Roleplay: Older Content Lore and Leveling Your Character

I hope you’re ready to have your mind blown, cause it’s the craziest idea I’ve had recently, and it explains everything.

lich

While leveling my new toons, I can’t help but asking myself: how does it really work with the lore?

See for yourself: for example, a Nightborne character could have entered Azeroth only after Elisande’s fall – a rehabilitated Elisande follower or a cured Nightfallen. He or she could only participate in Tomb of Sargeras onslaught and Argus campaign. Your Lightforged Draenei’s experience is even smaller: basically it’s Argus/Antorus where your toon could have participated, and that’s it.

Your Zandalar could have participated in Mists of Pandaria events (on the wrong side), and your Mag’har orc was probably fighting in Draenor – again, if not a Frostwolf, on the wrong side.

How could they repel gnoll attacks in Elwynn woods? How could they be struggling in Stonetalon mountains towards the destruction of the night elf druid enclave? How could they help the Undead working on the blight strain for the Wrathgate disaster? And how could they heal the fires of Hyjal during Cataclysm events? Chasing Anduin during Pandaria events? Placing a final blow upon Archimonde?

The answer is so simple that it’s overwhelming: they did not. 

There are two simple things you should understand.

First, your toon could be mentioned as “hero” in the chapter of Warcraft Chronicles if he/she really did took part in the corresponding expansion. Doing dailies, struggling with talent trees and rotations, making its way to the final villain in raids.

Take my mage Micromantica, my first toon on the current account. She started in Cataclysm, and while she surely worked her way healing Hyjal via multiple dailies in the endgame content, she didn’t have a chance to raid. So she wasn’t the one to be present at Al’Akir, Cho’gall or Deathwing defeat (even if she visited the raids later). But! She surely was there in Siege of Orgrimmar, and she witnessed the fall of Garrosh with her own eyes. She was called commander and admiral in Draenor, and she witnessed how Sargeras plunged his sword deep in our planet.

In other words – your character is a hero of a legend that was current for him/her. If you start an alt today, it cannot be a veteran of Wrathgate or Draenor campaign.

Second – how does it work with the lore? As your Highmountain or Dark Iron, or a common Gnome, Worgen or Troll has to play through the old content.

The answer is also simple: this is a retrospective – an illusion, a history book that went live. You do not actually participate in the said events – you’re given a chance to relive the adventures of Azeroth heroes of the past. You get acquainted with the epic battles, making yourself proud of your faction, knowing what this all is about, and how did we get to where we are now.

And that explains how a demon hunter is able to defeat Illidan, or a Pandaren striking down the Lich King, or a Nightborne cracking open the Deathwing’s spine. It is not your journey. It’s a thing of the past.

The concept may resemble Caverns of Time, but with a significant difference. In Caverns of Time you’re actually participating in the events, trying to keep the timelines intact. Remember how you’re transformed into a dwarf, a human or a gnome if you’re Horde and you’re culling Stratholme?

During your leveling, you still can be a Pandaren killing the Lich King. The events… are not real for you. You just relive the memories and the stories of the past.

Understanding this, I’m finally at peace with having my Void Elf in vrykul fortresses, and my Lightforged in Zangarmarsh :) I’m finally at peace with leveling through broken timelines (like you level in Cataclysm events 1-60, then you go back to Outland, etc.). I’m at peace with getting an errand from Varian or Vol’jin. You’re not committing hero acts. You’re actually sitting in the library – and use your imagination, potions, or both to see the events of the past.

All your leveling until current content is nothing but a quality hallucination.

Deal with it! :)

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Antorus & Legion Ending Cinematic: Opinion

Spoiler Alert!

Sargeras

Alright, if you’ve seen the final expansion cinematic like I did yesterday, you may read on. If you plan to do it later – you’ve been spoiler warned.

So, the Pantheon reborn (or their spirits) trap Sargeras and infuse Illidan with their power for him to be his Warden.

