BlizzCon 2015 – WoW Legion Preview & Impressions [Part 3]: The Broken Isles

Last Friday I found myself watching the “WoW Legion: World and Content Overview” panel via Virtual Ticket with the dumbest smile on my face. In this panel we were showed and told about the Broken Isles and the distinct zones to be added to our maps next year. They look simply outstanding.

The world of Azeroth is vast and beautiful, and for the last few months I’ve grown a huge interest in zone exploration (remember the whole #SpookyPlacesInWow thing? That was born from this personal desire). Plus, I love art, and all that concept art for the zones, creatures and even trees really made my chin drop. For the first time in 6 expansions, I’m seriously pondering purchasing the physical Collector’s Edition, just so I can get my hands on that artbook.

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The Broken Isles will be comprised by 6 new zones, 4 of which are aimed for 100-110 leveling (Val-Sharah, Highmountain, Stormheim and Azsuna). On top of those 6, there is also the subzone which will get everyone on the same page at the very beginning of Legion, following the opening cinematic.

The Broken Shore: This is where we’ll start our Legion adventures. The Tomb of Sargeras is located here, and this is where the Burning Legion invasion is coming from. Varian and Sylvanas, who are starred in the cinematic opening trailer, will be there, as well as a few more important characters. This area will work as a 40-man scenario, for both the Horde AND Alliance! I’m kind of curious to know how communication between players of different factions will work ingame, assuming that will be possible (probably not).

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Val-Sharah: A refuge for druids, this is where Malfurion Stormrage first met and was trained by the demigod Cenarius. The Emerald Nightmare is present and has already corrupted many areas of Val-Sharah, including the world tree Shaladrassil. Ysera and Cenarius will also be there to guide us through a very rich arc on Night Elves and druidism.

This is most probably the zone I’m most excited for because, even though I’ve been maining a hunter for all these years (and loving it), of all WoW classes, I do identify myself more with the fantasy of druids and their relationship with Nature. Val-Sharah is the heart of druidism in Azeroth, so obviously I am overjoyed.

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Highmountain: Home to the descendants of the Rivermane, Skyhorn and Bloodtotem Tauren clans, who fought in the War of the Ancients and have moose-type horns which are traditionally inscribed to reflect their affiliation and feats. The location of one of the tallest mountains in Azeroth, large aggressive monsters and also, BABY MOOSE.

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Stormheim: This is where we’ll learn more about the Vrykul culture, their gods and the origins of the Val’kyr and the Kvaldir. Treacherous highlands with a natural beauty that reflects the spirit of this people. There will be new Vrykul architecture and a new dragonflight, the stormdrakes!

I really loved the Vrykul back in Wrath of the Lich King and I’m glad Blizzard was far from done with them. It’s super cool to see them come back to the storyline and there is clearly lots of inspiration from Norse mythology here which I find utterly awesome. There’s even a reference to Hel, a giantess and goddess who rules over the underworld, or Helheim, where the dead dwell (sound familiar?).

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Azsuna: The ruined and cursed home of what’s left of the ancient night elves, whose civilization was devastated by Queen Azshara. There are many mysteries here, as well as a dying breed of the Blue Dragonflight. And of course, we’ll get to see and fight the Naga again in a race for control of one of the Pillars of Creation.

I personally love the ancient greek feel of this zone, with all the elven ruins punctuated by hanging gardens and cypress trees. Seriously, the art team has done such a beautiful work with this expansion.

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Suramar: The final zone of the Sargeras questline, Suramar is an ancient elven metropolis and the location of the corrupted Nightwell on which the arcane-based Nightborne elves have become dependent. This is also where Gul’dan is taking shelter and plotting the next step for his Legion masters.

The way I see it, Suramar is a paradise for anyone who’s passionate for Night Elves and their history. And it looks so dreamy. This zone will be accessible only at lvl110, unlike the previous ones.

Thal’dranath: Not much information yet, but this will be the equivalent of Tanaan Jungle and will thus become available later in the expansion.

All the new zones have amazing visuals and an interesting story behind them, but the most innovating aspect is the fact that the four leveling zones will be scaling to our character’s level, so we’ll be able to pick our own path in the Broken Isles until lvl110! This is a very interesting concept even though it raises me many questions and a little concern; how will this work, exactly? If I’m questing in Azsuna at lvl103 and there’s someone else nearby at lvl107, at what level will the mobs be? Will this be managed via lots of zone phases? And how will that work in terms of rare mob spawns (like the mount rares in Draenor, if similar will exist)? Also, how will the different zones relate to each other in terms of lore? Will there be any links?

I hope we’ll get the answers to these questions soon (if any of these have already been approached, please let me know!). In the meanwhile, I am really looking forward to explore every inch of the Broken Isles. All of the zones are looking really nice and, to be honest, I’ll have a hard time deciding where to start my Legion journey! I am, however, especially ecstatic for Val-Sharah, Stormheim and Aszuna. Not only these zones have extraordinary visuals, the concept and lore behind them are really captivating to me. The origins of druidism in Azeroth, Vrykul and Norse mythology, night elves and nagas? Yes please!

Update (12/23/15): Some images were readded or replaced as they appeared to be broken.

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