Torghast was one of the most touted features leading into Shadowlands. It promised to be something more akin to a roguelike than anything we had previously seen in World of Warcraft. By the time the expansion launched, Torghast had some difficulties with how it was designed. One of the biggest was players needed to complete it each week to earn soul dust and make their legendaries, but there was no indicator of how hard each layer was. Plus, the difficulty curve was a bit on the exponential side, and many players would find they could breeze through the early levels only to hit stone walls in the last couple of floors. Blizzard tried a few things to make this experience better but ended up nerfing everything through layer eight so much that Torghast became a bit of a cakewalk. Thankfully with the four new layers that came in 9.1, Blizzard also continued to iterate on this design, and Torghast is now in the best place it’s been all expansion.
One change, which I thought would be wholly inconsequential, is they reduced the number of floors in each layer to five instead of six. I’m surprised to report that having only five floors does feel much better. Knowing we only have one full floor after the intermission floor goes a long way to reduce the amount of time required to beat a layer and make Torghast feel more approachable. Especially when trying to push a layer, I’m not really geared for knowing I only have one full floor after intermission before the boss just feels more doable. I hope they don’t cut it down any more than this, though, because five floors feel perfect.
I also wanted to mention that although each layer does have an ilvl recommendation, it’s a pretty loose recommendation. For example, Layer 10 recommends ilvl 223, but I could get through it fairly quickly on my own at ilvl 211. However, layer 12 suggests ilvl 252, and it didn’t feel doable at ilvl 216 for me. Or, at the very least, it didn’t feel worth the time investment or level of frustration it would cause for me to finish it. My ilvl has gone up to 227 now from raiding and M+, but I haven’t given it a try again recently to compare. My guess is that as long as a player is within about 10 ilvls of recommended, they will probably have a good chance of completing the layer.
I do my Torghast runs as a tank, even on my own, which provides an easier time than if I was dps. Also, there are still some real discrepancies on how easy it is to do Torghast, depending on your spec and what class you play. Due to this fact, I highly recommend doing Torghast with at least one other friend whenever possible. First of all, it’s just more fun to have someone to talk to and bullshit with while you are doing your Torghast runs. Secondly, there are some excellent synergies that can happen between classes and some of the powers we can get. I have also found that it’s a bit easier to get a flawless run when I’m playing with friends rather than alone, especially when pushing the higher layers. This brings me to the next major update to Torghast, which came with 9.1.
With 9.1, players aren’t shackled to a death counter determining if they can finish a layer or not; now, they are free to decide for themselves if they feel it is worth continuing or not. Their time spent in a layer goes through the Torghast scoring system, and it’ll affect the level of rewards you get. Yes, you even get some reward if you have to abandon the run, which all by itself makes this the best change to Torghast. Players are scored on how long it takes them to finish each floor, how much of the floor they completed, how you use the empowered bonus, and earning specific other bonus points. After completing the last floor of a layer, players get their score which determines if they achieve a flawless run (five gams) or fall short of that.
Generally, I like the scoring system. Completion percent is pretty easy to understand, although sometimes I have gotten 99% completion on floors I swear I have gotten everything. You have to check everywhere for all the pots and remnants, in addition to killing everything to get 100%. Sometimes things are tucked away in random places. Time is likewise pretty straightforward, though there is no set time limit for every floor because they vary in size and number of mobs. However, if you struggle some or die, that will cost you some time. Reaching the end of a floor only to realize you missed something will also cost you time—empowerment bonus is where things start to get a bit more unclear, though.
Empowerment is a new bar that gets filled by doing things in Torghast. Once it reaches a certain point, there’s an action button that, when used, will give some bonus stats and helps kill some of the tougher mobs more quickly. There’s also an empowerment bonus percent shown in the end tally for each floor, but there’s no clear way to know how to increase that percentage. At first, I thought it meant percent of the time on the floor empowered, and I looked to try to make it last as long as possible and use it as many times as possible on a floor. Which helped, but also isn’t exactly right. It’s closer to say, all actions players take while empowered count more than they usually would. So, the best way to use it is to save it for when you can do the most things while empowered. My issue here is I had to look at an outside website to figure this out when it’s the sort of thing that should be clearly explained in game. This is a small annoyance, though, because the tooltips were good enough to get me close to figuring out how the system worked.
The much more significant issue is the bonus points that can be earned. When you get the score at the end of a Torghast run, if you click into that score box, it’ll show you everything you earned extra points doing. If you mouse over each thing, you’ll get a description of that thing. For example, mousing over Highlander tells you no one took duplicate anima powers. This is an excellent design because it teaches players what things they did that helped their score. Where this falls a bit short, is there’s no way to know where you missed points. Some of these can be figured out by trial and error, but some are things that just seem unlikely to figure out. For example, I doubt I would have figured out Pauper because it just simply would have never occurred to me not to take any epic powers. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t see at least one epic offered, and they tend to be pretty awesome powers, so it’s also unlikely I would have lucked into it. I’m also unlikely to ever discovered Trapmaster on my own because I’m terrible at traps (look, I’m a bear; I literally have two left feet, it can’t be helped).
I’m not saying everything has to be entirely laid out, and 100% explained; I value discovering things for myself in games. However, there needs to be a balance to it. If there were a bit of breadcrumbing to these various bonuses, somehow, that would have been awesome. On the upside, the score only affects how much Tower Knowledge you earn and if you qualify to move up to the next layer or not; soul ash/soul cinder rewards aren’t affected. I just feel very strongly that players shouldn’t be expected to go to outside sources to learn how basic systems work—going to a site to get unique insights or tips/tricks, sure, not how to get the points in the first place.
The last major Torghast update that came with 9.1 is The Box of Many Things and Tower knowledge. The box is essentially a talent tree that was opened up after doing the 9.1 intro stuff and your first Torghast run after the patch launched. The talents are bought with Tower Knowledge, and this is essentially how abandoned runs aren’t wasted, and the more you do Torghast, the more benefits you can get. There are many different options that will not only reduce the damage you take or increase your damage done, but also will remove some of the torments on a floor and make future runs easier. By far, the best talent is being able to auto-loot everything in Torghast; get that first! If you have to abandon a run, you’ll receive some portion of Tower Knowledge, depending on what you could accomplish before you left. Overall, it’s a great system.
With all of these changes, I hope everyone has been enjoying the new Torghast. If it’s something you haven’t tried since before the patch, I would encourage giving it another go. It really is much better now, and again if you can do it with other people, it is a ton more fun.