WoW Wednesday: A Case for Hearthstone’s Canonicity

World of Warcraft is an EXPANSIVE universe. Azeroth itself is a massive world to live in, with four major continents, three densely populated islands and hundreds of uncharted minor landmasses in the Great Sea. Even stepping beyond the physical world, the universe’s cosmology is gigantic in scope and scale. According to the timeline of the lore, a major world ending event has occurred every year for the last NINE years canonically. But despite the major events and the scope of holidays that affect the natives of Warcraft we very rarely see anything minor. While we get flavor texts from time to time, such as the Warrior and his Son in Orgrimmar, we don’t often see smaller things or adventures in the world. That is, except for Hearthstone.

For the uninitiated Hearthstone is a collectible card game based on the Warcraft universe. In it players build a deck of cards to battle other players with. They select a particular class, with it’s own paragon hero to play as, and combine class cards, monsters and spells with other neutral cards. Many of these cards draw from inspirations in game, such as the Legendary cards about famous characters like Malygos or Tirion. Several others, like the Annoy-O-Tron or Arch-Thief Rafaam, are completely unique to the world.

Hearthstone’s lore is one that is constantly in a state of confusion and question; does this game represent a canon aspect of the Warcraft universe? The answer is varied depending on who you ask. As you PLAY as the heroes going through the world’s varied adventures, clearly its not canon. Garrosh never fought Arthas in Icecrown Citadel, after all. A spell from Anduin couldn’t deal the same damage as Valeera Sanguinar’s poisoned daggers, surely. Nothing in many senses surely makes any sense. However, it does also add an extensive bit of lore and reworkings of older lore content.


Previous expansions have created dungeon-run streaks of content throughout the world of Azeroth, drawing distinctly from famous raid expansions in the main game. “Blackrock Mountain,” ‘Curse of Naxxramas,” “Knights of the Frozen Throne,” and “One Night in Karazhan,” are all clear re-imaginings. While some are more to the point and direct, such as “Curse of Naxxramas,” others like “One Night in Karazhan,” take that light-hearted Hearthstone flair to romantically retell heroes and stories of the past.

Others, such as “The Grand Tournament,” and “League of Explorers” have taken older defunct concepts and brought a new life into them for Hearthstone. After Arthas, the Lich King, was defeated in Icecrown Citadel, the Argent Tournament found itself without much of a future. Originally formed to test potential champions with honorable combat, the organizers from the Argent Crusade found themselves wanting more. Sending invitations all across Azeroth, Hearthstone heroes of all shapes and sizes lined up in troves to become the new Champion of the Argent Tournament. Similarly, the “League of Explorers” breathed life into the static archaeologists guild of the Warcraft universe. Instead it focused on four fresh-faced champions of the League who sought to relieve a rare, powerful artifact from the dastardly grips of Arch-Thief Rafaam.

Each expansion has built up in some manner to the last two years. The Year of the Raven and the Year of the Dragon, decisively, have ventured new lore and content into the otherwise static world of Azeroth’s past. While “The Witchwood” explored the Gilnean’s push against the dark things in their native home, “The Boomsday Project,” took players back to the Netherstorm and the mad scientist Dr. Boom’s attempts to ‘advance’ his chaotic notions of dangerous science. Even, “Rastakhan’s Rumble,” named after the Zandalari King of the same name, fleshed out an event held “once a generation” to determine a new champion of the Empire.


All of this built up to the Year of the Dragon, the launch of several major story-based expansions all throughout the year. Beginning in April, “Rise of Shadows,” saw Arch-Thief Rafaam return as a newly minted Arch-Villain of the Explorer’s League. Gathering up other villains of previous expansions, including Blastmaster Boom, he proposed to them a dastardly plan to take over the world itself. The first part of it was simple; All they would need to do is take over the floating mage city of Dalaran…

Joining together, the League of E.V.I.L. swept over Dalaran like a nefarious tide of villainy. With Rafaam at their head, and his goals largely shrouded in secrecy, they managed to dominate the city in one fell swoop. Defeating the Kirin Tor’s staunchest defenders, they piloted the floating mage-city directly over the sandy deserts of Uldum. Breaking into ancient tombs with the magical potential of the city, the League came face-to-fin with the League of Explorers who attempted to protect the denizens (and riches!) of the region from Rafaam’s gang.

