The Warrior’s Charge: Warriors and class lore in Legion
Alphas are notorious for their changes. One minute, you get approached by a raven, the next, Danath Trollbane and/or Saurfang are asking you to go on a suicide mission with them.
Mechanically, there haven’t been any huge changes for Warriors in the alpha since the last time I wrote about them, so I thought this week we’d talk about how the class flavor design of Legion is actually managing to give Warriors some actual class identity for the first time in a very long time.
Warriors have always kind of been the “and I’ll get punched in the face” class of WoW. Everyone else has a specific identity in a way — all Druids are part of the Cenarion Circle, all Paladins wield the Holy Light and tend to be part of a class-specific order (The Order of the Silver Hand, the Blood Knights, the Vindicators, the Sunwalkers) so it’s not much of a stretch to imagine them in one big group.
But up until Legion, Warriors were essentially the class that has no particular lore behind them. No pacts with demons, no Violet Eye, no Lich King — Every Warrior came to the class in one of a myriad different ways and had a different purpose, be it the defense of his or her nation, personal honor, the acquisition of wealth, or plain old cussedness.
I am the Warrior
Legion doesn’t necessarily change that. Warriors are one of the most universal classes in the game. Only Hunters can be played by as many races, and that makes sense, because being a Warrior is a lot like being a Hunter in that anyone can do it. Hunting is one of the first roles any society learns, because it puts food on the table — but fighting isn’t that far behind. As soon as you have food you need to defend it from others who would take it from you, and if you don’t have food, you can always pick up a rock and try and take it.
This isn’t to say that it stays like that, but at its heart the Warrior class is inextricably linked to the making of war, and war is what Warcraft is all about. Legion isn’t putting other classes on the back burner, because that would be ludicrous, but it is finally remembering that World of Warcraft is about these conflicts between ordinary people and the cosmic forces that would destroy them (even if those ordinary women and men are walking corpses, cow people, or nigh immortal elf folks) and the Warrior class is deeply rooted in that. The Warrior artifacts express this in different ways — from a shield made in ancient days from Neltharion himself to a greatsword wielded by the first king of the Humans to a pair of weapons forged by the original Prime Designate of Azeroth, Odyn.
The introduction of the Class Hall, The Halls of Valor, codifies the truth of the Warrior class — all it takes to be one is courage. Warriors are the fearless not because they are devoid of fear, but because they have endured it. They have walked forth onto the face of Azeroth, a world where demons rain down from the skies, dragons devour the unwary, hosts of enemies can blot out the sun and tear down ancient cities, armed and armored with that valor driving them onward. It doesn’t matter if you’re common as clay or the blood of kings, what matters is whether or not you can fight in the face of those odds without calling on a higher power. Even when Odyn saves you at the Broken Front and brings you to the Halls of Valor, that’s it. He doesn’t grant you anything beyond the chance to claim a weapon and take the fight to the Legion.
Sisters, brothers, we rise
What Legion brings to the Warrior class is a sense of what you’ve done over the years of World of Warcraft and the levels your character has accumulated. You are, simply put, one of the greatest living Warriors, one of the greatest Warriors ever to exist, and you did it not through piety or devotion, not through subtlety or guile, not through the might of necromancy or the Holy Light or the Emerald Dream.
You picked up a sword, or an axe, or a mace, or a spear, or a shield, and you fought. You made war. And finally, Azeroth recognizes it. When others look beyond themselves, begging for aid from gods, demons, or wells of energy unfathomable to the mundane mind, entry into the Halls of Valor signifies that you don’t. You cut down demons with nothing more than determination, whether you’re a Gnome using two swords bigger than you are or a Troll holding up a shield and taking the blows meant for someone else.
The Valar’jar (that’s you, as the first living member of Odyn’s warhost) is simply a mortal man or woman, skilled in the arts of war. That’s it. Azeroth’s greatest living Warrior.
What’s interesting to me is that we often hear people say things like ‘why isn’t this in the game’ when backstory or lore is revealed, but this time, the idea of Warriors having a united class identity is being baked into the game itself. There’s a sibling bond between every Warrior even as they try and kill each other, because that’s what they are.
Warriors make war, and other Warriors are their rivals or their allies as the situation demands — the whetstones on which they sharpen themselves. Now, with the coming of the Legion, Azeroth faces what could be its last war, and she unleashes her greatest weapons. From the moment you arrive on the Broken Shore and start fighting a host of demons you know what you are. Each artifact quest gives you more of a sense of the history and weight of the role you’ve chosen to play.
Each Warrior is unique. Each Warrior is part of his or her people, part of a tradition stretching back to the first time someone picked up a sharp rock to try and take something that wasn’t theirs… or tried to stop that from happening. The inclusion of Saurfang and Trollbane into these quests (as unfinished as their questlines are at the moment) gives us some idea of the history of the Warrior class, of how it isn’t an order the way the Silver Hand or Cenarion Circle could be seen, but rather a fellowship, a gathering of heroes. Brothers and sisters.
This is Warcraft, after all. And we craft war.
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