Blizzard announced Legion, the sixth expansion to World of Warcraft today at Gamescom. From first impressions, it seems that this was something of a “give them everything they’ve ever wanted” reaction to the extremely gloomy news of the drop in Warlords of Draenor subscription counts (which isn’t surprising given the many problems surrounding the expansion), but I don’t mean that in a sardonic way at all—I’m really effing excited for this expansion.
Here are the new features announced:
Demon Hunter class
Death Knights are no longer the only Hero class in the game, as they will be joined by Demon Hunters in Legion. The Illidari were a huge part of The Burning Crusade, and now players will be able to learn more about their sacrifice and actually fight alongside either the Alliance or Horde in an effort to stop what Blizzard called “the biggest demonic invasion in Warcraft history.”
Staying true to lore, Demon Hunters will only be available to Elf characters (either of the Night or Blood variety) and feature only two specs: Havok (DPS) and Vengeance (tanking). The limit to only two specs and two races is a little shocking, but I agree with their decisions here—no other race would make any sense for an Illidari, and there isn’t really much need to artificially thin out the talent pool for DPS Demon Hunters just to fit in a second DPS spec.
Being a Hero class, Demon Hunters will start at a high level;they didn’t mention what level, but basing it off of where Death Knights started in Wrath of the Lich King (55) in relation to the then level cap of 80, possibly 85? And if it’s anything like the Death Knight experience, the starting story will likely bring you to around 90, where you can subsequently blow through Warlords content and get to the Broken Isles as quickly as possible. This is a little less jarring than the DK experience, since at least Warlords is Legion-related, whereas Death Knights had to deal with the anachronism of going back to Outland to finish off Illidan and company before fulfilling their destiny in Northrend with the rest of their cohorts.
Demon Hunters can customize their eyewear, tattoos, skins, and horns, have largely AoE based attacks, and seem like a hell of a lot of fun to play.
New Continent: Broken Isles
This time around we’ll be staying on our own planet, to a collection of islands just south of the Maelstrom that have been mentioned for years now but never actually seen outside of maps. Five zones were announced, which seems to roughly jive with previous common knowledge on Broken Isles: that there are approximately four large islands and a collection of smaller ones.
Burning Legion Invasion
Did we mention that Blizzard has announced this as the biggest Legion invasion EVER? Yes, the Burning Legion is attacking, again, but this time we’ll be traveling straight to the Tomb of Sargeras, where he locked away the most nefarious of demons while he was still a do-good, unassuming Titan. Sargeras has been the white whale of many a WoW player for years, and while it’s unclear if we’ll actually go toe to gigantic toe with the creator and leader of the Burning Legion himself in this expansion, getting this close to him will be a thrill.
I hope you aren’t sick of AU Gul’dan yet, because he’ll once again be a huge part of WoW’s story as a result of the actions set in motion in Warlords (why, oh why did we free him?!). This story though, thankfully, takes place on the main universe Azeroth that we all know and love, that actually has some feeling of consequence.
One of the largest problems plaguing the World of Warcraft experience in recent years has been the homogenization of classes, and the fact that outside of some visual spell flavor, there isn’t a ton of differentiation between the classes these days. Artifact weapons are a response to that, and in my opinion an amazing response. Every spec (not class, spec!) will have their own Artifact weapon to discover and upgrade, offering huge swaths of class-specific lore and flavor that has been conspicuously absent as of late.
For instance, Frost-spec Death Knights will travel to Icecrown Citadel to pick up the pieces of Frostmourne left after the famous encounter with the Lich King at the end of Wrath of the Lich King, and forge their own version of the fabled runeblade for their own destructive purpose. Mistweaver Monks will travel back to Pandaria to learn more of the August Celestials, and imbue a staff with their powers. It’s a very interesting way to expand on class lore, and get use out of older zones that have long since been forgotten. Who would have thought we’d get more Pandaria lore after Mists?!
Artifacts will be upgradeable, too, using a system that seemed reminiscent of the sphere grid system in Final Fantasy X. Acquiring these upgrade points is done through a system where basically anything you do in the game, from raids to battlegrounds to questing, will contribute to leveling your Artifact.
Players are also able to customize the look of their artifact, too. If you’re more interested in the nature side of Shamanism, for instance, your Doomhammer (yes, you can wield Thrall’s fabled hammer) can look the part. If you are more of a vengeful, fiery Shaman, though, you can reflect that with a molten-themed Doomhammer. Really cool stuff.
