I’ve written before about non-combat challenges in MMORPGS, as something I really enjoy at least on occasion as a break from the norm since gameplay in MMOs is very heavily dominated by fighting monsters (or other players).
This weekend my husband and I have spent some time working on the long and complex set of steps to complete the Hivemind mount unlock in Battle for Azeroth. This is a special multi-person mount that can only be unlocked by a full group of five players. The steps leading up to the unlock are not group activities, and are doable without real combat challenge. There’s some running of old dungeons to gain access to puzzles or other items but they’ve all been in instances so low as to render the monsters, and even boss fights one-attack kill affairs.
From this point forward there will be spoilers for the Hivemind chain unlock, so stop reading if you still intend to work on this yourself!
The quest requires at least one of the five players to gather all four of a set of special monacles. We spent two play sessions gathering all four on both of our chosen characters. The choice of character for doing these hidden and untracked achievements is important – the multiplayer feature of the mount only applies to the group of specific characters that complete the final steps together to unlock the mount. As with any mount in the modern game, all characters on that account will be able to use the hivemind mount form for movement; but all my other characters will not be able to use it as a multi-player mount, nor will my Moonkin be able to allow other characters to ride along if they weren’t part of the group of five. A rather peculiar and particular achievement!
We did the red monacle first, requiring a lot of time-sensitive whizzing back and forth across the waters of Vashj’ir. I have no problem with underwater content, and since my main is a druid and has the ultra-speedy seal shapeshift, it was a nice opportunity to make substantial use of this rarely needed ability. The time limited nature of the items exchanged at each of the many stages was the only challenge here – a friend in guild chat commented she didn’t want to do this monacle as she found time limited content really annoying: I can sympathise as I hate the tendency to rush dungeons in PUG groups but this was just soaring and swimming back and forth across a zone, and the time limits were generous enough.
The yellow monacle was next and that is to be found in the wonderful Halls of Origination dungeon. I loved this place back when it was current content. My delight at revisiting this Titan facility soon turned to consternation when we saw the puzzle ahead. It’s a “changing the coloured lights” puzzle on an enormous scale. Thankfully there’s an add-on which allows you to ‘program in’ the pattern before you for it to then present the solution. Without this we likely wouldn’t have bothered with this monacle at all – that level of patience for trial-and-error gameplay isn’t something I posssess. Even with the add-on there was a need to check and double-check the programmed in values as a mistake early on meant adjustments were needed, and the sheer size of the puzzle made for quite a time investment even with the add-on to provide the solution.
Next came the green monacle which is to be found in the Skyreach instance, another of my favourites this time in Draenor (keeping the Garrison Hearthstone in our bags finally paid off!). After a brisk jaunt through the instance demonstrating our awesome might, we arrived at a fiendishly obscure code to another light puzzle. Great stylings but I can’t see how this code would be decipherable to all but a professional code-breaker.
The blue monacle was probably my favourite. It invovled a treasure hunt of sorts, travelling around various locales to find letters. Each letter had a cryptic clue to a location to find the next. We did try a few, but honestly neither of us enjoy cryptic crosswords and the clues as revealed in the linked guide weren’t written tightly enough, in my opinion, as to be widely solveable. After following the guide we ended up in Karazahn for the most involved step, again a fun jaunt through an old and memorable instance. We actually had to do the chess event to reach the clue, so there was a single point of challenge that we could not simply overpower.
Now we are ready to group up and complete the final steps of the challenge (hopefully). So far at least, this wildly complex meta quest chain has proven to be enjoyable, though not living up to its fullest potential. The lack of detail to the clues has meant a lot of resorting to the guide. Some of the puzzles are doable if you have the patience (I do not), but I feel the letters could have been developed more to be guessable references instead of the seemingly abstract ones given. I do appeciate that this content is very, very niche and that there likely wasn’t more time available to develop it but I feel it could have appealed to a wider audience if the clues were clearer.