World of Warcraft: Legion arrives later this month. For newbies or those of you who haven’t kept up with the goings-on in Azeroth, there is a lot to catch up on. In this Crash Course, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about that latest WoW expansion, including an overview of the lore leading up to Legion, major enemies and allies you’ll meet, and some of the new features coming with the update.
Come the end of August, the skies of Azeroth will be painted green; in fact, some good ‘ol fel fire is already raining down from above in the pre-expansion event leading up to the release of World of Warcraft: Legion. Right now players can hop into the game and try their hand at staving off the demonic invasions scattered across the world. High-level characters can charge into the Broken Shore scenario, racing up to the front door of the army and square off against Gul’dan… or at least try to reach him. Provided a player has pre-purchased Legion, the beginning quests for demon hunters are also available.
If you haven’t kept up to date with the lore — say, skipping the entirety of the last expansion, Warlords of Draenor — you might be scratching your head and saying “Gul’dan? As in the Skull of Gul’dan, that thingy whose powers Illidan consumed?” Yes, that Gul’dan. Sort of. Well, no, not really. You see, Warlords opened the door to an alternate universe set on the world of Draenor before it exploded and became Outland. The Gul’dan hatched from there still attempted to corrupt the orcs but was ultimately thwarted in his effort. Even though he was the “big bad” of that expansion, he didn’t die; instead, he was thrown into our version of Azeroth and given a new mission: make his way to the Tomb of Sargeras, crack it open, and lead the Burning Legion in their most recent attempt to devour the world we all know and love.
The Burning Legion
If you’re keeping score, this is the Burning Legion’s third major offensive against Azeroth — fourth if you count the little skirmish just prior to The Burning Crusade. In the first, they were defeated by the destruction of the Well of Eternity, the source of magic used by the Highborne. That pretty well ripped the continent into pieces, with the Well collapsing to become the Maelstrom. The Second Invasion ended with just as powerful an explosion, this time the detonation of the World Tree taking the Legion’s commander at the time right along with it. This also stripped the night elves of their immortality.
What makes the Burning Legion such a threat that the races of Azeroth are willing to split their lands asunder and give up their longevity? What makes the Alliance and Horde — bitter rivals to the end — come together?
Sargeras and the Titans
A long time ago, in a galaxy far away (seriously), the ancient Titans created order from chaos. On the new worlds, they raised mountains and laid seas, bringing all sorts of life to bear. The mightiest of these Titans was Sargeras. It was him the Titans turned to when creatures from the Twisting Nether found their way into the cosmos and began consuming and twisting what the Titans had wrought.
Sargeras was a noble warrior and faithful in his duties, waging war across the universe to protect life and order; however, after so long of a fight, he began to despair and see the way of “order” and the efforts put into it as folly, especially after seeing how easily and completely the Old Gods had consumed one of the worlds — made more devastating because these slumbering worlds could become Titans in time. Corrupted, they would become powerful agents of the Void.
Sargeras came to the conclusion that it was better the entire cosmos, in its imperfection, be burned away rather than succumb to darkness. Naturally, his Titan brethren disagreed, and so Sargeras turned to those he had fought against for so long, breaking them free from their prisons and forcing them to bend their knee to him. Thus, the Burning Legion was formed with the sole purpose of extinguishing life.
That’s the Burning Legion in a nutshell, albeit a psychotic one, and thus why the inhabitants of Azeroth would really prefer they just stay away. What makes matters worse is that nearly all the conflict that has plagued the planet is a direct result of the machinations of the Legion and their subjects. Take the Lich King, for example, one of the most easily recognized villains in the Warcraft universe.
At first glance, it sure doesn’t seem like the undead Scourge have much to do with demons from the Twisting Nether. Yet the first incarnation of the Lich King was Ner’zhul, originally a puppet of the Legion, stripped of his body and trapped within the Frozen Throne. The creation of the Scourge and the Plague of Undeath were meant to soften Azeroth and its inhabitants, making them prime for another Legion assault.
The worst of it — the thing that maybe only the shaman have a hint of — is that Azeroth isn’t just a planet. She is a slumbering world-soul, one that the ancient Titans realized was extraordinarily powerful. She hasn’t awakened yet, but could be a deciding force in the fight between the Light and the Void.
