Torghast, Tower of the Damned, is one of the big, new features in World of Warcraft: Shadowlands, the MMO’s eighth major expansion. The infinite dungeon — which allows players to go on runs, gain powers, and start from scratch after success or failure — takes inspiration from some of World of Warcraft’s greatest successes, like Mythic+ and the Mage Tower. But more than anything, Torghast solves the problem of infinite World of Warcraft grind in a balanced way.
Polygon spoke to Blizzard senior game designer Paul Kubit about Torghast’s rewards, structure, and how Torghast can change to fit any player.
Grinding out Legendaries
One of the biggest issues with World of Warcraft over the past several expansions is that there’s too much to do. Both Legion and Battle for Azeroth had nearly infinitely scaling systems via the Artifact and Heart of Azeroth, which led to a lot of burnout.
Rather than an infinite grind, Torghast offers Legendary materials on completion — seemingly capped every week, so hardcore players don’t burn themselves out. Players can use these materials to craft their own Legendary items. While we don’t have any examples of Legendaries in Shadowlands yet, Legion offered powerful tools like Kil’jaeden’s Burning Wish, which allowed players to launch a powerful meteor at enemies every minute and 15 seconds.
But while everyone will want to pick up a Legendary, multiple Legendaries are optional.
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Kubit told us players who love Torghast can go in every week and collect the maximum amount of Legendary materials, with the goal of creating every Legendary for every situation. But at launch, players can only equip a single Legendary at a time. Players less interested in the mode can go in, get their one Legendary, and be functional in endgame activities.
This “breadth game,” as Kubit calls it, should give devoted players a reason to keep playing, while letting uninterested players jump to a different mode.
Of course, Kubit and the team understand that for all the players interested in jumping in to get a single Legendary, there are dozens more that will want to grind Torghast as hard as humanly possible. Kubit told us these players will have ways to showcase how many floors they’ve completed and brag about how good they’ve gotten at the new mode. “There are no current plans for a [Torghast] leaderboard,” said Kubit. “But you better bet that that’s one those things that’s on our list of cool potential things in the future.”
Like all things with the Shadowlands alpha, Kubit and the team are looking for feedback on features players may want to see added, changed, or improved.
Solo players rejoice
Blizzard built Torghast to be something players revisit over the course of Shadowlands. And unlike raiding, Mythic+ dungeons, or other endgame, aspirational activities, Torghast is part of the questing experience.
“This is a big feature,” said Kubit. “And so we want to make sure that this is something that someone who is new to WoW, or someone who’s played WoW a lot but just likes to passively play, […] that this is something that they’re not going to play once and say ‘Oh, this is not for me.’”
At the highest level, World of Warcraft is a game about min-maxing your character, hitting high DPS numbers, and working hard to take down a boss in a group. But more relaxed players often spend their time alone, outside of raids, working to build up their characters. Legion and Battle for Azeroth made that difficult, as grouping up and grinding dungeons was one of the best ways to improve your Artifact.
In Shadowlands, Legendaries are similarly important, powerful items to have. But players won’t need to go outside their comfort zone to pick up a powerful new tool for their character. Torghast scales based on how big your party is, and offers the same rewards regardless of group size — although Kubit told us running with a group will likely be slightly easier than going solo at launch. But players should never feel punished for how they choose to play — or who they choose to play with — as they run through the endlessly-twisting spires.
Torghast is something completely new for World of Warcraft: an endless mode that shouldn’t devolve into a weekly chore for months on end. No matter how fun or cool a mode in World of Warcraft is, the MMO is an objective-first kind of game — you do what’s best for your character, even if it’s not fun for you. Torghast offers an early jumping off point while still giving worthwhile rewards, and choice as the incentive for the continued grind.
It’s a lesson learned by Blizzard over four years of player frustration, and it’s shaping up to be one of Shadowlands’ best features.
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