The decision is not too wise in my opinion. It plays well with Illidan’s sense of exclusiveness – for now he revels at his new job. But Illidan is not the one to sit on his butt for eternity (unless forced to do so by Maiev & her Wardens, lol). Up to the dragging of Argus to Azeroth skies his life was full of finding adventure, to seek power and greatness. Yes, it’s the coolest thing ever – but what will it feel like after several years?

In other words, he’s not the man for the task :)

And we mustn’t forget about Sargeras’ ability to corrupt the living beings. He now has an eternity eye-to-eye and mind-to-mind with Illidan. And he has all the levers he needs in the night elf’s soul: his solitude, the fact that people of Azeroth may forget about him, and what is this greatness if no one knows about it?

In short, the whole resolution suspiciously reminds me of a time bomb, and not just a time bomb. The time bomb with countdown that has already began.

I hope they explain that decision somehow better in the raid.

Now, Vindicaar’s pilots and Aman’Thul’s ray which dragged Sargeras back. I mean, hey, you could have blasted the ‘brave mortals’ vessel to smithereens! It was a tough spot.

And Sargeras’ final act. Well, I still don’t understand why he was cosplaying a cloud when he could have hacked the planet in three blows. Why waiting for brave mortals to free Pantheon? I hope this is explained in the raid as well.

Anyways, the Silithus landscape is somehow epic nowadays. There is a big sword protruding from the ground, size of a world tree, and Azeroth’s blood seeping through the sands (azerite which we’ll be collecting for our BfA legendary necklace).

Now it’s obvious that we are saving Azeroth by the end of the next expansion. Either we heal her wounds or the titan awakes. She can’t just be there and bleed, not for long. What meant to be a relatively peaceful aftermath (Alliance/Horde war) has turned into a disaster of planetary scale we’ll have to deal with.

The cinematic has left me with unease and full of questions – more than answers.

 

Remember Theramore

theramore-before-explosion

Theramore, a city-state in Eastern Kalimdor, was founded after the Third War when humans, dwarfs, orcs, trolls, tauren and night elves defeated Archimonde at Mount Hyjal. The races then scattered across the continent, trying to set a peaceful life.

Orcs founded Orgrimmar, trolls inhabited the isles to the south. Tauren established their magnificent mesa capital in Mulgore, building the gates to protect their lands from nomadic centaurs. Night elves dissolved back in the forests, trying to heal the damage.

Humans and dwarfs who participated in the battle were Lordaeron survivors who believed Medivh’s prophecy and followed Jaina Proudmoore, managing to get away from the deadly blight and murderous Scourge hordes. They allied with Thrall and helped him cure Grommash Hellscream, which later allowed Thrall and Grommash to slay Mannoroth and free the orcs from their blood curse. They valiantly fought against the Scourge and the demons at Mount Hyjal, taking the first brutal attack waves of both demons and undead upon themselves, and stalling the Scourge long enough to let the orcs and night elves prepare their defenses.

After the war, Theramore was founded under wise guidance of Jaina. It has always been a peaceful state, until her father, Admiral Daelin Proudmoore, briefly took charge and tried to invoke a full scale war against the Horde who were busy with peaceful activities at the moment. Jaina, Thrall, Rexxar, Rokhan and other good people put an end to Admiral, and ever since the relations between the orc capital and the human/dwarf city state were friendly. Jaina and Anduin helped the Bloodhoof tribe to keep Thunder Bluff safe when Grimtotem tribe under guidance of Magatha Grimtotem initiated a treacherous mak’gora death of the previous chief, Cairne Bloodhoof, and then snatched the rule to herself. With Theramre gold, the tauren were able to hire goblin zeppelins and reclaim the Thunder Bluff throne. And Jaina was always friends with Thrall, arranging meetings from time to time.

Things went south under Garrosh rule. First, he saw Theramore as Alliance base – and only the Horde – more importantly, the Orcish Horde – may have ruled Kalimdor. Second, he was a murderous asshole.

A goblin zeppelin under Garrosh orders threw a powerful mana-bomb upon the very Jaina’s mage tower in the center. The city was evaporated.

theramore-after-explosion

Except Jaina, there were no survivors – she managed to magically shield herself in the last second. Vereesa Windrunner, also a citizen of Theramore, was out of town this time – so she survived as well. It’s because of this explosion Jaina’s hair became color white from stress and grief. Jaina, once a ruler of generous and valiant survivors and heroes of the Third War, lost everyone and everything in a second.

