World of Warcraft: Hour of Twilight Impressions

Checking out dungeons after patch 4.3.

Many of us involved in long term relationships know there comes a point when things become complacent, too comfortable or dare I say, downright stale. Every so often, something happens to rekindle the freshness and reaffirm why you were meant to be together in the first place. I have had a long term relationship with World of Warcraft since the vanilla days, and arrived at many moments where I needed to take a break. When The Hour of Twilight 4.3 came out, I was again reminded why I love playing this game so much.

As a casual player who likes to run random dungeons, grind out dailies and meander about earning new achievements, the new content spoke to my style of play, particularly with three new five-man instances. Although there have been class changes and other items that will affect the nuances of how characters are played, I have been very impressed with how things have gone so far. From the quick initial load of the patch to opening up the mailbox to find my Tyael's Charger for upping my subscription to a one year commitment, the development team seems to be on target with their latest effort.

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You will notice Valor Points have been rolled-up with Justice Points into one convenient pool. Fear not, for the previous Valor gear has been moved along with your points to the appropriate vendor. This is where you need to start before you queue up for the new instances. I noticed my characters' combined pools of points allowed me to pick up a few new pieces. This is definitely needed if you are lacking whatsoever in gear score as the challenges will be great with the new content and you will need those extra stats to get through it. If you have been laboring in the Firelands earning those Marks Of The World Tree, you may want to visit the vendors one last time to top off any gear slots you can fill as well.
 

Queue times have been an issue in the past for DPS classes and nothing appeared to change there as I sat for a half hour waiting for a group to form. I finally switched over to my tank and, as is par for the course, got right in. My group was able to traipse through the End Time, Well of Eternity and Hour of Twilight instances. In each case as we entered the events, we were greeted with quest givers. The first thing that jumped out as a positive was that several rewards for the dungeon quests offered up new equipment. This will be a boon or bane depending on your class as my tank left empty handed with a bag full of vendor trash. Nonetheless, it was great to see there are several opportunities to improve your gear should the drops not pan out from the bosses.
 
The first lesson of the new instances is that you should not expect to stampede through the content without thinking through a few strategies. The mob encounters provided our group with some unique challenges in many cases; your skills will be tested. We learned the hard way as we barreled head long into a patrol consisting of a Twisted Sorcerer, Priest, two footmen and a rifleman (can you say Halls of Reflection?) These proved to be a nightmare as the rifleman jumped away from the group and the priest had a healing well up, and conveniently remained out of range at the onset. After that little disaster, (Thank you, mass rez) we snapped back to reality and employed a little crowd control. Not only were the pats challenging, but they oftentimes packed a punch when they hit, so healers be forewarned. For the most part, if you think through the initial encounter a little in advance, you should make it through without a hitch.

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For the bosses, I really enjoyed this round of elites. It was like a stroll through the Warcraft Smithsonian, with several familiar names from within the game, including Echo of Jaina and Sylvanas, Queen Azshara and the crescendo with Arch Bishop Benedictus. The storylines lead you through a logical progression and conclusion for each chapter driving home a compelling storyline for those who choose not to skip the lore.
 
The beauty behind the level design is that boss encounters, difficult as they may be, are fairly easy to navigate through with a little common sense. Stay out of the crap on the ground unless it announces it will help you, avoid falling objects and debris and especially avoid any walls of spikes or gas coming for you. One encounter that stood out had me fighting the Echo of Sylvanas and at one point, she hovered above the ground and summoned ghouls surrounded by a purple gaseous cloud that slowly moved inward. We had to tank and spank the ghoul walking backwards to open a small path that we ran through to avoid utter destruction.
 
What makes this a casual player friendly instance is that with any single party failure, you can figure out how to correct your mistake for the next attempt. For the most part, the fights progress this way in that you can have a small epiphany like, "oh yeah, standing under those orbs will single shot me" and still have the ability to recover and complete the encounter. I applaud the development team for allowing pugs some room to complete the content while providing for some great water cooler stories. Our group was able to finish all three instances with only 5 wipes and several individual party member deaths mixed in along the way, making this a three hour or so night and not a six or more hour marathon wipefest.

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With the exceptional artwork and overall feel, the environments ranged from underground caverns to very colorful and lush venues. My eyes actually watered at the end of our runs from all of the eye candy I took in. Voice acting remains par for the course and nothing to write home about. Still, there are several moments where you just have to admire the effort they placed in the detail and design. One experience had us in the Well of Eternity where we were cloaked and entered a room full of demons passing through a portal. The sheer number of elites in formation marching through from all sides of the room was daunting to say the least. It shouldn't take long for the first YouTube videos to appear where someone pays homage to Leeroy and runs in wiping the group. Still, our party members were constantly commenting on how impressive events like this were in the game. We rode dragons, closed portals, witnessed mid-air exchanges with the ancients and even escorted Thrall (again).
 
The experience of running the new 5-man instances in Twilight 4.3 provided for some very entertaining moments and almost laughable mistakes. And that is what made this a hit with me. Being able to organize with a group of strangers and have a fun experience without the frustration of having to waste our night because the fights were too complex. Overall, after being a harsh critic of many aspects of the game I am so passionate about, I have to say that this is one solid reason to reactivate those accounts and log back in.
 
Source: IGN.com


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