Zadina

Legion Previews: Class Halls, Val'sharah, Darkheart Thicket & Black Rook Hold

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Blizzard has released blog previews for the Class Order Halls, the new zone Val'sharah and the two dungeons located in it: Darkheart Thicket and Black Rook Hold.

Let's start with the Order Halls! Blizzard has posted a blog with short previews for each Class Order Hall. If you want to learn a bit more about them, check out our recap of the Artifacts and Class Order Halls Q&A by Craig Amai.

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As you may have noticed, right now both the Alliance and the Horde are dealing with a bit of disarray on the leadership level. In World of Warcraft: Legion, you’ll need to step up and find new ways to band together against the invasion that threatens all of Azeroth. As you venture into the Broken Isles, you’ll join forces with other heroes of your class—no matter what faction they may be from—to make a stand and save everyone from annihilation.

Every class needs a place to call home—a special retreat where support can be found, and a war room in which plans can be made. In Legion, this refuge is known as your Class Hall, a unique-to-your-class place where the champions of Warcraft will work with you to meet the challenges that you face in the Broken Isles.

Death Knight—Acherus 

Acherus, also known as the Ebon Hold, was once a Scourge necropolis. It now provides everything a Death Knight might need, including a forge, a runeforge, and a soul forge.

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Where: Floating above the Broken Shore
How to get there: Death Gate
Notable denizens: Lord Thorval, Dread Commander Thalanor, Siouxsie the Banshee

Take a 360-degree look at Archerus on Facebook.

Demon Hunter—The Fel Hammer 

The Fel Hammer will be immediately recognizable to Demon Hunters—your starting experience in Mardum brought you here.

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Where: Mardum
How to get there: Teleport
Notable Demon Hunters: Allari the Souleater, Altruis the Sufferer, Kayn Sunfury

Take a 360-degree look at The Fel Hammer on Facebook.

Druid—The Dreamgrove

Across from Black Rook Hold, a thick forest provides a refuge known as the Dreamgrove. From here, the Emerald Dreamway is accessible, providing rapid travel to other points of interest to Druids.

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Where: Val’sharah
How to get there: Once unlocked, use Dreamwalk to teleport to the Dreamgrove.
Notable Druids: Keeper Remulos, Lunara, Malfurion Stormrage

Take a 360-degree look at The Dreamgrove on Facebook.

Hunter—Trueshot Lodge

Trueshot Lodge provides a unique set of flight paths that only Hunters will use. Here you’ll join Farstriders, rangers, and dark rangers as you put your survival skills and wilderness expertise to the ultimate test.

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Where: Highmountain
How to get there: Once unlocked, you’ll take a flying eagle from Dalaran.
Notable Hunters: Hemet Nesingwary, Vereesa Windrunner, and Rexxar

Take a 360-degree look at Trueshot Lodge on Facebook.

Mage—Hall of the Guardians 

The Hall of the Guardians is a tower in which mages of all stripes are working together to reform the Tirisgarde in Azeroth’s time of need.

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Where: Dalaran
How to get there: Teleport
Notable denizens: Edirah, High Sorcerer Andromath, Meryl Felstorm, Marud

 

Take a 360-degree look at Hall of the Guardians on Facebook.

Monk—Hall of the Seasons

The Hall of the Seasons, which comprises the Temple of Five Dawns and Mandori Village, gives refuge to Monks from all races.

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Where: Wandering Isle
How to get there: Zen Pilgrimage
Notable denizens: Chen Stormstout, Ji Firepaw, Li Li Stormstout, Aysa Cloudsinger

Take a 360-degree look at Hall of the Seasons on Facebook.

Paladin—The Sanctum of Light 

The Sanctum of Light is where the Knights of the Silver Hand have been restored in their unity, bringing together the Sunwalkers, the Hand of Argus, and Blood Knights, among others.

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Where: Beneath Light’s Hope Chapel in Eastern Plaguelands
How to get there: Fly to Light’s Hope Chapel, or use Dalaran portal.
Notable Paladins: Eadric the Pure, Lord Maxwell Tyrosus, Lord Grayson Shadowbreaker

Take a 360-degree look at The Sanctum of Light on Facebook.

Priest—Netherlight Temple

Netherlight Temple brings together a wide array of priestly practitioners, including high priests, priestesses of Elune, and shadow priests.

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Where: ???
How to get there: Take the portal in Dalaran found in your faction’s area.
Notable Priests: Prophet Velen, High Priestess Ishanah, Calia Menethil

Take a 360-degree look at Netherlight Temple on Facebook.

