Totem Talk: Introducing the Shaman class hall, the Heart of Azeroth
I am a very visual player. What I mean by that is that aesthetics matter a great deal to me. Possibly almost as much as story and lore. I like then things make sense thematically, whether talking about transmogrification, tier sets or Artifact weapons, I like when it all fits together. When something seems off, or doesn’t quite fit, it will continue to bother me until I can fix or replace it. This also holds true as far as zones and instances are concerned. So, needless to say, how things look are pretty important to me.
With Legion becoming more developed, there are a ton of new visual assets being introduced to the game. New zones, gear, artifacts as well as dungeons and instances are slowly being released on the alpha (or datamined). There’s a ton of new things being introduced to reinforce the fantasy of our classes, but what about our class hall?
A first look at the Shaman class hall
For those that don’t know, I was never a large fan of Garrisons. I loved the NPCs that you could hire on, and I liked certain aspects of the garrisons, but it never really matched well with me. I mean, I’m a Shaman — what need do I have of a fort, of commanding warriors and leading forces? Thematically it didn’t make much sense to me. I should be out communing with spirits and instead I was running a Garrison.
When class halls were announced, the promise of something more tuned to our class, that fit more with the fantasy of being a Shaman immediately piqued my interest. When it was announced that it would be in an earthen-hewn cave overlooking the Maelstrom, I may have even gotten a little bit excited. When we were told that important NPCs from our class would be there and would interact with us — sending us on various missions or helping us upgrade our Artifact weapons, I was all but sold on the idea.
And now the Shaman class hall, The Heart of Azeroth, is available on the alpha. It’s still a work in progress with some incomplete areas and I suspect that not all of the NPCs we’re going to see are implemented yet — but we can at least start to get an idea of how things are going to look for us.
When you take your first look at the area in which we’re likely going to be spending at least a little bit of time, it’s unmistakably one with the elements. The winds swirl through the cavern, there are reflection pools of calm still water, magma bubbles up through fissures in the ground, all the while the storm of the Maelstrom rages outside but in clear view.
Instead of guards wearing armor and weapons, giant earth elementals keep vigil with armor and weapons crafted from the stone itself. Totems dot the space providing light and adding to a space that feels serene and in balance with all of the elements. The space, from the very first steps, fits the Shaman aesthetic pretty well. It feels exactly like a place a group of Shaman would congregate to talk, exchange ideas, and commune with the elements and the ancestors.
First impressions mean a lot, and I enjoy everything I see about the space so far. Unlike the cold fort of our Garrison, located in the middle of a strange planet, everything in our class hall fits. For me, this doesn’t feel like a place I’m going to be upset about spending time in, because it makes sense for me to be there. I’m looking forward to seeing what else gets added and what other touches highlight the hall — but if the design keeps going the way it currently is, I have no doubt the final result is going to be fantastic.
While the hall isn’t quite complete yet, there are still a lot of things to take in. There are a number of NPCs present already, and the choices Blizzard made for those NPCs are intriguing. There’s Erunak Stonespeaker, whom you may remember him from the Throne of Tides — he was the Broken Shaman being mind controlled by a lovely little mind bender. We freed him, but we really haven’t heard anything from him since Cataclysm. His appearance here is intriguing and it makes me wonder what role he’ll play in our journey through Legion.
Rehgar Earthfury is also there, wearing his full set of gear just as he is in Heroes of the Storm, and I suspect he’ll be just as surly as he is in the comics and in Heroes. He’s a Shaman who’s played an important role in many key events in the history of Azeroth and it appears as if he’s still in the middle of it. There’s a slight spoiler here, so if you don’t want to know the next part you may want to skip the next paragraph.
Rehgar is one of the last surviving members of the Earthen Ring after the battle at the Broken Shore that opens up Legion. As part of the acquisition of the Elemental Shaman Artifact, the Fist of Ra-Den, you and Rehgar travel to journey to the Temple of the White Tiger. Here, you and Rehgar must pass a trial to prove your worthiness to Xuen in order to wield the ancient item of power. Once you and Rehgar complete the trial, you fight off the Burning Legion as they attack the temple — of course using the Fist of Ra-Den. That’s something I’ve been asking for a while: an important NPC with an important mission with you that has ramifications for the world at large that all ties in with the lore.
Farseer Nobundo is also present, though it seems almost like a given that he would be. Orono, a Dranaei Shaman who was first introduced in the WoW TCG is also there, as is Mackay Firebeard, a Dwarf Shaman originally from the Twilight Highlands. Tribemother Torra, a Tauren Shaman also originally from the TCG is also present.
There’s a good mix of NPCs not only from the game but from other sources, and I’m liking who we’re seeing so far. I personally can’t wait to see who else wanders to the Heart of Azeroth, but we’re already in some very good company.
A game of totems
While the area is incomplete still, there are some very nice touches that have been added to make it feel a bit more homey. In particular there’s a game you can play in the hall involving totems! If you’re familiar with the game Lights Out, where you have to turn off all of the lights, you’ll be familiar to this — just in this case you’ll be turning all of the totems from Fire Totems to Water Totems. If you’re unfamiliar with the game, it consists of a grid of lights. At the start of the game, a random number or a pattern of these lights is switched “on.” Pressing any of the lights will toggle it, and the adjacent lights, from on to off. The goal of the puzzle is to switch all the lights off, preferably in as few button presses as possible.
Replace lights with totems and you have the game! It’s a cool little thing that you can do, and honestly I really like that they added something like this in. Besides the whole meta thing of a game within a game, it’s just a nice touch. I can see myself throwing time into playing it while I’m waiting for raid or I just have a few spare moments. I hope all of the class halls have something like this — something fun and that doesn’t come with the overbearing weight of a war to save the entire planet and possibly the universe from the Legion.
As far as first impressions go, I like what I see. Everything about the Shaman class hall seems to be well thought out and to me just seems to fit. One of the goals for Legion was to reinforce the class fantasy, and that can sometimes be very tricky because everyone has a different idea of what that should be. In case of Heart of Azeroth, well, the space is undeniably Shaman, so I think it fits in perfectly.
What do you think so far?
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