During the Pandaria campaign, blood elves used their admittance to Dalaran to sneak a powerful and dangerous artifact. This resulted in slaughter and exile of the Horde from Dalaran.

Do you really wanna call Jaina a bitch and a mad one now?

Jaina

In game, Theramore was my gate to Kalimdor. I remember well boarding my first ship and arriving at the peaceful Theramore harbor. Solving troubles with pirates and kraken, collecting turtle meat for cooking skills, doing first aid quests, my first meeting of Nat Pagle. And – on to exploring the continent!

I was also in awe with Jaina, grew to like her since Warcraft 3 campaigns as a clever, reasonable, kind and competent leader. Micromantica, my first character and my main, is Jaina’s friend and apprentice, skilled in frost magic like her mentor.

theramore-jaina

It’s my favorite Alliance city and my favorite Alliance leader of all. I’m always feeling for Jaina, and can’t wait her arrival on Alliance side in the next expansion – preferably in our brutal clash against the Horde. We would never forget the atrocities of the Horde under Garrosh rule. We would never forget the weapons of mass destruction. We would always remember.

Remember Theramore.

remember-theramore

The Next Expansion After Legion – Expectations

So, Blizzcon is almost here, and by all means we will get insights about the new World of Warcraft expansion. Let’s discuss our expectations about it :)

Warcraft-ships

Setting

First and foremost, it’s most likely gonna be a sea expansion focused largely on Alliance/Horde clash – and with an ultimate enemy of N’Zoth/Void.

The clues are these:

  1. Jaina holds a super grudge against the Horde – and she was not idle, most probably returning to Kul Tiras kingdom and rallying the forces. Boom – here’s your Alliance faction and base of operations. Jaina’s always there, she’s not idle, she’ll play a significant role.
  2. The Horde has a mad, conquerous warchief now, who’s ready for anything to win herself some space. She’s most likely to make allies with Zandalari – after all, trolls don’t have a leader now, so this thread may be explored. Zandalar islands is the Horde’s base of operations.
  3. Anduin stopped whining, and took his father’s sword. His peaceful times are over, yet Legion was not his fight. What’s he preparing himself for, believing that the Horde abandoned Varian to death?
  4. We also have Genn Greymane who would rip the Horde’s throats as soon as he has a chance, and now he’s a father figure to Anduin.
  5. See the Blizzcon presents for virtual ticket: it’s Alliance/Horde air battleship mounts. Isn’t that a hint for ?
  6. Vindicaar vessel’s travel technology happens in space… but don’t you think it will perfectly fit the isles and traveling between them? Don’t you think we just need a different map – a sea map, and we’re good? So, Vindicaar is a preview of your new garrison – your admiral ship. Which could be leveled and geared I guess.
  7. Blizzard couldn’t help and throw in the Void forces even at Legion’s home planet. If we go to the seas, it’s gonna be N’Zoth in the end – because whenever else?

All in all it looks very much like Pandaria expansion, with brutal clashes between factions and an ultimate common enemy in the end.

Race Focus

Legion in whole was exploring four races in vast scales.

We’ve got overfed with vrykul – more than they actually deserve. We’ve got a look at a rich community of moose Tauren tribes at Highmountain.

Then there were elves, elves and elves of every kind possible: warden elves, demon hunter elves, ghost elves, corrupted ghost elves and corrupted Nightmare elves, druid elves, rebel elves and nazi elves – and there was also elves we brought with us who also got a spot in the highlight. The amount of elves and elf stories was really diverse and would be enough to please even the most demanding elf fan. And in Argus we plunged deep in draenei history.

What I would like of the next expansion is obviously returning back to the roots.

So, for the Alliance, I definitely need human (Anduin and Jaina) centered story. Alliance must also rely heavily on dwarf and gnome technology of ship/submarine building – in fact, all the process of construction, exploration and all should be supervised by Dun Morogh guys. Gnomes and dwarves got their spotlight in… WotLK last time. You know, their titan origins. They deserve much attention – finally.

