BlizzCon 2015: Legion Live Blog
This is the live blog for the World of Warcraft: Legion preview of BlizzCon 2015. The live blog will take place at the following times:
- 3:30 p.m. EST
- 2:30 p.m. CST
- 1:30 p.m. MST
- 12:30 a.m. PST
- 8:30 p.m. London
- 9:30 p.m. Paris
- 7:30 a.m. Sydney
The live blog begins after the break!
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2:31 p.m. CST: Well that was an audio blip but the Legion overview panel is live!
2:32 p.m. CST: 12:33 We’re getting an overview of everything, including brand new features that have not been revealed to the public or datamined or spoiled.
2:33 p.m. CST: Gul’dan took control of the Iron Horde, raised a fel infused army to invade Azeroth, and we thought we stopped it, but hey guess what? Gul’dan’s been sent to Azeroth. On our world, he hears a familiar voice – Kil’jaeden.
2:34 p.m. CST: Kil’jaeden is going to gift Gul’dan with limitless knowledge of the Legion, and Gul’dan will be commanded to the Broken Isles, where he’ll start the largest Burning Legion invasion of Azeroth — ever. (Along with a surprise Metzen because of course he’s there!)
2:35 p.m. CST: How about that cinematic? Afrasiabi is excited for us to see the story – this cinematic is the first time that they’ve created a cinematic that ties directly into the main story of the game.
2:37 p.m. CST: Cinematics team helped take it to the next level – they wanted to highlight their best heroes, paint a target on the Burning Legion, and kick off a great Warcraft story. So they created the cinematic to hand off the story into the game.
2:38 p.m. CST: What’s the Broken Shore? It’s ground zero for the Burning Legion invasion – it’s a 40 person scenario for Horde and Alliance. Story catch-up and kick off for the expansion – we meet up with Varian, Sylvanas, Vol’jin, everyone, and begin our mission to eradicate the Legion from Azeroth and establish the primary plot points for the expansion.
2:39 p.m. CST: Boost experience is its own separate adventure this time around.
2:40 p.m. CST: Broken Shore is going to be a 40 player scenario set as two different groups, Alliance and Horde, working in unison and working towards the Tomb of Sargeras itself – and we’ve got a demo of the Broken Shore to look at here!
2:41 p.m. CST: And now we’ve got an intro to the demon hunter – Eric Maloof, Quest Designer is going to tell us about the intro. Demon Hunter starts at level 98, and when you play through the intro you’re going to learn what it truly means to be a demon hunter – they’ve given up everything, taken in immense amounts of fel energy, and gouged out their own eyes, all for one reason: the utter annihilation of the Burning Legion.
2:42 p.m. CST: Demon Hunter is the story bridge between Burning Crusade and Legion – answers what Illidan was up to while we were raiding the Black Temple way back when. Cinematics team is working on an intro to the Demon Hunter experience, there’s some storyboards for the experience.
2:43 p.m. CST: They arrived too soon (Illidan was not prepared oh no!) Illidan opens a portal to Mardum, a former prison world for demons. This prison was shattered by Sargeras after he was corrupted. One of these shattered fragments holds the keystone that Sargeras used to seal the prison, it seems – the Illidari were sent by Illidan to retrieve this keystone.
2:45 p.m. CST: Lovely Mardum footage here. Very alien world, torn sky – demons all over the place. There’s new demons to be found here – the Imp Mother, Jailer, Inquisitor.
2:46 p.m. CST: They’ve got some footage of the new demons – tons of new models, including some really amazing infernals and what looks like a stone version of a fel reaver almost.
2:47 p.m. CST: It’s not just demons – they have immense constructs, soul infused buildings. Side of the Legion we haven’t seen before. Demon Hunters are (surprise) going to kill a lot of demons – turn the Legion’s devices against them, bringing in Illidari armies, tap into communication devices. Can find Legion crystals, when activated your cooldowns on your abilities are temporarily reduced to 0.
2:48 p.m. CST: You’re going to learn your spells over time — by ripping them from the corpses of the demons that you slay. Like Death Knights, progressive spell learning. Illidan gives you the Felsaber mount – free mount for the hero class!
2:49 p.m. CST: When you return to the Black Temple, Maiev is waiting and you’re imprisoned in the Vault of the Wardens … seemingly for eternity. But hey, that’s only half the intro experience for Demon Hunters.
2:50 p.m. CST: Fast forward to present day — the Burning Legion has invaded and we are losing. In the Vault of the Wardens, you have to break out and save the world. This will be available for play when the beta is launched. What comes after? You join your faction.
2:51 p.m. CST: You’re Illidari, but you’re going to help the Alliance or Horde. After that, you establish your Class Order Hall. And then you quest for your very own Artifact warglaives…several skins for those.