Class Orders and Order Halls
Expounding on the class flavor theme in Legion, classes will now have sanctuaries all their own where they can hang out with other members of their class in lore-important locations;think Light’s Hope Chapel for Paladins, somewhere in a Nether portal for Warlocks, etc.—and also upgrade their Artifacts.
YOU are the leader of these Class Orders, which is a fun extension of one of the things Warlords nailed—making you feel extremely important to the storyline rather than just a cog in the Alliance or Horde machine.
It all seems like a far more interesting implementation of something like Garrisons, which thankfully weren’t mentioned in any manner during the keynote, and hopefully we can just leave that concept to rot in AU Draenor for all eternity.
Revamped Honor System
As someone who has lived through both honor systems in the game thus far, this new system sounds like a godsend. The original system was, as they mentioned in the keynote, extremely punishing and required “creative use of game mechanics” to stay at the top of the mountain and to prevent honor decay. The second system, which supplanted 1.0 in The Burning Crusade and took us all the way through Warlords of Draenor was more manageable but a lot less dynamic—you were basically just earning currency and spending them on gear. Not fun.
The system announced today at Gamescom borrows elements from popular online games such as Call of Duty, implementing a modified Prestige system that keeps players wanting to come back to Battlegrounds to improve their skill set and earn cosmetic rewards such as portrait art, mounts and PVP-specific Artifact weapon designs. As you progress through the system, you earn new PVP-specific spells that usually replace PVE-related ones. Finally! Players have been clamoring for a more distinct separation between PVE abilities and PVP ones for years, and it seems like Blizzard has finally listened.
If you want to go up a Prestige level and earn those sweet, sweet cosmetic rewards, though, you’ll have to temporarily give up all that power you just earned and re-grind them, while also earning new titles. It’s a proven way to make the PVP grind less monotonous, and honestly sounds like a lot of fun.
Nothing was mentioned about ranked PVP, though, so it can only be assumed not much is changing on that front. It will be interesting to see how the rated battlegrounds and arena metas change with the introduction of PVP-specific spells, though.
Of course no expansion is complete without new dungeons, and Blizzard made it a point to say one of their goals this expansion is to make this core MMO feature feel more relevant throughout an expansion, and continue to give reasons to run them (although they didn’t explain just how they plan to do that).
- Halls of Valor
- Black Rook Hold
- Vault of the Wardens
- Eye of Azshara
- Darkheart Thicket
- Neltharion’s Lair
- Helheim (Takes place on a ghost ship sailing through the sea)
- Suramar City (City of Night)
- Violet Hold
Two raids were announced:
The Emerald Nightmare!
This has been a huge player request since vanilla WoW, when we fought the dragons of the Emerald Dream as outdoor raid bosses. We’ll climb up the tree and into the perversion of the pristine, idyllic version of reality that was the Emerald Dream and is now the Emerald Nightmare. Expect to see Malfurion and a host of other cool things. There are seven bosses in this raid.
Suaramar Palace is the home of the Nightwell, the source of Suramar’s power. It sounds very Black Temple-ish, and that’s a very good thing as that is a classic raid. Here, we’ll finally get the showdown with Gul’dan we should have had in Warlords, in some much-needed closure from that expansion’s story. There are ten bosses in this raid.
Vrykul, Highmountain Tauren, New Elves
We’ll meet a smattering of new races and species on the Broken Isles, including an until-now unseen version of elves, uncorrupted Vrykul, and Highmountain Tauren. Hopefully these races have new skeletal models, unlike anything in Warlords.
Alleria and Turalyon!
One of the most glaring answers missing from the storyline in all of Warcraft all the whereabouts of Alleria Windrunner, sister of Sylvanas and Vereesa, and famed Alliance Paladin General Turalyon, both of whom traveled to Outland in the events before The Burning Crusade and were never heard from again, not even in that expansion.
Blizzard didn’t reveal much else besides the fact that we will finally learn of their fates, but that’s plenty to get lore nuts extremely excited.
What do you think? Is this enough to restore your faith in Blizzard after the mess that was Warlords of Draenor? Do you think this will bring back players new and old en masse? Are you looking forward to the expansion?