For the Horde, I could think of Goblins working hard to match the Alliance tinkering. And of course the Undead – as Sylvanas was forgotten for good since the first week in Broken Isles. Now she would return. If Zandalar would become Horde’s allies and base of operations, we must expect heavy troll lore – as far as we know, trolls have not selected their chief after Vol’jin’s demise. It’s Zul-Again, yes, but trolls are always interesting.

Summary

My expectations are:

  • Setting: Azeroth’s unexplored islands in the seas
  • Garrison: Battleship, with Vindicaar’s travel-type between the isles
  • Storyline: Alliance/Horde clash over the seas and islands
  • Ultimate enemy: the Old Gods
  • Climax: N’Zoth raid
  • New factions: Kul Tiras (Alliance) / Zandalari (Horde)
  • Major lore characters: Anduin Wrynn, Jaina Proudmoore, Sylvanas Windrunner, Genn Greymane, Gallywix, Gelbin Mekkatorque – for the clash. Alleria Windrunner, Magni Bronzebeard – for the Old Gods climax.

For me it would be the best expansion ever. Gnome/Dwarf/Goblin tinkering, discovering and exploring the new lands – beautiful lands and seashores, back to Azeroth from some other planets, and focus on Jaina – my favorite character.

What are your thoughts? :)

Jaina

Tomb of Sargeras Maps: Legion Raid and Warcraft 3 The Frozen Throne Parallels

This exploration/lore project is presented by Micromantica, the honored member of Ironforge Explorer League.

Maiev pursued Illidan into the Sargeras’s Tomb hoping to stop Illidan before he claimed the terrible demon’s powers. Inside, Maiev and her forces battled Illidan’s Naga as well as the demonic guardians of the tomb. Maiev was confronted by the Naga sea witch Lady Vashj, who told Maiev of the true nature of the Naga.

The Watchers also discovered runes written by Gul’dan himself as he searched for the Eye of Sargeras, as well as his terrible death. Eventually they discovered the central chamber of the tomb, only to find that Illidan had already claimed the Eye.

Taunting Maiev, Illidan used the artifact’s demonic powers to bring the tomb crashing down around the Watchers, hoping to imprison the Warden in much the same way she had him. Maiev managed to use her magic to escape, however Naisha and her remaining troops were not so lucky, and were buried alive.

That’s history. Now, let’s take the map of Warcraft 3 Frozen Throne mission and place the Tomb of Sargeras raid bosses on it.

This is Maiev’s way through the Tomb. She enters the center on the left side, and goes through the whole Tomb to reach Illidan. Obviously the ending point is the Avatar Chamber, because Illidan grabbed this powerful artifact, Eye of Sargeras there – that is why the Avatar is one-eyed in the raid. With this artifact Illidan tried to destroy the Lich King (just Ner’zhul then), but Malfurion, Tyrande and Kael’Thas managed to stop him later.

The_Tomb_of_Sargeras_Map-Warcraft-3-Maiev

And this is where the bosses in the raid are:

The_Tomb_of_Sargeras_Map-Legion

Goroth is here, because it’s the first big chamber after we enter the Tomb.

Then there is a rise to Demonic Inquisition – their location is arguable, but my guess it is just up the stairs.

The southern part held some mad elven guards as far as I remember, so the first big room should hold Sisters of the Moon boss. And The Desolate Host is most likely that next big and sinister chamber.

Blizzard accurately copied the flooded pipe where Maiev fought Naga. Har’jatan is at the place where there were many hydras, and Mistress Sassz’ine is by no doubts located at the chamber where we encounter Lady Vashj who told Maiev of the true nature of the Naga. There’s that big elven statue with the cup we meet on our way.

And the hall with Maiden of Vigilance/Avatar of Sargeras is the same spot. This is where Illidan ripped an eye from the Avatar, confronted Maiev and she had to flee all the way back and fast.

