World of Warcraft: Legion’s first raid, The Emerald Nightmare, went live on September 20th. This review was completed after beating Normal several times, and defeating Nythendra in Heroic.
The Emerald Nightmare is Blizzard’s way of finally giving players the Emerald Dream they’ve been requesting for years. But instead of an expansion, we get a corrupted version of the dream, and it’s a raid with seven bosses.
Perhaps the most enticing thing about Emerald Nightmare, at first glance, is the lore and history behind all of the bosses. Delving deep into the world of druids, The Emerald Nightmare offers a great way for players to connect to the rich lore offered in the games, comics, books, and now a movie. Blizzard is playing to the strongest point of their MMO this expansion: thematics and storytelling.
Emerald Nightmare is presenting a surprising amount of challenge to most guilds. Although the higher tier guilds will have, no doubt, completed the raid on mythic, for most guilds they are still advertising heroic raids or only one to three bosses down in mythic. This has allowed Blizzard to relax and focus on other content in Legion, including five man dungeons.
Only three of the seven bosses have a set order for Emerald Nightmare. When you first enter the raid, you will have to clear trash surrounding Nythendra, and take down the former member of the green dragonflight. A great start to the raid, Nythendra has been referred to as “a joke” by most players I know. A deceivingly easy fight, Nythendra sets up beautifully to have players’ souls crushed at the hands of another boss.
Different bosses in Emerald Nightmare create a new challenge for each aspect of the raid. Even on normal, you can feel the boundaries of your raid being pushed, providing they haven’t outgeared the content.
Elerethe Renferal and Il’gynoth, Heart of Corruption, are mechanic heavy bosses. Elerethe’s fight takes place in a corrupted version of Thunderbluff. The boss is a multi phase fight, meaning she swaps between a Spider and Roc form. When she takes to her Roc form, a limited amount of feathers appear, which tanks and healers should prioritize using to get to the other side quickly. The boss requires tanks, healers, and DPS to all understand what’s going on during the entire fight clearly, as well as performing their jobs near perfect. A misstep could result in falling off of the platforms, ensuing chaos amongst the raid and a sloppy recovery, or wiping the entire fight in the worst cases.
Il’gynoth, on the other hand, will test your shot caller’s awareness, as well as the DPS in your raid. The boss spawns multiple groups of adds, all in different areas in the room, which must be prioritized in a certain order. Failure to notice and take down the adds in a desirable amount of time will result in a chaotic fight, and ultimately, the raid wiping. The coordination required is something most raid groups will lack until they’ve tried it a few times.
In comparison, one of the other bosses, Ursoc, although perhaps one of the richest in lore, falls a little flat for difficulty. The fight is considered a DPS check, and if they aren’t up to snuff, you simply won’t be getting past this bear. Healers will have a relatively easy time with the fight, given the lack of mobility Ursoc calls for in normal. The only time that they should be facing problems is if the tanks are improperly juggling the two different debuffs Ursoc deals out.
The Dragons of Nightmare, speaking rationally, is one of the easiest fights in the raid. For the group I have been raiding with however, this is a fight we routinely seem to have problems with. What started out as a very clean and clear-cut fight has devolved into utter chaos at some moments. Whether it’s from the tanks failing to swap dragons properly, DPS failing to understand mechanics, or healers not balancing the removal of mechanics and healing well, The Dragons of Nightmare has proven to be a challenge. This has also crafted the encounter into the fight that I most look forward to. With the ability to constantly improve the transition between swapping dragons, the Dragons of Nightmare feels like the most satisfying boss to defeat as a raid.
Elerethe Renferal, Il’gynoth, Ursoc, and the Dragons of Nightmare can all be killed in any desired order. Starting with Ursoc will give you the advantage of knowing your DPS can handle the the fights ahead of you, at least damage wise. This isn’t to say that every raid should start with Ursoc, as getting a mechanic heavy boss out of the way while the night is still young will put you at an advantage if players start to doze off towards the end.
Cenarius is the second last boss you will fight in the Emerald Nightmare. Cenarius is a demigod, father to druidism in Azeroth, and one of the oldest protectors of Azeroth. Corrupted by the nightmare, his former student, Malfurion, helps you during the encounter by cleansing the add that spawns amongst the members of your raid.
