The Endgame has begun! With the update finally hitting worldwide, Raiding, Mythic +, Warfronts and the 26th Season of Rated PvP have finally landed in Battle for Azeroth. As with our Zones of… series we’ll be introducing you to each section week by week of the newest end-game content for World of Warcraft. This week we’ll be talking about the expansion’s first major Raid Encounter; intended for max-level players in groups of ten or more, the twisted halls of Uldir have opened to the world.
What is Uldir? After an ancient war on Azeroth against the god-like Titans, the Old Gods, ancient creatures of the Void, were all but exterminated and imprisoned beneath the planet’s surface. After the death of the Old God Y’shaarj and the destructive corruption its dying breath caused to the planet, the Titans endeavored to find a cure to the Old Gods and their threat across the universe. Thus Uldir was created as both a research and quarantine facility, dissecting and experimenting on the remains and minions of the Old Gods’ Black Empire. With their plans laid out, the Titans departed Azeroth and would never have the chance to return.
Uldir, however, was not an idle fortress. For centuries the agents of the Old Gods were experimented on until finally, the facility systems stumbled across an anomaly. Further experimentation on this anomaly only empowered it, until it created a terrifying monstrosity. Built from the ancient corpse of an Old God, the creature was reanimated into Undeath and began to spread a toxic decay across the Titan facility. G’huun, as it came to be known, sought to work on escaping its prison as its ancient brothers did but unlike the corrupting void it sought only one thing; to bring death and ruin to all life on the infant Titan of Azeroth.
Whispering its maddened promises of power to the world, it would not be until the treacherous Prophet Zul set his plans into motion that G’huun would have a chance to escape. With Horde players directly engaging his armies in Nazmir, Princess Talanji would later come across Zul’s dark bargain and endeavor to stop them. However, she and her heroes were much too late. Breaking the three great seals of Uldir in Atul’aman, Nazwatha and Dazar’alor, G’huun now prepares its army of Blood Trolls to make its great escape and purge the world of life itself.
Players first stepping into raiding this expansion will have multiple difficulties available to them. If you aren’t a member of a regular raiding guild or aren’t interested in pick-up groups, the Looking for Raid Finder difficulties are available up to the second wing as of the time of publishing, which requires item level 320 equipment to queue. For regular raiders (or brave PUGers) both flexible Normal and Heroic difficulties are fully available, rewarding item level 355 and 370 gear respectively. Last week the Mythic difficulty opened and now rewards item level 385+ equipment for the top tier raiders. As a retired cutting-edge raider, I recommend for first time raiders that you seriously consider a relaxed progression guild if you intend to raid any level of Uldir. While the first boss is quite forgiving, mechanics for later bosses can be incredibly punishing and can take some time to learn and progress through as a group, especially for players used to Heroic and Mythic 0 level dungeons.
Uldir opens up ominously enough, with a deep descent into the facility as you face Taloc, the titanic guardian of Uldir. Despite being originally constructed as a jailer of the facility, its systems have fallen into disrepair and its protocols have been overridden; now it serves to keep anyone who might challenge G’huun out until its master can emerge. In terms of design philosophy, Taloc is an incredibly similar fight to Nythendra from Legion’s Emerald Nightmare raid. Focusing primarily on minor add-control and area awareness, most players will be preoccupied in safely depositing puddles of damage-dealing plasma around the room for Tanks to clean up. While it has a soft-enrage mechanic after stage two, most raid teams will more than likely clear it without difficulty.
M.O.T.H.E.R. or Matron of Tenacity, Herald of Endless Research, is a titanic watcher located in Uldir. The chief artificial intelligence and researcher of the facility, she has ceaselessly researched solutions for both G’huun and the Old Gods. With the arrival of the corrupted races of Azeroth, she will not permit them entrance into her facility lest they enable further corruption. Much like the previous encounter, M.O.T.H.E.R’s encounter focuses on area awareness and mechanic management. Unique to this encounter are three rooms which will build energy over time while both players and M.O.T.H.E.R. are standing in it, emitting massive damage once they reach maximum energy. This encounter is a Healer Check, intended to test your healers as each member passing between rooms will cause massive raid-wide damage.
