During the San Diego Comic Con panel on Thursday, Dave Kosak and company discussed about what madness is about to take place in Azeroth. He started off asking who could remember the Wrath of the Lich King events, where players could turn practically everything in the game into a zombie, and it was "a shambling mess of undead". He explained how it was one of those moments that players distinctly remember, and they wanted that same feeling to occur during the Legion pre-release. They know people are coming back, and it's a very go-big-or-go-home kind of feeling, that the game has been slowly building up for the past decade to the colossal invasion of the Legion. Crossroads is going to be one of the main areas of battle (what's new, am I right?), and it will take a "small army of players" to survive the event. If you haven't used Group Finder before, you certainly will for the pre-release experience. During the event you'll earn Nether Shards, which can only be collected and redeemed during the pre-Legion event, trading them in for bonus armor sets, a pet and toys. The invasions will happen every so many hours at first, but as the expansion release draws near, they will grow more and more frequent. I sure hope you all have your vacation days saved up, because there is a ton of green hellfire coming your way.
There is a new scenario coming: Battle of the Broken Shore. Multiple times during the panel the developers mentioned that things during the scenario will not end well, because if they did there really wouldn't be a point to a new expansion. After the scenario, you'll get to meet up with Khadgar and do some bookwork in Karazhan (and obviously go play the chess game while you're there). King Magni, who has been a diamond statue underneath Ironforge since pre-Cataclysm, will break from his pretty cage and have a very unique perspective on the current evens in Azeroth. Soon thereafter, the mages will move Dalaran to the front lines, where we shall begin the Legion expansion on August 30th. It was also mentioned that before the full release of Legion, all players will have the chance to start the new Demon Hunter class, and get a feel for what's to come. Kosak even went there, and said we'd be "chilladin like Illidan"; admit it, you laughed too. Starting at level 98, you kind of have a flashback to the Burning Legion days before being brought back to the present time.
The artifacts that are being introduced in this expansion are of the highest importance. You're given your own weapon artifact at the start of the expansion and keep it with you as you level and grow, with the weapon growing with you. There are 36 artifacts, and while developers were putting life into them, they wanted to make sure they not only looked amazing, they were unique for each class. Of course, one of (if not the most) legendary items in the game is Doomhammer, the weapon of choice for Thrall himself. Explaining how they narrowed down who should hold the Doomhammer, they went through lore, the fantasy of the weapon, and of course, the fact that Thrall is a Shaman. It'll go to Enhancement Shamans, as they are the only melee class - there's no point in handling the Doomhammer (DOOOOOM) if you're only casting spells like an Elemental Shaman and not going right up to the bad guy and whacking them in the face. As they developed these weapons per class, and then per spec, the artists at Blizzard were given a wireframe template of what the weapon should generally look like, and then asked everyone around the office what they'd like to see design-wise. From there, each artist works basically from start to finish on their own idea, making their vision come to life without outside artist interference. Overall they designed and built 208 weapons, which is more than they needed. Seeing the outpouring of creativity, the developers had artists basically take a week to themselves and design whatever crazy artifact they had in their mind. All these extras that were made during that week are being called "The Elusive 6th Artifact", and while I cannot show you photos, I can absolutely guarantee they look stunning. Spoiler: Arcane Mages will somehow be able to earn The Woolomancer's Charge, a staff that has a screaming sheep's atop it, giving a very hilarious nod to the spell Polymorph. I guess I'm going Arcane this expansion, because I need that more than air itself.
Respect had to be paid to the existing artifacts in game (such as Doomhammer, that is a large part of Thrall's story) but there still has to be a way to make it unique for the player. In that regard, each artifact has it's own storyline, making the game more individualized than it currently is. Dave Kosak discussed the Shaman storyline, where they were designing it to be so cruel as Thrall chucked the Doomhammer into the Maelstrom, but quickly realized there might be rioting in the streets. Developers wanted the artifact acquisition to be special, and Kosak likened it to finding the Master Sword in all the Zelda games.
They discussed the web series Azeroth Armory, and how the Blackhand's Fate version of the Doomhammer and was brought to life. Last year they brought Gorehowl to life, Originally the Doomhammer was going to weigh well over 300 lbs. if left solid, and that's scaled at 25% of the game scale! So figuring out that they could hollow it out and put some very amazing lights inside to imitate the fiery magma effect from the game, they made it a more reasonable weight of 50 lbs., which is still highly difficult to swing around. They debuted a trailer for the new episode, which unfortunately has not yet made it's way (legally) onto the internet. The show will debut in August though, right before the release of Legion.
Over the last couple expansions, they've developed so much content that can't all fit in the game, so they've expanded further into other media outlets. They first talked about their partnership with Random House and the new book Illidan by William King. Being one of the most iconic characters in the World of Warcraft universe, the people at Blizzard wanted to make sure a book was done properly. By the end of it, you know Illidan's motivations and get in his head unlike ever before, shedding more light on the end-game boss from Burning Crusade.
Next up, they discussed the leap into comic books, and they wanted their comic content to be more related to the expansions coming out, which meant bringing all their work in-house. The start of the four comics set for Legion is Magni: Fault Lines, outlining what he learned whilst sleeping in his diamond-y tomb. Then there were two about the new races in the upcoming expansion, Nightborne: Twilight of Suramar and Highmountain: A Mountain Divided. The latest release happened yesterday at San Diego Comic Con, which audience members of the panel received for free (limited edition to boot), and is titled Anduin: Son of the Wolf. You can view it online for free, and enjoy a Madefire motion book version, with both action and sound. **SPOILER** Needless to say, it's Prince... nay... King Anduin's time to rise and this is only the beginning for him, showing where the franchise is headed post-Legion.
An audio book series is coming! The series is called “The Tomb of Sargeras”, which is written by Robert Brooks and narrated by Steven Pacey. The series will be out in four parts on iTunes, and each piece comes with an art piece from a key moment in the story. This will explain Gul'dan's journey, how he opened the demon portal, and how poor Khadgar ultimately failed to stop him.
Lastly, Harbingers is coming to a laptop near you. This is a set of animated short stories that also explain how on Azeroth (get it, like Earth!) did Gul'dan make things so awful and the poor state of affairs Khadgar finds himself entrenched in. Yesterday at the panel they gave an exclusive first screening to con-goers, outlining the worst of the worst: Gul'dan:
While the panel was only about 45 minutes long, plenty of new awesome media-related information came out and raised the hype level for Legion just a little bit higher. The panel ran a little longer than expected so fan questions weren't answered, but considering we are just over a month away from the Legion drop date, I'm sure fans can wait to find out what they're dying to know.