Demon Hunter first impressions from BlizzCon
While the Legion beta is just a few weeks away, the Demon Hunter class was already available on the demo stations at BlizzCon. We sent our staff to the show floor to get their impressions on WoW‘s newest class.
The Demon Hunter class was playable on demo machines the moment doors opened to BlizzCon 2015. While much of the crowd headed over to the main stage to land a seat for the opening ceremony, I darted to the Legion demo line which had a pleasantly short lineup. After quickly customizing my Demon Hunter (by hitting the random button because I just wanted to get in and start smashing demons), I entered a zone with a skyline that reflected that of Hellfire Peninsula. Mardum the Shattered Abyss looks exactly like it sounds.
As a player who doesn’t normally main a melee class, one of the traits of the Demon Hunter that quickly grew on me was swiftness and mobility. Double Jumping can be used to reach areas that aren’t normally accessible to other classes. Havoc Demon Hunters can pair Double Jump with a Fel Rush and rush forward while they’re in the air before gliding down with the reduced falling speed. They have some amazing burst potential, that’s for sure. Spectral Sight is a unique ability which provides the Demon Hunter with the ability to see enemies and potential treasures through walls or other barriers. You do move a little slower and you can cancel Spectral Sight by toggling it off or entering combat.
Unfortunately, my questing experience was rather short. Once I loaded into Mardum, I was entrusted with a variety of quests to gradually unlock my abilities. The initial storyline had me moving to rally the Ashtongue, the Naga, and the Shivarra forces in an attempt to strike a blow against the Burning Legion. Eventually, Illidan himself gifted me with a special Fel Saber mount, which is the exclusive class mount for Demon Hunters. The questing and storytelling experience has improved greatly with new and fancy dialogue graphics.
In all my years of playing a Priest, I’ve never had the temptation to change mains until I played this (even though the temptation only lasted a few seconds).
The first thing I noticed is that the character customization had a few interesting options. More than just hair color and skin tone, you can choose among different horn configurations, blindfolds, and tattoos. You can even choose no blindfold and leave your glowing green eyes exposed.
When you enter the game after that, you are dropped directly into a hellish landscape under demonic attack and you are sent on a quest chain to bring in reinforcements from the Black Temple. Along the way you are slowly granted your abilities. Your initial abilities (for the DPS spec) are a dash forward that does damage along the way, a moderate attack that builds Fury, and a big attack that costs Fury. Just with those three alone you get a feel for a very mobile and powerful melee character. The dash is on just a 4-second cooldown so you can use it to get into a fight quickly or out of an AE attack.
A few quests later you get a channeled attack that tranforms you into, well, an uglier demon while death rays shoot out of your eyes for about 3x the damage as your big attack. This is on a longer cooldown. About a minute long, if I recall. The last ability I was able to get before I ran out of time at the station is a spell interrupt that grants you Fury if you apply it successfully.
The class had the right feel to it with the twin blades constantly flashing and the signature special attacks. I’ve been meaning to play a melee damage character in WoW and look forward to run with a Demon Hunter when Legion launches.
Blizzard seems to get better with storytelling every expansion. Remember when Wrath of the Lich King came out and we first saw the Death Knight starting experience? For those of you who didn’t play the game before then, I’ll sum it up: it was revolutionary. We had never seen phasing in the game before and it allowed for a dynamic storytelling experience in which the world changed around you as you progressed — something the game had never had. And while we’ve only seen the briefest glance at Legion so far, the Demon Hunter starting experience looks like it may be a similar iteration on the storytelling experience.
In the Q&A panel, it was mentioned that Legion had more voiceovers than any previous expansion, and in the sliver of the game we got to play you could really feel the impact of those voices. Every character seemed to have a unique voice with at least a few lines — including NPCs with only relatively minor interactions. When you accepted a quest from an NPC, they sometimes had unique lines in response (for example, they might say they’d meet you somewhere for the next stage of the quest). Though this might seem like a small thing, it really adds to the immersion, making it feel like you’re really part of the world instead of just clicking your way through yet another quest.
Additionally, the starting experience demos had “talking heads” — character dialog popups that reminded me a lot of what you’d see in Blizzard’s old RTSes (think Warcraft 3). When an important dialog comes up, not only will it have a voiceover, but you’ll also get a pop-up on screen with the character’s face and text. For example, there’s a point at which you need to open a portal by sacrificing a powerful soul. I decided that I’d sacrifice myself instead of an NPC, and when I did I died as normal, becoming a ghost where I could run back to my corpse to resurrect. When I became a ghost, Illidan’s face popped up on my screen, and he explained to me that I had an immortal soul: so when I died, I went back to the Twisting Nether until I found a body to inhabit again. That’s really not even a game mechanic that needed explaining, but it was pretty awesome to have Illidan explain it to me himself.
I finally got a chance to play through the entire demo from beginning to end (of what was available), and…wow. Okay first off, Mardum is so visually arresting and beautiful in the most horribly menacing way. The skybox for this place is amazing. I had to remind myself that yes, I was supposed to be playing through quests here, not just staring at my surroundings. Second, the Demon Hunter is one of the most fluid, mobile classes I’ve ever played — between the coveted double jump, the gliding, and Fel Rush, you really have the ability to be consistently in graceful motion, and it feels awesome.
Story wise, since this begins as a flashback, there are plenty of references to what was going on back during Burning Crusade. It was kind of cool seeing some familiar names scattered in among all the Demon Hunter allies — the Ashtongue and the Coilskar both appear during the course of questing. It made for some nice hits of nostalgia even among all the new content.
Quests were interesting — bonus objectives for quest areas are part of the quest experience, and rare mobs are scattered throughout the zone as well as little treasure caches hidden along the way. As for the Demon Hunter itself, it felt like a really solid class with a lot of interesting gameplay potential, and kind of made me think even more seriously about dropping my rogue in favor of picking up a Demon Hunter full time.
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