Torghast: Fun?

I have spent about 15 hours total in Torghast thus far, and I can’t quite tell if I’m having fun. Which probably means I’m not.

The design of this endgame activity is weird, which may be a result of Blizzard’s whiplash direction. It was originally very challenging for a solo player, then it was made to be harder presumably to not surprise players at reaching an unkillable (to them) final boss, and then made much easier across the board. Which is fine, because this is the primary source of Soul Ash, which is necessary to craft Legendary armor this expansion. And everyone is absolutely expected to have one. The recently-released Twisting Corridors with its cosmetic rewards is a better place for challenge. 

But even that aside, it doesn’t feel great. Each run takes me 40-60 minutes and it is a commitment. If you don’t kill the last boss, you get nothing. If your gameplay gets interrupted by something, you get nothing. If you die too many times to random things even before the last boss, you get nothing. So, given the risk, you are highly incentivized to kill every mob pack and scour every crevice for Anima Cells to gain more power. If you skip things on the early floors to try and finish more quickly, but end up not having enough juice to kill the boss, well, you get nothing. 

Oh, and don’t forget that the elites and bosses all get a rapidly-stacking 10% damage buff every dozen seconds or so. Berserk timers would have been one thing, but really? Why is that necessary at all?

When you first unlock Torghast, you just have access to Layer 1. Beating a Layer gives you Soul Ash and unlocks the next Layer. Each Layer gives you a decreasing amount of Soul Ash – it goes 120, 100, 85, 70, 60, and so on. The good news is that Layers stay unlocked, so that next week you can instantly go to Layer 5, beat it, and gain all the Soul Ash from that and the lower Layers automatically (435 total in this case). Plus, by virtue of having beaten Layer 5, you can do Layer 6 next week. Or this week, if you want to put in another hour or so for 50 Soul Ash. 

The bad news is that unlocking 5-6 Layers right away on a toon is exhausting and will burn you out quickly. All of your alts start at Layer 1 just like your main, and Legendaries are gated behind Torghast, so it is not as though you can readily ignore it, even if you only PvP. You could “take it easy” and only run one Layer at a time, but that’s going to delay your Legendary by weeks. 

Finally, the Anima Powers you have available are really hit or miss. There are sometimes fun combos to unlock, like when my Guardian Druid got to auto-cast Roots on enemies that stuck me when Barkskin is up, and when Roots breaks it deals 4000 damage to nearby enemies. Oh, and Barkskin was all but permanent with duration boosts. That combo let me charge into multiple mob packs, do a few Swipes, and then the Roots breaking for 6+ mobs simultaneously dealt 24k damage to everything. 

When you roll in with an Affliction Warlock though, you get runs where your Seed of Corruption gets buffed five times. Which is fine for trash, but doesn’t do anything for the boss.

Torghast is probably one of the most interesting design decisions Blizzard has implemented since Scenarios. Reminds me of Dungeon Runs in Hearthstone. But is it fun? Eh, it can be. Sometimes. It’s also exhausting, kinda formulaic, and also required. If Blizzard leaned more into the overpowered abilities angle, or if each floor guardian gave a little Soul Ash, then I could see it being better. 

Posted on January 14, 2021, in WoW and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. “You could “take it easy” and only run one Layer at a time, but that’s going to delay your Legendary by weeks.”

    This is one thing that puzzles me in all mmorpgs that issue widely-spaced expansions and updates. If the expansion cycle is measured in years, why does anyone need to get geared up in days or even weeks? Raiders, sure. That’s a competition. But casual players, whether they prefer soloing or pugs or playing with guildies or friends, are they really under any compulsion to go fast?

    Why don’t players pace themselves appropriately for the expected lifespan of the expansion (or the stages between, if the game has a semi-formal update structure like WoW)? People seem to create artificial deadlines for themselves that the cadence of the game clearly isn’t intended to support. And then they burn out because they can’t meet their self-imposed targets. Weird.

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    • Let me turn the question around: do you not feel any obligation towards ensuring the success of a group activity, as opposed to the bare minimum?

      The exact line of reasonableness is fuzzy, of course. Nothing will satisfy the Go-Go-Go types and raider alts. But even regular dungeons are a group activity. And among any group, there are those that care/worry whether their presence improves the group experience and increases the chances of success… and there are those who don’t. As a member of the former, I actively despise the latter – I don’t have the free time available to waste it with people just showing up without putting work in. Gevlon would call them leeches, which may or may not be accurate, but the sentiment is there.

