It's that time of the year again where all geeks and nerds all flock to that small campus in California, one big event that has been circled every year: BlizzCon.
Last year's BlizzCon was huge in the sense that they unveiled a new game they've been working on, the continuity of the StarCraft saga, the storm brewing in the Nexus, a virtual trading card game that is loaded with fun, and well, there's that huge statue of pre-corruption Grommash Hellscream.
Okay kidding. There was World of Warcraft's fifth expansion, Warlords of Draenor (WoD), which made everybody go "What?! How?! Why?!"
In a way, everyone was surprised as to why Blizzard decided to add more time-bending and time-travelling to follow up what was a rather dismal follow-up to an already dismal end raid for super-hyped expansion. But, WoD in a way was going back to the roots.
In a way.
They promised to end it with Grom Hellscream. We got Archimonde instead. Make no mistake, I'm not sourgraping over it nor overly criticizing it. Hellscream was manipulated by his fugitive son who jumped timeways so it makes sense that Blizzard made the call to save him instead.
I said that WoD was going back to the roots of Warcraft in a way because hey, it's first-ever expansion, The Burning Crusade (TBC) was one massive success as players marched and flew all over the Outlands, Illidan Stormrage's realm of the broken Orc and Draenei homeland, Draenor.
In this expansion, players got to time-travelling as a major raid needed you to go back to the time of the Burning Legion's Second Invasion of Azeroth during Archimonde's assault on the World Tree at Mount Hyjal. It was loads of fun. Archimonde's encounter was one hell of a survival fight as much as it was a DPS (damage per second) race.
The Hellfire Citadel encounter did not disappoint on bringing back a throwback bad-ass as you finally got to see Archi and fight him in a rather heart-racing encounter and not as a mere memory from time. Although it somehow paled in comparison to the first time you faced him. Anyway, being the last boss of the WoD expansion, Archimonde's demise was a portent of things to come back in Azeroth.
To cut the long story short, Gul'Dan finally lived through the Tomb of Sargeras and found Illidan in a demon power crystal. Similar to what you saw in the Well of Eternity 5-man heroic.
With the cinematic trailer already out, "Legion" seems to be promising big things if that epic short of Varian and Sylvannas says something about the expansion.
One of the biggest updates would probably be the Demon Hunter hero class finally debuting in WoW after years of rumors that it will be the next hero class. Another would be the presence of Artifact weapons, which includes some legendaries (ASHBRINGER! FINALLY!), which is both a welcome development and a rather questionable one (which I will explain further below).
Classes are also getting revamped, becoming less cluttered, and being more casual-friendly. I know, I know, Blizzard's movement towards a more casual-friendly environment for WoW players have been disturbing to some hardcore fans of the game (yours truly included). But it is what it is. This will be better for the game in the long run as more people hopefully buy in.
But as for hardcore WoW gamers, it can be summed up to this sentiment of mine: having played since the first expansion, the first foray into Draenor, the game being casual-friendly has somewhat dulled the experience. I mean it in a way that I have trained my fingers, trained my brain for stat weighs, took notes from some of the best players, watched countless strategies, participated in learning raids (man those hurt my virtual pocket still) and here the casuals are getting things easy.
They didn't have to continuously experiment with their talent builds the way some of the top guilds back in the day did with their players. Because, if there's one thing about Blizzard games, it's that they are easy to play but hard to master, and that applied to the different specs of the different classes.
However, as I said, WoW is surely going to get on this casual-friendly road sooner rather than later, when all those subs dwindle down to a few hundred thousand (it's at 5.5 million last I checked, peaking at 10 million subs when the second expansion, Wrath of the Lich King went live). But what do we have to look forward to apart from Demon Hunters?
What does Legion offer for us?
For one, we get to see Illidan Stormrage who has been the anti-hero to Malfurion for well over a decade now (12-13 years if you are counting at home). He's bringing the fury of all his Illidari, Demon Hunters whom he personally trained in the arts of dual wielding glaives and sensing demons (well, Demon Hunters, DUH!).
And then there's this chilling line: "The Burning Legion has returned..."
Well, this is it guys, the real bad guys in the Warcraft universe. The Legion is the reason why we're dealing with the curse of flesh, but aside from that, we finally get to battle Kil'Jaeden, for real, at full strength, who was the end boss of TBC.
