This weekend I dove down a rabbit hole of nostalgia and it was magical. Ever since even the hints of a new Karazhan started to surface, long before Legion was released, I started to get a bit hyped. Once Legion launched and I saw how good of a job they’d done with the Broken Isles, I got even more hyped about the new Kara. I dared to hope that it would do justice to the original. You see, I started playing World of Warcraft near the start of The Burning Crusade, its first expansion. Karazhan will always hold a special place in my heart because it was the very first raid I ever set foot in. I made some great friends, and got completely hooked on raiding. By the end of that expansion I had healed, dps’d, and yes, even tanked my way through Kara many times. The raid was oozing with character and charm, a fully realized haunted mage tower big enough to get lost in for hours.
The new Kara is the same, but different. I mean this in the best possible way. It certainly still is big enough to get lost in, as we proved immediately, getting lost on our way to the first boss. The first half of the instance is essentially the same old space we knew and loved. Even the bosses are all reprisals of the originals, and they are just as brutal to learn as the originals were. We one shot the first boss, the Opera event (it was “Westfall Story”), but most of the night was spent learning fights, picking ourselves off the floor and throwing ourselves at bosses until we won. The Moroes fight in particular was just completely brutal from a healing perspective. It was also really fun, because it was every bit as satisfying to kill that boss as any raid boss.
In fact the whole take home message of our first night in Karazhan was that this truly does feel like a 5-person raid rather than a mythic dungeon. The scale of the place is still epic, the fights are punishing, and it doesn’t just feel like a rehashed, slightly harder version of something we’ve already done. Even though that’s exactly what it is. Kudos to the devs for pulling this off spectacularly. The vague ingrained wisdom we all had from clearing the original Kara served us pretty well, but things were also different enough to offer some great surprises. It has been a very long time since I laughed as hard on the way back from a wipe as I did last night, and that alone was worth the price of admission.
After the first 5 bosses, the instance switches to some new sections. There were a lot of surprised and pleased reactions. I don’t want to completely describe the whole thing, because if you get a chance to experience it for yourself you absolutely should. We spent over 4 hours in there, and managed to kill 6/8 bosses and get some solid attempts in on the 7th. That’s definitely on par with a raid, rather than a dungeon. I absolutely can’t wait to get back in and see the rest of it, and to do it again next week now that we vaguely know what we’re doing.
Blizz took a big chance re-working such a beloved instance, and it paid off hugely here. I’m also glad to hear the news from Blizzcon that they’ll eventually be releasing a non-mythic version of new Kara so even more people can experience it. I had an absolute blast, even if some of the fights made me cry a bit as the healer. It was a pitch-perfect nostalgia bomb and I hope it inspires even more people to fall in love with the magic that is Karazhan.