Gamebreaker: Interview with Rextroy
Rextroy has become a household name in the WoW community, and yet he’s been away for most of Shadowlands, only recently returning in quite the grand fashion - by soloing the first and 8th bosses of Castle Nathria World First! We thought this deserved some looking into and got to talking with the current master solo-er, PvP one-shotter, and a whole lot more...er.
In case you aren’t familiar with Rextroy, he’s been doing many raid boss solos, PvP one-shots and weird compositions, as well as as big community events like 40 of one class vs. 40 of another and similar. He has many extremely creative use/exploit-type brilliant finds with which he solos current or recent tier raid bosses (like the 0.5 second Vectis kill or literal raid boss one-shots), but also some pure skill and build “clean” ones as well, such as the recent Shriekwing and Sludgefist World First solos. He takes incredible amounts of time, regularly spending 1-3 hours on a SINGLE (successful) pull on a boss, and pretty much any video you’ll see of his could be categorized as somewhere on the “crazy, must see, incredible, amazing and insane” scale.
In this interview, Rextroy talks about his pick between PvE and PvP (with a perhaps surprising choice there), how exactly he got into this “profession” of wild and outlandish feats in WoW, his inspirations, the short-lived ban he received and its implications, Mythic+ tanking issues, his entire process of approaching a solo, and a LOT more!
Q: How did you get into what is now basically your “profession”, aka breaking the game/finding creative ways of doing things that clearly were not all that intended?
Rextroy: I have always enjoyed soloing stuff/looked up to people that did (Mionelol/Raegwyn) especially Raegwyn’s Sartharion kill video with an amazing intro back in the day. This video was the start of me wanting to solo stuff. I did a few easier solos back in the day on my Paladin, but could never reach any cool ones. Probably because Blood Death Knight outshined Prot Paladin in self healing, or because I was too young/inexperienced to play at Paladin’s full potential back in the day. I was also stuck in the mindset “berserk exists, so no current raid bosses can be done with current DPS”.
There were several key points that “built up” what I’d eventually end up doing, like Alterac Valley sparking my interest in NPC knowledge. I spent a lot of time in the mines, trying to see how far a group of patrolling dwarves could reach before they died by troggs (a bit nerdy yes…), or how Warlords of Draenor (WoD) PvP had me spending a lot of time in the Wowhead database trying to find OP world PVP items, such as Glowing Honeycomb.
Then came the big one, Legion, where I heard of Mionelol’s solo of Gul’dan, which used a genius strategy of ignoring the berserk by keeping the boss in the first phase (the berserk had a limited duration). This was when I thought “of course berserk isn’t able to always stop you, since the bosses are programmed by humans, and humans make mistakes”.
First thing I did after that was to look through my talent tree to see if I could change my talents to be more suited to soloing, and I noticed Last Defender. I thought “there is no way that blizz didn’t add a cap to it”. But they didn’t (or at least it stacked up to about 97.5% dmg reduction). After that, I geared up and set out to solo Portal Keeper Hasabel (the boss in Antorus I deemed most doable with Last Defender). After about a week, I managed to finally down the boss and that was the start of my “career”.
The fun thing is that I did a Raid Boss Paladin VS. Orgrimmar video before this, but it didn’t start getting attention until my channel got known for the Hasabel solo.
Being quite hyped after the Hasabel solo, I decided to test around with other bosses to see what is doable. I soloed Garothi Worldbreaker shortly after, by outranging his abilities. I also allowed Khadgar to solo the Felhounds boss (a hilarious one that took Khadgar 9 hours)
Then I kept doing other solos during Legion, as well as trying to do other types of content since I wanted some WoW variety and not only the solos. I had to discover the type of content that fit my channel.
Q: You were actually banned for a while there following one of your videos (specifically the 0.5 second Vectis kill back in Uldir), which Blizzard later retracted and claimed was a mistake. Has that impacted the way you do things at all? And also, despite the fact that the ban was very quickly overturned, it did give your detractors something to talk about - do you still hear about it today/do you think it’s negatively impacted you in the long run?
Rextroy: It hasn’t impacted much. If anything, I guess it helped my connection with Blizzard, as since the ban, I have always had a direct way to send them the most serious things I discover to get them fixed quickly.
I do still hear about it sometimes, such as people wanting to talk about it or get more background details on it, but nothing negative. If anything, it is quite a memorable or unique situation to be banned and unbanned so swiftly!