However, even performing their best efforts, the League was ultimately unsuccessful. Breaking into an eldritch tomb, the League of E.V.I.L. managed to secure a potent draught of the Plague of Undeath. Finally he revealed his plan to his cohorts; using the plague he could resurrect and dominate Galakrond, the primordial kin-eater and progenitor of the Dragonflights. Greater than even Deathwing the Destroyer, no one could dare oppose them with Galakron at their beck and call! Now the two leagues find themselves in a battle for the fate of Azeroth itself in the skies high over Dragonblight, where even a drop of undeath could spell the doom of the world.

With that in mind, why is no one in Azeroth talking about this?

On paper, reading this year-long adventure, is an INCREDIBLY exciting turn of events with cataclysmic consequences. Part of that answer, in my humble opinion, falls into both the canonical origins of Hearthstone, and perhaps some of the confusion surrounding its canon.

Hearthstone, like any good tavern game, canonically started in The Inn. Not just any watering hole in the sides-streets of Silvermoon City, but The Inn, a mysterious place that apparently exists between worlds. A place that could exist realistically anywhere in Azeroth. Here time and circumstance bend to fit the story, such as King Magni Bronzebeard arriving for a pint and a few games years after he had been turned into diamonds. It is, as meta-narratives go, incredibly meta beyond normally acceptable tolerances. Perhaps, ideally, that is best how we see the canon potential of Hearthstone itself. Simply meta.

Hearthstone’s canon, in my humble opinion, both exists inside the World of Warcraft and does not. It is, in a sense, a meta-narrative retelling of the world’s history through stories in the tavern. We are playing as famous heroes of the universe as any other Goblin or Elf would in playing the game. Each expansion pack, each set of new cards and its stories, are a romantic retelling of famous events in the game; while Jaina was never turned into an Arch-Lich, it certainly sounds much cooler than just her being at Icecrown.


Likewise, we get explanations for some of Hearthstone’s more canonically confusing elements, such as the “Whispers of the Old Gods,” expansion where the three major void villains of Azeroth were active all at once. Likewise, the “Mean Streets of Gadgetzan,” is, in part, canonical; from the experiences of the designer, the goblin port town could seem to be a seedy turf-war of gangs and companies!

This, of course, brings us to the Year of the Dragon. Every event across the three expansions we’ve seen throughout 2019 is perhaps one of Warcraft’s little hidden gems. There are heroes, there are villains, there are major stakes where both sides could win or lose everything. At the heart of it all is what Azeroth thrives on in its stories, a major ancient evil just waiting to be awoken. Unlike past expansions, drawing on inspiration or elements from previous events in lore, this is completely new content.

The question should never have been if Hearthstone was canon to the Warcraft universe. It always has been, just from the perspective of our characters. The real question we should be asking is when do we get to see some of its amazing heroes and exciting adventures make their mark on the Azeroth we’ve come to know and love?

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WoW Wednesday: Enter the Blademaster

The World of Warcraft is host to a diverse set of classes and heroes. In its wide and varied lore it has its fair share of unique heroes who still tie into the class system we all know and love. The leaders of the Horde and the Alliance, Sylvanas Windrunner and Anduing Wrynn, both fall into typical classes. The former is of course the ideal archetype of a ranger or Hunter, while the High King himself has fallen more into the ways of a Paladin as Battle for Azeroth has progressed. While there are some classes, like the poor monk, who have an under-representation of lore characters, generally every major player falls into one archetype or another.

That is save for the Blademaster.

The Blademaster has been a class of the Warcraft universe since even before Azeroth opened up into an MMORPG. First debuting in Warcraft III the enigmatic masters of the blade were seen as peerless gladiators of steel. Players were first introduced to them during the Human Campaign where the demon worshipping Blackrock Clan, led by a Blademaster, threatened the residents of Strahnbrad. These elusive warriors later returned as heroes for the Horde, representing the Orcs. But what is a Blademaster?


Traditionally of the Burning Blade clan, who later devolved into a demonic Orcish cult, the Blademasters were lightly-armored melee troops. Wielding swords, polearms, or other single-bladed weaponry, they charge into the heat of battle with little hesitation and incredible speed. Using their years of experience and training they utilized stealth, guile, and incredible mastery of their weapons to slay their way through dozens of enemies single-handedly. Most are subversive combatants seeking out vulnerable aspects of the enemy’s forces, though they are just as willing to cross blades with another foe.

Blademasters carved their way through the battlefield with multiple abilities. They could become whirlwinds of living steel with their mighty speed. With a keen eye, they could cleave open gaps in the mightiest pieces of armour with a single strike. It was even believed that they possessed superhuman or magical powers as they moved quick enough to leave a phantom mirror image of themselves. Some could even disappear, fast enough to seem invisible to the naked eye.

