With the Australian launch of World of Warcraft's sixth expansion hours away, Azeroth is not in great shape. Heroes are dead, leadership is faltering, and our only hope for salvation lies in a set of artifacts no one's seen for thousands of years. This is fine.
Me versus Gul'dan. I like those odds.
First, the non-spoilery bits. The Legion expansion pack brings massive changes to many World of Warcraft classes, introduces the Demon Hunter hero class, artifact weapons that grow with their wielders, class clubhouses (not what they call them) and the Broken Isles, where players will earn levels 101 through 110, will open for business.
The crux of the story here is the Burning Legion has returned, their way paved by orc Warlock Gul'dan, brought forward in time following the events of the previous expansion, Let's See What Happens When We Screw With Time Uh-Oh We're Fucked. Azeroth finds itself on the brink of an invasion even larger than the War of the Ancients, which for those of you uninitiated, was very big.
Now for the spoilers. Do not read on if you've not at least participated in World of Warcraft's big pre-Legion events, or you just don't give a damn.
These odds are a bit worse.
We are so screwed you guys.
The pre-Legion festivities kicked off with a special event which saw the Horde and Alliance storming the Broken Isles, seeking to nip the whole demon invasion thing in the bud. It did not go well. In fact, it went really, really bad.
First Tirion Fordring, one of Azeroth's greatest heroes, gets brutally killed by a massive demon while the combined forces of the Horde and Alliance can only look on in horror. Then the main assault begins, which looks something like this from the Alliance side.
We're so dead.
Just about every demon ever shows up to take on both the Alliance and Horde. Horde forces, led by Warchief Vol'jin and Sylvanas Windrunner, the undead queen, back up the Alliance assault. Or they're supposed to, until Vol'jin is mortally wounded. Sylvanas orders a withdraw, leaving the Alliance high and dry, which certain completely irrational mages with bad hair (Jaina Proudmoore) take as a betrayal.
The Alliance forces flee, led by Stormwind's King Varian Wrynn and Gilneas' King Greymane order a retreat. Varian, one of the coolest figures in World of Warcraft lore, stays behind to buy some time by being completely murdered by Gul'dan.
Now we've got Sylvanas as Horde Warchief, at least until she dies (again) and is replaced, since the Horde goes through Warchiefs like candy. Stormwind is now ruled by Varian's son, King Anduin, the same whiny kid we chased all over Pandaria two expansions ago.
This is just the beginning.
Meanwhile, the Archmage Khadgar has discovered the location of four mighty relics, the Pillars of Creation, which could be our only hope of repelling the Legion invasion. Their location has been tracked to the Broken Isles, the same place we just saw three of Azeroth's greatest heroes bite the big one. Great! Let's teleport the entire city of Dalaran over there for some reason and get to work!
I suppose this being a game Blizzard wants to continue for years to come, we'll probably win, but wouldn't it be awesome if we didn't? Just one day there's a huge battle, we screw it up, and the servers switch off forever. Pretend that's what's at stake, and the next ten levels are going to be pretty exciting.
World of Warcraft: Legion launches in Australia at 5:00 PM Sydney time, 3:00 PM in Perth and 7:00 PM for our New Zealand cousins.