Q: You seem to turn to PvP when there’s no big PvE things to attempt, would that be a fair assessment? Is PvE your main focus/passion or are both on about the same level? Or put it another way, if you had to choose and just do one, which would it be?
Rextroy: I do enjoy both a lot—I actually enjoy almost every aspect of the game: exploring, pet battles can be fun, just traveling and trying to find new interesting things in old or new content, etc. WoW is such an amazing game in the way that there is a lot of different content to choose from.
If I were to choose one overall, I think it would be PvP. It is more varied with different setups and situations you find yourself in. However, when there is new content, PvE is usually more interesting (the first time you explore a new raid or dungeon for example) and then there’s always soloing a tough boss, which I consider to be the ultimate challenge. Soloing is one of the main reasons I might gear a specific character.
I do have a hard time choosing here, since it can differ month to month and expansion to expansion, for example in Legion when I prefered PvE a lot more to PvP, because of templates.
Q: What is it about PvP that makes it so fun to do?
Rextroy: It depends a lot on the expansion and the state of my class. I always enjoyed tanks the most, or DKs. However, tanks are really disregarded in PvP. It seems like a large percentage of the player base has a general dislike for them.
The reason I enjoy tanks is because of the survival aspect. It can survive like a healer but also be geared a bit more towards the offensive side. The Sword and Board playstyle (Prot Pala, Prot Warriors) feels really fun to play—being on the frontline taking damage instead of staying in the back. DKs are also amazing with the theme of being a juggernaut. Slow but strong, being able to endure a lot of damage but dishing it out once you catch up to them. Summoning a swarm of undead minions is also really cool.
In general, PvP enables me to theorycraft in a different way than PVE, such as discovering a fun weird comp that barely anyone thought about to reach Gladiator. Or just finding a way to one-shot someone in world PVP. A lot of videos from BFA (when I one shot people) were made with the question “I need to do 600k damage in one global, how do I do that?” in mind. And then I started theorycrafting, even gearing different classes to manage it, and this is one of the most enjoyable things in the game to me.
Q: You did a lot of PvE solos and PvP tricks during and especially around the end of Battle for Azeroth, and continued shortly into Shadowlands (including the very first M+0 solo in Theater of Pain). But then you very suddenly dropped off the map. What happened there?
Rextroy: My original plan for Shadowlands was to finally take a short break when it released to enjoy the new expansion with my friends and not constantly have my mind set to look for bugs.
However, I noticed that I didn’t really enjoy the game for what it was because of a few different reasons. I realised how much my enjoyment of the game comes from finding bugs and making cool videos from them.
After finally starting the break I kinda lost the motivation for videos. I guess you can call it being burned out and having a hard time getting back to working on them. When I did my Warrior Whirlwind one-shot video and my Demon Hunter Hunt video, it felt a bit like I forced myself to finish them instead of enjoying it. Usually, once I get the footage I need, I finish a video in a day, but with my Warrior video, I procrastinated on making it for about a week. I still have footage of early Shadowlands, reaching 2.9k MMR as Prot/Unholy/Ret that I wanted to finish, but it feels like it is a bit outdated now…
If you wanna hear why I don’t enjoy the game itself in Shadowlands, it’s mainly down to these few reasons. For PVE, it’s because of the kiting meta. As a tank, just running from mobs feels silly. I kinda wish they boosted the movement speed of mobs by 100% or something in M+, and balanced tanks around facetanking things like… a tank. (A bit ironic coming from me after kiting Shriekwing and Sludgefist for hours perhaps.)
For PVP, the reason I don’t enjoy it is because of the insane amount of hidden nerfs and modifiers that exist on many classes and specs that Blizzard doesn’t bother to remove. Death Strike is nerfed by 50% in PvP which makes my DK feel horrible to play. It is supposed to be a juggernaut, slow and tanky. But when Death Strike heals for about 6-10% of my HP while hybrids can instantly cast 50% of their max HP in a single Healing Surge for example, the nerf feels really outdated. The reason that nerf was added was because of insane haste levels in BFA, together with damage being lower compared to your HP. This made Death Strike heal insane amounts. Now in Shadowlands, damage is way higher, as well as non % healing spells. Therefore, the nerf doesn’t make sense in the current Meta, but the nerf has probably been forgotten. Blizzard probably doesn't even know that it exists.