2:52 p.m. CST: Time for a tour of the Broken Isles with Julian Morris, Lead Game Designer for World of Warcraft.
2:53 p.m. CST: We need relics to close the massive portal in the Tomb of Sargeras. Around 10,000 years ago, the Broken Isles were part of a vast region of Azeroth — Suramar. After the Sunder, Suramar was utterly devastated. What remains is a tiny fraction of the once-great empire.
2:54 p.m. CST: 6 areas in the Broken Isles. Val’sharah is a forested druidic paradise, but the Emerald Nightmare has begun to consume massive parts of the zone. It’s on the west coast of the Broken Isles. It’s the hidden, forgotten heart of druidism. Here is where Malfurion first met Cenarius – and here where Malfurion will start to track the source of the nightmare. Shaladrassil was a World Tree, but is now twisted and deformed from the Nightmare. Also in Val’sharah is Black Rook Hold. Some of the most revered and ancient Arch Druids in Azeroth are in Val’sharah.
2:56 p.m. CST: New satyrs courtesy of Xavius, and new Nightmare dragons as well – ash gray and red. Really distinctive models. There’s new skins in here for MOONKIN!!!
2:57 p.m. CST: They are really detailed and WAY more expressive than the old ones. And now we’ve got NEW SEA LION SWIM FORM TOO!
2:58 p.m. CST: Gary Platner, Lead Environment Artist for WoW is going to lead us through concept art of the zones. In Val’sharah, they wanted to create a real “fantasy forest” feel. There’s a lovely concept piece of a wooded magic glen, and all structures and buildings in Val’sharah are kind of modeled off of that concept image/color palette.
2:59 p.m. CST: Some great concept art of Black Rook Hold – they tried to think about what the Emerald Nightmare would look like, how it affects everything it touches. They also had to keep in mind the same effects would apply to the world tree Shaladrassil as well, and that world tree needed to be visible from everywhere.
3:00 p.m. CST: Next up, Stormheim – rugged, natural beauty, but the land itself is super dangerous and treacherous. The vry’kul call this place home. It’s on the east coast of the Broken Isles.
3:01 p.m. CST: After the intro scenario, we go to Stormheim and pick up on the vry’kul’s story from thousands of years ago. Dig into the origins of Kvaldir and the Valkyr. Two amazing dungeons in the zone.
3:03 p.m. CST: Different vrykul and valkyr that we’ve never seen before. We’ll get to meet the God King of the vrykul, allied with the Legion now.
3:03 p.m. CST: There’s a fledgling new dragonflight here – the storm dragons. Nice new models here.
3:04 p.m. CST: Stronghold of the vrykul, essentially – so the design for the zone is pretty much rough edges, beautiful fall colors. Environment art sets the tone for the scenery, and there’s some pretty cool permanent vrykul structures here too – this is sacred land for the vrykul.
3:05 p.m. CST: The Runewood in Stormheim has faces carved INTO the trees. Very cool. Blackbeak Overlook is another area, giant statue there – possibly the God King?
3:06 p.m. CST: Asuna is the next zone. The elven civilization was wiped out here by Queen Azshara BEFORE the Sundering. In this expansion, you can see, apparently, up to three times as far as you could in any prior expansion. Improved camera!
3:07 p.m. CST: You’ll also meet up with the dying remnants of the Blue Dragonflight. They’ve found a refuge here. The land is also home to a land mass known as the Warden’s Isle – home of the Vault of the Wardens. The land and its people still suffer the curse that they got from Queen Azshara. Shot of a specter – the male counterpart to the banshee.
3:09 p.m. CST: Present timeline, Azshara sent a force of naga to this area to retrieve a powerful relic. There are naga model updates here too! They look fantastic!
3:10 p.m. CST: Whoa there’s a local sea giant kingdom that Azshara has aligned with as well. The scale on these guys are massive. Another image – the Wrath of Azshara, and some Warden warriors and owl companions. They are scattered all around the area. Correction – spelling is Azsuna.
3:11 p.m. CST: More concept art – there’s ancient night elf architecture. New buildings that kind of iterate on existing night elf ruins in game and build upon them. Lots of columns and arches.
3:13 p.m. CST: Next up we’ve got Highmountain. Highmountain is one of the largest mountain peaks on Azeroth.
3:14 p.m. CST: In game map, it’s north/central on the map. It’s the domain of three ancient tauren clans. Direct descendants of the tauren that fought in the War of the Ancients. Rivermane, Skyhorn, and Bloodtotem – the Drogbar have risen up and shattered the unity of the three tauren clans. The Drogbar were once slaves of Neltharion, deeply attuned to the land. There’s a wide variety of drogbar in Highmountain.
3:15 p.m. CST: Neltharion’s Lair is a dungeon in this zone.
