Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Legion Six Days Out: Demonic Invasions Pre-Launch Event

I've never taken in a group of alts that are so astonishingly well-geared into an expansion before. I have characters of every class who have most of their slots with item level 700 or better gear in them. My Shadow Priest - my freaking Shadow Priest (if you don't read this blog much, this is my least-played character who typically hits the level cap and then chills for the rest of the expansion) is rocking a weapon that's comparable to the best the final mythic raid of the current expansion (meaning Warlords) has to offer.

Basically my Druid, Hunter, Priest, and Monk are missing like one piece of gear from the invasions.

Am I getting a little sick of them? Sure. The invasions are not all that different from zone to zone (though Westfall does have a Fel-corrupted Foe Reaper that spawns near Moonbrook in the third part of phase three,) but between the fact that it's one massive co-op love fest between every player who shows up and the fact that it really drives home the threat that the Legion presents (the fact that these same demons keep coming back is not just a gameplay thing - it's canon) and also the fact that low-level characters can participate (and level up absurdly fast - I took my Gnome Priest I created only to see the new Gnome starting area when Cataclysm came out on like two invasions and he went from level 8 to level 27 - and he has never left Dun Morogh.)

The demon invasions are clearly one of the biggest parts of the pre-launch event, but you can't ignore some of the other aspects.

The early release of Demon Hunters and the whole Broken Shore event make this pre-launch a kind of "soft opening" for Legion. It has given players a few weeks to try out the new class and decide if and at what priority they want to play it (I'm thinking either 3rd or 4th character I take to the Broken Isles - 1 is obviously my Paladin, then probably my Death Knight, then it's between my Rogue and my Demon Hunter, depending on whether doing three Alliance characters in a row will seem too much, or if the class-oriented nature of the expansion will make that less of an issue.)

The Broken Shore event and the subsequent quests are also, as I understand it, the quests that will be available to player after they hit level 100 once the expansion is up and running. You will be able to skip these quests on alts (I think you have to do it once on your first character) and come back to do them later if you talk to some NPC, but basically if you've been keeping up with the quests, you'll be able to hit the Broken Isles once the expansion goes live this coming Tuesday.

In all honesty, these pre-quests have actually gotten less impressive each week - we have the hugely important Broken Shore battle two weeks ago, then some traipsing around Ulduar and Karazhan with Khadgar last week, and today we shoot at some balls of energy in Dalaran. This might feel less anticlimactic when you get to do all of these in a row, but if you've been playing a lot during this pre-launch, this week doesn't offer a huge amount (unless you really want to run a crapton of invasions.)

And of course there are also the Dreadlords in the capital cities. I'm not usually one for forced PvP, but especially given how most players are out of the cities fighting invasions, the Dark Whispers thing this time around is just disruptive enough to be entertaining. And of course there are the non-player Dreadlords who drop a toy, which is always fun.

Really, though, if there's one thing to praise the most about this pre-launch event, it's that the stakes of this expansion have been made very clear. The Legion is trying to destroy us and our homes, and both factions have lost their leaders (granted, Varian's death felt more earned than Vol'jin's, but I'm pretty excited/terrified to see what a Warchief Sylvanas Windrunner is like.)

One of the big problems with Warlords of Draenor was that the Iron Horde never really felt like much of a threat. It was basically "The Horde, but it's only Orcs now, and they have contemporary technology!" to which we could respond "oh, ok. So do we. And we have more than just Orcs." The pre-launch event being stuck only in Blasted Lands meant that the Iron Horde had clearly only been able to take a tiny amount of territory thanks to a completely out-of-the-blue surprise attack - and we pushed them back with basically no difficulty.

The Legion though? Our first big battle against them ended in a devastating and humiliating loss. And now the heartlands of the Alliance and the Horde are under constant siege. This is a huge crisis, and one that demands the attention of the heroes we are.

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