World of Warcraft: Legion

Blizzard on World of Warcraft: Legion

We talk to Jeremy Feasel and Jonathan LeCraft about the upcoming expansion.

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We recently grabbed a word with senior game designers Jeremy Feasel (world events, demon invasion) and Jonathan LeCraft (demon hunter class) from Blizzard, and the pair had plenty to tell us about the upcoming expansion to World of Warcraft.

Legion is launching on August 30, and you can read more about our impressions of the overall expansion (here) and the new demon hunter class (here). But if you want to hear about the upcoming content drop from two of the developers chiefly responsible for it, keep on reading. First up, the pair hit us with the basics:

Jeremy: So basically players are familiar with demon hunters from The Burning Crusade, they fought Illidan and they fought some of Illidan's own students and they defeated him. We saw him as a villain, as someone reckless, who perhaps at one point wanted to fight the legion but descended into his own madness and his own dark views of the world. So with Legion we actually get to see the other side of the coin, you get to be one of Illidan's disciples and you see actually was happening and what was the thought process behind being so reckless and so furious against going after the legion no matter what the price. Allying with the Naga, allying with demons themselves.

So players will basically do a flashback to the Burning Crusade and play starting in the Black Temple and go into the demo homeworld and attempting to get the Sargerite keystone, which is basically an artefact that lets the wielder use the demon's own gateway to kind of use them against the legion. So after doing that players return and of course what they see is the aftermath of the force of the Shattrath attacking the Black Temple. So they will see Illidan being defeated, the Sha'tari Draenei rolling in with their glowing armour and basically cleaning up house in the Black Temple, and then Maiev and her warriors apprehending all the demon hunters and locking them away and throwing away the key, and the likelihood of the prisoners forever below ground except one thing that demon hunters train to do, the one thing that they were built for: killing demons becomes the indispensable thing that all of Azeroth needs when the legion comes back to Azeroth and attacks. At which point Maiev swallows her pride and does the unthinkable and lets loose a thousand demon hunters against the legion. Well, probably a lot less than that [Laughs].

Jonathan: Probably a lot more.

Jeremy: Well yeah, once you've finished that you'll be able to play with the demon hunter class.

Jonathan: Yeah the demon hunter class, if you pre-order Legion, will be fully playable on August 9th. Because you'll be [level] 100 you won't have all of you talent rows, you'll have 2 out of the 7, so I would say it's more of a taste of the demon hunter, but you'll be able to go out and do every thing other classes can do. So you do have to have a level 70 on any server that you want to create a demon hunter and they start at level 98. Once you're out of the starting area you'll always be at 100. Once you've levelled up your demon hunters you can go into some of the special events.

Jeremy: At the same time as the demon hunters are being broken out of the Vault of the Wardens, all of other players in Azeroth will be joining Varian [Wrynn] and Sylvanas for the next part of the pre-launch trailer. You saw them assaulting the Broken Shore, you are going to get to see them Gul'dan at the Tomb of Sargeras and try and put a stop to this legion invasion before it even starts. Perhaps to immediately spoil what the aftermath of that is, legion invasion begins across Azeroth as six strategic zones are taken over. Dalaran is assaulted, Khadgar's main stronghold, and insidious dreadlords begin to appear in Stormwind and Orgrimmar, all of those things are available to all players, even those that haven't pre-ordered yet.

World of Warcraft: Legion

What makes demon hunter a heroic class besides starting at a high level?

Jonathan: By definition of lore they are a hero class, in that this isn't about becoming a demon hunter, this is about a demon hunter who has trained and fought legions of demons already and you are being released again. What makes them so heroic is partially the lore and the level and the experience, and I would say just the attention to detail that we've been able to give them.

Jeremy: I mean there's no Level 1 demon hunters hunting boars. When you're a demon hunter you're already Level 98; you've already killed thousands of demons and you've already gone through initiation, same as a Death Knight. You had a previous life where maybe at some point you were a Level 1 human hunting boars, you had your own spell in the military and then you died and Arthas raised you as a Death Knight and you're already a badass, that's kind of part and parcel for that. You have your own start experience that kind of explains that background and you kind of get jumped into the high power part of the game.

Can you elaborate a little more on the class halls and explain what will happen to garrisons following their introduction to the game?

Jeremy: So the class halls system is you and all the members of your class really coming together to forge powerful artifacts so that you can take on the members of the Legion. It's a little bit more social than the experience of garrisons, you're all together as paladins at the same place and you're rebuilding The Silver Hand together.

At the same time, I think that you don't spend quite as much time in the class hall as you did in garrisons, it's more of a means of buffing your abilities to do things out in the world. You're going to either increase your artefact knowledge percentage that increases the amount of artefact power you have in the world, you can put together a very powerful bodyguard, and all of these things get you to go out in the world of Legion and do things like world quests and kill world bosses and have fun with other players.