3:16 p.m. CST: Oh, new harpy models – alpine harpies. There are ettin roaming the mountains as well – these are all larger models than the ones we’re familiar with.
3:17 p.m. CST: Oh hello moose! And wee little baby moose – possible new pets?
3:18 p.m. CST: There are new male and female Highmountain tauren models, the horns are different – antlers.
3:19 p.m. CST: They wanted to advance the tauren models, but not make them unrecognizable. There’s some lovely new tree models here for the zone itself, and some amazing tauren buildings. New architecture. Short video of Highmountain here – Looks like some new bear models thrown in with the mix. The new harpy models are very birdlike in motion, quick movements.
3:19 p.m. CST: Suramar – the mission we’re on will ultimately lead us to Suramar. The capital stands not only intact, but remains a thriving elven metropolis. There is a massive city on the map here.
3:20 p.m. CST: The city was protected and saved by a protective spell cast by the most powerful mages, using the powers of an arcane well. They created a massive shield zone that kept the city preserved for 10,000 years. They believed that the rest of the world was obliterated, so they kept the shield up. But the well has become corrupt, now known as the Night Well. The elves have evolved, are now the Nightborne, and have forged a pact with Gul’dan.
3:21 p.m. CST: Within society, criminals are exiled. Cut off from the Night Well, these elves shrivel into the Nightfallen. Sounds a little like the Blood Elves/Wretched here. If they don’t get any arcane energy, they devolve further into the Withered.
3:23 p.m. CST: Suramar is all arcing shapes, very art nouveaux – the trees are beautiful arcs and curves, this is reflected in the architecture.
3:24 p.m. CST: Present day night elves are druidic focus. These guys, the Nighborne, come from an era that was focused on the arcane, not druidism, so it feels very, very different.
3:25 p.m. CST: Suramar is apparently huge – when they say metropolis, they mean it. It is a work in progress, they have a video of the latest version (not finalized here).
3:26 p.m. CST: One more zone, but it’s still in progress. However, Ion Hazzikostas is here to tell us even more info!
3:27 p.m. CST: Before Dungeons and Raids, let’s talk about gameplay and systems. What order will the zones go? Sometimes we’ve had single zones, sometimes we’ve had choices between a couple, sometimes it was faction based. With Broken Isles you start in Dalaran, and work your way clockwise around the map – but they then started building this, and they saw how Warlords was working out with flexible raids and Timewalking, and Proving Grounds for scaling.
3:28 p.m. CST: They are expanding that tech to the world in the Broken Isles – it’s an open world. Do it whatever order you want, it scales to YOU.
3:29 p.m. CST: Four zones will scale in this fashion so far. You can choose your own path. You’ll have an objective for each zone – find the Pillar of Creation, but it doesn’t matter which zone you start in, you’ll eventually have to go to all four, but eventually all roads will lead to Suramar – a level 110 zone, where your journey comes to its conclusion.
3:30 p.m. CST: You can play with your friends – if you’re 107 and they’re 102, content will scale to each of you. Nothing is being scaled down, the world is being scaled around you, seamlessly integrated into the UI and combat.
3:31 p.m. CST: Itemization follows suit with this – you’ll get rewards based on your level. Your Artifact will keep you ahead of the curve and grow with you. There are non-scaling foes at max level, too.
3:32 p.m. CST: Endgame – what happens when you hit max level? Going over daily quest system – dailies for rep in Wrath, dailies for story in Mists, and assault missions in Warlords. In Legion, the core goal for outdoor endgame is to deliver the best of both worlds. They want to keep player freedom and allow you to choose your objective for the day, but they want to give that sense of purpose and storytelling from Pandaria.
3:34 p.m. CST: Goal for Legion: Making use of the entire world, with some structure, but not overwhelming, without the sense of compulsion – where you feel like you have to log in or fall behind. Because the Broken Isles are flexible, they can make use of the entire zone for endgame gameplay — because that content all scales to you.
3:35 p.m. CST: In Legion they want a system of constantly shuffling outdoor world objectives – on your map, there’s shifting objectives all over the world. It’s there for an undefined period of time, and offers variety like we’ve never really seen before. They want to overwhelm us with choices and options. It’s like WE get to do the garrison missions rather than followers, now.
3:37 p.m. CST: A lot of these are tied to factions, or PVP objectives, or world raid bosses, or professions – it’s just a wide variety of choices, and you get to choose what you’d like to do. Profession missions reflect on your profession choices. They want to add minigames like rolling down the Great Wall in the Vale of Eternal Blossoms, or Gnomegeddon from Cataclysm.
3:38 p.m. CST: In the Class Order Halls, emissaries from different factions will show up and ask you to do a certain amount of objectives — and you can pick what kinds of objectives you’d like to do. These are not daily quests. It’s like how quests work in Hearthstone or Heroes of the Storm.
