Legion Dungeon Preview: Black Rook Hold and Darkheart Thicket
Many challenges await the heroes of Azeroth in Legion, and among the most dangerous are the dungeons found in and around the Broken Isles. In this preview, we take a look at two of the expansion’s new dungeons: Black Rook Hold and Darkheart Thicket.
Black Rook Hold
Minimum Level: 110
Carved from the greatest mountain of Val’sharah by ancient elven masons, Black Rook Hold stood as a bulwark against the Burning Legion during the War of the Ancients. The nigh-impregnable fortress is also the ancestral home of Lord Kur’talos Ravencrest, one-time mentor of Illidan himself. But since the latest Legion attack, a strange dark energy emanates from the Hold, and restless dead plague the surrounding lands.
Developer Insights: The encounter team was excited to tackle Black Rook Hold, which is probably the closest thing to a traditional castle that World of Warcraft has seen since Shadowfang Keep. It’s also a very different take on elven architecture than we’re used to seeing. Not much was known about the structure, other than the fact that it was built as a bulwark against the Legion, was named for its tower’s resemblance to a certain chess piece, and that it was closely associated with Lord Kur’talos Ravencrest, one-time mentor of Illidan. We doubled down on that last angle, beginning in the Ravencrest family crypt beneath the Hold and having the players work their way up through cobweb-filled corridors as the presence and influence of the Legion grow. The source of the troubles that have been plaguing the nearby town of Bradensbrook awaits at the top.
Black Rook Hold is a dark presence looming over the Howling Dale. It stands on an island on the west side of Val’sharah, connected to the mainland by a wide, intimidating bridge over the Emerald Bay. Inside, four bosses are waiting to give you a warm welcome.
The Amalgam of Souls: Immense soul energy was released when Gul’dan conducted the ritual to sever Illidan’s soul from his body at Black Rook Hold. This energy brought the souls of the Ravencrest clan back to their ancestral home—and residual soul energy has merged them into a massive monstrosity.
The Grand Hall
Illysanna Ravencrest: The daughter of Lord Ravencrest, imprisoned for millennia in the Vault of the Wardens shortly after the War of the Ancients, found herself free after Maiev released the demon hunters from their prison. Returning to her ancestral home, she sacrificed everything—including her very soul—to defend what she could not during the War of the Ancients.
The Rooks’ Roost
Smashspite the Hateful: A brutal, imposing Mo’arg Lieutenant, Smashspite the Hateful led the Legion’s invasion of Black Rook Hold and commanded defense of the keep from the air via his colony of felbats.
The Raven’s Crown
Lord Kur’talos Ravencrest: Kur’talos Ravencrest, Lord of Black Rook Hold, was the commander of the Kal’dorei Resistance during the War of the Ancients until he was assassinated by Varo’then under the order of Queen Azshara. Millennia later, Gul’dan’s foul soul magic has awoken Ravencrest’s soul, and those of his ancestors, from their eternal repose. The Legion, seeking revenge gleefully forced his soul into his body and mesmerized him, forcing him to eternally relive the horrors of the War of the Ancients.
Minimum Level: 98
In the shadow of Shaladrassil, the Nightmare permeates every inch of the once-lush forest. Where the eldest and greatest druids once tended to the woods, meditating beneath the great world tree, corruption and madness now reign. Deep within the tangled thicket, the Nightmare Lord Xavius works to break the will of his greatest prize.
Developer Insights: This dungeon represents the pinnacle of the Nightmare’s corruption in Azeroth, showing the most intense effects of its power on a grove that was once a sanctuary for all Azerothian druids. We began work on this dungeon very early in Legion's development, and it actually served to inform the look and feel of the Nightmare corruption in Val’sharah, letting our artists and level designers define maximum corruption and then de-escalate as distance from Shaladrassil increases.
Darkheart Thicket is an outdoor dungeon in what once was an idyllic wood in the shadow of Shaladrassil. Now nightmares roam unfettered.
Archdruid Glaidalis: Glaidalis was once known as among the most talented shapeshifters in all of Azeroth, and the elders of Moonglade would regularly send their most promising disciples to his care for instruction. But as has sadly too often been the case, those who are closest to nature are often the first to fall into the Nightmare’s clutches.
Oakheart: An ancient who formed from an offshoot of Shaladrassil itself, Oakheart has survived the Sundering, the Cataclysm and the countless blights. The ancient was able to weather these storms by drawing strength from the essence of the Dream itself. But now, that wellspring has become his undoing.
Dresaron: Once a young green drake, tending to whelps in the shadow of the great world tree, Dresaron is now engulfed in nightmare, lost in a fog of hatred and fear. He lashes out with powerful wings and a withering breath, unleashing his rage on any who stumble into his clutches.
Shade of Xavius: Once a powerful mage and a councilor to Queen Azshara, Xavius forged a pact with Sargeras to enable the Legion’s first invasion of Azeroth. Cursed and tormented in the wake of that defeat, Xavius now projects his true power from the Nightmare into our world, focusing his dark might to break the spirit of his old rival, Malfurion.