Spectral Insight: Demon Hunters from Mardum to the Broken Isles
Welcome to our new monthly Demon Hunter column, Spectral Insight. Michael Mitchell will be delving into all things DH including talents, artifacts, leveling, both specs, and more. Come join us for a look into WoW’s newest class.
Demon Hunters have a pretty high bar to clear. Not only do they have to follow in Death Knights’ cold footsteps with their own, class-specific starting experience, they also have to live up to the stellar starting experiences for the game’s numerous added races. Today, we’re taking a look at Demon Hunters from A to B-roken Isles and just how their story shapes up heading into the main Legion conflict.
Do you like spoilers? Keep reading! Not so much? Put on your best Illidan cosplay and blind yourself from everything that comes after the break!
Alpha being alpha, Demon Hunters don’t have an introductory video and get plopped right into Mardum without much fanfare — that is, until Illidan appears as one of Legion’s new talking heads and gives you your mission details. He’s sent you to Mardum to collect a mysterious Keystone belonging to Sargeras. This Keystone acts as a “skeleton key” to any Burning Legion world, and will allow Illidan and his Demon Hunters the ability to wipe out Sargeras’s forces on their own turf. With the help of staunch Illidan-loyalist Kayn Sunfury, you’re sent off on some quests.
Up first: “borrowing” some Legion gateways to bring in more forces from the Black Temple. The only thing standing in your way? Demons. Lots of demons. In a similar manner to Death Knights, Demon Hunters slowly unlock their abilities throughout the introductory zone. What differs from the Death Knight experience — and something I find really cool — is that the abilities you unlock are tied into the quests you do and the demons you kill. For instance, in one quest you need to kill Inquisitor Baleful, whose power comes from the floating eyes it uses to see. The quest asks you to take this demon’s power and your reward for doing so is unlocking the Eye Beam ability.
The whole fantasy behind Demon Hunters and the Illidari is using the Burning Legion’s power against them, and that is precisely what you’re doing in the introduction. It not only makes for a great motivator through the starting experience, but is also a fun way to tie gameplay and story together. Another motivator? The small bits of dialogue tying Mardum events to Burning Crusade’s timeline. Sprinkled throughout Mardum, NPCs make references to an attack currently underway on the Black Temple. Aside from helping Illidan succeed against the Burning Legion, your haste on Mardum is important so you can use the Sargerite Keystone to return to Outland and repel the invaders.
Once you’ve cleared the lower portion of Mardum, you and your forces make a forward camp below your target: The Fel Hammer. It’s during this portion that players are able choose a spec: either continue with Havoc, or switch to Vengeance (the tank spec). Don’t worry, though, this doesn’t lock you into an Artifact just yet…which might seem a bit odd. You’re asked to make a spec decision only to make the same decision again later. But if you can get over the disorientation of losing most of the Havoc abilities you’ve gotten used to, giving players this decision can actually be quite useful.
If you’re unsure what spec you want to play before choosing your Artifact, this is an excellent way to let players try all aspects of the Demon Hunter before committing. However, switching from Havoc to Vengeance at this point breaks a little of the story that’s been developed. You lose most of the abilities you had as Havoc, keeping only one or two, and gain some more Vengeance-specific abilities instead. Had you not specifically stolen power from a demon to gain Eye Beam earlier in the narrative, this wouldn’t be as big a deal. But right now, losing and gaining so many abilities at once — especially those tied to quests — was one of those moments that made me do a double-take.
It isn’t game-breaking, though, and only applies if you opt to try Vengeance instead of continuing with Havoc. It also doesn’t take much time to acclimate to Vengeance and return to demon hunting. On your way around Mardum’s upper level, you’re introduced to Legion’s new silver-star minimap icons through some rare enemies that put your abilities to the test. There’s also one quest in particular that seems to test players’ curiosity of the Demon Hunter. It’s a standard “follow the path through enemies until you reach the quest mob” quest until you realize that taking advantage of Double Jump allows you to climb up the path to the left and skip past all the average-Joe demons. It’s not a particularly challenging jumping exercise, but I really like seeing Blizzard adding in these sorts of moments that test your knowledge of a class and reward you for exploring.
Once you’ve disrupted the forces surrounding the Fel Hammer, it’s time to make the final assault and steal the Sargerite Keystone. The Brood Queen proves no match for your forces and upon your success, you use the Keystone to open a portal to the Black Temple. From there, Illidan uses it to wipe out the Burning Legion one world at a time, and Sargeras is defeated once and for all. Expansion over!
My enemy’s enemy…
Okay, not really. Remember that attack on the Black Temple your Mardum reinforcements kept mentioning? Turns out, you and a few key allies take the portal to the Black Temple right about the time Illidan is defeated and captured by Maiev, giving Maiev a bit of a twofer. Outside of an obvious placeholder cutscene, there isn’t anything in place to specifically spell this out right now, but it’s implied when you suddenly wake up in the Vault of the Wardens ten years later to a shaken Maiev.
Maiev wakes you from stasis to inform you that the Vault of the Wardens has been overrun by the Burning Legion, and the demons are being set free. Incredibly desperate, she has woken you up to gain the aid of the Illidari. Your first task is to wake up two other powerful Demon Hunters, Kayn Sunfury and Altruis the Sufferer. As you’ll find out throughout the Vault, these two have a bit of a history and represent very different ideals when it comes to the Illidari.
While the two do work together for most of the zone, the second they’re out of your spectral sight, the pair break out into perfectly symmetrical violence. Once you end their fighting, you need to pick a leader for the Illidari. The quest giver asking you to do so informs you that “their ideology will color our decisions for the Illidari going forward.” It’s unclear what this means, but I’m hoping it actually has an impact on story outside of pseudo-decisions that end the same way. For now, it only determines which of the two accompany you in battle against the final demon blocking your way to the surface and your final demon-stolen ability. Still, the relationship between these two and the decision-making required by the player helps bring this entire portion of the starting experience to life.
Another aspect of the Vault section that’s working well? The entire journey through it gives backstory to the Vault of the Wardens dungeon players will inevitably return to. Having recently run Vault of the Wardens, it was a pretty unique experience seeing events play out in reverse. Demon Hunters work their way to the surface, trapping bosses as they do so; dungeon-goers work their way down, finishing off bosses that Demon Hunters left behind. Both versions work entirely independent of each other, but together they elevate each to a level of story synergy that works very well.
After you escape the Vault — opting to let Future You and friends take care of things — you run into Khadgar, who has shown up just in time to do nothing. He does, however, help set the stage for the rest of the expansion. The only task left is to seek out an Artifact weapon for you to use against the Burning Legion. It’s here that you’ll make your final decision about which spec will define you for the foreseeable future.
Once Demon Hunters finish their Artifact quest, they’re all caught up and can begin questing in the Broken Isles. So far there isn’t any indication of what picking Kayn or Altruis does for the narrative — though, I’m assuming that won’t come into play until level 110 and/or class hall missions are in place. For now, the Demon Hunter introductory chain is not only a solid way of weaving together multiple stories at once, but it’s also just plain fun. Like each new race or class added before them, Demon Hunters deliver a truly satisfying experience — and the enjoyment only grows from there!
Next time, we’ll cover some of the talents and abilities that make Demon Hunters so fun. In the mean time, if you have any topic requests or questions about Demon Hunters so far, please feel free to post them in the comments (and be sure to check out some of the previous articles covering Demon Hunters, too)!
And lastly… welcome to Spectral Insight! It’s an honor to be writing this column and I hope that if you aren’t following in my Shadow, I’ll be able to take you under my demonic wings in the months to come. ‘Til next time!
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