Yesterday, Blizzard made their announcement of the new expansion at Gamescom. Spoiler alert, it’s the above image. With the quality of Warlords, I’m a little dubious to see how Legion will turn out, but let’s take a look at everything they’ve announced, and fingers crossed the team they pulled from Titan was put onto this expansion rather than WoD because there’s A LOT of features announced:
The first thing we’re met with is the resurrection of Illidan, by Gul’dan. Why does Gul’dan want to resurrect Illidan? At the end of Hellfire Citadel Archimonde pushes Gul’dan through the nether portal to Azeroth mentioning a pact – likely to be the legion’s domination over Azeroth, with the potential resurrection of Sargeras in its wake.
However this Gul’dan is still the alternate universe Gul’dan, he doesn’t know much about Azeroth so he’ll enlist what help he can to find the Tomb of Sargeras. How he finds Illidan is a question to be answered elsewhere (perhaps Archimonde shot Gul’dan straight to the Vault of the Wardens, who knows) but at the end of the day, he does know exactly where the Broken Isles are, where the Tomb of Sargeras resides. The only other people to know this location are Aegwynn, Medivh and Maiev, and I doubt they’ll be helping Gul’dan any time soon…
We saw at the end of the presentation this image nestled in the background, which looks like it means that Illidan is going to betray the Legion AGAIN. Probably realised that the skull he’s been talking to for a few years prior to BT is inside that living Orc’s head, and he wants to become even more demonified than before.
Redemption, killable or runs off to make his own destiny, only time will tell!
The Broken Isles
For our first dosage of retcon we have what were sunken islands that were only raised from the sea bed a few decades ago by the main universe’s Gul’dan in Warcraft II. On here we have Vrykul, Nightborn Elves, Mountain Tauren and many other races that have allegedly lived and flourished on these islands for millenia. This was my first alarm bell that rang off for Legion being fan-service instead of following on logically from the lore. I even mentioned to friends and guildies that it would make sense for a South Seas expansion that involved the Tomb of Sargeras, but if Blizzard are making it seem like these islands have been here since the Sundering they’ve got some serious explaining to do! It is a graveyard of what it was, but to say that these guys have been here for 10k years is pushing it a bit.
Before the expansion even launches, our 7.0 event will be to go to the Broken Shore and fight against the Legion invasion at the Tomb of Sargeras. Something happens that severs any kind of cohesion or willingness to work together that the Horde and Alliance may have gained from the events of Siege of Orgrimmar, Warlords of Draenor or the time leading up to the battle at the Broken Shore.
For the islands themselves however, we’ve got gorgeous scenery coming our way in a mashup of Northrend’s Grizzly Hills/Howling Fjord style mixed with northern Kalimdor’s elven territories. Being a Druid, seeing Val’Sharah teased first was pretty awesome as it’s where Malfurion first learned Druidism under Cenarius. Unfortunately this zone has never actually been mentioned ever before, so we don’t know much more than that for the time being other than it being full of Druid-related lore as well as fighting against Xavius and the Emerald Nightmare. Cenarius will appear here, as well as an appearance from Ysera. We’ll also be able to sink our teeth into Black Rook Hold here that HAS been mentioned previously in lore.
Stormheim is another exciting premise, with more lore and story on Vrykul, Val’kyr and even Kvaldir that chose to not follow the Lich King. We get to see the Halls of Valor (references to Valhalla) and Helheim (references to… Helheim) with the heaven and hell of this Vrykul culture. We’ll be racing against the God-King who is under the influence of the Legion to find one of the Pillars of Creation. Azsuna (Aszuna? The Priestess was called Aszune, unless it’s a reference for Azshara?) was teased next as the reference to the graveyard and bare bones of the ancient night elf culture 10,000 years ago. Here we will find ghosts of these elves as well as a dying breed of blue dragonflight – the second reference to dragons in this new continent. Finally, another Pillar of Creation is found in this zone, racing against Azshara to collect it, though it looks like we’ll be going head to head with Tidemistress Athissa instead of Azshara herself for this relic! Seems we have SOME content left for the future of WoW.
