It’s been some time since we took a look at World of Warcraft: Legion, and BlizzCon offered us the perfect opportunity to do just that. We’ve put together a brief overview of the World and Content panel presented by Creative Director Alex Afrasiabi, Senior Game Designer Eric Maloof, Lead Game Designer Julian Morris, Lead Environment Artist Gary Platner, and Lead Game Designer Ion Hazzikostas.
When Last We Saw Gul’Dan
When we left off in the story, the Burning Legion sent Gul’dan to Azeroth. A puppet to Kil’jaeden, he succeeded in breaking ancient seals deep within the Tomb of Sargeras, located in the Broken Isles south of the Maelstrom. Here the greatest heroes of Azeroth will need to make a stand to stop what is to come – a new invasion by the Burning Legion.
To kick things off in truly epic fashion and for the very first time in World of Warcraft’s history, we’ll be putting a full cinematic right within the game as a part of the storytelling.
The Broken Shore will serve as ground zero for what comes next. Players from both the Horde and Alliance will fight side by side and take part in a 40-player event alongside heroes such as Genn Greymane, Varian Wrynn, Sylvanas Windrunner, and many more. When the dust settles, the world won’t be the same again.
This is just the start of things to come and you’ll make your way through the starting experience at the Tomb of Sargeras. Newly boosted and returning players will also be provided a separate introductory experience before they head off to assault the Tomb of Sargeras, which allows for the Broken Shore to be entirely focused on delivering an epic and engaging experience for the heroes of Azeroth.
Running with the Demon Hunter
Much like the Death Knight before, the Demon Hunter starting experience will help define what it means to be a Demon Hunter and bridge the gap in the story between what occurred during the Burning Crusade and the emergence of this Epic Hero Class. You’ll learn more about what Illidan was really doing at the Black Temple and make your way through Mardum. Shattered by Sargeras, this former prison world is now the resting place of the Sargerite Keystone —the key to traversing the countless worlds of the Burning Legion.
Mardum isn’t a place for the faint of heart, and you’ll encounter new and more powerful demons such as the Imp Mother, Jailer, and Inquisitor. The Legion also has some epic new architecture and nefarious devices you’ll be able to get your hands on so that you can fight (Fel) fire with fire. You’ll learn new spells as you go and will steal power directly from the demons around you.
Demon Hunters will also get the Felsaber Mount– a gift from the ultimate Demon Hunter, Illidan.
Mardum is just the beginning of the Demon Hunter’s adventures and after fighting to escape imprisonment at the hands of Maiev’s Wardens, you will eventually integrate with your faction,establish your Class Order Hall, and seek out your Artifact weapons. The sacrifice of these brave Night Elves and Blood Elves to become Demon Hunters will not be in vain. Their power will be needed in the fight against the Burning Legion.
Piecing Together the Broken Isles
You’ll be adventuring within the Broken Isles to search out Titan relics known as the Pillars of Creation, which are the only hope of re-sealing the Tomb of Sargeras and ending the Legion threat. These zones include:
The Broken Shore: You’ll start your adventure within the Broken Isles and find the Tomb of Sargeras here. The pitched battle that starts off your journey is bound to change not only you, but Azeroth itself.
Val-sharah: Within these densely forested lands, you’ll find the very heart of druidism. This is also the location of the Emerald Nightmare and where the demigod Cenarius first met Malfurion Stormrage and later began his training. You'll also find key locations such as the tainted world tree Shaladrassil, and the dungeon Black Rook Hold (an elven fortress that dates back to the War of the Ancients).
Azsuna: This is home to the remnants of the ancient night elves ravaged by the wrath of Queen Azshara. It is a cursed land rife with many mysteries and serves as home to what remains of the Blue Dragonflight.
Highmountain: The location of one of the largest single mountains in Azeroth it is a rugged and beautiful terrain, that serves as home to three clans of the Highmountain tauren. They are a people with a highly evolved culture locked in a bitter struggle against savage drogbar that threaten their lands.