3:40 p.m. CST: Raids and Dungeons: Raids – two raid zones at launch: The Emerald Nightmare, and Suramar. Nightmare will open a couple weeks after launch, you get to go into the Emerald Dream and enter the Nightmare. You’re going to climb Shaladrassil and enter into the Nightmare, 7 bosses in the raid.
3:41 p.m. CST: There are no dragons on Draenor – which was sad. So the first raid boss of the new expansion – dragon! The Pestilence Wyrm – it has been corrupted into a dragon of death and decay. Next – CENARIUS. Cenarius has been corrupted by the Nightmare. No spoilers on whether he’ll live or die, but he’ll show up. Also, Xavius – a satyr in our world, in the Nightmare he can be anything.
3:43 p.m. CST: Suramar Palace, a 10-boss raid, Gul’dan’s base of operations where the final Pillar of Creation – the Eye of Aman’thul — is located. Though this is Gul’dan’s base of operations, this isn’t a dark demon raid. It’s a new type of environment for a raid.
3:45 p.m. CST: The palace is an open sprawling space, with botanical gardens, an observatory – it was a city, is a city for the Nightborne. You’re going to be fighting a Dreadlord Ambassador, the Grand Majestrix of the Nightborne, and others.
3:46 p.m. CST: Dungeons are the heart of the Legion expansion – 10 dungeons in the expansion. Level up dungeons are Eye of Azshara, Neltharion’s Lair, Halls of Valor, Darkheart Thicket, and Violet Hold (Dalaran dungeon part two?) There’s some shenanigans going on in Violet Hold, and we’ll need to head into there. They want dungeons to be integrated into the zone’s story. Dungeons are also able to be completed in any order – they scale too!
3:48 p.m. CST: Five max level dungeons – Vault of the Wardens where the Demon Hunters came from – you have to go back there to see why Gul’dan was there for Illidan. Black Rook Hold, Helheim, Suramar Noble District (outdoor dungeon, you’re interrupting a Nightborne party), and Suramar Catacombs are beneath the city – beneath the entire zone. It’s a mini-attunement to find your way into Suramar itself, in a way.
3:50 p.m. CST: Darkheart Thicket is a level up dungeon that takes place at the foot of the corrupted World Tree. It’s part of the zone’s storyline, you have to rescue an ally who has been trapped in the clutches of the Nightmare.
3:51 p.m. CST: Unlike the raid that takes place in the Nightmare, the dungeon is rooted in the world, but presents the Nightmare as a threat.
3:51 p.m. CST: Halls of Valor were inspired by Valhalla. You need to prove your worth to Odyn – the God King is also trying to prove his worth, to hold one of the Pillars of Creation. (Obviously, we need that thing, so we’re going to have to throw down with the God King here it looks like!)
3:52 p.m. CST: Helheim is the counterpart to the Halls of Valor – it’s where the cursed and fallen vrykul board the cursed ship of the damned. You have to safeguard the cargo – this is like the Grimrail Depot, only…on a boat rather than a train. Beautiful scenery here.
3:54 p.m. CST: Black Rook Hold is a max-level dungeon towering over Val’sharah. It was the ancient stronghold and home of Illidan’s mentor, Lord Ravencrest, during the War of the Ancients. In Black Rook Hold, we’ll be confronting Ravencrest himself, and delving into the secrets of the stronghold.
3:55 p.m. CST: Dungeons as endgame — over the years there have been different approaches to keep dungeons relevant, but the goal with Legion was for dungeons to remain relevant in terms of reward and difficulty throughout the entire expansion. But there needs to be some variation in the experience – they want to avoid the “Mechanar problem” where players gravitate towards the easiest dungeon.
3:57 p.m. CST: Challenge mode is being re-purposed. In Legion, you begin a challenger’s dungeon via a Challenger’s Keystone. The power level of the keystone determines the difficulty level, as well as other modifiers. There’s no gold/silver/bronze, there’s just a timer. Beat the timer, upgrade your stone. Fail, and your stone is depleted – but you still get loot!
3:58 p.m. CST: Goals is to scale the dungeon up, not to scale you own. They want the focus on the gameplay, not the timer. And they want unbounded progression, where you never “beat the dungeon” entirely. The keystone looks a little like a card with icons similar to a shipyard or garrison mission. You get different icons that indicate extra challenges – enemy enrages, exploding corpses, etc. This starts just a small step above heroic dungeons.
4:00 p.m. CST: The higher you go, the better the rewards – but this is intended to be a genuine alternate path to raiding.
4:00 p.m. CST: That’s it for the panel – one last question. When is beta? In the weeks IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING BLIZZCON. Make sure you opt in!
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