"World of Warcraft: Legion" has taken the fight against evil back home after sending players to far-off lands in "Mists of Pandaria" and another dimension in "Warlords of Draenor." The new expansion officially arrived at midnight realm time on Aug. 30, or 3 a.m. EST. With all the celebratory fanfare, pre-release activities and genuinely festive mood throughout Azeroth surrounding the countdown, it might as well have been the Feast of the Winter Veil (or Christmas for all you non-"WoW" readers).
The "Legion" questline occurs two years after the events of "Warlords" in the Broken Isles. Orc warlock Gul'dan, a former renowned shaman who fell to demonic influences, enters the main timeline of Azeroth via a portal and finds the body of corrupted demon hunter Illidan Stormrage the Betrayer. Soon enough, the demonic Burning Legion regroups and begins an invasion of Azeroth in hopes of summoning the titan Sargeras, Destroyer of Worlds. It is up to the Horde and Alliance to band together and push back the Fel forces before Azeroth is overcome with chaos.
I have not been a player for long, since I joined just as "Mists" released, but in the two expansions I have lived through, I have not seen as much player interaction and anticipation in-game as I did with "Legion." Maybe I wasn't looking hard enough, but I only saw a sudden flood of Pandaren running around for "Mists," and "Draenor" mainly had people screaming over general chat on how badly they wanted to hit the level cap before the release. But don't get me wrong: There were indeed pre-quests before each expansion went live, but they were not catering to such a wide range of levels and classes as "Legion." I was very low level at the time of the previous two releases, so I most likely wasn't eligible to participate anyway.
My last first week of undergrad was crazy busy, so I was a little late to the party in terms of the pre-release quests. I regret not staying up on even the latest of those nights to take part in an incredible way to advertise the expansion and get more people hyped about it.
In six select places in Azeroth — three on each of the two main continents — were timed mini-invasions by the Burning Legion. Each consisted of three parts filled with a constant flood of enemies and bosses to keep players on their toes and willing to work together to clear each wave. Not only was the world at stake — the bounty of experience points was in jeopardy, too, if a player died during a boss fight.
"WoW" made a smart move and adjusted the invasions to match each individual player's level, meaning that a level 20 player could fight alongside someone at level 90 but still have the same experience. PvP was also turned off during those events, so Horde and Alliance alike could join forces without those select few jerks swooping in at level 100 to kill everyone for laughs.
These invasions helped my character advance four levels in less than two hours — something even a dedicated marathon of dungeon-running couldn't do for me. Some who started fighting long before me were able to pull characters up from level one to 41 or higher. Plus, players received dozens of loot chests filled with gear they could only get from participating.
There was such a strong feeling of togetherness in those events that I often don't get in "WoW." I normally deal with players spamming trade chat with political talk or people running ahead of the tank in dungeons and crying when they get killed. But during the pre-release invasions, priests, warriors, warlocks and hunters alike were all working together in one giant open-world dungeon, and we all pushed hard to get every bit of XP possible before "Legion" went live.
And then, as the realm clock started creeping past 11:55 p.m., the throngs of fighters trickled off, and I found myself next to the only other player in the area. "So I guess this is it," he said in the general chat. I agreed, and we parted ways.
I returned to Stormwind, the main Alliance city, just as "Legion" released, and my guild chat was blowing up with excitement and caps-lock screaming over how excited they were. Apparently, a huge crowd had camped out in Archmage Khadgar's room in Dalaran to grab the first "Legion" quest as it went live.
I was a little upset that I wasn't able to take part in my guild's "launch party," but as of that day, Saelithiel (my main) was only level 73. I have to play through Northrend quests, "Mists" and "Warlords" before I can even begin thinking about starting "Legion." I bet someone already has hit the new level cap of 110, though, but I'm more of the type to enjoy the scenery and adventure than grind into high levels to get new content.
I'm hoping to blog more regularly about news and experiences from Azeroth, so stay tuned.