Enjoy your flashbacks and new picture of the old spots :)

Lore & Motivation Development in Legion

I’ve listened to the intro music on loading screen in the morning, and there played this hero piece – taken from theme “Anduin”. That very tune which makes you grab your sword, bow or staff and fight. Here I caught myself thinking: do I really care for what’s happening now and what is expected next on Argus?

Surprisingly I’m not.

What moves the story and your dedication onward is not just the plot, but also your emotions – specifically, why you want to kill the big bad. This is what making you fight, endure this or that grind (reputations, world quests, AP, dailies – name it) – to become stronger and kill the big bad with your own hands.

Legion started with the heaviest impact on both factions: both leaders were killed in action.

Varian

Voljin

Never before each of the factions was so united and ready for the revenge. The desire to prove yourself, to kill everything responsible, to rally with the new leader was strongest we ever experienced.

And… Blizzard blew it.

The whole faction glory subsided in the very first scenario upon entering Stormheim – this was the last we saw even a glimpse of faction pride. Leaders are nowhere to be seen. Anduin mourned his father throughout the expansion, and only in Broken Shore he visited Varian’s grave. But he’s not seen even in Argus previews – this is not his war, and this not his responsibility. Thus neither of this is concerning Alliance.

Sylvanas became the new leader of the Horde. Her very first act as a new leader was plotting to enhance the ranks of Undead, treacherous and dangerous. Nothing addressing the war against Legion. This is not her war, and this is not her responsibility. Thus neither of this is concerning Horde.

Do you see how this faction pride all went in a dumpster and got absolutely no development?

The only faction presence was in The Nighthold, led by Liadrin, Tyrande and Vereesa who were busy messing each others’ hair more than dealing with Legion. Gul’dan was a true climax of the expansion – although we dealt with absolutely new pompous elves during the whole raid. Still, we avenged what happened in Broken Shore.

What we see now is class order halls, filled with renowned heroes and champions of Azeroth.

All the host is guided by Khadgar, who’s the world’s Guardian, but at the same time having fun. Guided by Illidan who’s having LOTS of fun because this it what he does. Guided by Maiev, who’s more of a hen mother, supervising her Broken Isles jailbreaks and following Illidan. Guided by Velen, for whom the whole war is more of a personal business considering Draenei history, his issues with Kil’Jaeden, his revenge for his homeworld, his vengeance for his son.

I don’t feel involved – I’m not motivated to help them with their personal business. Blizzard ultimately failed to develop Kil’Jaeden, to make him the guy you want to fight with. He’s not present in Broken Shore and in raid. He’s absent until the very encounter.

On Argus we will deal with the ruins of Draenei homeworld which could be immersing for Draenei players and explorers/historians, but not for everyone else. It’s all the same black rocks and fel green puddles. It’s a raid where we don’t even see Sargeras himself. We’ll just get the directions to fight and kill more fel bosses. We can do that – but for loot only.

Remember the great villains of the past – Illidan who challenged us since the very starting cinematic in BC, Arthas who we wanted to end ever since W3 RTS, Deathwing who ruined the world with our favorite places, fucking nazi Garrosh, Mannoroth and Archimonde – hated villains since the very same RTS. In Legion, the climax big bad is Gul’dan, and we’ve already dealt with him.

What we are left with today is JOB to be done. We need to do the job, but are we motivated to do it? We’re not. And not a slightest glimpse of spirit and/or faction pride. Nothing personal is involved.

Legion: My First Impressions

I will be quick today, just mentioning the general highlights of the first launch days. There’s so much stuff in Legion that I will need separate posts for most aspects. Besides, I have many yet to discover and explore.

TL;DR – the new expansion looks and feels like work on the mistakes, and a successful one. Legion is awesome.

Launch Days: Getting Started

Night 1: Well, the launch itself was the main issue, especially in Draenor. This time it was… perfect. There was not a single, no, not a single delay or unexpected logout. There were no clogs in quests as far as I’ve noticed.

Legion started for me with my goblin shaman Schlitzchen – because she’s new to Elemental, and I wanted to explore this playing style. I got my quest 4 minutes before launch time – people got them during a 15 minute range, which was also a clever plan I guess. I transported into Dalaran, went for 15 minutes more while exploring the city to let the players wash away from the zone starting quests.

