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WoWJul 7, 2016 1:00 pm CT

Legion artifact and class hall questline Q&A liveblog

In just a few short minutes, the Warcraft team will be going live on Twitch with a Legion Q&A focusing on the artifact and class hall questlines. Lead Quest Designer Craig Amai will be answering your questions today, and for those of you who can’t watch live, we’ll be liveblogging the event right here.

Update: It has begun!

Q: Will the class order hall change as new patches arrive? The shipyard was added to the garrison. Will anything be added to the class halls?

A: They intentionally designed artifacts and class halls to be relevant for at least a few months regardless of patch schedule. However, future patches will contain more content for artifacts and class halls. They’ll keep an eye on community reception, however. If players don’t like it, they’ll back off. If they want more, they’ll provide more.

Q: Will there be more artifact appearances in future patches?

A: The community unknowingly got a sneak peek at this. During the first few months of Legion, there will be a few different options available: PVE, PVP, and “hidden” appearances. However, datamining has unveiled some new appearances meant for later content.

Q: What’s being done to allow artifact appearances to remain an option after Legion is over? As a Druid, going back to old shapeshift models will be terrible.

A: “There are some appearances I do not want to leave behind.” The thought right now is people unlock these models and colors over the course of the expansion, but after Legion, they want a method of carrying over those unlocks into future expansions. When Legion ends, there may be a cutoff where you can’t learn appearances anymore, but you can keep them if you earned them during the expansion. Weapons will likely be through the transmog system, but they’ll need to come up with a method for druid forms.

Q: Will there be a way to respec your artifact tree to optimize as you need until full unlock is reached?

A: There is a respec method, but it’s “a little expensive.” They don’t want you to feel the need to respec in between bosses or types of content, the price discourages you from switching repeatedly. Respeccing is equal to the cost of unlocking your next trait. Eventually you unlock every trait, so the only reason to respec is if you feel like you made a truly poor decision somewhere.

Q: Can we get a formal explanation how artifact knowledge works and will work over time?

A: The way artifact power/knowledge work: All of the content you participate in brings in artifact power which is spent on traits. Each trait costs an increasing amount. At low levels, the price increase isn’t too bad, but it ramps up at max level. Artifact Knowledge is unlocked over time and increases how much artifact power you earn. Artifact Knowledge will provide a catch-up method to close the gap between types of players or players who started playing at different times. The player who plays 4 hours per week will eventually reach the artifact power level of a 60 hours-per-week player, though the 60 hours player will still earn it faster.

Artifact Knowledge can be built through work orders which cost Order Hall Resources, but the number of resources required isn’t meant to be a burden. Even if you play less deeper in the expansion, you shouldn’t have too much trouble keeping up on those work orders.

Q: How will the artifact catch-up mechanics work for alts or alt specs?

A: You learn about all of your class’s weapons at once. Artifact Knowledge applies to all weapons. Even if you started as Frost, that Artifact Knowledge will apply to Fire, too. When you switch to an alternate weapon, you’ll earn those first bundle of traits very quickly.

For alt characters/classes: The speed at which work orders are completed will increase over time. Your first work order might take five days. Over time, if the system sees you/your character is particularly behind, that might speed up and only take four, three, two, etc days. This applies both to alts and people who started playing late into the expansion. If you started six months later than others, your work orders will complete faster to bring you up to speed.

Q: Will Artifact Knowledge be additive account-wide? Will all alts learning it apply account-wide?

A: Artifact Knowledge only applies per-character. It will apply to all of that specific character’s weapons, but each character will need to build up their own Artifact Knowledge. Much like professions, they don’t want a situation where the fastest way to build Artifact Knowledge is to have a full stable of alts. They want to create content where it’s compelling to play alts for the content, not because it’s the fastest way to do something.

Q: How long will it take on average to max out your first artifact?

A: They’re expecting it to take a few months to get every trait in your artifact. That will vary based on what type of player you are, but it’s their goal. That’s your first artifact specifically; additional artifacts will go faster due to Artifact Knowledge. Catch-up mechanics will make sure you don’t fall too far behind.

Q: Why is there a massive balance difference between how you obtain certain hidden artifact skins?