Rogue—The Hall of Shadows 

The Hall of Shadows brings together Rogues from groups as varied as the Shattered Hand, SI:7, and the Bloodsail Buccaneers.

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Where: Dalaran Underbelly
How to get there: Enter a gate that only Rogues may pass through.
Notable Rogues: Vanessa VanCleef, Garona Halforcen, Valeera Sanguinar

Take a 360-degree look at The Hall of Shadows on Facebook.

Shaman—Heart of Azeroth 

The Heart of Azeroth is a rugged and beautiful spot overlooking the Maelstrom itself. Here you’ll join the Earthen Ring and call upon the elements for aid in battle.

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Where: The Maelstrom
How to get there: Portal from Dalaran.
Notable Shamans: Rehgar Earthfury, Aggra, Stormcaller Mylra, Thrall

Take a 360-degree look at Heart of Azeroth on Facebook.

Warlock—Dreadscar Rift 

Dreadscar Rift is its own place—a strange world that was very recently inhabited by the Burning Legion.

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Where: Dreadscar Rift
How to get there: Portal from Dalaran
Notable denizens: Calydus, Jubeka Shadowbreaker, Ritssyn Flamescowl

Take a 360-degree look at Dreadscar Rift on Facebook.

Warrior—Skyhold 

Skyhold is a section of Halls of Valor where val’kyr bring great heroes who have been nearly lost on the fields of battle.

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Where: Stormheim
How to get there: Leap heroically
Notable denizens: Aurylia, Odyn, Hodir

Take a 360-degree look at Halls of Valor on Facebook.

(source)

The Legion zone preview blogs continue with Val'sharah, probably the most beautiful zone of the new expansion. This magical forest is home to all Druids: it was here that the demigod Cenarius taught the first Druids, like Malfurion Stormrage. The Temple of Elune is also located in this zone. However, the Emerald Nightmare is spreading through Val'sharah, threatening to destroy its lush forests.

The main themes of Val'sharah are: druidism, the Emerald Nightmare, Night Elves and the Green Dragonflight. You also need to prepare yourself: just as we had deaths during the Broken Shore scenario, a major character will die in this zone. Most importantly, though, the zone has something unique and amazing: unicorns!

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In this zone preview, we sat down with Senior Game Designer Steve Burke to talk about Val’sharah and learn more about what you’ll experience there.

Within these densely forested lands, you’ll find the very heart of druidism. This is also the location of the Emerald Nightmare and where the demigod Cenarius first met Malfurion Stormrage and later began his training. You'll also find key places such as the tainted world tree Shaladrassil and the dungeon Black Rook Hold—an elven fortress that dates back to the War of the Ancients.

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Enraptured Woodlands Composed by Edo Guidotti and Jason Hayes

Q. How would you describe the zone’s ambience? What’s it like?

Steve Burke: We were really shooting for what would be the closest to the Emerald Dream realized on Azeroth. Every square inch of this forest has been manicured by the druids for hundreds of years. We’ve got the Grove of Cenarius here, so that’s the fount of all druidism, right? That’s where all these uber Arch Druids have trained, so a lot of big history has happened there. 

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Then juxtaposed with this, we have the Emerald Nightmare. It was exciting, but it was tough for us to pin down how we would execute on that. We had some fits and starts, but I really like where it landed. You’ve got this big transition of “Hey, in the last week or two the World Tree that’s there has become completely corrupted.” It’s spreading throughout the forest, and I think we’ve got that really cool battle line drawn right through one of the Arch Druids’ groves. It’s just being taken over so you really get to see that cause and effect and contrast. Seeing what it does to the druids and the creatures—the centaur and the dryads—is really cool. We also have Xavius, who’s a villain who has a little bit of familiarity, so we didn’t have to do too much to establish him. You get to hate him right away.

To break that up, we really felt we needed Black Rook Hold for something a little different. We have a Gilnean village at the foot of Black Rook Keep, where they’ve carved out their own little area that wasn’t being used by the druids. It’s that classic little village in the shadow of the keep above.