This is the real fight for Azeroth. This is where we answer the question: Why in the burning hells is the Burning Legion so intent to conquer Azeroth? We know from the lore that the lord of the Legion, Sargeras, is so intent to undo ANYTHING the benevolent Titans touched. But why this insatiable desire to crush us?
The Broken Isles explores the homeland of the Night Elves back when Kalimdor was one and whole. We get to visit Jarrod Shadowsong's hometown of Suramar...while dealing with demons littering the whole place.
For what it's worth, this is the third time Sargeras is going to break through Azeroth. The first was during the War of the Ancients set 10,000 years or so from the current timeline. The second was during the Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos campaign. So will this be the charm for old Sargy?
So, Illidan. Sargeras. Vengeance. We got a score to settle here...which does not exclude the veterans of the Third War that ranges from the Forsaken to the Second Generation Death Knights.
Varian and Sylvanas appearing in the trailer means something, right?
When a major character appears in a trailer, big things are
in store for them, lore-wise.
So seeing Varian Wrynn, in all his scarred and armored glory (Sweet Jesus, did you see how they rendered the Lion and Eagle shoulder plates of the King?!) surely got me out of my seat, mouth left hanging as I finished the entire cinematic. And that was just him standing around, surveying the felstorm above the Broken Isles, doing a monologue that was eerily similar to King Terenas Menethil's in the WotLK cinematic.
Varian looks to be the main man of the military might of Azeroth this time around (during the Legion's second invasion, it was Malfurion marshalling the mortal races of Azeroth), which pretty much follows that time in the dream realm where he led the forces of Azeroth against the forces of the Nightmare Lord, Xavius. And it seems as well that the Horde and the Alliance have set aside their differences to fight this supremely powerful foe, something they haven't faced since they fought in the frigid wastelands of Northrend.
As for Sylvanas, it's no secret that the Banshee Queen has an axe to grind against the Legion (like how she schemed against the Nathrezim brothers Detheroc, Balnazzar, and Varimathras). They made her what she is through their machinations of creating the Lich King from the orc Ner'Zhul's broken husk which led to Arthas eventually assuming that mantle, after being his greatest champion. So she definitely has an axe to grind against Gul'Dan's demonic masters (and she definitely looked hot in that trailer make no mistake).
What do we have to expect as players?
As I've said above, they're streamlining classes to have talent trees look less-cluttered than it actually does. It also cleans up your action bars as to which abilities you have to put on them.
Also, they'll be giving classes major revamps in how they utilize resources. For example, a Death Knight (of course my bias shows doesn't it?) doesn't have to worry about rune combinations for Legion. Their abilities will either utilize one rune or two runes, and their classifications have been abolished. Yes, DKs. We are no longer going to be rune-watching. No more Unholy, Frost or Blood runes, just plain, runes.
Or how about Paladins never having to worry about holy power now if you aren't specced into the Retribution talent tree? And what about that sweet Naruto-ish Yellow Thunder God jutsu talent special? Their change generally makes sense since the Protection spec (the tanking build) barely utilized holy power except for their Shield of the Righteous to crit and maximize damage.
Those are but a few of the changes and you can check the class overviews for Legion at Blizzard's website.
Yes. Artifact weapons.
I'd like to take this moment to say that some artifact weapons have been great choices while others not so much, especially the Ashbringer.
The Ashbringer has been wanted by every melee plate-wearing class ever since it's backstory was released the same time Naxxramas hit the world. This was a blade of legend. A sword of pure righteousness that slaughters undead and demons with impunity...
...and every Paladin will be running around with it.
See where I'm getting at?
And I haven't even mentioned about whatever the hell is going to happen to Tirion Fordring, the last man to wield it. I love this dude to bits. He had an awesome story and had a grand-freaking-entrance during Wrath.
Anyway, everyone will probably quest through the Broken Isles with their artifact weapons, powering them up along the way in different aspects, which I suppose adds to the versatility and play style it may come with.
One question that lingers though is, what about dual spec? Would you have to start from the bottom up to power your off spec's artifact weapon?
I hope Blizzard can give us an answer soon. And maybe include a few of the lore as well on their website like short stories and a book that I am sure will be coming out to tie in with the game before it is patched to live servers.
But I am sure as hell excited for this expansion.
Once more unto the breach, my friends.
AZEROTH!!!You can check out the Class overview right here.