A: They want the weapons to feel different and the classes feel different, they don’t want artifacts to be the same across the board. “Hidden” appearances are where they emphasized this. Some of them have not been datamined yet and are even more difficult than what we’ve seen, but there are some easy ones, too: Ones which only require a gold purchase. In some cases, the ones which are most accessible are intended to give a certain type of player a fulfilling experience — hunters which only see themselves as bow hunters, for example, will be able to get a bow appearance for their artifact relatively easily.

Q: Given that artifacts complete many specs, how will levels 1-90 be balanced?

A: Traits (especially gold traits) do alter character power and how they play, but everything should be balanced before you have access to them and after. They’ve done a class balance pass in both cases, making sure classes are balanced before Legion content and after. You will still have a satisfying rotation in Warlords raiding content before you go to Legion and get your artifact.

Q: How will artifact appearances earned through professions such as Archaeology be unlocked? Character-specific? Account-wide?

A: It’s based on how achievements work. If the achievement is character-specific, such as Archaeology achievements, the appearance will be, too. If the achievement is account-wide, the appearance/colorization will be account-wide.

Q: Will artifacts be used to balance classes? If a class is OP, is the artifact a way of tuning them down?

A: Potentially. The artifact doesn’t exist specifically as a balancing tool, but it is a part of your character power. When it comes to balance, artifact traits will be taken into consideration just as much as your talents, spells, etc. It’s all part of a whole when looking at balance.

Q: Is there overlap between individual artifact quest lines? If I level all classes to 110, how much repetitive gameplay can I expect?

A: There are some acquisitions which tap into the same content and play similarly. Disc Priest and Arcane Mage go to the same location, for example. That will be noticeable if you do them one after the other, but none of the other specs go to that location. When looking at all of the classes/specs, there isn’t too much overlap. If you get unlucky and play the three specs which all go to the same place in a row, it will feel repetitive, but you could theoretically do 20+ questchains and not visit the same place twice back-to-back. There’s more unique content than there is overlap, and often when there is overlap, it’s still different due to taking class abilities into consideration.

Q: How will the lore for each artifact be explained in-game, and how will the new artifacts be elevated to the status of previously established artifacts?

A: The thing which should make artifacts stand out in the lore is their history. For Ashbringer, Doomhammer, etc, you already know these stories. For the other artifacts, they sat down and wrote out a backstory for all of these weapons. These backstories can be found in the tomes in your class halls, and as you gather Artifact Knowledge, you unlock new chapters of your artifact’s story. You will actually be able to read that tome if you want. The acquisition quests also get across the themes of these weapons and touch on side-stories in Azeroth.

Community Manager Josh Allen adds Ashbringer was about what he expected, but the new artifacts surprised him with how cool they were. Even though Ashbringer was the established weapons, that didn’t make the other Paladin artifacts less exciting.

Q: Holy Paladins have been using 1H+Shields for a long time. Why switch to a big hammer and a book?

A: In some cases, they want to hearken back to the old fantasy of the class. When looking at characters like Uther, the hammer and the book. Maraad also does something similar. (At this point, Craig Amai says a bad word, but we forgive him.) The mace and shield is what paladins have been doing in WoW, but it’s very passive. Can paladins get more involved with their weapon? Can they revisit that old paladin fantasy? They’re sure some people will miss shields, but this is what they’re trying in Legion.

Q: Will Tauren Feral and Guardian models have their horns? Can we opt to use the other models through glyphs or some other method?

A: The fantasy is you assume the form of Ursoc and so forth. In this case, it didn’t make sense to use the horns or racial representations. You are the avatar of Ursoc, Ursoc didn’t have horns, thus you don’t have horns. As for the glyphs to revisit old forms, they’re seriously considering it, but it won’t be in at launch.

Q: What will happen with artifacts in Legion patches? Will we get more traits to spend artifact power?

A: Again, they put more of a tail on this system intentionally. It will last a few months, then they’ll let it play out and see player reaction. If players think something is missing, they’ll consider it. They have some plans, and they have options, but they don’t want to write it in stone until they see the community’s initial reaction.

Q: Why are fist-type artifacts invisible when sheathed?

A: Craig Amai points out this has frustrated him, too, and he tried to find a way to keep them on the character. The problem is they have no obvious handle or haft which doesn’t give them an easy attachment point on the character. Just sticking them on somewhere looks bulky/bad and sometimes causes a lot of clipping problems. But they still wanted to go with fist weapons for elemental shaman, for example, because it allows those weapons to still be visible in combat: your fist weapons will show up while you’re casting spells, whereas previously you used bare hands for spellcasting.