The way of the sword doesn’t begin and end with the Horde, however. Many races, including the Orcs greatest enemies, employ Blademasters of different skills and forms.

 

The Orcish Horde: The First Blademasters

The Orcish Horde that first invaded Azeroth employed the Blademasters primarily as generals or espionage leaders. As such, their teachings have passed down further amongs their own kind and Orcs are generally believed to posses the greatest number of the elusive warriors. Later recruited by Warchief Thrall, the dedicated themselves both to preserving the New Horde, and rising above the ashes of their dark past. They are unquestionably dedicated to their personal code of honor.


From the Burning Blade most learned the secret of their namesake, Blazegrease. A thick, smelly oil, the Burning Blade doused their weapons liberally with the disgusting liquid. Due to its oily nature it could be lit by a flint prior to a fight or with even an errant spark in the heat of battle. Orcish Blademasters also wear heavy Sashimono Banners that identify them to their compatriots; its easy to see where the battle is the thickest, for the Blademaster is surely there.

For those Orcs that remained on Draenor, and became the Fel Horde, many of its leaders would too become Blademasters. Unlike the noble offshoots of their kin, these Fel Orcs lost themselves entirely to their bloodlust. Whereas the speed of a true Blademaster is honed over years of training, these darker reflections are fueled by demonic powers. These Blademasters rose to prominence in Magtheridon’s army, even becoming personal bodyguards of the Lord of Outland.

 

Lightforged: The Army of the Light’s Generals

Why yes, the Orc’s greatest enemies too have Blademasters, though just one official member that we know of. Blademaster Telaamon was introduced during Legion’s last expansion as a General in the Army of the Light. Leading Captain Fareeya’s ground forces, he and the other generals had nearly secured most of Mac’Aree single handedly before the Burning Legion discovered their presence. Later he would lead the siege upon Nazmir, capturing Rokhan and using his mirror images to keep the Horde at bay.

Blademasters of the Army of the Light.

Blademasters of the Army of the Light.

Unlike Orcish Blademasters, Telaamon relies more on his light-based roots for his magical effects. Where the endless years of war has sharpened his martial prowess instead of formal training, his magic could do things traditional Blademasters simply could not. In capturing the Shadow Hunter Rokhan, he managed to bind him with chains made of Light. His Mirror Images did not require him to be physically present in order to persist and were strong enough to require two people to defeat. However once these images were defeated Telaamon was weakened significantly.

 

Blademasters of Azeroth

The wider enemies of Azeroth too have their own masters of steel. The most well known is one of the more chief members of the Blackfang Tribe. These Saberon were the fiercest of Draenor’s feline savages and carved a deep territory in the jungles of Tanaan. With their naturally sharp and durable claws, incredible agility and natural command of the jungle most had no need to take up a blade. When coupled with their sheer ferocity, a Saberon could carve an Orc apart in mere moments. Krell the Serene, however, was a powerful Blademaster of the tribe. Armed with only one single-edged blade, he rose above his peers to claim leadership amongs them. Notably he seemed to ascribe to the Orc’s traditional ideas of honor and would only fight outsiders when publicly challenged.


The Mantid Hordes also contained their own Blademasters. Trained by Wind Lord Mel’jarak, these were the elite soldiers he had fought beside during the long campaign against the Pandaren. Using their natural ability to fly, the Mantid were incredibly agile warriors to tackle. Tapping into their native hive mind they were also extremely organized, coupling tactics together soundlessly in the heat of battle. Coupled together these blows could entrap singular opponents in assuredly lethal strikes.

 

Arcblades: Sentinels of Suramar

Why yes, even the contemporarily magical Nightborne possess Blademasters! Often called Arcblades, these Sumarians are often employed through the Duskwatch to combat enemies. Whereas the other races use their natural strength or speed to define their skills, the Nightborne instead hone their connection to the Nightwell and their magic. Typical Arcblades empower their strikes and the keenness of their weapon with arcane based spells. Using their body as a conduit, they could increase their speed to dizzying levels in an instant, deliver bone breaking strikes with a single swing, and even tear open rifts in the fabric of space.


The greatest of the Arcblades was known as Aluriel, an Elisande Loyalist who became a part of the Nighthold’s elite guard. Her hunger for power eventually drew her to Suramar University where she spent her days honing not just her swordplay but her magical skill set. Eventually artificing her own weaponry and armor in the Nightwell, she became the first true Spellblade. Whereas other Blademasters used a mix of martial and magical prowess Aluriel heavily utilized the latter. She could take on a legion single-handedly, animating elemental soldiers while simultaneously attacking others.

