Instance Review: The Blood Furnace

Behold, my first review of an Outland instance.

1. Accessability

The Blood Furnace is part of the Hellfire Citadel, located smack in the middle of Hellfire Peninsula. You're pretty much bound to come through here when you're roughly in the right level range for the local instances, and none of them is more than a stone's throw away from Thrallmar and Honor Hold, which is very convenient.

About the worst problem you could have is that not all members of your group might be able to find the entrance right away, or at least that used to be an issue back in the days before flight was available at level sixty. The thing is that the summoning stone, the portal to Ramparts and the one to Shattered Halls are all conveniently located on the same ledge, but getting to the Blood Furnace door without flying requires you to loop around the southern rampart and climb up some stairs west of the place, which is a bit counter-intuitive.

2. Atmosphere

Personally I find Outland instances in general less atmospheric than most, but Blood Furnace doesn't do too badly. You can believe that this is where some mad science is going down, what with the shady technicians, evil warlocks and corrupted orcs in cages.

3. Story & Quests

Both the Alliance and the Horde get two quests for this instance, one to collect blood from the fel orcs and one to "investigate" the furnace. Both of these quests require you to have completed pre-quests in the Ramparts but give pretty good rewards for the level.

As far as story goes, the Blood Furnace probably has one of the best ones of all Outland instances, and one that immediately egaged me the first time I did it. Basically both Horde and Alliance are wondering what's going on with all those fel orcs in the area and send you to the Furnace to find out, where you get to discover that - spoiler - Illidan has trapped Magtheridon in the basement and is using the pit lord's blood for his own nefarious purposes. Le gasp! (Though I have to admit that it took me many, many runs until I noticed that you can actually look down on Mags from where you kill the last boss.) So... that's pretty cool.

4. Length

Blood Furnace is what I'd call "standard Outland instance length", which means it should take somewhere between half an hour and one hour to complete, assuming your group doesn't run into any major problems. I always found that a pretty pleasant length, but your mileage may vary.

5. Layout

Like all Outland instances, Blood Furnace is very straightforward in terms of layout and it's completely impossible to even take a single wrong turn. Some call this "Shattered Halls syndrome" and deride it for being boring. I kind of see their point, and I think Blizzard has taken a step into the right direction by creating some more interesting dungeon layouts again in WOTLK, but I'd still take a straightforward instance like this over something as hopelessly confusing as say, Maraudon, any day.

6. Trash

The trash in the Blood Furnace is pretty damn brutal. It can be tricky enough on normal difficulty, but oh my god, heroic mode. Stealthed rogues are all over the place, waiting to pick off any clothie who dared to run too far ahead or somehow fell behind. Shadowmoon Technicians throw dynamite and put down proximity bombs which still hurt somewhat even at level eighty. Certain warlock mobs summon felhounds and succubi, and if that summon isn't interrupted you're in for a world of trouble. Oh, and who could forget those massive felguards with the random charges and aggro resets? This is the kind of instance people remember when they say that the trash mobs in Northrend instances don't put up enough of a fight.

7. Bosses

The first boss, The Maker is pretty uninteresting to be honest, just some tank and spank guy with a mind-control gimmick. The last boss, Keli'dan the Breaker isn't terribly interesting either, despite of being Magtheridon's jailer. Though I have to admit that he'll always have a special place in my heart, because back when I played WoW in German, fighting him always meant that I got to listen to the most awesome voice acting in all of BC ever.

The most interesting and memorable boss in the Blood Furnace is undoubtedly Broggok, or rather the "cage event" leading up to him. You pull a lever and four cages full of enraged fel orcs open one after the other - and they all hit very hard and stun. Oh, the wipes I had there... good times.

8. Loot

Being the Outland instance with the second lowest level requirement, Blood Furnace is pretty awesome for loot, as you'll likely still be wearing some levelling gear that you already would have liked to replace twenty levels ago. If you look at the loot table, it also seems that the designers went through some sort of checklist to make sure that there was truly something for everyone among the drops. There are of course a lot of snazzy caster drops, but also something for rogues, caster druids, caster shamans, hunters, and the obligatory odd paladin item.

It's also worth noting that for many people these will be their first items with sockets, and they are more powerful than ever now that you can cheaply stick some uncommon Northrend gems in there that are better than even epic quality ones were back in BC.

And then there are the quest rewards of course.

Overall I have to admit that Blood Furnace isn't an instance that I'd like to run over and over again, even now, but it's definitely worth visiting at least once during your levelling career, if just for the story and quests, plus a shot at a good drop or two.

It's unfortunate that it can be quite hard to find a group for this instance these days, as there aren't even sufficient amounts of levelling death knights around anymore. The increased levelling speed in Outland also means that it's quite possible to sit in Looking For Group for a few hours just to realise that you already outlevelled the early Hellfire instances while questing in the meantime. Hopefully this is something that will be alleviated by the arrival of cross-server LFG in patch 3.3.

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