The time of dread was upon us. Not all of us had memories of The Oculus from back in the day, but for those of us who did retain some sense of the place, it was not with happiness we recalled that time.
I actually cannot recall the run we did back in the day, but I remember a time when getting The Oculus as a Dungeon Finder groups was a sure fire train wreck. I can recall spending an afternoon trying to get the instance done with a DF group only to have the lack of communication, knowledge, and the revolving door of people leaving after any minor set back turning the whole thing into a frustrating waste of time.
I also recall DF groups that would land in that instance and just mutually agree that we should just not bother.
Such were the foundations of my dread. But we were going to give it a try. So I flew out to Colderra in advance, just to get the lay of things. And there, above me as I landed, was The Oculus, stacked up like an immense wedding cake… no doubt indicative of all the crumbs I had run into there in days gone by.
I found the quest giver who had something for the instance and, as the rest of the group logged in for our run, they started the flight from Dalaran to our uncertain venture. Only Ula had to be summoned to the meeting stone, busy as she was making 20 slot frostweave bags for us.
Our group for this outing was:
Once we were all present we went to the instance portal, which is just above where the portal for The Nexus is in the zone.
In we went and I started to get some sense of having been there before. But it was still a bit misty, buried below angst and antipathy.
We made it around the first arc that makes up the first level with only one death. The initial mobs are mostly non-elite, but they are also all ranged and spread out and tough to round up and when people dump AOE on them, bad things happen.
Still, we made it and ascended to the second level where we ran into Drakos the Interrogator, the first boss of the instance. He had a lot going on, AOE and an ability that yanked everybody to him, but we managed to muddle our way through.
On defeating him the three prisoners he held are released, and each one has a type of dragon mount you can ride. You need to get one because flying is required to progress. But you have to be careful. While any of the three will fly you around, the one you choose now is the one you have to use for the final boss fight.
I had read ahead on that and made sure everybody picked the dragon that aligned to their role in the group; ruby for tank, emerald for heals, and amber for DPS.
Of course, they give you some dragons with attacks, your first thought might be, “Can I just blast mobs with these?” And the answer is “no.” You can shoot the dragons and welps that fly around the instance, who will attack you if you get to close, but normal mobs on the ground can’t just be swept away by aerial onslaught.
Also, it speaks to how the beta went that one of the three available buttons on the dragon riding console interface is one that asks, “Where do I need to go?” The problem with a 3D flying instance is that it is much harder to channel people to the right mob if you can’t just stick them in a tunnel or box canyon.
Anyway, we went and did the next group of mobs the old fashioned way, feet on the ground, while we had to fly between platforms to fly them.
Along the way we got a drop I was not expecting.
Making Jeeves is clearly on my list of things to do for Wrath Classic. So the whole run was paid for by my calculations at that point.
Anyway, that all leads to Varos Cloudstrider, another angry boss on a platform. We deplatformed him.
As you can see, there is also a chain of quests that is supposed to guide you through the instance… but they still had to put that directions button on the dragon.
After that we were flying up to the next level to find Mage-Lord Urom. There are no trash mobs, Urom is just standing there waiting for you.
However, he doesn’t actually fight you. Instead he summons trash mobs for you to battle. I guess that is a change and gets past the “why don’t trash mobs standing within line of sight assist each other?” question that haunts any objective look at most dungeon layouts in WoW.
You fight his mobs three time, then he goes to the center of the area where you finally get to take him on. He has an annoying frost bomb spell that is an AOE DOT that you want to get off of as soon as you can… but you’re slowed, because it is frost!
And then every so often just jumps to the center of the ring and lets go a big AOE that you need to duck behind cover to avoid, which is difficult if you’re on his frost and moving slowly, and even more difficult if you’re playing two characters. Bjorid was the first to go down… but not the last.
We managed to get through to the last few percentages of him and bring him down, but not before he laid down another floor of frost. Then the quest mob who guides you through the instance popped up right where Urom died, so everybody walked over to him… or stayed there with him in one case. Everybody besides me.
I had seen the frost bomb go down. It was hard to miss. I knew if it was there it was still putting out damage to everybody standing on it. Everybody but the quest mob I guess. A few ticks of that and soon the whole party was dead save me.
That was quite embarrassing. But it is a good thing the tank is a pally and can ress.
Interestingly enough, I went back to our 2009 run and found a similar screen shot.
That time Earl and I stepped out of the frost. We’ve not gotten better over time.
Once we got everybody back together and buffed up again, it was time to face the final boss, Ley-Guardian Eregos, a dragon who flies around. That meant getting on the dragon mounts who, when asked where to go, basically said they had it handled.
I did not believe them.
So I went and looked up the strategy for the fight. Then we executed that strategy as best we could, because it honestly didn’t make a lot of sense, referencing things we hadn’t see since none of us could remember the fight from 2009.
Then again, it was mostly just DPS do damage, healer heal, and tank be the tank, so the details couldn’t be that meaningful, so off we went.
And, it worked. After a couple rounds the instructions made a bit more sense. Also, we all did our thing and soon enough the boss was down.
Boom. We were done. We not only got the achievement for the run, but being the last phase one dungeon on the list, we also got the Northrend Dungeonmaster achievement.
The loot in the chest from the final fight was mostly so-so, though there was one jewel crafting recipe in there, and that is Fergorin’s trade.
That was it. We took a final screen shot with the defeated boss.
Then we were done. So the question is; what to do next?
Ula says she wants to try heroics. But first we all have to get to level 80. Meanwhile, Blizz does seem to be getting ready to test phase two. (Also in that post, game director pretty much admits Shadowlands wasn’t great.)