Dusk

[Report in the Communication Tome]

Success and failure. We met up with an army sent by Silvermoon to proceed to Duskwither on foot – Magisters were sent by boat to disrupt Legion attempts to summon a ship into Quel’thalas.

Minimal casualties from our side, and quickly made our way into Duskwither. With aid from tank, quickly took out the crystals being used to summon in more demons. Another new demon present – hooded and robed, blind, skilled in magic – but main eredar in charge was on verge of manifesting in Azeroth, possessing a magistrix whom we’d had dealings with before.

She hired us to retrieve bloodcrystals to power the Ziggurats and Sanctum of the Moon – the same bloodcrystals used to open Legion portals at those locations. We were played like fools by the eredar all along.

The magistrix is dead, and we have no way of proving our innocence in this plot. Though Quel’thalas is safe for now, we are being arrested for treason.

They say Vol’jin is dead, that the Broken Shore was a disaster, that Sylvanas is now Warchief.

Anrithen, Thelnarion, if you live, please come home.

– Keliera

Legion Hype Review

Every expansion, Blizzard creates some sort of tie-in outside the main game – something to explain the lore, or get us hyped up. One day Theramore is blown up, the next Gorehowl is embedded in a taxi in Times Square.

In Legion, that model has been updated quite a bit, and I have to say I’m very impressed. Legion’s lead-ups have – before the pre-launch event begins this upcoming week – covered one novel, a selection of comics, videos and an audio drama. Most importantly of all – the vast majority of it was free to access for everyone. Let’s discuss.

(NB: There’ll be no discussion here of the Illidan novel as I’ve yet to read it, though I hear it’s very good!)

Comics

Our first hint of lore came with the release of the first comic, dealing with Magni Bronzebeard’s return, his daughter Moira’s reaction and the clans of Ironforge. This was quickly followed by comics revolving around the Nightborne’s alliance with the Legion and the beginning of the Nightfallen’s rebellion; the mantle of leadership falling into Anduin Wrynn’s hands following his father’s disappearance; and the eruption of war between the Drogbar and Highmountain Tauren in the wake of the seizing of the Hammer of Khaz’goroth.

The comics came in both a default PDF version and an animated version with sound and music available on Madefire. As comics go, they’re very well-made, and in the Madefire adaptations Blizzard have stumbled upon a format that is unique, eye-catching and a level above a regular comic.

In comparison to the other pieces, the comics stand out as perhaps the weakest of Blizzard’s tie-ins, but on their own they still shine. They provide a depth and visceral experience that makes you feel almost there, and the stories covered within give just a hint of the plotlines to come. I was very impressed by them, and rather disappointed that we didn’t get more – Sylvanas/Genn tie-ins would particularly have been served well by this format, I think, and learning more about the other factions of Legion couldn’t hurt. But as a taster, they were fantastic, and I’d love to see more in future.

Harbingers Shorts

In the vein of past shorts Blizzard has produced (Shaohao’s Burdens and Lords of War) the three Harbingers shorts follow a storybook (and, as some have now pointed out, Hearthstone-style) format with beautiful animation, voicing and music. With just three episodes, there is less on show here than we’ve seen in the past, but each episode stands out very well.

The three episodes explore briefly the motivations and recent actions of the three titular ‘Harbingers’ – Gul’dan, Khadgar, and Illidan – no doubt marking them as main players of the expansion. Each features unique and well-drawn graphics, and I have to say I was very impressed, having not been as enthused by Maraad’s narration during Lords of War. These more personal stories brought us a lot closer to the stories of these three characters, and definitely got me more interested in where they were going.

There were some outright stunning scenes during these shorts – Gul’dan’s experience at the Throne of the Elements, as he draws close to, then rejects the elements in favour of darker powers, was haunting. The beam of magic shooting out of Karazhan was also visually stunning, as was the shot of Kor’vas removing her eyes to become a Demon Hunter. In particular, the Illidan short is the first thing I’ve seen that has truly enthused me about Demon Hunters.

I would again have liked to seen a couple more of these – having only three designated ‘main’ characters in Legion is a change from Warlords, or indeed Mists – though hopefully it sets the stage for other characters to impress during the expansion. Now part of a well-tred tradition, the Legion tie-in shorts were some of the best yet, and long may they continue.

Audio Drama

This was the wildcard, I have to admit. I was incredibly surprised to see Tomb of Sargeras announced, and very interested to listen to it. If you haven’t, I completely recommend you listen to all four episodes, available on Youtube and iTunes.

