During Blizzcon 2015 earlier this month, World of Warcraft: Legion was front and center during the festivities. For the first time since the expansion was announced in August, fans and players alike finally got to hear more details about Legion and what it means to the game that millions around the world still adore.
Now that the dust has settled, let's take a look at five of the best things...and one inexplicable one...from Blizzcon 2015.
5. Demon Hunters
Of all the things that were presented over the two-day event, Demon Hunters were again given the star treatment as the centerpiece of the panels. With Illidan Stormrage coming back to life (literally!) and with the Legion once again threatening the safety of Azeroth, Demon Hunters will be integral to the success of the expansion, both in literal and figurative terms. Coming in two distinct types, the tank-y Vengeance and the DPS juggernaut Havoc, Demon Hunters follow in the footsteps of their fellow heroic classmates, Death Knights, as the pinnacle of prowess and prestige, in this case, for the Legion expansion.
We learned that Demon Hunters will be able to customize horns, their blindfolds, tattoos and skin textures. They will have their own unique starting zone that will lead up to the events where the rest of the game's classes will join the story and will wield artifact warglaives that rival the awesomeness of their leader's. DHs will also receive a class-specific mount.
It will remain to be seen how many variations of Illidan Stormrage's look and name we will see in the weeks leading up to Legion...how many can you think of?
Check out Bill's hands-on impressions of the Demon Hunter!
4. Class "Fantasy" and Feeling Unique
Blizzard is heavily invested in the idea of individual classes regaining their unique look and feel. Developers want classes to be immersive, distinct and empowering for players. They want to rekindle the "fantasy" of each one through the use of artifact weapons specific to each spec within a class and by the use of order halls as well. To further differentiate between specs, some like the Survival Hunter, have been radically overhauled and turned into something new -- in this instance into a melee pet class. Warlocks' Demonology spec has also been reworked into something utterly different than it is right now.
Additionally, skills are being modified or reassigned or even scrapped to give each spec something no other may have. Lastly, artifact weapons are being given a level-up mechanic that will allow players flexibility in play style by accentuating abilities most suited to their tastes. Blizzard is trying hard to remove the homogenized "flavor of the week" build and even the "only one way to play a class successfully" feeling that many players have become accustomed to over the last few expansions.
Oh...and Gnome Hunters -- amiright?
3. Professions - A Return to Relevance
Professions took a massive hit in the Warlords of Draenor expansion. Jewelcrafting, for instance, was gutted with the removal of most sockets. Blacksmithing was nearly always outdone by even mundane blues and the introduction of baleful items with the launch of Tanaan. The list goes on and, by all reports, Blizzard has heard the cry of those who love crafting and professions. Developers want crafters to have things to do, more content. To do that, recipes will be content-specific and may need to be collected through epic characters and quest lines, each with stories to tell. Recipes will rank up and become more potent and relevant. The trade skill UI has been given a lot of love to make crafting simpler and more intuitive. Collection nodes (i.e. ore, plants/herbs, etc.) will not be first-come-first-served any more, but will be "instanced" for all gatherers.
Most importantly: Bacon is coming to Azeroth!
2. Non-Linear Questing & Zone Level Scaling
Blizzard is committed to giving players something that approaches an open world for the first time in the game's decade plus of existence. Questing in Legion will not require "solve quest A, move to quest B, head to Quest Hub Two" but will, instead, allow players to jump from zone to zone in pursuit of storylines that interest them the most. While all paths lead to Suramar, the expansion's final raid instance, the journey can and will be unique for each player. As the development team wrote, "Structure, but not a sense of compulsion -- we want the entire world to make sense".
Dovetailing nicely with non-linear questing is the newly introduced zone scaling where Blizzard, as they said during Blizzcon, will "scale the world, not the player". By adding in zone scaling, players eligible to play in the Broken Isles will be able to adventure together without having to be the same level. They can jump in and out of zones together with seamless UI and combat integration. Level 108 players will feel they are fighting level 108 monsters; level 102 players will feel they are fighting level 102 monsters and each will be rewarded accordingly even if the same enemy was attacked and defeated together. While not much more was said or shown about this new system, it sounds promising.
1. Transmog and the Arrival of the Wardrobe
Transmog, or the art of putting together outfits for characters, is big "business" in World of Warcraft with players on the hunt through old content, new raids and dungeons and even via the slaughter of mundane monsters, in pursuit of holy grail items that will cosmetically overwrite the look of the current gear that is equipped. While there are 'sets' that Blizzard has created, a small cottage industry of sites has cropped up over the years to show off unique combinations of looks to allow players to feel special.
But that look has come at a price with players having overstuffed bank slots and void storage packed to the rafters despite the second 'page' that was added in Warlords of Draenor.
To give people more space, and more opportunity to create new looks for their 'toons, Blizzard is introducing a wardrobe system that will unlock cosmetic slots within the wardrobe that can be applied account wide to any character that can wear a particular armor type or use a weapon of a similar kind. Outfits can be saved and donned with a simple mouse click. Players can even create "shopping lists" of items they want to find to make outfits.
As if that isn't enough to cause swooning, players will also (FINALLY) be able to hide certain slots, most notably shoulders.
And Now for the REALLY?
There are some things that were discussed during Blizzcon that are decidedly on the "wait and see" side of the equation -- things like story, massive changes to PvP, class order halls and artifacts, to name a few. The one moment, however, when mulling over the entirety of the convention is....
ON OR BEFORE SEPTEMBER 22, 2016......
Officially, of course, Blizzard says "Summer 2016" and by that definition, "on or before September 22, 2016" technically fits. After all, September 22nd is the autumnal equinox, the official start date of fall so any time before that is considered "summer". It also doesn't rule out any other date between June 20th and September 22nd, but devs are hedging their bets by extending summer to the furthest possible degree.
Really though? Ten months with no new content and tumbling player populations hot on the heels of the announcement that no further subscription numbers would be released? Ten months? Blizzard has said that the spanning content between Warlords and Legion will last "several weeks", the expansion is still too far away.
Will it drag people back into the game? Assuredly it will. But to those who are still dedicated to the game, the announcement of such a drought of content has come as a bitter pill, though with the hope that Legion will be something special. Let's hope the wait is worth it!
So there you have it: The list of things that most notably caught our attention during Blizzcon's World of Warcraft: Legion coverage. What about you? What stood out to you? What are you looking forward to in Legion? Does anything concern you? Leave us your thoughts in the comments.