Last night did not go as I actually thought it would. Yesterday was the patch that allowed folks like me who purchased the digital pre-order of Legion to roll Demon Hunters. Firstly I want to take a step back and acknowledge just how damned brilliant this idea is. Sure there were demon hunters everywhere yesterday, but the total number running through the intro quests felt reasonable. I realize they have gotten much better at instancing since the days of the Death Knight and Wrath of the Lich King… but still it seems rather smart to forcibly split up the population into waves. There are still lots of folks who prefer to do physical copies of games, especially one with a long tradition of having awesome physical copies. I guess the hope is that by letting some folks into the content early, that will mean that there won’t be quite the launch day crush on this single zone. Now stepping forward again, I had planned on playing a completely different Demon Hunter last night… as I continued working on my seasonal character in Diablo 3. This was largely due to the fact that I fully expected the servers to be burning down around me, and the game to be essentially in an unplayable state with Demon Hunters, Broken Shore and the Legion Zone Invasions all starting last night. I got home relatively early, and while waiting on pizza to arrive I thought I would pop in and at least create a character. For whatever reason when I boosted the Mage I just picked a name from the stable of names I have used in other games. Even though it made zero sense… I named said mage Belglaive… a name that would later be ideal for my Demon Hunter. As a result I also did a little renaming yesterday to shift my Mage to be Belglacial since I highly favor frost spec… which freed up the name for my demonic Night Elf. The other name in the running of course was the one I used on the beta server “Belblight”.
What happened in reality is that both myself and Grace spent the rest of the night playing World of Warcraft and participating in the zone invasions. I casually quested my way through the Demon Hunter starter content while eating dinner and then after getting dumped into Stormwind I was given the quest to do a Legion event. For those who have not done them yet, it seems like Blizzard has learned a lot from the past events. The ones that stick out in my mind the most is the Undead Invasion event that happened just ahead of the launch of the original Naxxramas and the release of Wrath of the Lich King. In those events items spawned in a handful of zones, and it was a mad dash for players to scramble over to the area to get enough completion on it to be able to qualify for loot. I ground these hard enough to get a set of gear for pretty much all of the armor types… sadly the leather set is stranded forever on another battle.net account but I still regularly wear the plate set that largely looks like a blue and brown judgement recolor. The problem with the event however was the fact that you were in constant competition with other players for spawns, and that it also caused you to camp zones until you got everything you needed. I spent so many hours out in Azshara… the good version not the one the version the Goblins later wrecked.
Maybe Space Goats Weren’t Unreasonable
What happens in the Legion Invasion event however is that at any given time there will be two “hot zones” in the world where invasions are happening. When I started playing last night those were Tanaris around Gadgetzan and Northern Barrens around The Crossroads. The part that I did not quite catch onto however is that each character can complete both of the active zones, and does not need to wait for the event to “start”. What happens instead is the moment you cross the zone boundary, you are stuck in an instanced version that is currently in phase one of the event. It seems as though all you really need to do is to be in zone as each of the phases shifts, and I am uncertain how much actual participation you need to do. There have been many times I was still flying to my destination when the event transitioned into Phase 2 and I have still managed to get full credit every time. Upon completing Phase Two you receive a Small Legion Chest and upon completing the Final Phase you receive a Large Legion Chest. From each of these a handful of things can drop, but the bulk are item level 700 weapons and armor, as well as some of the currency of the event Nethershards. It also seems like any time you take one of the “bosses” of the event that spawn and are marked with a Skull, you receive somewhere between 5 and 10 Nethershards per kill. In theory if you are wanting to maximize your earning, you would probably want to roll around as a team and focus entirely on killing the skulls as soon as they spawn. The only problem there is that they have mechanics… one of which was an version of old school Kazzak that essentially becomes invulnerable when he kills ten players. All of these Shards can be turned in for goodies including a Pet, full appearance sets, and individual weapons at the Captive Wyrmtongue <Reluctant ‘Quartermaster’> that can be found in Stormwind, Orgrimmar and occasionally out in the field as well. I know for example he spawns in Tanaris near Gadgetzan during that invasion.
Now quite possibly the coolest part of this event is that it appears to be level agnostic. To test this theory Grace grabbed her level sixty mage and brought it over to Tanaris where she was able to complete the event, with every mob appearing to her as though it were around her level range. When she opened the chests instead of rewarding item level 700 gear, it gave her gear appropriate for her level. That means players who are not even at the current level cap are going to be able to participate in this invasion, unlike the pre-launch events in the past. The best part is that it seemed to “just work” and if this is an example of how well their new tech works to auto level players to the content… I am pretty impressed. I know all of the zones in Legion function in this manner, and that you can start in pretty much any place while leveling through and complete the content in your own order. It is my ultimate hope that maybe just maybe this tech eventually trickles down to the older zones. Now the possible negative here is that I still love being able to solo raid content… so the hope is that maybe they can come up with some version of the “unsynched” style of play that we can do in Final Fantasy XIV. In any case it was a fun night of swapping alts and then flying across great stretches of the contents trying to reach where the legion invasions were happening. The two “hot zones” swap out every four hours, and largely right now I am looking at them as a good way of playing catch up on the gear for my characters. Only one of my characters is in the 700s item level wise, so pretty much everything I pick up from this event is an upgrade. Right now I am largely focused on getting the Warlock and the Demon Hunter geared out… because I have this feeling that they are rapidly going to become my alts of choice.