Zek’voz is a servant of the Old God N’zoth and was sent to the shores of Zandalar after the Sundering of the world. Intent on bringing the isolated kingdom to heel, the creature was prepared to succeed by any means necessary. It did not, however, anticipate Uldir and its defenses and was quickly captured. Over the eons, it has been ruthlessly dissembled and studied and now awaits its chance to escape. Zek’voz is the most difficult boss in the first wing of Uldir, featuring punishing tank-swap mechanics, raid wide area of effect damage abilities and varied abilities which can jump from player to player. Additional adds will spawn during several abilities with the potential to cause a raid wipe and end your encounter suddenly. There are also several abilities that will require players to constantly be aware of their positioning, either avoiding certain areas or purposefully engaging Zek’voz’s abilities.
The Fetid Devourer is a horrific abomination; ancient loa caught in Uldir’s gaze were experimented upon for untold years until they finally took a lethal turn. With their remains disposed of improperly, it didn’t take long for the dark consciousness in Uldir to take notice and begin to twist them to a newer, darker purpose. For old hat raiders, the Fetid Devourer is a standard Patchwerk-style fight with the potential to spread damage over time abilities to select members in the raid. Add control is a must throughout the fight, as those which spawn can be consumed by the devourer for an incredible amount of health.
Long ago a terrible Blood Plague struck the trolls of Zandalar, twisting them painfully before their horrific death. In desperate search of a cure, the Uldir facility collected samples in an effort to relieve the affliction. However, it found that only containment and destruction would stop the plague. As the facility began to fail, the plague found itself tainted by G’huun’s twisted blood and Vectis was born. The only major mechanic for players to deal with is the Omega Vector, similar in effect to the Lich King’s Necrotic Plague, which will jump around the raid as it expires. Raid awareness is tantamount in the second phase for personal survivability.
Zul, the traitorous prophet of the Zandalari. Thought dead by the combined might of King Rastakhan and Bwonsamdi, Zul has been reborn under the powers of G’huun, necromantic and sanguimantic magic now animating his twisted form. Zul is a DPS Check encounter more than anything and shouldn’t take long for an appropriately prepared team. Adds will spawn throughout the room during the first phase, where some can fear players they touch while others can deliver punishing raid-wide damage. The second phase features a soft-enrage much akin to Taloc’s, where Zul must be killed before the room can kill the raid.
Mythrax the Unraveller, imprisoned beneath Vol’dun for centuries. Finally freed and with its master’s shackles broken, he returns to G’huun’s side to prepare for its dark awakening. Mythrax is an incredibly unforgiving encounter, rivaling the Lich King and even Prince Kael’Thas Sunstrider in my opinion. Situational awareness is the highest priority, as multiple abilities can afflict players with a debuff that reduces their maximum health. Working as a soft enrage this debuff can easily reduce players to little health, resulting in an entire raid being one shot by its basic mechanics. Players must focus on avoiding abilities that generate this debuff and rescuing team-mates throughout the encounter.
G’huun, the Old God of Death. While the Titan experiments delved deep into the anatomy of the Old Gods, they dove too deep into G’huun. As they picked apart the ravenous, hungering need to corrupt that the void possesses, they created the ultimate contagion and gave it life. G’huun is the God of Parasites, and its pestilent undeath will plague the world if it can escape. G’huun is the biggest multi-phase encounter in Uldir, and the boss itself cannot be directly attacked until players can activate the facility’s Reorigination Machines while the raid manages vastly varied adds. The majority of the fight will revolve around area awareness, add management and debuff management while activating the Reorigination machines again.
Uldir overall is a fantastic instance, but its shortcomings are far from unnoticeable. Unlike the newly revealed Crucible of Storms raid due in Patch 8.1, it feels as if the Horde’s Zandalar storylines were sacrificed solely to build up Uldir as an instance. Bosses, while wonderfully varied, suffer too much from similar mechanical themings with somehow less mechanical variety than Legion’s Emerald Nightmare. Add management and area awareness are incredibly basic and do not deviate from the basic building blocks of encounter rules. While the sheer quantity of mechanics makes fights like G’huun feel as epic as both C’thun and Yogg-Saron of raids past, the shared similarities with other bosses simply make the encounter feel tired at the end of it all. While Uldir is a fun and challenging raid, the taste of G’huun, much like the expansion so far, has been bittersweet.