So after some stalling due to all the fun lore we got in full-form and hints last week, it’s now time to finally, actually write about Ny’alotha!
I want to ensure we’re all on the same page before we dive into my actual, gameplay ideas for what Ny’alotha could be.
Warnings – possible spoilers, fan theories, and wild speculation forthcoming!
What, Exactly, Is Ny’Alotha?
TL;DR – we don’t actually know!
Longer answer – Ny’alotha, the sleeping city, is frequently referenced by Old Gods and their servants as sort of a capital for the forces of Old Gods on Azeroth. Theories abound as to what it actually is – a connected plane to the Emerald Dream? Maybe! A metaphorical idea that describes the process of void rebirth? Possibly! An actual physical location where Old Gods and their servants ultimately live? Perhaps!
Many major Old Gods reference it – Y’Shaarj’s whispers through Xal’Atoh, the Puzzle Box of Yogg-Saron, Il’gynoth’s death voice line, and many references from Xal’atath for you Shadow Priests out there.
What Do I Think Ny’alotha Is?
I think, in cases like this, it’s easiest to think of locations that are frequently referenced in Blizzard lore as actual places. Sure, maybe it could be some other thing – a metaphor, or a process – but the way it is discussed in game is consistent with Blizzard’s lore way of referring to locations. Xal’atath talks about landmarks within Ny’alotha – Il’gynoth mentions returning there, even.
These things lead me to believe that, yes, Ny’alotha is a place – an actual, real place that exists somewhere in Azeroth. Where? Perhaps hidden by the Maelstrom, undersea, or underground. Maybe on Azeroth’s yet-to-be-explored backside? I do believe that it is a real place, and to the point of this post – we’re going to go there!
Yes! I think that, if our current trajectory of void and Old God theming holds true, we will indeed end up in Ny’alotha in the 8.0 content. Not immediately, no – but I see it being a solid, versatile last-patch zone.
-It has been described as a city, with multiple locations and points of interest. This leads me to believe it’s not just a raid, or a raid and dungeon location. It is described as being a city, and if we use the most recent implementation of city in WoW, with Suramar – it’s likely to end up being a large, impressive place.
-Story-wise, it seems to serve a similar role to Argus. Demons die and are recycled at Argus. Old God minions die and, as Il’gynoth put it, travel to Ny’alotha. This, to me, indicates that if we are indeed fighting back an Old God infestation of massive proportions, then we will eventually need to head here.
-A zone for the last patch of an expansion content cycle needs to be huge, and Ny’alotha can be that. It could hold a dungeon, a raid, and multiple sub-zones. The Black Forest, talked about by Y’shaarj via Xal’Atoh. The Towers of Sacrifice, described by Xal’atath – perhaps your raid/dungeon location. The main Sleeping City itself – a massive, sprawling metropolis full of madness. Three possible zones, three different aesthetic toolkits that could be used, and the potential within each to be a sprawling, content-filled zone.
Overall, I think that an expansion dealing with Old Gods should ultimately take us here. There is some dependency on how the story is told – theoretically, Azshara would be a huge part of such an expansion, but that doesn’t inherently mean she would be the last boss.
Further, I think Ny’alotha makes sense as a last-patch zone specifically because it has multiple zone concepts that have been mentioned in the various references to it. For a last-patch zone to really endure and do its job in the game, it needs to be large, with multiple types of content embedded within. A large, multi-zone area, with a dungeon, a raid, and large amounts of world content would fit this role perfectly.
There is a lot that could be done with it, especially if they play with the idea that being in Ny’alotha might drive us to madness. Imagine having to fight to establish a base just outside of the main area of Ny’alotha, outside the clawing madness of the Void, where we can rest and maintain sanity. Imagine now, if you will, that components of Ny’alotha change dynamically based on some indicator of your mental health – like, if you suffer certain debuffs from an enemy, you might hallucinate another enemy, or hear Old God whispers. What if you could use it positively for gameplay – like hallucinating a high-speed mount into existence that carries you across the zone quickly? I don’t want it to be an annoying mechanic that requires you to go back to the base or something, but if, every now and then, you could be “hallucinating” (in a different phase of the map) in a way that allows you to explore. Maybe it hides you from enemies, so you can roam around, or gives you access to treasures? Maybe you need to hallucinate to see certain rare mobs! I think there’s a lot that can be played with around the theme here that makes it really great.
I’m curious to see where we go, but I think, given what we see on 7.3.2 PTR – well, Old Gods make the most sense, with the very real hook to push us more to the Void in the future!