I did an artifact quest chain and got into my Class Order Hall. Beside the common stuff like artifact upgrade and mission table, there was a totem game played on the floor, and I played one round. It was fun :) Then I picked up a quest to Highmountain and went there. Did the first leg of questline there. Again, questing was totally possible. Mob tagging makes it easier, and there were no queues, delays, logouts etc.

Then it was three o’clock in the morning, and I decided to  do a pair of other artifact chains for other toons. By 5 a.m. I acquired two more artifacts, and went to bed.

Day 1

…was dedicated to acquiring artifacts for my Ultimate Team. I’ve acquired 12 artifacts in whole, and my head nearly exploded. Lore overdose. Oh my. There was so much information to process that I literally felt dizzy. Now I know there can be too much lore pressed into too little time.

After acquiring all artifacts I went for questing with Micromantica, the Ice Mage, my achievement toon. Not until she sets herself into daily level cap routine I’m touching any other toons. I need to experience all the lore and explore every corner.

On Day 1 I’ve completed the lion’s share of Aszuna questing and went to bed.

Day 2

…was dedicated to proper leveling. As I planned, I am not in a hurry. I’m doing every main quest line – obviously. I’m doing the corresponding fill-the-bar quests and also the extra quest hubs in the world corners. Finally, I’m not forgetting to return to Dalaran profession quarters and pick up quests for my professions (btw, they are awesome, but I’ll talk about it later).

So far I made it through Aszuna (loremaster and explorer), Valsharah (loremaster and explorer), Highmountain (loremaster). Micromantica got herself to level 107 (almost 108), and she has yet many things to do in the said zones. As for dungeons, I am doing them only after the zone leads me there. It’s just plain amazing how a questline leads you right to the dungeon entrance! So, I did only two dungeons so far, and I have Neltharion’s Lair saved for tonight to acquire my third Pillar of Creation.

I got used to the new Garrison things. It’s basically a Garrison, but improved ten times fold. Very easy to grasp, and yes, I admire the few follower thing. They must be few. They must matter. I must remember their names. Missions are rare which is also a good thing.

Good Things in Legion:

  • Questlines
  • Zones are beautiful
  • Lore overdose is awesome – you even have to take a break to process all that
  • Many little things to do even while leveling
  • Professions and profession missions
  • Revamped garrisons
  • Scaling, choices
  • Treasures and elite mobs

Questionable Things in Legion:

  • As a frost mage, I don’t feel powerful anymore. I need an effort to kill a plain mob on my own. I miss the times when my strongest spell could take off half a mob’s health – now I can’t do that. Every fight is – well, a fight, and it’s a bit tiresome. Yes, it’s a nod to vanilla – mobs do pose a challenge again. Yet I finish a quest hub covered in sweat and hands shaking.
  • Terrain is complex. I’m getting lost. I’m dying. But it may be for the first time. You must know, that if you have to climb some cliffs or swim the rivers to your next quest hub, you’re doing it wrong. There is always a convenient path – a road to get there safe and sound.
  • Nights. They are really dark, and it’s harder to do quests. With my playing time scheduled around 10 p.m.- 1 a.m. it could be a problem.

Bad Things in Legion:

There’s one certainly big drawback. Yes, I understand the artifacts are all the same in Legion, and they are the only weapon. But there’s no variety in questing gear looks among the zones.

Through leveling you get only one look – recolored from zone to zone, and that’s discouraging. My mage got this set from Azsuna questing – it was oh wow! Mage-y, and answering the zone style: magic cloths and fish scales.

Coming to Val’sharah, I’ve expected something new… Twigs, leaves. At Highmountain – hides and furs. Suck it. When you replace you gear in Val’sharah, you just recolor Azsuna set from white to greenish. Val’sharah to Highmountain – from greenish to goldenish. And the models are all the same.

Meh.

Many more specific posts are coming in a few days about professions, artifacts, classes, class order halls, leveling etc. I’m so excited about my starting experience! And more things are to discover yet.