Q. Which locations would you say are some of your favorites, and why?

Steve Burke: Black Rook Hold is definitely one of my favorites. This point of interest (PoI) in particular is my favorite because I had a blank slate. I could say, “OK, as a designer what makes the best PoI?” Not just art, but the gameplay and hitting that fantasy. I sat down with Julian Morris and other leads and talked about previous points of interest where you could stand in them and just digest the whole thing. It’s not accessible, and you can’t necessarily reach it, but you can get that goal of, “Oh man, I can’t wait to get into that place or up over the hill.” It kind of tells its own story just by looking at it. The setting already kind of speaks to you, and then we can focus on the little local stories and just have fun weaving you through. Especially something this epic where you gradually get there in the end. You’ve kind of solved a mystery—or set the stage for a dungeon, in this case. It’s really great.

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Another one is the Grove of Cenarius, and that is one of my favorites just because of all of the history. This is Cenarius. This is where he is. It was hard making this zone just in regard to how much druid lore we have out there. All these big characters—how do we do service to them all? If we threw everything in here, your head would be spinning. You’d get to spend two seconds on this character, and then you wouldn’t be able to really know them.

So we’re talking about the story that we want to tell as you go through the zone that takes up a little bit of player bandwidth just to say, “Ok there’s Xavius again and the Legion has empowered him. They’ve kind of resurrected him and now he’s impacting this force.” So a part of the story. How many characters do we get to fit in here without blowing the player’s mind? It was just clear Cenarius had to be here, but he’s so big and he’s so powerful, how can we have a crisis here if he’s part of the picture? He can just blow anything away, right? I like the way it landed where he’s just so interconnected with the Emerald Dream that when the Emerald Dream is under assault by the Nightmare, it has affected him in a very serious way. So we got to have him in the zone visibly, just not in a state where he can really impact events. 

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We can also still play with big characters—we’ve got Malfurion, and later we have Tyrande in there. That was tricky, since both Horde and Alliance interact with her. With her chasing after Malfurion, who’s been lost, there was enough urgency that it felt OK for her to use you as a Horde player, to set our differences aside for right now. For her, it’s a matter of making some very difficult choices between her husband and her duty to the Temple of Elune.

With the Temple of Elune, it’s under siege, and there’s a lot to lose there. This was something I always wanted to build towards—we’ve never seen anybody of Elune’s stature physically in the game. How do we get that to happen? 

Q. Why do you think a player would want to start in this zone first?

Steve Burke: I would say they shouldn’t—they should save it for last. It’s tricky though. All of the zones are great. I hope this is where druids are going to want to go. They should feel like this is their place, and if they don’t, I’ve done something wrong. That was day one where I was like, “Ok, I get to play with Val’sharah. Obviously, we have got to play these druids up in a way we just haven’t done before in the game.”

There’s been a lot in our lore that talks about how important they are, but here I just wanted to give them a story that would be super intimate to them—playable and appreciable by everybody, but one that would really resonate with them. Their Class Hall is here, but I wanted the zone and the zone story to be something they could connect with in a special way, so hopefully we did that. 

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Q. What is it that will bring them back to this zone?

Steve Burke: Mechanically, we have World Quests—that’s the easy answer. Storywise, there’s an epic story that goes through and touches on Black Rook Hold with Illidan. We’ve got the level-up dungeon, which is the Darkheart Thicket underneath the World Tree, and we’ve got the max-level dungeon with Black Rook Hold, so that will definitely bring you back.

But yeah, the World Quests—hopefully we set the table for you so that it will bring you back and put you into that familiar setting where you can keep helping to push back the Nightmare.

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Q. Is there anything else that players should look forward to here?

Steve Burke: There are a lot of little touches everywhere, but I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone who’s looking forward to that exploration. 

(source)

Darkheart Thicket and Black Rook Hold are both dungeons located in Val'sharah and they tie into two different story lines of this zone. The former is a leveling dungeon. Without spoiling too much, Malfurion is in terrible danger, after being abducted by the shade of Xavius. Is our favourite Druid going to survive? On the other hand, as you will notice while questing in Val'sharah, Lord Ravencrest is back and it is your task to defeat him in the max-level Black Rook Hold.

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Many challenges await the heroes of Azeroth in Legion, and among the most dangerous are the dungeons found in and around the Broken Isles. In this preview, we take a look at two of the expansion’s new dungeons: Black Rook Hold and Darkheart Thicket.

Black Rook Hold

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Minimum Level: 110
Location: Val’sharah
Bosses: 4

Carved from the greatest mountain of Val’sharah by ancient elven masons, Black Rook Hold stood as a bulwark against the Burning Legion during the War of the Ancients. The nigh-impregnable fortress is also the ancestral home of Lord Kur’talos Ravencrest, one-time mentor of Illidan himself. But since the latest Legion attack, a strange dark energy emanates from the Hold, and restless dead plague the surrounding lands.

