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Professional Fantasy

World of Warcraft Columns - By Gareth Harmer on July 11, 2016

Professional Fantasy

The last time I wrote about World of Warcraft, I promised an update on Professions in Legion. And, while I’ve been growing my skill in tailoring and enchanting, I’ve also noticed something else about this expansion; the story is everywhere. There was once a time where I could just load up on crafting materials, stand next to a trainer, and grind my way to cap. Not any more – in Legion there’s actual Profession questing.

When Blizzard first announced Legion, they banged on about promoting the fantasy. We’d get an Order Hall to congregate as a Class, and Artifacts unique to our talent specialization with a unique campaign tied to it. We’d have abilities that were tuned to make each playstyle feel different. But, as the beta approaches an end, I’m beginning to realise just how far that fantasy approach goes.

In previous columns, I’ve focused on the story of Legion, looking at the Broken Isles introduction and questing zones. As a team, we’ve also looked at mages, hunters and the new Demon Hunter class. But, as I looked at Professions, I discovered an interesting trick. The fantasy Blizzard promised isn’t just a specialization thing, or a class thing. It extends throughout the entire Legion experience, from the zones through to the professions. The Tailoring quests make you feel like a tailor. The Engineering quests have you building and upgrading a robot. And it goes on, with each profession (including gathering!) getting cool stuff to discover.

The Journey to Mastery

Crafting itself begins in Dalaran, with the City of Mages now located in the Broken Isles. This means you’ll need to battle through the expansion’s prologue before you can access the new profession trainers, but before you start heading for your Class Order Hall. I’d definitely recommend doing this, as you’re likely to get sent on a quest to seek out a trainer or obtain some materials out in the open world, which might influence your decision on which zone to tackle first.

Finding the profession trainers in Dalaran is easy, as they’re all in the same section of the Magus Commerce Exchange as they used to be back in Wrath of the Lich King. They also seem to have a bit of a campaign – the Tailoring trainer had me scrounge up a few scraps of Shal’dorei silk, before attempting to stitch a robe out of it. When it failed, I was given a few patterns to make some basic shoulderpads out of the cloth, before being sent on to find another Tailor who might know the secret of sewing the new cloth into garments.

Not every single pattern, recipe or schematic is obtained this way, as a small collection can be learned from the trainer directly. Legion also introduces the concept of pattern or recipe ranks, which make a base pattern more powerful and more efficient to make. Some recipe ranks can be unlocked by the profession vendor once the base schematic is obtained.

Gatherer’s aren’t being left out in the cold either. Some harvesting nodes will occasionally drop quest items, while others might spawn mobs - you might even get lucky and find quest items on both. Ninja-harvesting is also taking a massive hit, as nodes will stick around for a few seconds after being looted, just in case any other miners or herbalists were hoping to score.

In the main, though, we can expect to be carrying out profession quests as we level through the Broken Isles, which is why it’s crucial to get on that crafting train as early as possible. It’s not just to coat ourselves in the finest crafted year we can make (no more set limitations!) but also to access profession world quests once we reach level cap. And on top of that, there’s a small matter of blood…

Obliterating the Blood of Sargeras

It wouldn’t be a Warcraft expansion without a limiting resource that’s needed by all high-end crafters, and in Legion that resource is the Blood of Sargeras. This precious fluid is bind on pickup, and has uses in almost all professions. Originally, the substance could only be obtained by gathering herbs or ore, making dual-crafters (think Tailor/Enchanter or Jewelcrafter/Scribe) unable to obtain any. For those who had sunk literally years into their crafting professions and amassed a range of rare recipes, this was a tough pill to swallow.

Luckily, it seems that we only had part of the picture. In a livestreamed Q&A, Senior Developer Paul Kubit revealed that the Blood of Sargeras is intended to be a measure of how much we’re playing the expansion, and not that we’ve just picked the right professions. Some of those profession World Quests at level cap will hand out the blood as a reward, and Dungeon bosses have been mooted as another source. Either way, it looks like crafters will have to do more than playing the auction house and dancing on mailboxes in order to be meaningful at endgame. For more on this, Warcraft blogger The Gold Queen has some sage advice on what to do when the expansion hits.

There is one other use for the Blood of Sargeras, and that’s in using Obliterum. Once we hit level cap and start collecting endgame armour, Obliterum is intended to be a way to upgrade it and keep it useful. Think of it like a highly explosive band-aid that both destroys and rebuilds your equipment, only better than before.

The reason for Obliterum is to make sure that crafting stays relevant in producing goods that people want to buy, without putting those with stacks of gold at a huge power advantage. And to keep that Obliterum train rolling, we’ll be able to flush away smash apart unwanted or surplus crafted gear in the Obliterum Toilet Forge, in order to get more magical upgrade nuggets. The Forge unlocks via quest at level cap, but I can imagine it getting some serious business as the expansion wears on.

Beyond the Builder

Overall, it certainly feels as though Blizzard has stepped away from the Garrison approach in Warlords of Draenor, which encouraged players to develop a small community of self-sufficient alts. Instead, professions resonate that feeling of fantasy – your character being a blacksmith because that’s who they are when not smiting demons – instead of being building blocks on a production line. As long as they all stay relevant (and yes, that includes Jewelcrafters and Scribes), I can see Legion shape up to be one of the most meaningful and enduring expansions for Warcraft.

There’s one area I haven’t covered, and that’s secondary professions such as Cooking, Fishing, Archaeology and First Aid. These will also have some love, with Archaeology in particular having a quest line that updates with the content updates. I’ve even spotted talk of an Artifact Fishing Pole for the keen anglers, although the quest to obtain it is hidden for now. Apparently, Blizzard are keeping some surprises back for launch.

It’s clear that Blizzard is going through the final phases of preparing Legion for the masses. A 20GB patch has already started trickling down to current players, with the pre-launch update due to go live sometime in the first two weeks of August. The change will kick-start the Burning Legion invasion events, as well as all the class updates and transmogrification system we’ve seen in Beta. Demon Hunter will also be unlocked as a new class for those who pre-purchase the expansion.

Even so, the beta train shows no sign of slowing down, with Blizzard launching a ‘Demon Bounty’ contest to offload even more Legion keys. If you’re looking to get into the beta yourself and check out the profession changes (or just enjoy the new content), you’re likely to be in with a chance. Just don’t forget to prepare for the change on live servers before that big patch drops.

Gareth Harmer / When he's not blasting or fireballing his way through a virtual world, Gareth "Gazimoff" Harmer can be found dissecting the mechanics of online games. Chua at heart, he's also our resident columnist for all things WildStar.