Next up we have Highmountain, home to the Highmountain Tauren and a new race called the Drogbar who have previously lived in peace with one another, allegedly surviving for 10,000 years underwater until Gul’dan raised the islands to the surface – unless Highmountain was still high enough for its peaks to be above the water. However when the legion arrived, the Drogbar leader Dargrul the Underking stole the Hammer of Khaz’goroth from the Tauren and intends to take control of Highmountain. Nesingwary is going to make his return here too for some big game hunting. We also have the Lair of the Earthwarder, Neltharion. Whether this has a clutch of uncorrupted black dragonflight that Wrathion couldn’t detect, or if there’s another storyline there is something to consider, but this is the third reference to dragonflight that we see in the Broken Isles.
Finally we have Suramar teased for us, where we have another alleged old tribe of elves that have somehow managed to not only survive, but flourish despite being underwater for so long, and ALSO have no reference to existing in the Warcraft III campaign mission where we visited Suramar. These Nightborn, sitting in front of their Nightwell are pawns of the Burning Legion and are also owners of the final Pillar of Creation, so I imagine we’ll be seeing the end of this flourishing civilisation within the first tier. Afrasiabi also mentions right at the end of his presentation that this is the zone where we will finally see Alleria and Turalyon. Because it makes sense that these two heroes lost on Outland somehow turn up back in main universe Azeroth. All will hopefully be explained.
Dalaran was cited as the neutral hub, and before you get confused why Jaina would allow the Horde back in – apparently she has a strop and walks off while Khadgar becomes the leader of the Kirin Tor in her stead! Because he is still Captain Neutral, he allows the Horde back in to save Blizzard some art rework for the city and says it’s because it’s necessary to succeed.
Deciding that loot drama in raids for weapons was too much, Blizzard have decided to fix this problem by giving all 36 specs in the game their own unique weapon that defines their role. Some specs get weapons of old, others get new ones from the new continent. The first thing players will do upon reaching level 100 and entering Legion content will be to get this new artifact weapon.
Retribution Paladins will go to the Broken Shore on the new continent in the aftermath of the Tomb of Sargeras event to seek out where the Ashbringer sword fell so that you can wield it. Protection Warriors go to the tomb of an ancient Vrykul king to go on a quest to find his sword and shield (made from the scales of Neltharion, interesting to see that these Vrykul were either already Iron Vrykul and obviously friends with the Earthwarder, or were already afflicted by the Curse of Flesh to become standard squishy skin Vrykul BEFORE Neltharion turned into Deathwing). Frost DKs go to the base of Icecrown to retrieve the shard of Frostmourne, and reforge the weapon into a pair of runeblades (goodbye 2h Frost).
The weapon levels up as you do, and you gain Artifact Power as you adventure. You can then spend it to unlock certain traits such as for Ashbringer to mimic Holy Power spenders 2 seconds later, or for Frost DKs to be able to use Raise Ally on themselves when they die. Some are multi-point talents whereas others are new abilities or utilities that affect existing spells. It’s almost like a return of Path of the Titans system in its conception in Lich King, allied up with the talent trees of pre-Cata. Yay, nostalgia rejoices and we keep the better talent system!
However, a large problem with having these artifacts right from day 1 would be that every single person of your spec will be wielding the same weapon, even if it’s customised to do things differently or has more power because you killed a certain boss or whatever. It’s almost like as if the entire game became Druids with how variable they can look to each other. Fear not, however, Blizzard have already thought of that and are coming out with 5 models for each weapon! Unlockable in different ways such as (I believe) doing PvP, killing raid bosses, doing a certain questline, completing the weapon talent tree or simply reaching level 110 or other completion steps you can upgrade the base model to new ones! These models also have different skin-tints so that your Ashbringer still looks unique to others, and again these skin variations are unlocked by doing things ingame.
Continuing the Ashbringer hypetrain, the different variants of Ashbringer do look pretty unique with how it could look like with devout fire, a new version of the corrupted Ashbringer as well as one shattered that’s held together by lightning. No idea how that last one works out lore-wise, we’ll see. Mistweaver Monks get Sheilun, Staff of the Mists by returning to Pandaria to seek out the staff of the Emperor Shaohao, with variations of their staff to look sha-like or how a follower of Yu’lon or Chi-Ji might design their staff.
