Legion is different from pretty much every previous expansion thanks to the inclusion of a zone which is pretty much earmarked as the place where you go at 110. In addition to the vast number of World Quests that throw you across the Broken Isles, there is a self-contained and highly complex storyline that only fully begins once you hit max level. You can visit Suramar before then, but to gain access to the full range of options you’ll need to have leveled first. It’s part of a concerted effort by the game’s designers to pull players out of capital cities and Class Order Halls, and into the heart of the action and not only has it worked for me, it’s produced a real desire to go back and keep playing until I can resolve the story that’s been presented.
For the first time in many years, I really am totally invested in the action around me. The journey began with a distress signal, plus discovery of its originator; the mysterious First Arcanist Thalyssra. She’s been exiled from her race and it is up to you to help her not only overcome a dangerous addiction but attempt to find some kind of redemption for her people’s dependence on Ancient Mana. This substance acts as a currency/resource for the zone, and you’ll quickly discover that it can be collected from just about everywhere. It will become vitally important going forward, so remember to always keep your supply topped up, and if you want a better supply than in the wild, the city itself is a good place to start.
You get a disguise to travel around the place, which is useful as outsiders are pretty much attacked on sight. Suramar was, next to the great capital of Zin-Azshari, probably the most important Elven city on Azeroth back in ancient times, notable as the home to both Illidan and Malfurion Stormrage, Tyrande Whisperwind, plus Maiev and Jarod Shadowsong. After the Great Sundering this portion of the city remained intact, thanks to the magical barrier the Elves constructed to shield themselves from destruction from the Legion, and for thousands of years this sanctuary remained undiscovered, with the population unaware of the changes occurring outside their ‘bubble.’
This isolation also lead to an addiction to the magic that protected them, creating the Nightfallen, who when removed from the city quickly turn into Withered if without Ancient Mana for too long. There’s a comic published by Blizzard that explains this history in detail for those of you who’d like pictures with your words. However, nothing I say or you read will ever do the in-game architecture justice; Suramar is beyond anything I have ever seen in a Warcraft expansion, a city of such complexity and beauty that it totally beggars belief. It’s not just the buildings either, the whole city lives and breathes. Traders, fully fledged commercial and social centers form, in essence, a complete community.
But that’s just the surface, underneath is an amazingly complex system of tunnels inside which are ley line ‘transmitters’ you’ll need to activate as part of your progress. Yet again, I have no desire to spoil anyone for what you discover as you progress, and as I’m only halfway through the journey to begin with I’m as much in the dark as you are. What I do know is that this isn’t just about the ancient Nightfallen, there are untainted Night Elves involved, plus a potential army of Withered looking for peace. You are provided with a dedicated quest hub for all your adventures, and there’s plenty to do outside of the daily progress you can make. As is the case elsewhere, you’re gated by reputation, but with Daily Quests to assist it should not take long to make headway.
What also needs to be pointed out at this juncture is that you’ll need to complete areas of this zone to grant access to two specific dungeons: The Court of Stars and the Arcway. This requires 8,000 honored reputation with The Nightfallen faction and completion of a specific quest chain, highly reminiscent of The Burning Crusade’s ‘attunement’ process which was required to gain access to certain instances back in the day. I’m still not at this stage because of a lack of reputation, but it’s really not a problem at present with far too much else to occupy to even worry about five man content.
You see, it isn’t just the story lines to complete, with ley lines to reactivate and teleport beacons to locate, which are then useable to help you move around the zone, there is a remarkable amount of stuff to be done apart from the additional quests that form the whole Suramar ‘experience.’ There is also the very real issue of max level mobs in fairly great density and I do seem to spend a remarkably long time fighting wherever I go. In fact, I can see this zone becoming quite frustrating for cloth wearers or those without a pet or two to hide behind, but really, these are small complaints next to a plot line so vast and sprawling I’ve been utterly sucked in. In essence, Elves are the new Orcs, and that means all the issues and traumas that go along with being center stage as protagonists.
There’s also an important coda as a crafter; Suramar is where I was sent for my final stage of profession training and it involves an awful lot of wandering around and killing things before I can access my last set of recipes, which are not simply purchasable with gold. I need more Legion raw materials that right now I don’t possess. Even with considerable effort, I still am three recipes short, and with five points left before I can max out my skill. This is Blizzard playing the long game with crafting, allowing players to choose how they complete their journeys. Recipes may all have three stages, but the only difference between each one is the amount of raw materials required to complete them.
I’ve done some math on this and have concluded that I’ll make more money selling my raw materials on the Auction House and taking the last five points from visiting the Darkmoon Faire in November and completing their crafting quest. It’s also becoming apparent that I’ll want to take the quickest path possible with my alts to get me started in Suramar as quickly as conceivably possible. Fortunately, with 7.1 already well into testing on the PTR, I’ll only have to worry about unlocking my World Quests once, which will allow all my characters access to the feature once they max at 110.
That means that between bouts of World Questing, I have a lot to do to make sure I can start my alt progression sooner rather than later. I’m a bit of a stickler when it comes to playing this game, and need to play through everything once on my Dwarf before I start again on anybody else. This is as much to allow me to learn the lay of the land as it is about playing through the plot from start to finish, and with so many different parts to this tale to be both discovered and completed it can all get a bit much. I’m already unearthing quests in zones I thought I’d completed thanks to World Questing, and I expect Suramar to be no different.
Then there is the very real understanding that I don’t have 24 hours a day, seven days a week to make sure I can play and complete everything I want. That means there have already been casualties with a plan to try and do all the pet battle dailies already shelved because there simply aren’t the hours available. In fact, were it not for the Warcraft app for my phone, I would not have done anything on at least two nights this week. My husband’s been great in helping me bulk-complete World Quests, and having a tank steam through a ton of these with me gave enough resources to allow time away from Azeroth without fretting I’d be falling behind.
However, with the nature of phasing in this expansion, I can’t get him to help me with Suramar because we’re at different points in the story so I’m pretty much on my own. That means dedicating the time when I’m able to function well, you can’t cheese this content, after all. With everything at 110, I gotta be on the ball, and it is beginning to become an attractive prospect to level a potion maker to give me at least something extra to help on my way. Fortunately, World Bosses have been kind with drops and I’ve already snagged a couple of useful armor pieces from the Emerald Nightmare LFR. I am pretty well set, all told, but if I’m not paying attention it is still quite easy to die.
It’s incredibly hard, however, to find a bad word about Suramar, and if this is the plan moving forward for major expansions? I’m on board. In fact, I’m already looking forward to seeing what 7.1 brings for this storyline and will be doing my best to make sure I’ve completed available quests in the area before that happens. I assume that at some point a reckoning will place Suramar as the place where many characters may meet their end (or otherwise). In fact, I’m sure Gul’dan is a boss in the new instance we’ll see launching in the future. But I’m already getting ahead of myself and that will never do.
Whatever is next for the Nightborne? I will be prepared.Related: Blizzard Entertainment, Column, Legion, MMORPG, World of Warcraft, WoW Wednesday