By far, the most hated villain in World of Warcraft: Legion is Gul’dan. He’s got a great pre-expansion animated short that reveals just how devious he is, literally wiping out his entire clan because they viewed him as weak. Though his attempts to corrupt his fellow orcs were largely defeated, he was hurled to Azeroth by Kil’jaeden. He found his way to the Tomb of Sargeras, and would have outright cracked the lock if Khadgar hadn’t shown up. Despite his best efforts, Khadgar couldn’t stop him, and so the portal did eventually open, allowing the Burning Legion to spill through. The Alliance and Horde launched an invasion against the Broken Shore in an attempt to stop him, but neither faction was successful and… well, if you like Varian or Vol’jin, you’ve really got a reason to hate Gul’dan.
The Great Deceiver. Kil’jaeden manipulated Ner’zhul into warring with the Draenei on Draenor. He tempted Gul’dan with power, leading to the corruption of the orcs and the first invasion of Azeroth. The Lich King was birthed by his hand, and afterward he was instrumental in the rift that continued to grow between Malfurion and his brother, Illidan. Now with the alternate reality version of Gul’dan, he has accomplished one of his highest goals: the opening of the Tomb of Sargeras that brings his Titan leader one step closer to Azeroth.
If Gul’dan is the dark, then Khadgar is the light. The former pupil of Medivh — himself a pawn of Sargeras — Khadgar is no stranger to the deceit and power of the Legion. Indeed, he refuses the “gift” of the Guardian powers when the spirit of Medivh greets him in Karazhan, despite the visions of destruction and the temptation; good thing, too, as the “spirit” was nothing more than a dreadlord who wanted to corrupt him. Khadgar stood against Gul’dan in the Tomb, and even though he failed in stopping the orc, he rallies members of the Alliance and Horde in fighting the Legion’s most recent incursion.
Most famous, or infamous, among the night elven Wardens is Maiev Shadowsong, noted not only for her ability to track down any prey, but for her dedication in bringing Illidan to justice. She has no great love of the demon hunters and helps capture those Illidari that returned to Illidan’s temple. She stands with Khadgar in his fight against Gul’dan in the Tomb, hurrying back to the Wardens’ base of operations when she realizes the Legion might want to extract Illidan in order to twist and corrupt him even further. It is she who then lets loose the demon hunters into Azeroth, knowing they are the only force now that is capable of standing toe-to-toe with the demons.
The Wild Card
The creator of the demon hunters, Illidan has always stood against the Burning Legion. It is this hatred that has blinded him in the past, as well as his lust for power that turned him into a pawn for a short time. Deemed “The Betrayer” by his own people, Illidan was the self-proclaimed Lord of Outland until eventually hunted down and deposed by Maiev. Imprisoned, his body was taken by Gul’dan, who then split his soul from its mortal shell, sending it into the Twisting Nether. What remains of his destiny is unclear: he has contacted his demon hunters and revealed he has a plan to stop the Legion and, indeed, one of the Naaru, ancient beings of Light, insist he is destined to be the one to end the age of demons. Yet the Legion obviously has a plan for him. What this plan is remains to be seen.
New Features in Legion
Here are some of the features that are either partially already available or coming with the official launch of World of Warcraft: Legion at the end of August:
Demon Hunter Class
These followers of Illidan are able to absorb the power of demons in their fight. The new heroes start off on their own planet before making their way to Azeroth. Their arsenal comes complete with warglaives and the ability to double-jump and glide by unfurling their wings. Easily the most enjoyable addition to the game.
Artifact weapons are especially cool for lore hounds. These are some of the most iconic weapons in the game, and players earn them at the very beginning of their adventures. Doomhammer, Ashbringer. Yep, you’ll earn them, wield them, and augment them with expanded abilities and skins. Each has a scenario tied to individual class specializations.
Players either gain their artifact weapon before, during, or after establishing their Order Hall. These are Garrisons, but much cooler. Only your particular class will have access to it (demon hunters get to return to their planet). There are followers and missions, and players can update artifacts, scout out new quests, and even hearth here.
Updates to Ttransmogrification
The new transmogrification updates include a new wardrobe feature showcasing every single item your character can acquire in each slot. Once players unlock an item, they can simply throw it away to avoid cluttering their storage and all items are cross-character, bound-to-account. This includes the oft-requested tabard storage.
World of Warcraft: Legion also includes an increased level cap, new zones, new dungeons, and more! Check out the WoWWiki for complete info on the new expansion.