Horrific Visions: Worth It?
What Are They?
They’re a glimpse of a future in which N’Zoth has won and has fully corrupted your favorite faction capital cities (and presumably the rest of Azeroth). Everything is dark and purple, covered in tentacles and/or eyeballs, and wants to see you dead. It’s a bit bleak. They also happen to be a nifty bit of solo/group content introduced in patch 8.3.
How Do They Work?
Upon stepping through the big portal in the Chamber of Heart (and surrendering a precious Vessel of Horrific Visions), you’ll enter a big empty room where Wrathion is waiting, probably bored out of his mind. This is basically a prep room, where you can review the map, use whatever consumables you want, and so on. Once you enter the Vision proper, it’s essentially a massive timed gauntlet, where time is measured by a constantly dwindling Sanity resource. Each Vision has five areas, each with their own requirements for completion: one Tainted zone, two Corrupted, and two Lost. The Tainted zone is the easiest, requiring a simple push to the Vision’s main boss (either Alleria or Thrall, depending on which city you’re in). Corrupted and Lost zones are much harder, with multi-stage objectives, tough mobs and mini-bosses, additional Madness affixes, and rapidly draining Sanity. You’ll need an upgraded cloak and quite a bit of points dumped into the Titanic Research Archive to complete these zones. If that isn’t enough for you, completing a Corrupted or Lost zone gives the main boss extra abilities, so that’s a thing. Once your run ends (either from death or killing the main boss), you’ll receive a reward chest for each zone that you successfully completed.
How Difficult Are They?
That depends on a number of factors. Upgrading your legendary cloak confers some immunity to the Sanity-draining effects of the Visions, allowing you to spend more time in them. Putting points (via Corrupted Mementos) into the Research Archive helps IMMENSELY, as the abilities contained therein can grant more Sanity, give speed/defense/DPS buffs, allow you to cheat death, and more. Some of the Madness affixes are merely annoying (Entomophobia), while some are downright sadistic (Leaden Foot). You can even elect to use Masks, which are awarded based on certain high-end criteria and make each run MUCH more difficult. There are also helpful potions scattered throughout that you can drink to buff yourself, provided you don’t accidentally drink the “bad” potion (which varies from run to run)!
Why Even Bother With Them?
They’re a lot of fun, in my opinion. They’re also the only way to upgrade your legendary cloak, which has advantages that aren’t limited to Visions (such as giving you Corruption resistance for your gear). At some point you’ll be able to earn enough Mementos to purchase a backpack for transmog, a mount, and an item which adds a socket to select pieces of gear. There’s a mount (called the Mail Muncher, appropriately enough) that you can get by opening mailboxes while on your Vision runs, and the reward chests can contain gear, pets, and more.
What DON’T You Like About Them?
My biggest gripe is the need to hoard currency to gain access to them. Until very recently (today, to be precise), you had to run all the Uldum/Vale invasions, the daily Minor Visions, and a ton of (generally) tedious daily quests to get juuuuuust enough currency to run the required number of Visions for the weekly cloak upgrade quest. And that’s assuming you never fail a Vision, which can set your cloak progress back an entire week. This week’s reset brought with it a host of changes that made obtaining Vessels easier (and made the weekly cloak quests easier as well), but you’re still going to need to do a LOT of currency farming to keep up. A side effect of the currency issue is that you won’t have enough left over after completing your weekly quest to practice the harder zones, or to just run them FOR FUN (GASP!). I suppose that once the cloak maxes out at Rank 15, you can start running Visions for the fun/challenge of them, but after two months of running them out of necessity, some of the attractiveness has worn off. I think that Visions would have benefited immensely from a more relaxed currency from the get-go, allowing people the flexibility to practice/experiment/dilly-dally without the stress of potentially ruining the week’s cloak progression while also mitigating the effects of burnout.
I’m Lazy; Gimme A Conclusion Already!
Here goes: Horrific Visions are awesome pieces of content with a surprising amount of gameplay depth and replay value, hampered by six weeks of extremely stingy access to the currency required to play them. I think this issue is inherent in a system which is both mandatory (for cloak purposes) and optional (for fun/goodies/achievements); access needs to be gated at some level to prevent endless grinding, but this has the effect of taking the fun out of things if that’s not WHY you’re running them in the first place. My fear is that some variant of this system will be used with Torghast in the upcoming Shadowlands expansion; in other words, it’ll be an AMAZING chunk of content that will be time/resource-gated so tightly that its actual gameplay will be functionally limited to obtaining whatever weekly MacGuffin is tied to it.