Artifact and class hall quests

I spent some portion of my long weekend dabbling in the beta with some different classes. As we are rather recently able to copy our live characters over, I stuck to the classes that I have on live, on the shaky theory that I have at least a passing familiarity with how to play them, thus would get a fairer impression of the opening Legion quests. Also, they tend to have a higher gear level going in than the templated characters.

So far, I have gone through the initial artifact quest lines on two hunters (BM and MM), resto druid, mistweaver monk, and demonology warlock. My overall impression is that the artifact quest lines are very well designed and draw heavily on lore more or less related to what most players think of as the class fantasy. The quests are not trivial, but neither are they overly long nor overly difficult, and if you die during them it is not catastrophic, you can pretty much take up where you left off.

The template for the introductory Legion quests (not counting the pre-patch events that will start possibly within a couple of weeks) is:

  • Do a rather drawn-out quest line in Stormwind designed to get you to the new Dalaran. The quest line includes doing a group Broken Shores scenario, which is quite well designed and sets up the Legion story line, but wears thin after you have done it once. Luckily, you only have to do it on one character per account. After this, you can tell the NPC that starts the whole Stormwind (and I am assuming the horde version as well) quest line that yeah yeah I know the story, just get me to Dalaran, and you are transported there. Thank you, Blizz. (But note that if you really want to keep doing the whole story quest line on all your alts you may do so.)
  • Once in Dalaran you will get some sort of class-related NPC that appears by you and starts you off on the twin series of quests designed to get you to your class hall and into your artifact quest line. I have found these mechanisms quite entertaining so far.
    • Once you accept this initial quest, you are embarked on a linear path that will wind up with you having access to your class hall, equipping your basic artifact weapon with your first weapon talent, and having access to the Broken Isles map that allows you to choose where you wish to start leveling your character.
    • The artifact quest lines mostly take place in areas with lore importance to your class. For example, the MW quest takes you to the Terrace of Endless Spring.
  • After this, the leveling process kicks in pretty much as for every expansion. In addition to leveling your character, you can find your profession trainers for your profession leveling quests, and you can start some of the quests leading to class hall follower missions. If you pick a leveling zone then change your mind, you can easily go back to the zone map in your class hall and pick a different one.

This is just a guess, but I think this entire intro process (up through getting your artifact weapon) will probably take the average player, with a level 100 character under 700 gear level, something on the order of 3-4 hours to complete, maybe an hour or so less if you can skip the getting-to-Dal part. Of course, YMMV.

I have written previously about the BM hunter and resto druid experiences and class halls. I found both artifact quest lines to be fun and class-appropriate, but in my opinion the druid class hall area has a far better “feel” to it than the hunter one.

Interestingly, I was also very pleased with both the artifact quest and the class hall area for my MW monk. Both the resto druid and the MW artifact lines require some basic proficiency with healing in order to complete them, and Blizz has done a nice job setting up your healer in an actual group with the NPCs so as to facilitate healing them. Also, since my monk is a panda, I was pretty excited to see that the monk class “hall” actually returns you to the panda starting area. This is something I have wished was possible ever since I first rolled my monk. (Now, if Blizz could just make it possible for my worgen to return to Gilneas…)

I had a little more trouble with my warlock (ilvl 710). I died a couple of times during the artifact quest. I think most if not all of this was due to the fact that I decided to change specs from destro (which I have played since Mists) to demo (which I have never played). But I have not been reading good feedback on destro locks in Legion so far (honestly, not on locks in general but that is another story), so I decided that since I was going to have to relearn a spec no matter what, that I would move to demo. Affliction is too dot-y for my taste, and demo seemed to offer the most versatility. It is not really all that different from destro, plus it has the advantage of not having to do the whole Havoc mouse-over dance to get decent damage numbers. (You expert locks out there will, I am sure, take issue with that opinion.) Still, it is different enough that I had some minor problems completing the artifact quest.

I was pretty unhappy with the warlock class hall setup. It does not even count as a “hall”, assuming the meaning of that word is, as Merriam-Webster gives for the simple meaning:

: a usually long, narrow passage inside a building with doors that lead to rooms on the sides
: the area inside the entrance of a building
: a large room or building for meetings, entertainment, etc.

Attention Blizz: a common theme in that definition is a freaking building! Not a big chunk of cold rock filled with green and purple fire and big honking monsters chained up and skulls and skeletons and hookers with whips everywhere you look. Seriously, someone needs to donate a bunch of dictionaries to the staff at Blizz, because they just seem to make up their own meanings for words. (Remember the trouble they always seem to have with the definition of “optional”.)

My idea of a class hall — order hall, whatever Blizz is calling it these days — is a place where you can go at the end of a long hard day questing, where you can kick off your boots and put your feet up and swap lies with your fellow class members. Maybe get a beer and a steak — or pebbles and bark if you are a druid, or whatever the hell kind of green glowy stuff warlocks might drink. But it should be an inviting place, with lots of places to sit and congregate, maybe some NPC-generated music like in the mess hall in Ashran. It should be a social gathering place, it should feel like home.

I just think Blizz has failed to grasp their own concept of class halls. Thus far, the only ones that work even slightly for me are the druid and monk ones. The hunter one is better than the warlock one, but both in my opinion — and for different reasons — fail in the categories of “inviting” and “socializing”. They are just quest hubs, nothing more, and slightly irritating at that because you have to leave the real expansion hub of Dalaran to get many of your quests.