Fire Mages get to follow in the footsteps of Kael’thas Sunstrider by wielding his legendary blade Felo’melorn, lost at his defeat against Arthas at the foot of Icecrown Citadel. If they get an offhand to go with it, or if the weapon is powerful enough for the weapon to take a 2h slot remains to be seen, but the fel, molten and titanic versions do look pretty awesome with interesting connotations. Survival Hunters got a shock to their system when they found out that their unique weapon wasn’t a bow, gun or even crossbow: it was a spear! Blizzard are massively changing Hunter specs and included in that was Survival becoming a melee spec that utilizes a pet! For their artifact weapon, Survival gets to explore the lore of the new Tauren tribe and acquire The Eagle Spear with different beasts adorning its head.
Icebringer and Soulreaper are the weapons to be used by Frost Death Knights, with their variations looking pretty similar, but very death-knighty nonetheless with different places to put skulls, or to change the size of them. Kinda wish that you’d be able to have two different variations at once, but that’s neither been confirmed nor denied. I’d imagine that the game would only allow the same for whatever code they put in for the artifacts, but who knows? Enhancement Shamans got excited by seeing the Doomhammer becoming their artifact, though I don’t know if it’s because we might see the demise of Thrall in order to get it, because it almost signaled the return of 2h Enhancement (spoiler, it doesn’t), or because it’s such a badass weapon anyway. These variations were the most interesting for me to see, with lightning, fel, molten and crystal being the different variations available to Doomhammer, and for the offhand we were told that we’d get a “negative energy” lookalike for that second slot.
Feral Druids got a rather long joke talked about with how they never see their weapons, but the Fangs of the First Nightsaber was teased to completely change the cat form for the Druids (with Guardian having a similar effect on their artifact too). Ferals were also teased with new HD versions of their cat form too for those levelling from 6-100 without the Fangs in the previous slide. Other artifacts included the Maw of the Damned for Blood Death Knights, Ebonchill, Greatstaff of Alodi for Frost Mages and Thas’Dorah, Legacy of the Windrunners for Marksmanship Hunters.
With 36 specs, 5 different models and each of those models having 4 different colour variations… That’s 720 new weapon skins coming at launch – we might still get a new skin for the second tier of raiding or the second season of pvp. That’s a ton more artwork that seems to be a proper evolution of the class accessories that were teased for Warlords. Unless even those are still to come…?
Because a friend was talking about them too, I would totally dig the Challenge Mode rewards to be an armor set that you could customise so that you could match them with your artifact, unless the CM reward was in fact one of the reskins tints for the PvE versions of artifacts.
Halfhill Farm mkIII, Garrisons 2.0, whatever you want to call it, this sounds awesome and I have absolutely no idea why it’s being implemented. It doesn’t exactly fit the lore to include it now, but it’s something that probably should have happened years ago. These class orders are groups of the same class, both Horde and Alliance, coming together in a certain location to work out where to go next. You’ve assembled these people together because Varian and Vol’jin won’t or can’t and it’s the best bet that Azeroth has to fight against the Legion.
So there are a base of operations for your class that is thematic to where your class would go: Shamans would be in a conclave overlooking the Maelstrom; Paladins create a templar sanctum underneath Light’s Hope Chapel; Warlocks have an enclave on a Legion portal world; Mages get a section within Dalaran; Death Knights have brought Acherus over to the Broken Isles.
I imagine Monks will use the Peak of Serenity and Druids are in the barrow dens of Moonglade, but I have no idea what multi-faction, class-specific areas could be created for Hunters, Priests, Rogues, Warriors or Demon Hunters. Priests especially with many races worshiping different deities: Pandaren with the Celestials, the Forsaken with the Forgotten Shadow, Trolls and Loa, Tauren with An’she, Night Elves with Elune and the everyone else devout to the Light – judging by Earth’s history they’re going to wipe each other out in their own class order hall!
These won’t have AH or banks in them, they’re purely there for the mission table (and possible class-specific quests?) and to upgrade your artifact. The mission table this time around is slightly different, in that instead of recruiting anyone you can find to fuel your army against the Iron Horde, we are now recruiting champions of our classes to join our cause against the Legion. It seems with Ghostcrawler’s absence Paladins are coming to the forefront even more with another example of a champion being someone like Lady Liadrin.
