Raccoon the grizzled Outlaw Rogue stands in demon-besieged Dalaran, moments before Azeroth's greatest mages pull off their most amazing feat yet: making me even more alt-crazy than I already was. Judging from the first few hours, Legion is going to be a very good problem for me.
The shot above was captured moments before the quest launching World of Warcraft's sixth expansion pack popped up on my screen at 2:52 AM Eastern.
With a click of a ridiculously crowded Archmage Khadgar, the assembled mages of Dalaran launched a cutscene, transporting the magical city from the skies over Deadwind Pass to the skies over The Broken Isles. I captured the first ten minutes or so of the experience in a commentary-free video below. If you want commentary, scroll on down.
Now that the regular demon invasions of Azeroth are done (and they will be missed) and the Demon Hunters are unleashed, it's time to switch focus to two of the new expansion's other core focuses. To be honest, I'd almost completely forgotten about Class Order Halls and Artifact Weapons, what with all of those demons. Within moments of stepping out in the newly-displaced Dalaran, World of Warcraft reminds us.
In the case of Raccoon, who my nephew convinced me I should main (focus on over my other characters) for the expansion, a courier found me on the city's flight platform, slipping me a message urging me to attend a clandestine meeting.
I'd like to think Raccoon is a nickname earned decades ago during some shady dealings.
The quest led me to "Oh yeah that's right, this expansion has Order Halls for each character class!" For Rogues that's an underground sanctum hidden behind the bookcase of an unassuming storefront, which is pretty much perfect. Raccoon was guided to a banquet hall where he found himself surrounded by some of the most famous Rogues in Azeroth. They're The Uncrowned, and they'd like him to be one of their leaders.
Lord Jorach Ravenholdt and Raccoon are twinsies!
That's right, I get to be a leader in Club Rogue, sharing a table with the likes of Valeera Sanguinar, famous companion to that guy who recently died. It's complicated. Lore fans will get it.
Valeera and Raccoon are best buds now.
Soon after Raccoon was initiated, it was time for Legion to remind me of its other big feature. After listening to tales of legendary weapons from three legendary Rogues, I was given a choice of which of them to go and fetch.
An easy choice, if you're committed to your specialisation.
Herein lies the problem I'm going to have with Legion. Not only does each character class feature an epic quest to obtain a legendary artifact weapon, but each class specialisation has one as well. If they're all of the same quality as the Outlaw Rogue quest I went on this morning, then I am going to have to experience as many of them as humanly (or gnomely) possible.
For the Outlaw Rogue's quest, Raccoon is tasked with recovering the Dreadblades from the Dread Admiral Eliza, who has captured your Uncrowned cohort Fleet Admiral Tethys' ship with her undead pirate crew.
Thar be a new ship in Booty Bay, arrrrr.
We sailed from Booty Bay on the Cape of Stranglethorn to a remote location on the coast of the Broken Isles. What followed was a sometimes gruelling test that made damn sure I knew how to play an Outlaw Rogue before letting me have my shiny new toys. We're talking stealthing through a minefield patrolled by skeletons with stealth-breaking bone dogs to "coerce" a target, infiltrating a heavily-guarded base and taking down a massive enemy using a combination of finesse and positioning.
Your allies will fire on this beast, but only if he's in the right spot.
But wait, there's more. I had to then breach an ancient temple, disarming a water trap by killing a series of sorcerous skeletons that I was pretty sure were bugged. I battled them for a half hour, and they would not die. I thought it was glitched. I logged in and out again. I restarted the questline. Finally my far-too-tired eyes realised the enemies were casting a complete heal on themselves that I was supposed to interrupt using the many buttons on my hot bar dedicated to doing just that.
Eventually I wasn't a f***ing idiot.
Then there was a battle with a pair of enemies through a collapsing tunnel, because that's the sort of thing that happens to roguish adventurers all the time. One extended battle with the evil Admiral after that, and The Dreadblades were mine.
You've gotta work for them, but that just makes getting them feel so much better.
Artifact weapons are powerful items with the best stats, the best damage, the best enhancements and the odd special ability. In the case of The Dreadblades, I can activate a skill that makes every attack I land add a combo point (a resource for activating powerful Rogue skills) at the cost of my health. They are cursed blades, after all.
Back in Rogue HQ, Raccoon is challenged by my favourite NPC of all-time, Vanessa VanCleef. The boss of the post-Cataclysm Deadmines dungeon whose goal is getting revenge for the death of her father, one of early WoW's most fondly-remembered bad guys, Vanessa VanCleef is a master manipulator and capable combatant. Whenever I'm in Westfall I spend most of my time telling every NPC in the zone that she's secretly a traitor. They never listen, stupid NPCs.
When your bae shows up in your underground lair.
Well, now she's my underling, which is about the best thing ever. I am never going to let her live Westfall down. "Hey Vanessa, remember that time you posed as a member of a prominent farming family for years, only to have your grand scheme thwarted by me and a random dungeon group?" Good times.
Once that was taken care of, Raccoon unlocked his weapon's skill tree (artifact weapons get skill trees, and I love a skill tree) before hitting up the base's deployment board to pick one of four adventure destinations.
Nothing like the promise of an empty skill tree.
Legion does away with the old method of breaking up new zones by level, instead scaling content to the player's own level, leaving where to head next completely up to them.
Eventually Raccoon and I decided to accompany Sky Admiral Rogers on an adventure in Stormheim, because nothing ever goes wrong when you're with Sky Admiral Rogers.
Everything goes wrong with Sky Admiral Rogers. She is the worst.
At this point it was getting up on 5 AM, and I was very, very tired, so I decided to call it a night.
I GOT A GUN AND A WOLF. A WOLF GUN. GUNWOLF.
Or maybe I took my Gnome Hunter through her artifact weapon quest, which tested every aspect of my Beast Mastery specialisation, pushing my abilities to the limit and rewarding me with a magical gun that basically grants me an additional Hunter pet. He's a lightning wolf, and he's the only thing keeping the power of Titanstrike in check.
I did sleep, eventually, for about an hour, and I'll sleep some more, but the other five level 100 characters on my account, the ones who haven't joined their class clubs or gone on a defining quest for an epic armament, are making very loud noises in the back of my head.
We're going to have issues, World of Warcraft: Legion and me. It's going to be awesome.
Two down, five to go.