I’ve been watching Blizzcon on the Virtual Ticket for a few years now, and I don’t think I can remember a sixty minutes of presentation that’s had such a profound affect on me in all that time than the one I just finished watching. It wasn’t about raiding or zones, or indeed the business of leveling. It had nothing to do with new artwork or re-skinned mobs. This was the panel that the casuals cared about: professions, items and the classes themselves. For those of us who don’t have a regular appointment with the inside of an instance every time we log in, these are the parts of the game that matter the most, and for us..? Well, I’m getting ahead of myself: let’s talk about what this panel tells us about the changes coming in Legion.
Every class’s individual spec will wield their own individual Artifact Weapon, and each weapon has a story. In the case of our example above here, this is a Warlock scythe. Once you have completed the introductory quest for your particular spec, you’ll find yourself presented with your Artifact UI: each individual weapon has two slots (at the top) which will take a range of Artifact Relics. These are for different types of power: Fire, Holy (and in this case above Shadow and Fel). Relics drop across the game world and will allow you to update Artifact Power. Some Relics will also give you skill levels which will affect the completion of the ‘trees’ that you can see above. It will take you the entire expansion to complete the picture, and you can expect your weapon to continually be improved over time. At level 110 you will undertake a special quest line that will effectively ‘upgrade’ your entire weapon. You can expect Relics to drop from quest bosses, rare spawns, raids and dungeons and even from PvP and battlegrounds/arenas.
Once you get to 110 you’ll unlock Weapon Forms, and they look rather splendid indeed.
How you get these variants is interesting: you will need to slay a particular monster to get a color variant, or maybe do an exploration quest to visit an area and find the ‘version’ of this weapon that is associated with the change of skin. Needless to say, if you’re playing a lot of alts like me? You’re gonna have your work cut out. You’ll also still need a separate weapon for whatever spec you have, and you’ll need to get the appropriate relics for each different setup you wish to try.
This is a big deal for lots of people, and is about as far away from your Garrison as it is likely to get, but there are definitely elements from the former that you’ll encounter again. In producing these areas, the designers have taken into consideration location, variety and relevance to the current storyline, and this means that the Druid Class Hall is the Dreamgrove, in Val’sharah. Sadly Rogues are still in Dalaran (sorry guys) but Blizzard has clearly conceded that to keep people interested and engaged, location is only a part of a far larger equation. Your Class Hall is where you will empower your Artifact, interact with Class Champions and pick up your daily ‘tasks’ from the Scouting Map. You’ll be given class specific quests too: as an example, Rogues will be able to pick-pocket each other. More importantly for some of you, there’ll be a place for you to display old armor sets that you have farmed over the years. Who am I kidding, I squeed at that too. Then, when I discovered that Hunters will have a special flight network that involves flying giant eagles? There may have been spontaneous chair dancing. Needless to say, Blizzard understand that you want flavor in your choices. You’ll have a quick way back to your Class Hall, and you’ll want to be staying there once in a while, but you’ll not want to live there.
This expansion sees a major shift towards a more fantasy-based outlook for all classes, with deliberate focus on changing the way players interact and play with each spec. As examples: there is a melee Hunter spec (Survival), Discipline Priests will heal by doing damage, and Demonology Warlocks will lose their Metamorphosis and gain more pet-based abilities. This is going to be backed up by the talent revision specified above. The idea is an attempt to give people more choice, whilst at the same time, better defining what they personally want from their character. To explain this in more detail, Blizzard will begin releasing a set of blogs tomorrow which will detail all the major changes for each class in anticipation of the Beta release promised before the end of the year.
There was also a quite detailed explanation of Demon Hunter specs and abilities. There are two current flavors (Havoc and Vengeance) with the former being a classic build resource and spend resource playstyle. Demon Hunters also have completely new voice overs, emotes, and presumably their own dance. Also, they have a rather splendid flying and glide combo.
Blizzard know they screwed up with their attempted redesign in Warlords of Draenor and it is back to the drawing board for all of the professions. This time around you’ll have specific quests for everything, from Tailoring to Archaeology, with a long, extended quest line that will continue long after you reach maximum level. As you can see from the shot above, the professions UI has finally been overhauled and you’ll be chasing different skill levels to produce the best versions of items. This UI will also tell you where to find recipes if you don’t know where they’re located. Most importantly of all, you’ll have a use for your crafted items away from a sale on the auction house: you will build a special forge in Dalaran which can take any crafted item and turn it into Obliterum. You can then use this to augment and improve existing items. It’s like recycling without the colored bins! For Scribes, Major Glyphs may be vanishing but there’s nothing to fear because you’ll be able to make special ‘Buff Glyphs’ to help your guild defeat particular bosses or mob types.
Oh, and you can cook bacon in game. YES YOU HEARD ME RIGHT.
Blizzard have borrowed from Diablo again, and you’ll soon see Legendary items dropping in the world, but this time with a twist: items with unique effects with a chance also to scale in item level when looted. More importantly of all? Duplicate items can now be traded to anyone who was on the loot table, which will be good news for all.
So, here it is, the Holy Grail for me and thousands of others. An account-wide place where all that stuff currently filling up my bags will go that will unlock on Legion release, and into which I’ll see years worth of work disappear. I’ll be able to clothe my character, assuming they can wear the item and fulfill the transmog criteria. I’ll be honest, I got rather excited at this point and stopped making notes, but fortunately for me, had the good sense to take a screenshot:
I wrote a personal blog post yesterday stating that I believed what I’d seen on Day One wasn’t enough to convince that Legion knew what it had to do to move forward from Warlords. I’m no raider any more, and although the dungeon stuff was a hook, it would never be enough. I’d need something really rather special indeed to convince me that this upcoming expansion was the return to form Blizzard knew it had to be. At the start of this hour I was optimistic and now, when I’m done here, I’ll have a reason to log on tomorrow, and the next day, and indeed until this content hits, because what I got in this sixty minutes finally convinced me that Blizzard has listened to people like me. All of the genuine complaints appear to have been taken to heart, and as Blizzard were very keen to point out, they’d not announce any changes until they knew they were possible. The biggest kicker of course will be to be remunerated with every item I’ve ever potentially been offered as a reward and turned down. That is a HUGE concession to someone like me, and it shows that actually, Blizzard did finally get the memo.
Of course, anyone with a track record of these things will tell you that what gets promised at a Blizzcon often never sees the light of day. It’s still entirely possible we could only see half of what’s been promised, but considering the consequences if this stuff does not now come to pass? Honestly, Blizzard knew when they came here what had to be done, and actually, I believe they understand exactly what now has to be delivered. So, all I can do now is sit back, make myself a cuppa and wait for the product, because right now this isn’t about talking a good game, it’s far more about playing one.
Is it September yet?Related: Beta, Blizzard Entertainment, BlizzCon 2015, Crafting, World of Warcraft