Blizzard has announced the next expansion for World of Warcraft at Gamescom.
World of Warcraft: Legion will feature the return of Warcraft’s evil demonic army, The Burning Legion. After warlock Gul’dan escaped justice at the end of the MMO’s last expansion Warlords of Draenor, he sets the stage for the Burning Legion to return and commence a new invasion of Azeroth. Much like Garrosh Hellscream set into motion the events of that expansion, Gul’Dan is responsible for the legion’s return.
New continent The Broken Isles will form the focus of most the new expansion’s gameplay, while Dalaran will feature as the expansion’s capital city. Blizzard is raising the level cap to 110, and as well as the expected new dungeons and raids, there’s a new Hero class to play as – the Demon Hunter.
The expansion’s story will actually kick off before Legion launches at the end of the year. Players will take the fight to Gul’Dan at the Tomb of Sargeras, a might fortress that nor forms a nexus between Azeroth and any number of the Burning Legion’s worlds. With a massive demonic invasion, the Alliance and Horde will need all the help they can get.
Step forward the Demon Hunters, the game’s new melee-focused Hero class. Formerly elite soldiers working for Illidan Stormrage – who players killed all the way back in The Burning Crusade‘s Black Temple raid – Demon Hunters manage to return to Azeroth after being sent on a suicide mission by their former master.
Create a Demon Hunter and you’ll be able to give your character horns, scaly skin, and a blindfold. You can even give them wings if you like, though they’ll be purely cosmetic. Demon Hunters start at a high level, though it wasn’t mentioned just how high.
When it comes to Demon Hunters, the class will only have two different talent specializations: Havoc (a Tank spec) and Vengeance (DPS). Demon Hunters have a number of unique abilities. They can double jump for starters, and a new talent – Spectral Sight – will enable you to see enemies through walls and any enemies currently stealthed. Most interestingly, they’re able to transform in a new demonic form complete with its own special powers.
Warcraft‘s Night Elves will form a major part of the game’s story and new areas. Legion will explore the history of the Druids and a fallen Night Elf civilization. You’ll also be able to visit the ancient home of Malfurion, who later trainsformed into terrifying dragon Deathwing.
Artifacts are a brand new type of powerful weapon. There will be 36 artifact weapons when the game launches, each tailored to a specific class specialization. Fans will be pleased to learn that you’ll be able to wield Ashbringer, Doomhammer and a weapon that sounds like it will be forged from shard of the Lich King’s famous sword, Frostmourne.
Artifacts will be customizable, with their own talent tree. Weapon-specific traits can be unlocked by spending Artifact Power, a new resource that you’ll accumulate as you play. You’ll also be able to customize each weapon’s appearance, with a number of different skins and color variants unlocked by completing certain feats such as completing achievements, dungeons and killing certain monsters. Variants mentioned included a variant of Ashbringer that’s held together by crackling lightning or transformed into a flaming blade.
Class Orders will see various character classes banding together to save the world. Each player will be in charge of their own Order, and the Hall they found will only be accessible to other members of their class. Class Orders are another extension of what Blizzard says is a new focus on class identity, and sound like an evolution of the Garrison system from Warlords of Draenor. You’ll be able to recruit new followers and champions and send them out on missions, but there will be fewer of them and their integration into the game will be more meaningful.
Dungeons are one area where Blizzard admits that it has been doing a “disservice” to players and the game in recent years. Legion sees Blizzard aiming to make dungeons far more impressive and epic encounters, as opposed to the simple gauntlets that they’ve become over the course of the last decade. They’ll also be more numerous, and a number of new ones were introduced during the company’s conference. Valor Halls is a Vyrkul citadel, while Black Rook Hold is a once-mighty Elven castle that’s since been corrupted. Vault of the Wardens is a new introductory dungeon for Demon Hunters, a maximum-security prison that’s key to unraveling the mystery of just what Gul’Dan was up to in order to kick off the Burning Legion’s latest invasion.
By contrast, Blizzard says it’s pretty happy with the state of Raiding in Warlords of Draenor, so they’re not aiming to make any drastic changes to Raiding in Legion. Raids mentioned include the Emerald Dream and Suramar Palace.
For PvP, Blizzard revealed a new Honor system that it’s calling Version 3. In World of Warcraft: Legion, Blizzard wants to make PvP more accessible and more rewarding. To that end, the company is making sweeping changes to the current system, whereby Honor points are farmed and then spent on PvP-specific gear. The new system will feature far less of an emphasis on PvP gear.
Honor is now broken down into a ladder of 50 ranks, which will unlock new PvP-specific Honor Talents. The aim is to remove the disparity in power between two players who may have equal skill levels, but where one has an immediate advantage over the other due to being equipped with more powerful PvP gear.
World of Warcraft also features a new Prestige system, acknowleding the influence of popular online shooters like Call of Duty. You’ll be able to reset your Honor Rank and gain new Prestige Points. As you increase your Prestige rank you’ll be able to unlock new cosmetic-only content, such as special PvP badges for your character, titles and gear variants. One of the new Artifact Weapon variants can only be unlocked via this system.
“In World of Warcraft: Legion, the stakes for the Alliance and the Horde are higher than ever, so we’re putting some of Azeroth’s deadliest forces directly in players’ hands,” said Mike Morhaime, CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment. “Whether they’re wreaking havoc as a Demon Hunter or unlocking awesome new abilities for their Artifact, players will develop their characters’ power in ways they never have before.”
No release date was given, though Blizzard has said that there’ll be a beta later in the year.