Developer Insights: The encounter team was excited to tackle Black Rook Hold, which is probably the closest thing to a traditional castle that World of Warcraft has seen since Shadowfang Keep. It’s also a very different take on elven architecture than we’re used to seeing. Not much was known about the structure, other than the fact that it was built as a bulwark against the Legion, was named for its tower’s resemblance to a certain chess piece, and that it was closely associated with Lord Kur’talos Ravencrest, one-time mentor of Illidan. We doubled down on that last angle, beginning in the Ravencrest family crypt beneath the Hold and having the players work their way up through cobweb-filled corridors as the presence and influence of the Legion grow. The source of the troubles that have been plaguing the nearby town of Bradensbrook awaits at the top.

Black Rook Hold is a dark presence looming over the Howling Dale. It stands on an island on the west side of Val’sharah, connected to the mainland by a wide, intimidating bridge over the Emerald Bay. Inside, four bosses are waiting to give you a warm welcome.

The Ravenscrypt

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The Amalgam of Souls: Immense soul energy was released when Gul’dan conducted the ritual to sever Illidan’s soul from his body at Black Rook Hold. This energy brought the souls of the Ravencrest clan back to their ancestral home—and residual soul energy has merged them into a massive monstrosity.

The Grand Hall

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Illysanna Ravencrest: The daughter of Lord Ravencrest, imprisoned for millennia in the Vault of the Wardens shortly after the War of the Ancients, found herself free after Maiev released the demon hunters from their prison. Returning to her ancestral home, she sacrificed everything—including her very soul—to defend what she could not during the War of the Ancients.

The Rooks’ Roost
Smashspite the Hateful:
A brutal, imposing Mo’arg Lieutenant, Smashspite the Hateful led the Legion’s invasion of Black Rook Hold and commanded defense of the keep from the air via his colony of felbats.

The Raven’s Crown

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Lord Kur’talos Ravencrest: Kur’talos Ravencrest, Lord of Black Rook Hold, was the commander of the Kal’dorei Resistance during the War of the Ancients until he was assassinated by Varo’then under the order of Queen Azshara. Millennia later, Gul’dan’s foul soul magic has awoken Ravencrest’s soul, and those of his ancestors, from their eternal repose. The Legion, seeking revenge gleefully forced his soul into his body and mesmerized him, forcing him to eternally relive the horrors of the War of the Ancients.

Darkheart Thicket

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Minimum Level: 98
Location: 
Val’sharah
Bosses: 4

In the shadow of Shaladrassil, the Nightmare permeates every inch of the once-lush forest. Where the eldest and greatest druids once tended to the woods, meditating beneath the great world tree, corruption and madness now reign. Deep within the tangled thicket, the Nightmare Lord Xavius works to break the will of his greatest prize.

Developer Insights: This dungeon represents the pinnacle of the Nightmare’s corruption in Azeroth, showing the most intense effects of its power on a grove that was once a sanctuary for all Azerothian druids. We began work on this dungeon very early in Legion's development, and it actually served to inform the look and feel of the Nightmare corruption in Val’sharah, letting our artists and level designers define maximum corruption and then de-escalate as distance from Shaladrassil increases.

Darkheart Thicket is an outdoor dungeon in what once was an idyllic wood in the shadow of Shaladrassil. Now nightmares roam unfettered.

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Archdruid Glaidalis: Glaidalis was once known as among the most talented shapeshifters in all of Azeroth, and the elders of Moonglade would regularly send their most promising disciples to his care for instruction. But as has sadly too often been the case, those who are closest to nature are often the first to fall into the Nightmare’s clutches.

Oakheart: An ancient who formed from an offshoot of Shaladrassil itself, Oakheart has survived the Sundering, the Cataclysm and the countless blights. The ancient was able to weather these storms by drawing strength from the essence of the Dream itself. But now, that wellspring has become his undoing.

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Dresaron: Once a young green drake, tending to whelps in the shadow of the great world tree, Dresaron is now engulfed in nightmare, lost in a fog of hatred and fear. He lashes out with powerful wings and a withering breath, unleashing his rage on any who stumble into his clutches.

Shade of Xavius: Once a powerful mage and a councilor to Queen Azshara, Xavius forged a pact with Sargeras to enable the Legion’s first invasion of Azeroth. Cursed and tormented in the wake of that defeat, Xavius now projects his true power from the Nightmare into our world, focusing his dark might to break the spirit of his old rival, Malfurion.

