Ragar looks at what we know about Legion's replacement for Garrisons
Hello and welcome to the 16th edition of Formerly Hardcore, ZAM’s column on Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft. For this week’s column, we’re going to look at another announced feature of the Legion expansion, Class Orders. Rather than having our own individual spot of land like Sunsong Ranch in Mists of Pandaria or our Garrisons in Warlords of Draenor, this time we’ll have bases shared by all members of our same class. The question is: other than having people running around that aren’t NPC followers, what makes these different than Garrisons?
Paladins Only – No Warlocks Allowed!
The basic premise of Class Order Halls is similar to the Garrison: it’s a base of operations for coordinating attacks and defenses against the enemy. In WoD you were the commander of your faction’s forces against the Iron Horde. You raised an army by recruiting followers, constructed a variety of buildings to support the war effort, and coordinated assaults on the enemy forces by sending your followers off on missions.
Legion scales things back a little bit. Rather than being the commander of your faction’s army, you’re now a major player and figurehead among your class. After the events of the Broken Shore, the people need someone to look to as a sign of hope that the battle against the Burning Legion can be won. This is where Artifact weapons come into play. Sure you can put a famous paladin in front of all of the Knights of the Silver Hand or the Sunreavers, but you can’t guarantee that they’ll all follow him. Take that same Paladin and give him Ashbringer, one of the most famous Paladin weapons known to Azeroth? Now you’ve got someone who can raise the morale of his fellow Paladins and convince them that the Legion can be stopped. You’re not quite Commander of the Alliance/Horde this time, but it’s just as important of a role in the face of the Legion threat. Each Class Order will have their own ideas on how to fight the Legion and it’s up to the players to lead the way.
Unlike Garrisons, Class Order Halls will be in different locations depending on your class. Blizzard hasn’t outlined all of the different locations yet, but some of the known Halls include Paladins with Templar’s Sanctum underneath Light’s Hope Chapel in the Eastern Plaguelands, Hunters on the peaks of High Mountain, and Warlocks on a Legion portal world. Even though you may be the new figurehead of your class, it won’t just be you and an army of NPCs this time. Your Class Order Hall is open to all players of your class, be they Alliance or Horde. This means that while you won’t see any Rogues skulking around the Warrior Hall, there will be Human and Tauren Warriors sharing the same Class Hall.
There will be subsections for each faction (eg Knights of the Silver Hand / Sunreavers), but your Class Order is a place for all members of your class to unite against the Legion threat. From the lore’s perspective, you as the player are the only person who wields Artifacts for your class, so this is one of those areas where you’ll just have to ignore all of the other Ashbringers/Doomhammers running around. While they could have instanced Class Order Halls to prevent this lore conflict, Blizzard decided it was better to let that particular conflict stand. The reason for this is likely to avoid one of the major complaints players had about Garrisons: they were isolating.
Improving Gameplay, Not Replacing It
For many players in WoD the only time they left their Garrisons was to get summoned to the raid or to take their LFD/LFR/PvP queues. Beyond that, their Garrisons provided everything they needed: ore/herbs to gather, gold and gear from missions, bank and auction house access, etc. This was convenient, but it turned WoW into a single-player RPG in many respects since nearly everyone you were interacting with was an NPC in your Garrison. Now with your Class Order Halls, you’ll actually see other players running around. There’s no AH or banks here, so you’ll have to go somewhere with other people to use these (well that or go back to your Garrison if you really don’t want to be social).
Another conflict that the Class Order Hall design is supposedly going to fix is the follower mission design. With WoD and Garrisons/Shipyards, you may assign the jobs but your followers do all the work. Sure, that fits into the role of Commander, but it’s not exactly exciting gameplay. The problem was it was profitable to do so, especially for gear. I have alts who were decked out in half or more Normal Blackrock Foundry gear without seeing anything higher than LFR simply because they did their cache missions every cooldown. It was a nice bonus in theory, but it gave you less reason to venture outside your Garrison when your followers were giving you so much.
For your Class Order Hall in Legion, you’ll still be recruiting people but instead of just random followers, you’ll be collecting major lore figures for your Class Hall. In addition, rather than having them do all the work, your new Champions are more of an enhancement to your own gameplay. This means that you’ll send them out to do something and the result is you’ll get a bonus when you actually leave the walls of your Class Hall and venture out into the world. You could send them out to patrol a zone and the next time you’re out in that part of the world, you’ll get combat bonuses or improved rewards. You could also send them off to scout something, then when you make your way out there, now there’s a treasure for you to find. In short, you’ll still get that feeling of being a leader and commanding your forces, but now they’re here to make your own gameplay better rather than replacing it.
Other Class Hall Features and Some Wishlisting
Your Class Order Hall does offer more than just sending your Champions off on missions and a place to feel important. While you may not have an Auction House or Bank in your Order Hall, you’ll still have a variety of quests that come from here. It’s likely that many of these quests will be related to getting new skins for your Artifact, but they’ll probably also include zone breadcrumb and dungeon quests here since it’s your new Legion-specific hub. In addition you’ll have to come to your Hall for Artifact customization – they don’t spell out just how much, but I would imagine it’s for choosing different skins and possibly for removing slotted Relics if that’s a possibility.
That about covers what we know about Class Order Halls, but there are still a few hopes I have for this new feature. While I’m glad that they’re cutting back on the isolating aspects of the Garrison design, I did really like the customization options I got with the Garrison. I liked being able to choose what buildings went up in my Garrison to compliment my gameplay style as well as choosing different ones for my alts to make sure I had all of my bases covered. So far no customization options have been discussed with the Class Order Hall, but that doesn’t mean we couldn’t see a few.
My idea would be to take maybe one room of the Class Hall and phase it. Make it the War Room or Commander’s Office or something like that. This would be the room where players send their champions off on missions, so it makes sense that it would be more private. If we had this phased private room in the Class Hall, now we could have a few customization options to make it feel more like home. We don’t have to go as crazy with options as we had in the Garrison, but at least a few options would be nice. Maybe a few sockets on the wall for trophies from raids or a banner behind your desk that showed off your PvP prestige rank. There could also be a few more functional addons for options like the disenchanting tool from the Garrision’s Enchanting building, but we have to be careful not to fall into the Garrison trap of removing the need for players to interact.
There’s still plenty of questions about how Class Order Halls will work as a replacement for Garrisons. How often will we have to go back for new quests? Will we get a new Order Hall hearthstone or will it be more like Death Knights and their Death Gate spell? Will there be a Class Order equivalent to Bodyguard followers who will always come out into battle with you or will that be tied to missions? Will they keep the zone-specific abilities from WoD and have them tied to our Class Orders? Will we see any invasions or similar events at our Class Halls that has Alliance Warriors/Paladins/etc fighting alongside their Horde counterparts? Hopefully we’ll find out more soon, but if nothing else, we should hear more in a little over a month at BlizzCon.
That’s it for this edition of Formerly Hardcore. What do you think of adding Class Order Halls to WoW? Do you prefer this design to WoD’s Garrisons? Do you believe this new design will make players interact with the world more or do you think we’ll still see them living in their class homes while waiting for queues to pop? What do you think about the Champion missions and switching the rewards to supplement your gameplay rather than replace it? What other Class Order questions would you like Blizzard to answer between now and BlizzCon? Let us know in the comments below.
Michael “Ragar” Branham