Formerly Hardcore #8: Hellfire Citadel Preview

Ragar takes a look at the raid coming with patch 6.2

Hello and welcome to the 8th edition of Formerly Hardcore, ZAMs column for Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft. For this column, we’re going to take a look at last week’s preview of Hellfire Citadel from the official WoW site. Patch 6.2 will be taking us back to Tanaan Jungle where we’ll be not only invading the stronghold of the Iron Horde, but we’ll be doing so against their newly fel-empowered legions of soldiers.

Into the Heart of Tanaan Jungle and the Iron Bulwark

When Garrosh encouraged Grommash to begin construction of this massive stronghold at the heart of Tanaan Jungle, to serve as a staging ground for the assault of Azeroth, he even suggested the name Hellfire, pulled from a different time and a different land. He dreamed of seeing mighty orcish iron towering over an unblighted landscape, so very different from the wasteland he had known in Outland. But even as times change, so too do they stay the same.

When we saw the first incarnation of Hellfire Citadel, it was in its fel-twisted glory back in Outland where we fought our way across the Ramparts, pushed our way into the Blood Furnace, slew our timeline’s version of Kargath Bladefist in the Shattered Halls and finally made your way into the lair of the pit lord Magtheridon to destroy him and cut off the Fel Orcs from their supply of his blood. The Hellfire Citadel of the Iron Horde looked completely different to that original fortress we saw when we came to stop the Iron Horde’s invasion of Azeroth. It was still an imposing structure, but now it lacked that fel taint that the original possessed. After the fall of Warlord Blackhand and the events that took place during the legendary ring storyline, today’s Hellfire Citadel begins to look more familiar as the Iron Horde’s technology has been retrofitted to use fel energy and the Orcs begin to look like their fel counterparts after drinking the blood of Mannoroth.

The attack on the Citadel begins with the Iron Bulwark outside and the Hellfire Assault. To make their way further into the Citadel and assault the evils within, you must first survive waves upon waves of attackers. There’s no true boss for this fight – the battle ends either when the Citadel gates have been breached or your raid lies defeated on the ground. As you hold your ground against the legions of soldiers and assault vehicles, you’ll be salvaging ammunition and using that to power the Hellfire Cannons in the courtyard and attack the gates.

Should you manage to survive the initial Hellfire Assault, there’s just one more obstacle between you and the inside of the Citadel: the Iron Reaver. Per the designer notes on the site: “We started out thinking of the traditional Outland Fel Reaver here, but the more mechanized side of the Legion is only present in an all-out invasion, and that didn’t really feel appropriate given the nature of their involvement here. So instead we went with an interpretation of the Fel Reaver that reflects the apex of the goblin-influenced siege vehicle that Garrosh brought to the Iron Horde: an evolved version of the Iron Juggernaut that once defended Orgrimmar, retrofitted to use fel power.”

In addition to that being just a nice connection between the last raid of Mists of Pandaria and Warlords of Draenor, I like this because of that callback to Burning Crusade’s Fel Reaver. Everyone who played through BC still remembers that horrible noise and looking around in a panic to see if the sneaky giant was about to wreck your day. There are people who use that noise as a ringtone because to this day, it grabs their attention like nothing else. I’ll take any chance I can get to beat up one of those robots, even if it’s not the exact same model.

The Pits of Mannoroth and the Court of Blood

Once you’ve made your way inside the Citadel and past the Iron Reaver, you’ll start to see more and more influence from Gul’dan, the Shadow Council and the Burning Legion. It started off small with machines running off fel energies, but now we’re moving on to fel-empowered creatures like the magnaron Kormrok. This massive beast had been captured by the Iron Horde who did everything they could to attempt to break his will and use him as a weapon. While they were unsuccessful, Gul’dan and his fel power were more than Kormrok could resist. The magnarons you’ve fought in the rest of Draenor were hard enough to defeat, but now you’ll have to face one corrupted and empowered with fel energy.

If your group can withstand the fury of Kormrok, you’ll make your way into the Court of Blood where your next encounter will be against the Hellfire High Council who serve as both Gul’dan’s Highguard and Council of War. While thousands of Iron Horde orcs may have accepted the blood of Mannoroth, none grew as powerful as these three. Two of these names will be new to everyone: Dia Darkwhisper, master of void magic and an outcast of the Shadowmoon clan, and Blademaster Jubei’thos. The third name, Gurtogg, many of you may recognize from your battles against him in the Black Temple as Gurtogg Bloodboil. From the designer notes: “We couldn’t in good conscience make a fel orc raid set in Draenor without a throwback to Gurtogg Bloodboil, the brutish Black Temple boss whose signature Bloodboil ability makes a return in this encounter. Accompanying Gurtogg are champions of other allied orc clans, expressing the core of each clan’s power with a fel twist.”