Tanks also have a 50% damage increase in PvP, as well as having their 10% dmg reduction not active there, for a total of 66% damage taken increase. This makes most tanks feel really bad and not like tanks at all. My Prot Pala feels like he is wearing cloth and healing people with broken Word of Glory. Even if Prot Pala is the most viable it might have ever been, it just doesn’t feel fun to me. Other tanks such as Prot Warrior don’t deserve a 66% nerf at all. Or even any nerf to their survivability, since they barely have healing.
The generalised nerfs across the board (in this case 50-66% for ALL tanks) are really demoralising, since it feels like classes or specs aren’t even bothered to be balanced individually. This, as well as the hidden forgotten nerfs that almost every spec is riddled with, is the reason I don’t enjoy PvP currently. The hidden nerfs are the same reason I didn’t enjoy PvP scaling back in BFA. I think all changes ingame should be clearly visible to the players, such as on the tooltips.
Q: What made you come back when you did? Was it just waiting to have a really good solo (or two) ready for the comeback?
Rextroy: I missed making videos and I did plan my return for a while, but since I had been gone for at least 1-2 months by then, I had to return with something cool. I knew Shriekwing was an option, but I didn’t commit to it since it would have been a pain. I did however slowly build my motivation and thought that actually managing a solo after hours of kiting would be really nice, so I committed and after about a week, I killed it!
Q: Are you now back for good? Or will you be posting at a slower rate or similar?
Rextroy: I do want to keep up a steady schedule. Maybe not as much as 1 video every 4 days like I did in BFA, but hopefully one video a week! This will of course depend on what I discover ingame and what I deem worthy to make a video of. I had some periods in BFA when good video ideas just kept pouring in and I had to make something out of all of them. I will try to keep a schedule where I can enjoy other things except just videos (to not burn myself out).
Q: You also did some pretty crazy 40v40 of one class vs. another and similar community events, will we see those return?
Rextroy: I definitely wanna do more of those. They are some of my favorite types of videos to make since they are quite epic. I also really enjoy the challenges such as the Freehold Challenge. I already have 3 different ideas for that kind of content, I just wanna spread them out a bit so I don’t make too many challenges at once!
Q: We’ve seen how long the actual kill attempts take, with Shriekwing taking 2.5 hours and Sludgefist 1+, but how long does the entire process take? From the beginning of “I want to try and solo a Castle Nathria boss” to the kill itself, so including the research into what boss is even doable, coming up with the strategy, iterating it, executing it etc. etc.?
Rextroy: For a raid boss solo, such as Sludgefist or Shriekwing, I start of thinking about all the possible Raid Bosses in the tier, and ask myself which of them has the most potential to be soloed, as in which has the least amount of obstacles that need to be dealt with. For example: Hungering Destroyer - he got a berserk with massive movement speed increase, as well as the miasma targeting tanks making them not receive healing. So that one is a big no unless there is a really obscure way to avoid those mechanics.
For Sludgefist, it depended on if he had berserk or not. I had hoped he didn’t since his different type of “raid wiping” mechanic was the pillars running out. After discovering that he didn’t have one, and also testing around with him to see that his abilities line up perfectly to kite him, he wasn’t too bad!
Shriekwing was possible after I noticed his bite had a limited range, and that his movement speed wasn’t too fast, but I had to do it on a Demon Hunter. My first tries with him had me dead from damage taken about 3 minutes after berserk had started. If I found a way to just survive the damage, 3 minutes or 30 minutes wouldn’t have mattered, since he had gone through all the “obstacles” already, and I had found a way around them.
It is a lot about testing and theorycrafting through the mechanics of the boss. A kill can take anywhere from a day to weeks of preparation. In the case of Shriekwing, most of the time was spent grinding up my new Covenant…
Q: Your most recent two solos were very “clean”, no even exploit-adjacent stuff to be seen. Which approach do you prefer when it comes to solos, the crazy detail/interaction you notice that makes it all work or the more “basic” and “clean” ones?
Rextroy: I do enjoy both for different reasons. I enjoy the clean ones because it was such an accomplishment kiting for hours and finally downing them. However, I am more intrigued by the “exploity” ones, since they are harder to discover and I have to test or play around with the bosses a lot more. I really get to learn the mechanics of the boss fully (and even the layout of the entire area and how the bosses are built).
Q: How is Shadowlands shaping up in terms of weird things that could be used/abused?
Rextroy: I haven’t looked through Shadowlands as much as I did in BFA (since I had the break), so I am probably a bit late to the bug hunting party as a lot of things have been fixed by now. It seems like Blizzard are more prepared than usual to at least fix bugs that are impacting PvEe, even if some are quite late (such as the Veng DH dmg reduction bug).