Cenarius’s fight may very well be the definition of chaos. With several ground clutter mechanics, your healers will have to watch their positioning to ensure they can heal both tanks, and keep the raid alive at the same time. Cenarius is a fight that will challenge your raid the first few times you encounter him, if not longer. The lack of guaranteed one-shot bosses is what really builds up Emerald Nightmare to be a stand out raid, given the ease of raids in the last expansion.
This trend continues into the final boss, Xavius. Once was a powerful mage, Xavius was councilor to Queen Azshara, but eventually he was charmed by the idea of power, forming a pact with Sargeras to help the Legion first invade Azeroth. Xavius was later tormented and cursed after facing defeat, and has plotted revenge in the Rift of Aln since.
Xavius’s fight can be difficult for people to understand. While the fight has 3 different phases, you also have to deal with being in and out of the dream state. Ysera is here to back you up, and will send certain players in your raid into the dream state, causing each player’s role in the fight to change accordingly.
With a lack of knowledge leading to frustration, bickering, and wipes in the end, Xavius’s fight requires the most research out of all seven bosses. This, on top of the general chaos and positioning required in the fight, is why Xavius makes for a great final boss. Building upon mechanics previously introduced in the raid, most players will need to do independent research to truly understand everything that’s going on during the fight.
Although Il’gynoth and Cenarius introduce you to chaos, Xavius shows you what it truly looks like when things go wrong. Reaching the end of the fight with all members of the raid alive is nothing short of a feat.
It’s hard to judge how well a raid will be remembered in World of Warcraft. Two of the most frequently brought up fights are Molten Core and Ice Crown Citadel. “Do you remember when you first killed Ragnaros?” “How about when you first downed the Lich King?”
Both of those raids had a few things going for them. Both MC and ICC had cool stories that people were genuinely excited for. Ragnaros is an Elemental Lord and master of all the fire elements. Completely engulfed in flame, the fight was huge, hectic, and difficult to complete.
ICC, on the other hand, starred the Lich King from the expansion “The Frozen Throne” for Warcraft III. Fans had been anticipating The Wrath of the Lich King for a long time, and it paid off in ICC. With Arthas finally defeated, Bolvar Fordragon took over the mantle of The Lich King and has imprisoned himself. A rather open ended finale, one only wonders when the Lich King will rise again, bringing both a satisfied climax for the fight and a promise for even more to come down the road.
On top of how much they drove the story forward, both of the raids were incredibly difficult. No one can rightfully claim that Emerald Nightmare is as hard as Molten Core or Ice Crown Citadel when they first released. Pleasantly, however, Emerald Nightmare has been one of the first really challenging raids in a long time. It’s also anyone’s guess how difficult Emerald Nightmare would of been in a 40, or 25, man raid. With flex raiding, it’s not common to see a group past 20.
It’s a bold statement, and some would consider it a stretch of the imagination, to claim that we will remember Emerald Nightmare in the same thoughts as Molten Core and Ice Crown Citadel. But, Emerald Nightmare has two ways it can take World of Warcraft: to it’s ultimate demise, or to a second coming. Killing Xavius has a similar weight to it that slaying the Lich King did, and is most certainly on the same level as taming the Fire Lord – even if it wasn’t as difficult to do in-game. We also have to remember that back then, we were coordinating 40 players. Now, not so much.
It is a surprise for most players, including myself, that Legion has been as fun as it is post launch. Although Warlords of Draenor started out as an expansion to revitalize World of Warcraft, something I personally claimed on many occasions, it quickly dropped players when we realized how boring it was to sit in your Garrison all day instead of around Orgimmar.
The raid has a whole suggests perhaps Blizzard has learned. The continuous flow of post-release content has the opportunity to create that second coming of World of Warcraft, something I, and plenty of other fans, would welcome wholeheartedly.
This review was completed using a copy of World of Warcraft: Legion provided by Blizzard.
- Strong place in the lore
- Challenging for most raid teams
- Some bosses feel mechanically lacking
- Still no Emerald Dream for players