      It doesn’t matter if you play solo with empty gem sockets and no enchants or aren’t bothering with your Legendary because Torghast isn’t fun. On the other hand, strolling into the LFD tool or in a BG with a similar lack of care expecting for people to carry you to success is the height of selfishness. It is as infuriating in real life as it is in-game. And because I have no desire to be that guy, I grind out appropriate gear, I watch video guides on dungeons before even stepping inside one, and so on.

      Pacing issues with expansion-long mechanics is strictly the failing of Blizzard and devs generally. There is decades of proof out there demonstrating that players cannot “pace” themselves. Some of that is compulsion, but the other big part is what I mentioned above: social pressure. The people that grind it out won’t want to play with those who don’t, and so the grouping pool consists of “normal” people who don’t have time/inclination to take the game seriously, and active leeches who negatively contribute, leading to a failure spiral.

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      • Ah, that’s a very different perspective. In the mmorpgs I play, the social content I do doesn’t really involve any of those factors. After the initial wave of enthusiasm, Public Quests in EQII generally are happy just to get enough people to fill three-quarters of the slots. The main problem there is getting enough warm bodies to get the things done. GW2 is designed specifically to accomodate all levels of abilty and gearing for open-world events and the newer five-person storyline instances are highly tuned to allow any five random players to succeed easily. No-one does any of that content with efficiency uppermost in their minds. World vs World does have a higher expectation in squads, where the right builds and gear as well as presence on voice chat is strongly preferred, but anyone can roam or scout in whatever build and gear they want and be welcomed for the intel they provide and the low-level support they bring in taking camps, sentry-points and the like.

        I completely agree that if you were planning on doing ranked competetive content or higher-end, structured gorup instances – and obviously serious raiding – you ought to come prepared. I just didn’t see that the content you were talking about had much to do with any of that. But then, I haven’t even got Shadowlands so I just have to guess from what i read other people saying about it.

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  2. No it isn’t fun. Which is why, having completed it at layer 8, I run it at layer 6. Feral, stealth and skip all the skippable. Get only the powers which can be obtained with minimal effort. I end on floor 6 with around half the powers you get by cleaning everything (around 12-15), but being layer 6, I can still kill the boss. Extra bonus when among the powers you get the “right ones”. In my last run the boss lasted the duration of Berserk and was more or less one-shotted by Convoke the Spirits. Not fun, but at least it’s fast.
    For me the big problem is that all wings play identical. Same enemies, same bosses, same powers, corridors looking just the same. Sure, the debuff you get is not the same, but it’s irrelevant. Compare this do MM dungeons where all dungeons are different and MM+ where affixes change every week.
    (BTW you have not met the most broken druid combo, which is 4-5 or more stacks of the power which makes Roots do damage, with that your roots do something like 10kdps and since roots don’t aggro you can just root everything from a distance and watch it die in seconds, extra bonus for the mass roots talent which allows you to obliterate entire packs by…. looking at them; extremely engaging gameplay……)

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    • Ha, I hadn’t realized the Roots power did that. The one time I picked it up, I was just using Mass Entanglement while in combat, and not noticing much of a difference compared to the explosive one.

      Definitely agree on the sameness. The enemy variety is not there, the traps are pointless, etc. etc. etc. I WAS surprised when Mort’regar rotated in as that felt a lot different than the runs I had been doing. But the unkillable enemies were a lot less fun, and getting trapped on void-zoned platforms was even less. I almost hit the death limit within the first two packs, whereas I hardly ever died to anything prior to that.

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  3. I’m very much with you on the ‘Not sure I’m having fun with it, therefore I’m probably not’ aspect. I think the early tuning and (perceived) need to burn through the layers as soon as they became available contributed in the push toward the ‘not fun’ end of the spectrum for me.

    Because as a concept I quite like it. It has a lot of potential. But the run times and the all-or-nothing nature of the rewards like you called out make it a fairly rough execution. With current gearing and tuning it isn’t really an issue any more, but in the earlier days it was quite easy to be powerful enough to reach the end boss but not powerful enough to kill it, depending on the combination of not only the powers themselves but also which boss actually showed up.

    Having said all that… As a small party activity, it can be OK. A pally friend and I (mage, originally frost, now fire) blitz through the normal runs and have started taking on the Twisting Coridoors version as time allows. Although given that is roughly a 2-ish hour committment, we’ve only got through the first two layers so far between raid nights and mythic+ groups.

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