We will see what future patches hold tho, I can’t compare early Shadowlands to early BfA since I didn’t look for many bugs back then.
Q: What are some of your favorite/most crazy things you’ve pulled off?
Rextroy: It’s a long list, but I can try to mention at least some of my favorites in PvP and soloing.
In this video, we pushed PvP scaling to the max with a low level character. Mages were bugged and had their Frostbolt and Flurry damage increased by like 8000% when they were low level. We combined this with some Azerite boosts and trinkets, to increase the low levels stats by A LOT (high level trinkets would still give the low level character same stats as if it were given to a 120 character, and since they are low level they gain a massive % increase from those stats).
Then we also have the level 36 killing level 60s in Classic. This was hilarious to do and I also got some really good footage for it. It really shows that in Classic, level is not everything.
The Chaos Bolt AOE one shot is one of my favorites, since it looks and feels really insane. It took a LONG time to grind the amount of Corruption I needed. There was also quite a bit of theorycrafting on how to perform the one shot
I really enjoyed the Sk’shuul Vaz one shot, since it took a lot of different things to make it work. It also worked really well without too much preparation and was one of my first retail one shot videos!
As for soloing:
My Antoran High Command is the video that is least known of my cooler ones (perhaps I had a bad title). It was done quite late into Legion, when I found a way to bug up the transport unit so you could actually move inside them. You were immune to all damage and only Blessed Hammer was usable. I used the Lightforged Warframe to solo a current tier boss, but I had to keep moving for 3 hours. If I stood still I would get sent back to the destination of the warframe… This is one of my favorites because of the editing and how ridiculous the whole solo was.
The Drest’agath one shot is one of my favorite raid boss one shots. It took A LOT of tries to get the timing down, I had to do whatever I could to reduce the time on the loading screen (otherwise buffs would expire). I gotta thank my friends that had the patience to keep summoning me once every few hours.
Renferal is a boss that was painful to do, I had to maximize my Last Defender and I spent days attempting it. The issue was that some of the spiders gave the boss a damage boost. I had to keep killing them off but they were gathered among all the other NPCs of exactly the same name, so I had to target the right ones before I got overwhelmed by the bad type and died. I needed all the other “good” spiders to boost my Last Defender, since it increased my dmg reduction for each nearby unit. That’s the reason I couldn’t just kill everything.
Shriekwing also deserves a spot on the list. It was a real insane solo, since I needed constant focus for hours and a tiny misstep could make me wipe… Fun to manage that one!
Q: What would be your dream achievement? Is it just something like the current endboss of a raid on as high a difficulty as possible as early as possible, or are there some specific ones you’d really love to be able to do?
Rextroy: I would say every current tier raid boss I manage to solo is a dream achievement. Doing a current tier last boss would also be insane and hopefully that will be doable some tier!
Q: Give us a tease for the next big thing you’re planning, even if you’re not sure you can pull it off!
Rextroy: We’ll see if I attempt anymore Castle Nathria bosses. I do wanna make a few one shot videos in PvP and fun combos (was a while since the last one) and I also have a list of events I wanna get done.
I guess the biggest thing I have thought about (not planned to go for it yet tho) is to solo something big with a Protection Warrior, but we’ll see if I can bother to gear mine!
Q: Any shoutouts?
Rextroy: I would like to shoutout my thumbnail maker, Lillekatta. She has made all my thumbnails since late BFA and she does them really well!
I would also shoutout my friends and people who have watched my videos and helped me along the way. It is too long of a list to name everyone…but I will include two people that I haven’t shouted out in the videos themselves:
Lawkey - Outland (helped me a lot, especially echo grind in BfA)
Ipanic - Outland (assisted me with a lot of weird arena comps and testing things)
The final shoutout is to a video. It was an old dream of mine to get an Unholy/Blood/Frost comp to gladiator in Legion, and I got one of my friends to play Frost but he didn’t enjoy it at all and we managed to get to about 1.5k before he ragequit…
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About the Author
Starym is an old-school raider with a wide history of World Firsts under his belt. He is a long-time news writer and interviewer for Icy Veins and formerly Manaflask. Having raided in the Race to World First (RWF) until the end of The Burning Crusade, he has been covering the events since Cataclysm and the RWF has become his greatest passion in WoW. A (Tauren, obviously) Warrior main at heart, when pushed, he will admit to loving Diablo more than WoW and, thus, should be punished.