With the High Council slain, there’s only one more obstacle between you and the Hellfire Antechamber: Kilrogg Deadeye, Warlord of the Bleeding Hollow, and one of the first orcs of the Iron Horde to accept Mannoroth’s blood. After performing a ritual to learn of his death, he seized control of his clan and led them fearlessly through numerous battles as he seeks the death he desires. As if that wasn’t bad enough, now he’s got demon blood coursing through his veins to make him an even tougher opponent. According to the Dungeon Journal entry for Kilrogg, in addition to all of his regular attacks like Shred Armor and Heart Seeker, you’ll be transporting players to the moment of their doom with Visions of Death. Players sent here need to kill as many demons as possible while there to stack Undying Resolve, which provides them with boosted power as they are now confident in their knowledge that Kilrogg will not be their undoing. I like this variation of the classic “send people down to deal with adds” mechanic since it ties in nicely with Kilrogg’s lore and how he can fight so ferociously since he knows with absolute certainty when he will met his demise.

Hellfire Antechamber and Grommash’s Torment

With the death of Kilrogg, we move one step closer to the heart of the Citadel as we move into the Hellfire Antechamber where the monstrous Gorefiend lies in wait. If that name’s unfamiliar, you may remember him from fighting him in Auchindoun when he was Teron’gor, lieutenant of the Shadow Council. When he fell into the heart of Auchindoun, he didn’t die. Instead we just trapped him in a place where he was surrounded by hundreds of draenei souls he could devour. Oops. When Gul’dan pulled him from that place, he had become a bloated abomination and changed his name to Gorefiend. From the designers notes: “We laid the groundwork for this encounter in Auchindoun, further reinforcing the rule that if you don’t actually see a boss die, it’s quite possible that you haven’t seen the last of them. Of course, the inverse of that rule isn’t necessarily true—Kael’thas says ‘hello.’ In any case, Gorefiend hearkens back to encounters like C’Thun and Yogg-Saron, where players are devoured and must overcome spirits inside the stomach of the bloated monstrosity to prevent them from escaping to attack the raid.”

Once Gorefiend has been slain, it’s time to move on to Grommash’s Torment. Your first encounter here will be yet another familiar face, though this one’s actually not an Orc. When we last encountered Shadow-Sage Iskar in the Spires of Arak, it was during his attempts to bring back Talon King Terokk; while Iskar wants to bring Terokk back physically, the storyteller Reshad is concerned that Terokk will repeat the mistakes of the past and lead the arakkoa further into darkness. Instead the Talon King imbued his power onto the adventurer that helped gather his relics in order to fight Kargath Bladefist. After their defeat by Kargath, the spirit of Terokk told the arakkoa to strike their own path and raise new champions, rather than clinging to their past glory. This satisfied most of the arakkoa… but not Iskar. Not only was he frustrated by Terokk imbuing the adventurer with his power rather than resurrecting fully, he was still stuck flightless and stricken by the curse of Sethe. When Gul’dan came to him with an offer to break the curse and give him the tools of his vengeance, he took the offer gladly. The newly named Shadow-Lord Iskar not only has his ability to fly restored, but he’s still a master of illusion and deception. The designer notes for this fight sound promising, talking about illusions and an artifact that allows individual players to see through those illusions, giving the developers a new way to change up previous encounter mechanics by throwing in this phantasmal quality that can be negated by an object they pass around.

After the Shadow-Lord is slain and brought back to the earth once more, the next foe you’ll face is the Fel Lord Zakuun. Warlocks may be familiar with the common felguards they summon, but the Fel Lords serve as enforcers in direct service of Archimonde himself. With cruelty matched only by their capacity for brute force, Zakuun here was given a task befitting both of those traits: breaking the iron will of the previous leader of the Iron Horde, Warlord Grommash Hellscream. The developer notes state that Zakuun is the “Patchwerk” encounter of the zone, a heavy melee bruiser with no companions. That’s not to say the encounter will be Patchwerk’s level of simple though. A quick perusal of the Dungeon Journal entry shows a swap between slow single tank hits and unarmed dual wield with a Butcher-style splash onto the other tank, players’ souls being sent into the Shadow Realm, explosions and more to complicate matters. At least there are no adds to deal with, right?

The Felborne Breach and Halls of the Sargerei

As we push further into the Citadel, we make our way into the Felborne Breach where Xhul’horac awaits. Originally a powerful Void Revenant, a race of parasitic void-beings that tore holes through the planes of reality to consume and absorb the energies and beings within, he’s been twisted by Gul’dan who has fed him overwhelming amounts of fel energy. Gul’dan has been using Xhul’horac’s powers to tear open portals through which he plans on rallying the forces of the Burning Legion. To slay this creature of the fel and void, you’ll have to content with powers of both variants. He’ll start with fel attacks and summoning demons, then switch to creatures and powers of the void. Survive long enough and he’ll become overwhelmed, causing him to rapidly shift between both types of magic, giving him access to his old powers from the previous phases as well as empowered versions.

