World of Warcraft fans are currently shocked by Torghast, one of the game’s final activities. The changes are coming to the pipeline immediately, and Blizzard is focusing on learning the painful grind from Torghast’s current levels.
Torghast is the Tower of the Damned, the sanctuary of World of Warcraft: Shadowlands‘final boss. The jailer resides here and keeps all his most precious souls in Torghast so that he can torture them and transform their souls into axes and armor. Problems with the area emerged later World of Warcraftis the weekly reset, which has added new levels for players to tackle.
Since this is World of Warcraft, the heroes break down the gates of Torghast every week to cross a Hadesroguelike-style dungeon crawler, and walk away with mission progress or massive help from Soul Ash to build his own piece of legendary gear. The changes in Torghast, therefore, are important.
“This is a top priority for us right now and we have a number of changes underway, all aimed at facilitating the Torghast experience,” says Ion Hazzikostas, game director of World of Warcraft, in a call with Polygon. “Players will see these changes in the next couple of days.”
A round of hot fixes has already been released, but a larger patch is expected to be released “before the weekend”.
Torghast received some changes on December 15, with a weekly reset. The patch was intended to address some basic balance issues. For example, lone healers and tanks were dominant in the game mode, with classes like Paladin going into Protection just so they could make their way through Torghast. Blizzard also fixed some of the powers players could randomly acquire and made each level’s previous plans more difficult.
“We were upping the difficulty a bit over the course of the experience with the intent of avoiding the trap players could fall into, where they head to the fifth floor or the sixth floor boss, before realizing they were above the head and didn’t have the DPS or the gear to take down the boss. Then they’d walk away thinking ‘well, I only lost 45 minutes, that sucks’. “
These changes were supposed to be minor tweaks to an otherwise successful formula. The problem was that they matched the new levels. Players have gone from three tiers to eight. Blizzard expected the player base to slowly make its way through this content, equipping Castle Nathria raid gear and mythical dungeons.
Hazzikostas claims that the beta did not prepare them for player behavior on live servers, and players were hopping in the meat grinder regardless of difficulty so they could earn enough sweet and sweet Soul Ash to level up their Legendaries. Completing level three should make level four a breeze, and then five will quickly follow after, right?
“In reality, the tuning targets are a bit more aggressive than that,” says Hazzikostas. While players are able to tell when a Mythic Raid is out of range based on the equipment that drops from their current set, Torghast didn’t have those indicators.
“If level one was like a normal dungeon and level two was like a heroic dungeon, but the time you get to level six, it’s like … a Mythic +7. And layer eight is more like a mythical +13 or +14. And there are some players who are very, very skilled and getting gear from other sources who are doing Mythic +14 dungeons this week! But for some players, they will never get there, and for others it will be something they will do in four months, when they have tons of epic gear behind them. “
Hazzikostas admits that it was a communication problem, and now that the new layers of Torghast are in circulation and proving to be such a frustrating experience, Blizzard will mitigate them. “We can’t ring the bell that people are out there trying to do it.”
Blizzard has some primary goals with Torghast at the moment. One: Lower the average duration of a Torghast run so it’s not an hour of grind. Two: increase the success rate for a handful of classes and specializations that are struggling. Three: Make sure the powers players can collect are fun and different things that might only work in Torghast, not just a stronger version of a player’s normal rotation. Four: make it clear how hard each layer should be and when a player should tackle it.
The changes to resolve goals one and two will be here “in the next few days,” but supporting Torghast and resolving goals three and four will be a long-term undertaking on Blizzard’s part. Torghast will be a feature that will last throughout the Shadowlands, and that means we will see wild and whimsical new wings and powers that appeal to different players. When I ask Hazzikostas if Torghast will be a rapid fire, a high-skill run through challenging enemies, or a painstaking and patient journey that players can complete through perseverance, he says the answer is “ideally, both”.
In the coming weeks, a new wing of Torghast will open: Twisting Corridors, which has 18 floors and is a “unique achievement for cosmetics”. It will be a journey for someone who is planning their every move and enjoying every step, and won’t have to worry about coming back every week while also striking the Maw, and improving their soul bonds and conduits, and unlocking their Great Crypt upgrades.
The wings of the future may be for the hardcore Torghast racers among us; although Hazzikostas states that the team is cautious in making sure that any new additions to the tower are not mandatory for a level 60 character to repeat every week. A timed mode or challenge mode may emerge in the future once the current kinks in Torghast are resolved and the mode basically works.
“Torghast shouldn’t be about this guard’s chain polymorphism while killing his friend, because if you fight them both at the same time you would die in 10 seconds,” says Hazzikostas. “This doesn’t make you feel powerful and inspired, and that’s what we’re trying to get away from.”
More announcements are on the way to Torghast, but Blizzard is monitoring community forums and making sure the mode works at a fundamental level before improving it too much. “We are actively working to improve things,” says Hazzikostas. “And we’re not going to stop until people have fun and it seems, you know, a source of stories about how strong and overwhelmed you are.”