Patch 6.2 Raid Preview: Hellfire Citadel
If you missed it last week, Blizzard posted the preview of what is in store for us in Patch 6.2’s Hellfire Citadel raid encounter. It’s about time to get some well deserved content update to get the hunger-mill going.
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.
Located within the dark heart of Tanaan Jungle, Hellfire Citadel looms over the landscape and can be seen from nearly anywhere within the area. Having braved the dangers of Highmaul and Blackrock Foundry, the heroes of Azeroth and Draenor now must assault this fel-twisted bastion—the horrors within pose an unrelenting threat to everyone on Azeroth.
In Hellfire Citadel, players will be able to earn items ranging in power from item level 675–685 in Raid Finder up to item level 735 in Mythic difficulty. You’ll also have a chance to add a new Rare quality companion, the Corrupted Nest Guardian, to your pet collection. You’ll need an item level of at least 650 to enter Raid Finder.
The Iron Bulwark (exterior area)
With the aid of the mercenary Blackfuse company, the Iron Horde constructed devastating siege machinery in the shadow of Hellfire Citadel, to be used in the eventual assault upon Azeroth’s capitals. With the tanks now retrofitted to use fel energy, Siegemaster Mar’tak awaits Gul’dan’s command to begin the assault.
Designer notes: Like Spoils of Pandaria in Siege of Orgrimmar, this is a raid “boss” without a single named boss that must be defeated. Players must withstand waves of attackers, salvaging ammunition from their fallen vehicles, and using that ammunition to power the massive Hellfire Cannons that stand in the courtyard. Victory is achieved by breaching the gates of the Citadel.
The schematics for the Iron Reaver were found in the workshop of Blackfuse himself after the fall of Orgrimmar, drawing inspiration from the mighty constructs of the Legion and designed to be the nefarious goblin’s masterwork. The project was completed after his death, and represents the pinnacle of the Iron Horde’s military might.
Designer notes: 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.
Pits of Mannoroth
As ancient as Draenor itself, Kormrok once ruled Gorgrond, the creatures of the land slinking away from the giant magnaron’s destructive fury. But then the Iron Horde came, trapping the behemoth and attempting to break his will. They were entirely unsuccessful . . . that is, until the rise of Gul’dan, and the fel power that Kormrok could not resist.
Designer notes: In general, the lower floor of Hellfire Citadel reflects the Iron Horde as it was before the influence of Gul’dan, whereas the upper reaches reflect the Shadow Council and the Legion more directly. Alongside siege machinery, the massive beasts of Gorgrond were the other lynchpin of the Iron Horde’s invasion force, so it should come as little surprise that Gul’dan would seek to corrupt and empower them with fel energies.
Court of Blood
Hellfire High Council
Thousands of Iron Horde orcs accepted the blood of Mannoroth, but none grew as powerful as the three that stand before you. Dia Darkwhisper, master of void magic and an outcast of the Shadowmoon, rose quickly to power—the left hand of Gul’dan. Gurtogg, with his insatiable hunger for blood, emerged the victor in hundreds of trials by combat. He has met his match only once, fighting Blademaster Jubei’thos to a draw. Tainted with fel sickness, they serve Gul’dan as both Highguard and Council of War.
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.
Kilrogg Deadeye, Warlord of the Bleeding Hollow, seized control of his clan after performing a ritual to learn of his death. With this knowledge, he led his clan fearlessly on countless campaigns, marching toward the glorious end he desires. Now, with demon blood coursing through his veins, Kilrogg awaits you in Hellfire Citadel, awaiting the moment of his death—or yours.
Designer notes: Ever since the Lords of War shorts highlighted the gory ritual that lies at the heart of the Bleeding Hollow clan’s traditions, we knew that visions of death would have to feature prominently in the encounter. It’s unclear whether these visions are immutable, or whether knowing one’s destiny gives one the power to alter it. . . .
Falling into the heart of the mausoleum Auchindoun, the Shadow Council lieutenant Teron’gor gorged upon hundreds of draenei souls, becoming a bloated abomination in the process. More than just an orc now, Teron’gor gave up his old name and has taken a new one: Gorefiend.
Designer 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.
After Iskar’s efforts to resurrect Terokk and return to power ended in frustration, he was approached by Gul’dan with an offer and a promise to break the ancient curse of Sethe. No longer flightless, elevated from the shadows yet still a master of illusion and deception, Iskar’s hour of vengeance is at hand.