Stormheim: The land encapsulates the harsh beauty of this Vrykul home. Here, you’ll learn more about the vrykrul culture, including the origins of the mysterious val’kyr and the terrifying kvaldir. Along the way, you will contend with the vrykul God-King as he races to claim the zone’s Pillar of Creation on behalf of his Legion masters. This will take you into the very heavens where the greatest champions of the vrykul await to test your worth.
Suramar: All roads lead to Suramar, an ancient elven metropolis at the heart of the Broken Isles. The corrupted Nightwell fuels the nightborne elves and provides them the sustenance they need to survive. Those who are cut off from it live as nightfallen, their bodies wasting away as they search desperately for magical energy to sustain them. Atop the palace of Suramar, deep within the walls of the massive city, the warlock Gul’dan plots the next step of the Legion’s grand scheme…
Thal’dranath: Much like Tanaan Jungle, this zone will become available a bit later in our story.
Where Do We Go From Here
Rather than linear pacing through the various zones, players will be able to pick and choose the zone they wish to adventure through, moving from one to another as they see fit. This is accomplished not by adjusting the player’s stats, but rather by scaling the inhabitants of the Broken Isles to the player’s level, making it simpler than ever before to connect and quest with friends. Quest rewards will likewise scale with the player as you make your way toward level 110 with your your artifact weapon helping you stay ahead of the power. Just beware, non-scaling foes will also be waiting for maximum level play.
The outdoor end game of Legion strives to capture the best of recent expansions’ varied approaches, providing players with choices in their activities, a sense of purpose, and opportunities to continue to advance the story wrapped within a structure that provides meaningful rewards. Because of the scaling nature of the Broken Isles, we are also able to make use of the entire continent of the Broken Isles as a max-level playground. At max level, there will be varied and cycling world quests available throughout the Broken Isles – imagine these as Draenor garrison missions… except for YOU! You’ll be able to pick and choose from a variety of missions and objectives from core reputation to PvP, profession gathering, world bosses, and diverting minigames.
We couldn’t end here without mentioning the various dungeons and raids that are planned for Legion. The stories for these locations will be integrated into the ongoing zone flow as you make your way through the Broken Isles. You’ll be able to step into the Emerald Nightmare at last and make your way from the catacombs beneath of Suramar Palace to its highest spires where Gul’dan awaits.
You’ll need to ascend Shaladrassil to enter the Nightmare, a corrupted version of the Emerald Dream that mirrors our own world but has now fallen into the deepest shadow.
Grand Palace of Suramar
This is Gul’dans base of operations and the center of the nightborne civilization.
There will be 5 level-up dungeons: Eye of Azshara, Neltharion’s Lair, Halls of Valor, Darkheart Thicket, and Violet Hold.
You’ll be able to tackle these in any order as you level up, and you’ll need to venture into several of these locations in order to recover the Pillars of Creation.
There will also be 5 additional dungeons that unlock at level 110: Vault of the Wardens, Black Rook Hold, Helheim, Suramar Noble District, and Suramar Catacombs.
With the goal of keeping dungeons relevant in the endgame, both in terms of difficulty and rewards, we’ll also be making some exciting changes to our Challenge Mode system in Legion. Challenge dungeons will no longer scale players down to a fixed power level, but will instead offer a system of endless increasing difficulty, with commensurate rewards. Each week, players can obtain a Challenger’s Keystone that allows them to begin a specific dungeon challenge at a specific difficulty level, possibly including additional modifiers (e.g. all enemies explode shortly after dying!). Rather than multiple Gold, Silver, and Bronze cutoff times, there will be a single time to beat, and if you are successful in doing so, you can upgrade your Keystone to a higher level of difficulty and rewards! You’ll earn item rewards from completing your Keystone challenge (even if you fail to beat the cutoff time), as well as a lucrative jackpot chest at the end of the week depending on the highest level dungeon you were able to complete. Our goal is to keep dungeons as a central part of the Legion experience through the expansion, offering a unique and different endgame path as an alternative (or supplement) to raiding.
There’s much more to the panel than what we’ve covered here so if you want to learn more, we suggest watching it for yourself with the BlizzCon Virtual Ticket and then go to our programming page to view the VOD in HD.
What did you think of the new world and content revelations presented by the panel?