The missions this time around are different too! Instead of just being a facebook game where you send followers off, reap the rewards half an hour later and then send them off again, you can send your champions to different zones, and they can discover new things that you can go out and investigate. It looks like they’re learning from their garrisons mistake in Warlords by sending people out – but it really depends on if the rewards are worth it for us, otherwise we’ll just sit in Dalaran all day complaining at how terrible Legion is compared to previous expansions.
Dungeons and Raids
Blizzard realised they dun goof’d when it came to dungeons in Warlords. They realised that they should be more than just a short experience you have for a few weeks at cap and then move onto raiding. So this time they’re giving dungeons more replayability, more varied challenges, and more reason to do them throughout the entire expansion. Starting off with 9 dungeons (and none of them updating old ones… Unless Violet Hold isn’t a new wing and we get rid of the old one for this) we’re onto a good start from what Warlords offered us.
We got glimpses of Halls of Valor, a levelup dungeon in the clouds above Stormheim with heavy influence on Valhalla; Black Rook Hold, a max level dungeon in Val’Sharah – a night elven military fortress where Lord Kur’talos Ravencrest once resided; and Vault of the Wardens, the prison where Illidan and other demon hunters were held, alongside other terrifying monsters.
Other 5mans included the Eye of Azshara in Azsuna, featuring naga; Darkheart Thicket at the base of the World Tree to save Malfurion who has once again napped and got himself stuck in the Nightmare; Neltharion’s Lair where we venture into the capital of rocky people and recover the Pillar of Creation wielded by their chieftain; Helheim, the polar opposite of Halls of Valor in a dungeon similar to Grimrail Depot where we board the ghost ship of the damned and sail to Helheim fighting off Kvaldir as we go; Suramar City holds the Nightborne and we find out their plan and ties with the Burning Legion; and finally Violet Hold has some deep secrets within it that weren’t uncovered the first time we were there – however with the Tomb of Sargeras nearby, certain horrors are now awakened.
The first raid tier of Legion will offer us 17 bosses spread across two raids – 7 in the Emerald Nightmare and 10 in Suramar Palace. Seems about average to kickstart the expansion off with. There wasn’t an awful lot of information given about the Emerald Nightmare, but mainly just explaining what it is and why Blizzard are providing fan-service for it. Most of the story was covered in the Stormrage novel, and the Nightmare was fought back so hard it could never be an expansion in itself, so resolving it as a raid is likely the best option here. Not to forget that a certain Old God responsible for the Nightmare has yet to even be spoken of as a topic this expansion – and Xavius certainly looks more like something that an Old God would create rather than his old masters, the Burning Legion…
Suramar Palace is where we will find the Grand Magistrix, who has the final Pillar of Creation and has corrupted it to create the Nightwell, and Gul’dan himself. Blizzard’s stated that Gul’dan can’t run away this time, so it seems his final hour ends here. It’s a shame really, I do like the idea of the puppet master always being one step ahead of us, and you always know Gul’dan is going to be pure evil and pursue a greater power every time. I kinda wanted to see his demise at the Tomb of Sargeras for the whole timey-wimey flatty circle-y stuff instead of having another orc as the final tier boss, but I guess he’ll be the last we see for a while (hopefully).
The latest class to hit the roster is the long-awaited Demon Hunter, the second hero class to be introduced to WoW. Illidan sent his best, most elite Demon Hunters on a suicide mission to the demonic prison world of Marduun. This was a world that Sargeras created to hold demons that he vanquished as a good titan, then later shattered to create the Burning Legion. In the Demon Hunter starting experience we’ll go through this world back when Illidan sent us on this mission, then jump to present day where we’ve been captured and kept prisoner in the Vault of the Wardens to break out and learn what it means to be a Demon Hunter – and the sacrifices it entails…
One of the sacrifices being two specs, it seems! Demon Hunters roll out the gate with just two specialisations to choose from: Havoc (melee DPS) and Vengeance (tank). Blizzard will be de-homogenizing the classes in Legion (as explained in the Icy-Veins interview) and as a result, they felt that Demon Hunters didn’t really suit two different tanking styles or two different melee DPS styles, and ranged/healer was out of the option for the WoW Demon Hunter (Diablo may disagree). So we’re left with two distinct styles of combat for them, making dual spec that much easier for the class.
Personally, if it’s a new tank I’ll be trying it out regardless, but the basics certainly seem interesting for the class.
For the TL:DR