Recap: There’s so much info here I’ve summarized some of the key points.
- There will be 14 bosses in Ulduar, about the same as Naxxramas. With that said, 11 of them will have ‘hard modes’ like Sarth + 3D so expect it to be much more immersive than Naxx!
- The final boss is an “Old God of death” — probably Yogg-Saron!
- The first encounter will be a massive siege weapon battle culminating in a fight with a Flame Leviathan tank. It sounds a lot like Sartharion to me (four towers, the more of them you pre-kill, the easier the Flame Leviathan is). Guess we will need a Leviathan + 4T guide!
- The known bosses so far are: Iron Army & Flame Leviathan, Freya, Thorim, Hodir, the Iron Council, and (probably) Yogg-Saron.
- The PTR will be up soon, but only a few bosses will be available to test at a time, and you’ll need to bring your own gear (Naxxramas gear recommended).
- Mentioned in a later post by Daelo — the siege weapons in Ulduar will scale with your gear!
Breaking news just within the past few hours: Blizzard has published an Under Development preview of Ulduar. Here’s the text — I’ve added highlights to emphasize some interesting new tidbits.
For countless millennia, Ulduar has remained undisturbed by mortals, far away from their concerns and their struggles. But since its recent discovery, many have wondered what the structure’s original purpose may have been. Some thought it a city, built to herald the glory of its makers; some thought it a vault containing innumerable treasures, perhaps even relics of the mighty Titans themselves. They were wrong. Beyond its gates lies no city, no treasure vault, no final answer to the Titan’s mysteries. All that awaits those who dare set foot in Ulduar is a horror even the Titans could not, would not destroy, an evil they merely… contained.
Beneath ancient Ulduar, the Old God of death lies, whispering…. Tread carefully, or his prison will become your tomb.
As the next step in tiered raid progression in Wrath of the Lich King, Ulduar is set to blow players away with gorgeous setpieces, sprawling battlefields, and innovative boss encounters. Ulduar’s design aims to provide a fun, unique, and innovative raid experience, but it also includes additional challenges – and rewards – for seasoned raiders. In this sneak-peek at World of Warcraft’s newest raid dungeon, we’ll take a look at some of the new content that makes Ulduar rise above the crop of amazing dungeons already available in World of Warcraft.
Welcome to Ulduar
Many players have already gotten their Wrath of the Lich King raiding feet wet in Naxxramas and the Sartharion raid, but Ulduar is the first example of the expansion’s much larger, truly epic scope of raiding, as will be evident from the second you set foot in the instance. The most obvious difference between Ulduar and its predecessors is that the dungeon actually comprises two separate raid areas. The first section is an epic battle against a vast army standing between you and the entrance of the dungeon proper; in the second area, you will dive into the heart of the dungeon itself and finally discover the secrets of Ulduar.
Ulduar’s new master has rallied his own massive Iron Army to guard the entrance to Ulduar and to prevent any unwanted guests – including you, especially you – from reaching the inner sanctum. Thankfully, you’ll be able to face the Iron Army on even footing: although the main Horde and Alliance forces are focused on the forces beyond the Wrathgate and on each other, some who are better able to appreciate the true magnitude of Ulduar’s threat have managed to scrap together a small fleet of siege vehicles to aid you in the assault.
You and your friends will have to use these vehicles wisely to break through Ulduar’s defenses. A mix of motorcycles, demolishers, and siege engines will be at your disposal, each granting unique abilities to the pilot and the passenger. Motorcycle drivers, for example, can create pools of liquid tar that snare opponents and can be set on fire by area effect attacks, while demolisher passengers can load themselves into the vehicle’s catapult so that the pilot can launch them into the distance. If used judiciously, these and other abilities will help decimate the Iron Army and any other threats lying in wait between you and Ulduar.
One such threat is the Flame Leviathan. After you’ve plowed through the innumerable ranks of the Iron Army, you will be confronted by an enormous tank. Mimiron built the Flame Leviathan as part of the V0-L7R-0N weapons platform, which means that it packs quite a punch. Normal spells and abilities won’t be enough to take down this juggernaut, so you will have to rely on your siege vehicles to outmaneuver and defeat the boss. After wearing the massive war machine down, you will have to launch players onto the tank’s back to destroy its defense turrets and sabotage the Leviathan before you can move on. Of course, if you’d like an additional challenge beyond this naturally frantic (but extremely fun) fight, you can try your hand at one of the Flame Leviathan’s different Hard Modes (see sidebar).
Of course, the vehicle gauntlet, the Iron Army, and the battle against the Flame Leviathan are only the start of World of Warcraft’s most ambitious raid to date. Patch 3.1 will hit the Public Test Realms very soon, so you will be able to see for yourself what other challenges await beyond the gates of ancient Ulduar.
Ulduar brilliantly illustrates the new design challenges and innovations that come with the bigger scope of the expansion’s raids. In order to make raid content more accessible, it has to offer a lot of variety, but it also needs to include a very granular means for players to adjust a raid’s difficulty. This concept was first realized in the Burning Crusade with the introduction of Heroic mode, and Wrath of the Lich King is developing the idea even further with new Hard Modes.
Boss fights that have a Hard Mode are affected by certain variables which players can control and which change the encounter’s difficulty. For example, spread throughout Ulduar’s vehicle section are four defense towers you can destroy. The more towers you leave intact, the harder the encounter with the Flame Leviathan will be, but the loot will also be better.
Ulduar isn’t the first dungeon to include Hard Mode, but it certainly makes the most use of it. Out of 14 bosses, 11 will have a Hard Mode that offers additional challenges and rewards. Ulduar will appeal to a wide range of play styles, but the dungeon also has great longevity and a high replay value.
Source: Official WoW Europe site
And shortly after the WoW Europe announcement, Daelo made this post to the US official WoW forums:
Ok, we’re getting close to the point where we will need testing of Ulduar boss encounters on PTR, so let’s talk about Ulduar testing!
We’re going to be performing testing differently than in the past. We’re looking for much more targeted feedback, and we don’t want to just have the zone freely open and allow extended, unsupervised testing to take place. So, when the PTR servers come up with 3.1.0, by default Ulduar will be turned completely off. We’ll instead enable Ulduar and specific bosses during times where the encounter team can observe testing.
Shortly after 3.1.0 PTR is up and running, I’ll post a schedule that will indicate when we will open specific bosses to testing. We’ll have testing opportunities for both EU and NA region PTRs in their respective prime time playing hours. There might also be a boss or two we do leave up for extended testing, and some bosses will only be tested in either the EU or NA. Some encounters won’t be up on the PTR at all! There’s 14 boss encounters in Ulduar, there will be lots to test. The schedule will be quite flexible, check in the Dungeons & Raids forum and on the PTR forum for updates.
The first set of boss encounters to get testing will include:
The Iron Council
Both 10 player and 25 player versions of the encounters will be open to testing, and we expect players to have nearly full Naxxramas gear. While Jillian McWeaksauce might make appearances on the PTR to provide testing consumables, please try to bring your own.
I hope to see raid groups of many different skill levels on the 3.1.0 PTR servers when they become available!
Source: US Official WoW Forums
In short it looks like this will be a massive instance that utilizes all of WoW’s newest features. In particular Blizzard is banking on ‘hard mode’ mechanics to give the instance replayability and make it accessible to everybody yet challenging to even the most elite raiders.
What do you think about Ulduar? Is the ‘hard mode’ design strategy a good one? Has your guild even attempted Sartharion + 3D yet? Post your opinions in the comments section!