Past Xhul’horac and the Breach, you’ll make your way into the Halls of the Sargerei, headquarters to those Draenei who turned their backs on their people to join Gul’dan and the Burning Legion. Your first opponent here is yet another familiar face. Originaly a member of the Council of Exarchs, Alliance players helped expose Exarch Othaar for the monster he truly was, Socrethar. Afterwards he led the Sargerei to claim Shattrath after it was liberated from the Iron Horde. With the help of Lady Liadrin and Exarch Maladaar, players were able to challenge and kill Socrethar… or so they thought. Socrethar was able to preserve his soul after his defeat by perverting one of the holiest rituals of the Draenei: imbuing a soul into a gleaming construct known as an Eternal Vigilant. Using a warped fel version of these constructs, Socrethar “lives” on in his metallic body as Socrethar the Eternal. The designer notes for this fight sound interesting: “Another familiar name, Socrethar represents one of the leaders of the Sargerei with whom players contended in Talador. His soul is ensconced in a construct, a twisted version of the first boss of Auchindoun, giving us a chance to play with a boss design idea that we haven’t really seen since Razorgore all the way back in Blackwing Lair: What if you let the player control a raid boss and use all its abilities for a period of time?”

Once Socrethar’s metallic shell has been rendered asunder (and you’ve made sure he stays dead this time), there’s one more foe left in the Halls of the Sargerei for you – Tyrant Velhari. Socrethar wasn’t the only Draenei to accept Gul’dan’s gift and Velhari was one of the most ambitious of the Sargerei. Known to many as the Tyrant, she was one of the first to accept the fel touch and enhance her already formidable combat prowess. She now bears a mockery of the Naaru holy symbol to signify her conviction to the Sargerei. The designer notes describe her encounter as having an anti-paladin feel, with many abilities being based off core Paladin mechanics like Corrupt Power builders and spenders, auras and an Ancient Harbinger (think Guardian of Ancient Kings) for each of her three phases – one to parallel each of the three Paladin class specializations.

Destructor’s Rise and the Black Gate

With the leaders of the Sargerei defeated below, you’re almost to Archimonde, but there’s one more foe between the two of you: Mannoroth, the pit lord. When he was slain by Grommash during the WoD cinematic, it was symbolic as a sign that the Iron Horde had truly turned their backs on the Burning Legion and their fel corruption. Leave it to a warlock to keep a little thing like death from pursuing his plan to corrupt his fellow orcs. He used the pit lord’s blood to corrupt the Iron Horde and now he’s reanimating the remains of Mannoroth so that he may serve the Legion once more. The encounter will begin with Gul’dan and his summoners calling servants of the Legion to Draenor to fend off the heroes, but once their defeated, Mannoroth himself will be resurrected. First as a skeletal version of himself, then strengthened and restored over the course of the fight to his former fully empowered self.

That just leaves the big guy himself at the end of Hellfire Citadel, Archimonde the Defiler, commander of the military might of the Burning Legion and hand of the dark titan Sargeras. You last saw Archimonde in the Hyjal Summit raid where he threw you high into the air as you scrambled to hit your Tears of the Goddess hotkey. Per the designer’s notes: “We planted some seeds that this confrontation might be coming in the level-up quest experience. In the original timeline, Kil’jaeden was the broker behind Gul’dan’s dark deal with the Horde, but here—thanks to Garrosh’s interference—he failed, and so Archimonde was entrusted with the task of finishing the job. There are a couple of nods to the old Battle of Mount Hyjal encounter (Doomfire was mandatory), but Archimonde has learned a number of nasty new tricks since then. Although you have the greatest heroes of Azeroth and Draenor standing beside you in this battle, even they cannot aid you within the Twisting Nether itself…”


While I’ve read the patch notes and Dungeon Journal entries for these encounters, I have not tried them on the Public Test Realm. The descriptions certainly sound promising and I’ll be happy to fight demons once again. Now all we need is a date for when this patch comes out so everyone can get their consumables and strategies prepped.

That’s it for this edition of Formerly Hardcore. What did you think of the Hellfire Citadel preview? Are you glad we’re going against demons once more? Are you just going to be happy to fight something other than Orcs after Blackrock Foundry? Do you think the returning characters like Socrethar and Gorefiend are a nice touch? Let us know in the comments below.

Michael “Ragar” Branham


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