Designer notes: If something seemed suspicious about Shadow-Seer Iskar as you quested through the Spires of Arak, you weren’t mistaken. This was a fun encounter for the group to brainstorm, beginning with the premise of illusions and an artifact that let a single player see through those illusions, and weaving that concept through multiple abilities and interactions.
Fel Lord Zakuun
Speculated by some scholars of the Legion to be an evolved version of the common felguard, Fel Lords serve as enforcers in the direct service of Archimonde. Their cruelty is matched only by their brute force. Zakuun was set to a task that called upon both of these traits in equal measure: breaking the iron will of a stubborn and defiant orc chieftain of the Warsong Clan. . . .
Designer notes: This Fel Lord represents a type of demon never before seen by players. We approached this encounter with the intent that it be the “Patchwerk” of the zone—that is to say, a heavy melee bruiser without companions—but of course he has a few tricks up his sleeve that will keep players on their toes.
The Felborne Breach
Summoned by Gul’dan from the depths of the Twisting Nether, Xhul’horac is one of the most powerful of the Void Revenants—a race of parasitic void-beings that tear holes through the planes of reality, consuming and absorbing the energies and beings within. Gul’dan has twisted Xhul’horac by feeding him overwhelming fel energy, and using his powers to tear open the portals through which he plans to rally the forces of the Burning Legion.
Designer notes: A lot of our boss concepts for Hellfire Citadel began by imagining what would happen if we added fel energy to different parts of the Draenor ecology. What would a fel variant of one of the void revenants we saw a glimpse of in Shadowmoon Burial Grounds look like? Xhul’horac answers that question, and the mechanics of the encounter play off the different polarities of fiery fel energy and the shadowy void, which players must manage as they fight a creature with one foot (or tendril, as the case may be) in each realm.
Halls of the Sargerei
Socrethar the Eternal
The greatest warriors of the draenei have their souls imbued into gleaming constructs serving as eternal Vigilants in defense of their people. Originally a member of the Council of Exarchs before his descent into darkness, Socrethar has perverted this holiest of rituals, and used a warped fel construct to preserve his soul after his defeat in Talador.
Designer note: 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?
When Gul’dan brought his gift to the Sargerei, Velhari had already made her ambitions clear and risen through the ranks with brutal ferocity. Known to her enemies as the Tyrant, Velhari was one of the first to accept the fel touch, further enhancing her combat prowess. Velhari now bears a mockery of the holy symbol of the Naaru, signifying her conviction to the new order.
Designer note: The concept for this boss began with a simple idea: anti-paladin, or “dark vindicator.” What would a corrupted version of a draenei vindicator fight like? Many of Velhari’s abilities are a play on core Paladin mechanics such as (Un)holy Power builders and spenders, auras, and Guardians of Ancient Kings, with each of the three phases having a theme that parallels one of the Paladin class specializations.
Bloodthirsty and brutal, Mannoroth was Archimonde’s most feared enforcer, until he was felled by a mighty blow from Grommash’s blade. Even in death, his blood was used by Gul’dan to fuel a dark bargain with the Iron Horde and their allies. Gul’dan and his minions now seek to reanimate the shattered remains of Mannoroth so that he may continue to serve the Legion.
Designer note: Taking place atop the Citadel, looking out over the corrupted expanse of Tanaan Jungle below, this encounter features a parallel and opposing ebb and flow: initially, fel spires act as conduits for minions of the Legion, but as they are destroyed, Mannoroth gains more and more power as he is more fully reconstituted. The battle begins against a set of channelers and their minions as Mannoroth is nothing more than a heap of bones on the ground, and concludes with a final battle against the fully empowered Mannoroth.
The Black Gate
One of the original eredar who betrayed the draenei of Argus to take his place as the sinister hand of the dark titan Sargeras, Archimonde the Defiler commands the military might of the Burning Legion. He arrives in Draenor, reaching across space and time, to ensure that the invasion of Azeroth proceeds as planned, and that Gul’dan does not fail his Legion masters.
Designer note: 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. . . .
Now that you’ve seen the faces of the enemy, we hope you’ll be ready when it’s time to crash the gates of this fel fortress. The fate of Azeroth depends on it.