And not for nothin’, but if class halls are supposed to be such terrific class gathering places, with horde and alliance joining ranks by class, all for the greater good, why don’t we have cross faction class-specific chat channels?

Blizz has said several times that they plan expansions years in advance. I feel like they had planned for more garrisons in Legion back when WoD was just coming out, but then there was a huge negative reaction to them. Not willing to scrap the whole idea, Blizz camouflaged them as class halls for Legion, but the camouflage is thin and they never really gave any depth to the reworked concept.

Anyway, here is the tl;dr: Artifact quest lines seem well designed, fun, and tell good stories. Class halls, not so much. 

Getting to the Broken Isles

Life has a sense of humor. As I wrote last Friday, my blog plan for this week had been to dissect the reported comments from the Blizz devs at last week’s Legion Summit, parsing their words like a Cold War intelligence analyst looking for political power shifts by seeing who stood next to whom at a Soviet May Day parade. I was going to do this because, honestly, I had come to accept that Legion Beta was not in the cards for me, despite opting in and entering every giveaway contest I could find — some every week. The best I could do, I thought, was scour every little morsel I could from beta testers and devs, and try to draw some insight from that.

Then Sunday morning, going through my email, I found that I had actually won one of the Wowhead keys from the Week 4 contest.

I was dumbfounded. In fact, I was sure it was a scam, but after some investigation I found that it was legitimate.

Thus, my new plan for the next few blog posts is to describe various aspects of Legion from  the point of view of a player like me — not a pro, most definitely not elite, but really a kind of semi-casual player who loves the game and really looks to it for the fun aspect, not as a competition.

SPOILER ALERT: I am not going to intentionally hold back on what I am experiencing as I make my way through the Broken Isles. That may include subjects you consider to be “spoilers” — you have been warned.

With that intro, today’s post is about the process of actually getting to the Broken Isles, which is the first thing you will be doing. It is not a quick process. Now, there are still some significant bugs in the beta, which caused portals to not appear, scenarios to hang, and random and fairly frequent disconnects, but even not counting those problems, expect to spend a couple of hours at the very minimum (could easily be longer) just getting to the Broken Isles.

The process is basically:

  • Get your initial quest in Stormwind (for Ally).
  • Do a few minor local quests, then get your first scenario from an NPC on a ship in SW harbor.
  • The first scenario is a group one, and the devs have said you will be able to do it in a set group or in a random group. Basically you will be identifying the extent of the Legion invasion, closing portals, rescuing prisoners, etc. It seems to not be difficult, but it is possible to die by standing in bad or by aggroing some of the many mobs. There are a couple of mini bosses, the whole thing takes maybe 20 minutes, and then you are sent back to SW to deliver something to the king.
  • In SW you will get a phased aspect of the Keep, where you will have to kill a ton more invaders to protect the king, and also personally shut down two portals in the Keep. I didn’t realize you had to shut the portals, so I kept killing mobs that are endless until the portals are shut down. DOH.
  • Eventually you are sent to a new area in the Mage Quarter, where you get what you will mistakenly think is the final quest to talk to Khadgar in new Dalaran. Actually, you are being sent to a sort of interim Dalaran hovering over Deadwind Pass, where you will get quests for more scenarios.
  • Your additional solo scenarios involve trips to Ulduar and Karazhan, and include an appearance from our old friend Brann. When you have completed these, you will be sent to Dal in the Broken Isles.
  • You will have to do a couple of very minor quests in the real new Dal, then finally your artifact initial quest will appear for you. You will also be given a Dal hearthstone. (It is not inn-specific, so is it possible that you will be able to retain an inn hearthstone as well as your garrison one — ? Maybe.)
LB-Illidari Representative

Path to Illidar representative in Mage Quarter, Stormwind

My impression of the intro quests is that they were very fun and engaging. Once. It is cool, even for a non-lore person such as me, to be taken on a sort of historic tour to set the stage for the entire expansion. And the progression makes sense, there is definitely a story path.

But trust me, by the time you get to your second or third alt, you will be thinking that poking sharp sticks in your eyes would be a more enjoyable activity. The quest line is set up without cutscenes for the most part, so you can’t even really Esc out of them, you are pretty much stuck listening to the very very very long narratives, delivered at the usual snail’s pace. By the time you have gone through it once or twice, I guarantee you will be screaming at your screen like a mad person, “Shut UP already! Get on with it!”

I can’t find the reference just now, but I believe a Blizz dev at some point mentioned that players will be able to take their characters through the Broken Shore scenario before Legion launch, during the pre-patch. I don’t know if there was mention of going further than the first scenario, but in my opinion, any advance actions you can take on your main and alts will be well worth the time, not to mention your sanity.

Oh, and by the way, I can confirm that the park in SW is in fact renovated. It is quite nice.

LB-SW Park

Your tax gold at work — newly renovated Stormwind Park

The character I rolled is a Night Elf hunter – beast mastery spec. In my next blog, I will describe the initial hunter quests to get to the class hall and to obtain your artifact, also some first impressions on the Legion BM play style.

Last thing for today, if you have specific things you would like me to look at and report on (except PvP and probably raiding), I will do my best to investigate them for you and give you my impressions.