(source)

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27 minutes ago, Zadina said:

You also need to prepare yourself: just as we had deaths during the Broken Shore scenario, a major character will die in this zone.

My bet is on Malfurion on this one.

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1 minute ago, Kirr said:

My bet is on Malfurion on this one.

Who knows? :D You try to save him in the Darkheart Thicket dungeon along with Tyrande. It's literally a race against the forces of Xavius. Will you be too late or not?

If you really want to find out, I have addressed this death in one of my Spoilers articles.

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37 minutes ago, Zadina said:

If you really want to find out, I have addressed this death in one of my Spoilers articles.

Can you link this article please?

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      Summary of the latest Q/A with Game Director Ion Hazzikostas about Patch 7.3.5 and beyond.
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      No questions about WoW Classic will be answered in this Q/A. In BfA, the Azerite system adds depth and customization that was used for Tier sets. For Battle for Azeroth, a lot of art variety will be added to the armor. There will be 1 appearance per armor type though, but more variety across zones. For transmog collectors it means more customization. There will be unique trinkets from raids. Azerite armor from raids will provide properties that can be found only in raids. Assembling people and maintaining schedule needs to feel worthwhile and properly rewarding. Patch 7.3.5 TL;DR: We'll see zone scaling, Legion epilogue quest content, Ulduar Timewalking and a preview of the new Silithus battleground (Seething Shore). In BfA, the focus shifts from racial identity to the faction conflict. Unlocking Allied races is more story-driven. Reputation barriers will be lifted. Doing the campaign should suffice. Heritage armor is restricted to races. More Allied races will be added in the future, but they want to add those that make sense story-wise first. Hunched races - Orc is the big one here. From the early beginning, we saw Thrall / Saurfang that had proper posture and it was a repeated request and they totally understand it. Darskpear Trolls will remain hunched - it's a part of the troll silhouette. Zandalari Trolls are upright though. Prestige system in BfA? They're looking at how the feeling of progression has been in Legion and are re-evaluating a lot of stuff. They want to make sure Prestige rewards are still available. Artifact skins in BfA  will be spec-restricted. Far fewer Legendary items will be seen in BfA, Blizzard will make them where it makes sense. As of now, they have no specific Legendaries in mind. No plans to change the Mythic raid size at the moment. The raid structure remained the same in Warlords, Legion and the trend will continue in BfA. They want to explore an option to enable Mythic cross-server raiding sooner. The team feels that Tomb of Sargeras was too difficult on Mythic difficulty. A few months after Antorus opens, there will be nerfs to Aggramar and Argus the Unmaker on Mythic. Is Aman'Thul's Vision personal loot? There's value in preserving discovery. We'll see in two weeks. When Mythic Antorus opens (Dec 5), you'll be able to get Mythic rewards up to +15. Order Hall Cache rewards will be retroactive.  Will Titanforging still allow you to get Mythic quality gear in Normal raids? Yes. It's about the moment of surprise. While you can still get a lucky drop, the Mythic raider is in all cases better geared than that lucky player. Odds of Titanforging will be looked into. They think it's happening too often. The idea of upward loot scaling is being carried forward. The hard cap on Titanforging would limit progression. World PvP will be revitalized in BfA. Creating a space where players who are looking for PvP can more reliably run across each other is the priority right here. Some players don't want to server transfer, yet they are stuck on servers with faction imbalance. The current thinking is to preserve the identity of RP-PvP communities. Legion is the expansion that brought the biggest class changes to World of Warcraft. It's jarring to come back only to see your class vastly reworked. Demonology will see a significant rework and Survival Hunter (the execution of the fantasy will be looked into). In terms of class changes, a good analogy would be Wrath of the Lich King to Cataclysm transition, minus removing 20 points of talents and adding 3 abilities to every class. Class buffs provide utility and they are returning in BfA. Some Artifact traits will be made baseline or baked into talents. For example Stormkeeper is a new Elemental Shaman talent available in BfA. Removing drawbacks from abilities is an area they are the most hesitant to entrench. What's happening with Hati for BM? It won't be carried forward. It's tied to Titanstrike.  It's cool to have multiple pets up as BM. and it's definitely something they could expand upon in the future. Improving animations is a long-term effort. New Warlock animations should be ready for the BfA pre-patch. Relics diluted the excitement of weapon rewards. The plan is to go back to regular weapon drops. The Underlight Angler will be carried forward, unlike other Artifacts. 50 characters per account limit will probably not be increased, but they're listening to community feedback.