But another part of it is really reinforcing the concept of class sanity. One of the major thrusts of not only class revamps but the entire artefact system was making it feel like this your unique class element. It was something that our assistant game director mentioned in a previous interview discussing the ability to play alts in Legion. I think it's something that we've all found, all us alt players, I have 12 different alts myself, are really enjoying how it tells a different story for each different class. So it feels very different. I know in some places they're really crazy awesome and pretty, like I don't know if you've seen the Warrior Order hall, but it's this glowing, golden world of Valhalla where you can look far off in the distance, like a city in the clouds. It's amazing. So it feels very different logging in for each class but at the same time, it doesn't feel like you're going to spend an hour there every day before you can actually go out and have fun. You login, you high-five your other warlock buddies, and you can go out and you go and do yourself some warlock stuff in the world

Will the Garrisons be of any value in the game following the new expansion?

Jeremy: I think they're going to fit into a nice levelling position and I think that one thing that a lot of us felt during the levelling experience of Warlords of Draenor was that the garrisons felt like they unlocked at a pretty solid pace. It felt good to unlock things in the zone and then come back and unlock it in your garrison. So you're going to continue to have that levelling experience if you're levelling up in Warlords and it will feel very punchy and it will feel very rewarding, but at the same time you're not going to have a huge amount of time that you're going to want to spend there. You'll probably see that we've changed a large number of the garrison missions that rewarded things that didn't directly contribute towards additional garrison progression, to things like things like garrison order hall resources that don't contribute to your progression. We definitely want you to feel like, if you want to, you can leave your garrison behind, that's okay.

Has the World of Warcraft movie affected the game in any way?

Jonathan: Well, we've definitely seen renewed interest. We ran promotions which allowed you to basically try out the game for free if you had purchased a movie ticket.

Jeremy: Additionally, when the movie came out, you were able to get some unique transmogs in game that mirrored some of the movie props.

John: We thought that was pretty cool. We thought that the movie did a really good job with the visuals and wanted to give players something like a memento of that. We had the replicas of the visuals in the game as transmogs.

Jeremy: I think one thing that you saw and in a number of the hotfixes that were made that in the 1-20 areas was it gave us a litte bit of chance to refocus on a new player experience and make that a little more fun, interesting and engaging.

World of Warcraft: Legion

What advice would you give a new player that has no prior knowledge of World of Warcraft?

Jeremy: Outside of any mechanical advice that will vary like places, class, specs, starting zone, etc, I think the best thing a person can do is find a friend and play with them. World of Warcraft is a social experience and it's made better always when you play with friends. You can always look up videos and guides, but if you have a friend to kind of answer questions and share the world with you, that's undoubtedly the best experience that you can have.

This is now the series' sixth expansion, have you any idea how many more there will be?

Jeremy: Well, we see the game as evergreen honestly. If we were to put our cards on the table we didn't think the game would go this long. If you think of traditional game expansions, you know, the games that Blizzard would be doing, we think of one main game possibly two expansions and that's normal. With WoW what we found is that we didn't want to stop playing the game and therefore we didn't want to stop making the game. So for as long as we're interested in playing we'll be interested in making it. As far as we can tell we're still going strong, this expansion has a ton of stuff to do it's really hard to put the beta down. Like you start playing and you always want to get the last upgrade, the last world quests in for your bounties and stuff, and it's really engaging. So yeah, we don't see the end quite yet.

Jonathan: I think 37 is probably a decent guess (Laughs)

Jeremy: I was going to say 35.

Jonathan: I'm optimistic.

You brought Illidan back into the game, is that because he's storyline felt a little unfinished?

Jeremy: It was for various reasons. We saw fans, one of the most crowded areas at Blizzcon was the Illidan statue. People came in and they wanted to take their picture with Illidan, it was a character that resonated with people. Every single lore panel Chris Metzen and Alex Afrasiagi received questions like, " what happen to Illidan?" "Is he really dead?" "Is he really coming back?", etc. Without even retconning anything we have this thing where demon hunters use the powers that they learned from demons themselves. They use powers that demons have and we have established in our game world that unless a demon is killed in the twisting nether, that powerful demons can go back and cling onto that lifeforce out there. So it was a really cool hook for us to explore and also, we felt like back when we did Burning Crusade we really didn't have all of the narrative tools that we have at our disposal now. So while there was cool story, like if you go back and play the key to the black temple and you play with Akama to betray Illidan and all that, there was a cool story there, but not to the level that we can do now. So it was really exciting to give him his next chapter.

Jonathan: Now there's a quest loop in Legion that all players can play that I think really thoroughly answers that question, and that's that Illidan's story hasn't been completely told at this point, and maybe we're just getting started.

Is there anything that you wanted to put in Legion that didn't make the cut?

Jonathan: Well, there's always a list of features that we want to get in that we don't get to put in that we get to save for a patch or whatever.

Jeremy: I can't think of anything large this time. I mean we made close to a thousand world quests and there's always that one extra one that somebody wanted to do, but I feel like this is one of those cases where we took the time that we needed to make the expansion that we wanted to make. Personally, I'm very happy with how all of the features came out.

What's one of the most craziest fan suggestions that you have received for Legion?

Jeremy: It's difficult to quantify, they're always in a bunch of random directions. I'll tell you what though, one of the craziest ideas that I always consistently get is every time we ask hunters about what they want to get out of new pets and new fun pet mechanics, is that they all want to be able to ride their pet and I will never understand this. [Laughs]

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