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The demon hunter experience (or at least the half of it) playable at Blizzcon is an amazing nostalgia trip for those who played during The Burning Crusade. Players start out having just arrived from the Black Temple, and through the new “talking head” quest system (essentially the dialogue boxes from WarCraft III, which I’m sure was intentional) we’re immediately caught up on events.
The player’s adventure to Mardum, the Shattered Abyss, occurs just before a group of twenty-five “heroes” assault the Black Temple.
Illidan warns you to complete your mission quickly so you can get back and help defend the Black Temple. As added incentive, the portal you took to Mardum was a one way trip. The only way to get back is to complete your mission and recover the Sargerite Keystone.
Illidan’s actual plan in Burning Crusade is finally revealed through this dialogue. The Sargerite Keystone is an artifact which can open a portal to any Legion world. Illidan’s actions in Outland were his attempt to build an army which would then use the Keystone to invade Argus and destroy the Legion once and for all.
All I could think while this was happening was: “Wow, Akama and Maiev are going to feel like such idiots should they find out about this.” After the explanation, you must immediately set to work killing demons and searching for the Keystone. One of the NPCs helpfully points out that it has to be in the giant volcano. It’s too obvious.
Aside from the updated demon models introduced in patch 6.2, two new types of demons make their appearance in this initial quest. There are the felbats, which I believe are meant to be the true form of the “shadowy bat creatures” described as serving the legion in Richard Knaak’s War of the Ancients trilogy and the Well of Eternity dungeon. More threatening are the “Imp Mothers,” giant demons floating in pools of lava who spawn imps. They also have odd german-accents for their aggro and death quotes. Thanks to MMO-Champion’s screen caps of the WoW panel, I can provide images of the two demon types:
Once these initial demons have been dealt with it’s time to bring in the reinforcements. There are three “Soul Portals” on Mardum, which will be necessary to bring in the rest of the Illidari’s forces. First the Ashtongue broken, the Coilskar naga, and finally the shivarra. Along the way, two more new demon types are introduced. First are the jailors, floating, legless demons whose beards seem to be made out of their skin (I’m not sure if this is a texture glitch or if they’re supposed to be braided tendrils).
The next type encountered is the inquisitor, floating, robed humanoids who oversee legion basis with their hundreds of magic eyes. In a really neat design choice, inquisitors don’t have any eyes themselves, their faces are completely blank above the mouth. Adding to this, upon death the inquisitor you face shouts “my eyes!” and vanishes, leaving a floating eye behind. Only one Inquisitor is encountered during the demo, one whom you must kill to learn the spell Spectral Sight.
While opening the three soul gates, two of them result in very interesting scenes. When opening the way for the Ashtongue broken, a felsaber accompanies them. The leader of the broken explains it is a personal gift to you from Illidan. Befitting its status as gift, the felsaber mount is unique to the player’s character demon hunter. The NPC Illidari use non-corrupted nightsabers, using a new model. The best I can describe them are the Mystic Runesaber mount without armor or magic effects. The Coilskar naga are summoned without much fanfare, but the final soul portal, used to bring in the shivarra, has a very interesting easter egg.
The soul portal fails to work as the previous two had, and the questgiver decides that it requires a more powerful soul than a demon’s to activate. You are given a choice, kill the questgiver and use his soul, or have the quest giver kill you. Thinking it would result in a funny Easter egg, I chose the latter and the questgiver actually went through with it. You are killed and your spirit is released at the nearest graveyard, as per normal.
Then Illidan contacts you with the “talking head” feature mentioned earlier. He is incredibly surprised, you appear to have an immortal soul like Illidan himself. This means, should you ever die, your soul will simply enter the nether until it can find a new body to inhabit. Illidan then orders to you to “shove yourself back in your corpse before it starts rotting” and resume your mission. An immortal soul is not the only thing the player character has in common with Illidan. During the quests, NPCs will frequently remark that you are Illidan’s best student, and the only one who has been capable of using abilities like spectral sight and metamorphosis (other than Illidan of course). In fact, one of the final quests in the demo is to teach the NPC demon hunters how to use metamorphosis.
Now that all the forces have been rallied, it’s time to go into the volcano and retrieve the Sargerite Keystone. Here we are introduced to the leader of the demons on Mardum: Brood Queen Tyranna. I initially believed she was a new, updated model version of a succubus. The questgivers, however, refer to her as a new type of “spider demon” called an aranasi.
The next few quests are about fighting the legion forces entrenched in the volcano, learning metamorphosis from an ancient legion text, teaching metamorphosis to the other demon hunters, and finally assaulting Tyranna’s flying fortress: the Fel Hammer. To reach it, the player goes to a flight path using felbats as the flight path mount. I really, really hope this is a sign that we will get a felbat flying mount in Legion. In a pretty neat final battle, where Tyranna will take control of the questgivers fighting alongside you (and you have to free them from this control by beating them up), you defeat her and claim the Keystone. You then head downstairs to activate the Keystone, and return to the Black Temple to help Illidan defeat those pesky 25-“heroes.”
On the way down, however, is an ominous bit of foreshadowing. In the room just before the portal, several aranasi are channeling an image of Dalaran … While this is obviously meant to connect with the “ancient secrets” we’re meant to learn about Dalaran in Legion, I find it more interesting that the image is of the current, floating Dalaran. During The Burning Crusade, when this portion of the demon hunter starting experience takes place, Dalaran was very much on the ground, in ruins and covered by a magic dome.
With Dalaran left a mystery, the last thing you must do is go through the portal where you see … a screen saying “Thanks for Playing!”
The BlizzCon demo was very enjoyable. I loved the idea of seeing what a world that has already fallen to the Legion is like, and demon hunters are really fun to play. Between double jump, a slow-fall wings, and a dash ability, they’ve usurped monks as the most mobile class. If the rest of Legion keeps up the quality seen here, I think we’re in for a good expansion indeed, and I can’t wait to see what happens next in the beta.
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