolmar. He wanders the hallway that houses several large groups that must be cleared while he moves along his path, so that you can pull him in a clear area. He walks along with two casters both of which are healers. Once pulled they will attempt to heal him, especially when he calls out for healing at some point in the fight. Seeing this we sheeped the healers first and then took him down fast. In a subsequent group through the zone, we just killed the healers first and that worked without issue as well.
He is fairly easy fight, but does have a few little tricks up his sleeve. For example don't let cloth wearers get low on health at any point because he spontaneously breaks aggro and charges someone (seemingly at random) every once in a while. As soon as he did he returned back to the tank without having to be taunted, however the charge can kill a cloth wearer that is low on health pretty easily.
Once he was down we got our first taste of Burning Crusade blue loot, and all we could say was WOW! The first run through got us an amazing Paladin chest piece, none of us were that excited about it being Horde, but could see some potential here. On a second run we got a very good main hand sword and our tank was thrilled.
With dreams of PHAT loot in our heads we moved on further into the instance and headed up a spiral stairwell to the top of the ramparts, where we found another larger circle of casters that gave us some issues. We managed to take them all out with AOE, figuring we could handle the buffed close combat guy if we took everyone else down fast... WRONG! He hurt our tank bad! We had a druid and priest healing him as much as we could and we couldn't keep up. Eventually he went down and we barely finished him before he took out the group. Oh well, we all had fun trying something new.
Vazruden the Herald circles the Ramparts
At the top of the stairs we came to a circular landing that needed to be cleared and then pathways to two bosses, both within sight of us. They were Vazruden the Herald and Omor the Unscarred. We decided to take out Vazruden first as we all loved the look of the dragon circling with him over head.
The fight with him did not go well the first few times, but we learned a lot, and after a few wipes, were able to drop him in our next two runs easily. I was also able to guide an Alliance group through him later in the day without issue. We loving referred to him as Rend 2.0. Once you engage him the fight is a nicely scripted event, where he jumps down to fight you, while his dragon drops firebombs on you from above. Once Vazruden is almost dead the dragon will descend to engage. Allot of the dragons damage is fire based so having everyone in some fire resistance gear helps allot. Again we got some really good drops from him, including a caster ring that replaced one of my epics!
We moved onto Omor after which was a single pull away once we went back a little ways. Not knowing what to expect, but having seen the various warlocks in the zone use shadow, we buffed for shadow against Omor. He seems to have two main abilities although there could be more that we didn't see. They were the ability to summon felhounds and the ability to put an AOE curse on players. To combat this we spread out our characters so the curse would not effect everyone and killed the hounds as soon as they appeared. Again we got some great loot from him.
With that we were done the instance! Even with a few wipes the first time through it took less than 90 minutes and subsequent runs to make sure we knew what we were doing got it down to a very fun 40 minutes. Everyone loved the instance, the fights and the loot. Having finished a number of runs through the instance we sat and talked about how cool it was, how good the loot was for a 5 man instance and if it was better than all the old ones. We all discussed this for a while, and decided that we couldn't declare it "better" than the old 5 man instances, because we were too excited to be playing a new 5 man instance to make a rational choice. We did notice at least one big thing though in this the Ramparts instance and in the Furnace instance.
Hitting power! Many of the MOBs hit a lot harder than anything in 5 mans and in some cases even the old 20 man raids. There is a reason that stamina is on allot of the new loot and that the numbers are high. If this is the first of the instances, we can only imagine the new end game stuff! This also means that the +healing and +damage gear has ramped up as well. It will not be uncommon to see tanks with 12-15k health. This means that healers will have to have lots more +healing to be able to keep up with their job. Even in this instance our tank was getting hit for 2 - 3k a hit at several times, he also got many more crits landed against him then he ever remembers before.
I took many additional screen shots which are all available in our gallery here: TenTonHammer visits the Hellfire Ramparts.