Written by Robert Brooks, who has done many past short stories over the past two expansions and adds Tomb to an impressive array including most recently two of the four comics and Chronicle, Tomb of Sargeras impresses both in literary and audio fashion. Between Brooks’ writing (which I’ve found to be among the best in the universe) and the incredible narration of Steven Pacey (who covers both the narration and all the character voices), Tomb is unexpected, stunning and incredibly immersive.

For me, Blizzard have almost nailed this format on the first try. The music and effects are just as well-chosen as that of the comics and shorts, the story is well-paced and intriguing, and the narration is perfect. I was blown away, and I have to say Tomb went above and beyond anything I expected. For me, it’s the breakout star of Blizzard’s Legion tie-ins.

The only disappointment was, actually, how fast it went. Released over four episodes, one a day, Tomb was over in a week, and after it ended I just wanted more. It covered a crucial story point we likely won’t see explored in game – the events at the Tomb just before the invasion begins – and included some incredible new lore about Aegwynn, the Pillars of Creation and the Tomb itself before the expansion even launches. This is one of the things I’ve loved most about these tie-ins – they haven’t been afraid to reveal things before the game does.

Conclusion

Without a doubt, Legion has had some of the best lore and tie-in materials I’ve seen, with not as much produced for one expansion since Cataclysm, and certainly never released all as fast. I can only hope that the tone Blizzard have set will continue, both throughout Legion and in the expansions to come, as it’s some of the best work they’ve done.

As with every release, it wasn’t perfect, and it can be improved on. In particular, the provision for hearing-impaired players was incredibly lacking, something I don’t think Blizzard anticipated would be a problem, as I’ve certainly never seen so much hype for out-of-game materials before. Dedicated players have created transcripts, but it would be nice for this omission to be rectified in future – everyone deserves to experience what is some of the best-made lore I’ve seen in years.

Blizzard have set the bar higher than ever before with Legion, and following the hype they created for Warlords, to say even that is an achievement. I hope beyond hope that they live up to it, because I don’t think an expansion has ever deserved its hype more. This kind of fantastic lore-building – stuff we rarely see in such detail in-game – absolutely needs to continue. Well done to all who created such fantastic tie-ins.

Thoughts On 7.0.3

I’m not really sure how to start a post like this, because whenever I talk about a patch it’s some long ramble on Twitter, usually punctuated with what I hate about a patch (5.3 stands out to me as a sore spot).

This, on the other hand, will be mostly positive – horrendous, horrendous camera issues aside (if you don’t know what I’m on about, go do Al’akir or Alysrazor).

My main’s an unholy death knight, and I have to say, the rotation has improved immensely. Not that I have ever really had a problem with the rotation as such, but Legion feels so much more fun. Festering Wounds add a much better dimension to disease management, and I now have actual reasons to use each of my strikes. Epidemic works a lot better than blood boil.

I have come across some negatives – mobility, in particular, was a big selling point of unholy for me personally, and I’m not especially pleased with the reduction in it. A similar thing goes for rune cooldowns – with now only Runic Corruption to help speed this up, I’m left with periods where I literally cannot do anything except auto-attack, and then suddenly surge into having too much to do at once. If there was a way of levelling this out, it’d help.

That said, I remain pretty confident with the spec, especially considering the perks of Artifacts aren’t even in play yet.

Regarding nearly enough everything else, I’m sad about the lack of garrison gold, but there’s already been a positive effect – the price of WoW Tokens is on the decline! Hopefully affordability is not far away. The sudden surge of resources is also helping me to level up a few professions on alts before the expansion’s end.

The addition of the ‘Unlearned’ tab on professions is a welcome addition for me to figure out what I’m missing, though addons do add a level of detail missing from this tab. The sneak peek at Legion recipes is also appreciated.

All in all, I’m looking forward to Legion! (Expect a hype post soon)

Omen

Keliera shifted in her bedroll. The air was hot and sticky, causing the soft windwool to cling to her. They were on the coast now, far from the protective barriers and harsh winds of the Kun-Lai Peaks to the south. The ocean winds brought hotter weather with them.

She threw off the cover. The smell of sulphur could not be avoided, lessened though it was. Quietly, she moved over to the open doorway, perching herself on the balcony, looking out over the waves. The two moons shimmered on the water, pale blue and white. If you looked far enough, the ocean and the sky became one.

She took a deep breath. The lands were still, save for the occasional bubble of fish drifting close to the surface. Everything was calm in Pandaria.

The sky certainly belied the panic of earlier. The foul clouds and fel-smoke that appeared briefly over the northern ocean had vanished as quickly as they came, but the warnings of the fel-addled troll still swirled around her mind. Could that talk be true? Demon-palaces, fires reaching into the sky?

It did not bear thinking about. She stared out across the bay, hoping the boat would arrive ahead of schedule.