Q: Why were the class hall teleports removed from beta? Ex. Warriors had a leap to Valarjar they could use anywhere. Classes who had them previously, such as Death Knights, get to keep them. Why?

A: They initially expected you’d go to your order halls frequently enough a teleport would be necessary for convenience. However, they changed their approach. You don’t visit your order hall as frequently anymore. They want you out in the world doing quests and following stories. Putting teleports in Dalaran instead made more sense, because they want Dalaran to be your hub, anyway. Rather than getting a class hall teleport, everyone gets a Dalaran hearthstone, and you can get to your class hall from Dalaran.

Q: Will additional famous NPCs show up in order halls during quests or patches? The warrior order hall is missing some in particular.

A: More likely the characters who’ve been introduced at this point will get more story. The warrior order hall is a different case because they originally envisioned it as a hall of heroes — a place full of the ghosts of fallen warriors past. However, it stopped making sense when they realized they were putting orc and human warriors in a vrykul heaven. They decided to instead focus on the vrykul fantasy, backing off of trying to integrate factional warriors who would never hang out together.

Q: What’s the reasoning behind limiting the number of order hall champions to 6?

A: They want order hall followers to be more recognizable than your garrison followers. They want each of them to be personal and compelling rather than lost in a sea of followers.

Q: Will there be a transmog vendor in order halls? Can you change your talents there? Does it provide rested XP?

A: There are no banks or auction houses, for example, in class halls. They want Dalaran to still be the primary hub and those can all be found in Dalaran. Transmog isn’t in class halls, either, but there is rested XP. And because there’s rested XP, you can change your talents there, too. (In Legion, you can only change your talents freely in rest zones. In other locations, it requires an item.)

Q: What was the reasoning behind allowing Trade Chat being accessible in class halls? Any worries about people sequestering themselves in their class halls?

A: It makes sense to keep Trade Chat available there because you can move freely between it and Dalaran. They don’t want you to lose your chat channels when moving between them.

Q: Why was marksman given a bow and BM a gun? Marksman = sniper, yeah?

A: If you asked multiple hunters how they view marksman, you’d get multiple different answers. Some marks players see themselves as rifle snipers, other see themselves as archers. It’s divisive. That’s why they’ve provided options through artifact appearances and allowing transmog.

Q: If there’s a big change to an artifact trait, will players be given a free respec to compensate?

A: They’d like to avoid it at all costs. They don’t want to be tweaking traits so strongly something like that would be necessary. If they absolutely have to, they’ll talk about it. The fact that you’ll eventually have all of your traits should alleviate any need. Once you have all of your traits, there will be nothing to respec, you’ll have everything already.

Q: Will artifact power profession, similar to item level, be a requirement to access content? Will this progression be required for LFD, LFR?

A: No intentions of requiring specific levels of artifact progression, but there’s still an ilevel requirement. Artifact ilevel increases as you find relics, so it’s taken into consideration that way, just like the ilevel of your weapon in prior expansions would be taken into consideration.

Q: Is Acherus going to be utilized better as a Death Knight base now or will it still just be runeforges and training dummies?

A: They have the same types of systems as other class halls. Runeforges and training dummies will still be there, but your artifact forge, your followers, your work orders, and mission table will all be in Acherus now. It’ll be as populous as the other class halls. Acherus was an existing example of what order halls could be so they polished it up as the basis for others.

Q: How did you choose which weapons each class/spec received? Was it a long process?

A: For order halls, they had to identify the class fantasy, look at the types of locations each class identified with, and finding a neutral ground for the factions. Priests couldn’t go in the Stormwind Chapel, for example, because it makes no sense for an orc priest to walk in there. For weapons, they wanted items which are unique — identifiable for specific classes, but also different from things they’ve had before. They wanted weapons which tied into stories of the world — maybe locations, maybe heroes.

That’s it this week! Jeremy Feasel is up next week to discuss world content. Josh Allen just mentioned the Viking truck rolling up in Blizzard HQ and now I want Viking, but alas, I am in Wisconsin and need to wait until BlizzCon.

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