It is believed most, if not all, Shalassian Blademasters were aligned with Elisande’s regime. While other Duskwatch rebels, such as Sigryn, utilized glaives or double-bladed swords, none have demonstrated the level of skill that Aluriel or other Arcblades have managed in the past. As such, the secrets of the art may be lost to Sumarians for all time.

With such a wide variety of distinct masters of swords throughout the World of Warcraft, we come to the real question. Why hasn’t the class been yet implemented in game? The easy answer is it already has been, but the complex answer is more spread out than that.

In discussing Orcish Blademasters, the Arms Warrior has often been seen as their player representation. In Warlords of Draenor one of the original Blademasters, Lantressor of the Blade, was designated as such. They even have several vital moves in the class’ toolkit such as Whirlwind, an ability unused by any other class in game. Retribution Paladins could also be seen to fill the niche of Lightforged Blademasters, employing spells that cripple the Undead in similar ways. Monks also have the ability Storm, Earth and Fire, which mimics the Mirror Images attack.

A Survival Hunter, using one of the Pennant PvP Toys.

In terms of the class’ stealthier aspects, Rogues have that niche nailed down. Survival Hunters also fit the bill incredibly well possessing not only a stealth ability in Camouflage, but a ‘Critical Strike’ like ability in Mongoose Bite.

This isn’t the first time, however, that ulterior classes have been built of out similar systems or fantasies. The Demon Hunter, Legion’s Hero Class, while represented in the old tabletop RPG games, was represented in-game primarily by Rogue or Warrior characters. Warlords players will also remember the Warlock ability Metamorphosis which turned its user into an Illidain Stormrage style demon, which could effectively tank. Even Death Knights in Naxxramas, including the Four Horseman, used Paladin, Mage, Priest and Warrior abilities.

As we near the mid-way point for Battle for Azeroth its certainly time to think to the future. While perhaps the niche of a melee assassin has been taken and spread across other classes, the Blademasters are still an integral part of not just the Horde, but of other cultures across Azeroth. There are many classes across Azeroth that need an introduction somehow. Be they Wardens, Shadow Hunters, Runic Totemics or Blademasters, each has an interesting lore. Frankly, each is one I’d love to see available to classes in the near future.

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WoW Wednesday: What Are the Old Gods?

With the Rise of Azshara on the horizon adventurers in Azeroth are about to come face to face with one of the world’s greatest living enemies. However, behind her stands a literal force of nature that has worked to shape the eons of time to its will. Like so many other worlds they continue to writhe into the deepest crevices of a slumbering Azeroth and seek to corrupt it from within. This week it is apt time we discuss N’zoth, the Old Gods, and what exactly the most evil creatures of the universe seek to accomplish.

When it comes to N’zoth and his brother Old Gods we first have to answer the question of, ‘What is an Old God?’ Known in their tongue as Shath’Yar, these titanic monstrosities of twisted flesh are spawns of the Void Lords. Ethereal beings unable to act on the physical world, these Void Lords hurled sleeping Old Gods out into the Twisting Nether, intent on seeding them into worlds like Azeroth. Worlds with slumbering Titan Souls. Once embedded onto these sleeping worlds the Old Gods would then corrupt them from the inside out, seeking to create Dark Titans that the Void Gods could then wage their celestial wars with.

It is estimated that Azeroth is only one of hundreds of worlds to be infested with Old Gods. Dozens of Old God worlds can be seen in celestial areas of the game from Telogrus Rift, where Void Elf characters begin, to the Star Augur Etraeus encounter in the Nighthold. Upon looking on a similar slumbering world, the sight of a Dark Titan drove Sargeras to madness. From there he formed the demonic Burning Legion to scour the universe of these slumbering worlds so as a Dark Titan could never be born.

World of Warcraft Legion Priests
The Old Gods and their Void masters are unknowable, chaotic entities at war with the other cosmic faction of the universe; the Naaru and the Light. The Old Gods and Azeroth are merely one more battleground in this cosmic war. This makes the sheer magnitude of one Old God far scarier in comparison to what we may one day face.

When the Old Gods fell to Azeroth they quickly took rule during its primordial age. It was a time where the Elementals still freely walked the material plane, and their ferocious wars constantly shaped the landscape. The four Old Gods, C’thun, Y’shaarj, Yogg-Saron and N’zoth quickly subdued these forces and raised their Black Empire. Two races, the N’raqi (commonly known as the Faceless Ones) and the A’qir rose from the twisted organic matter that seeped from their dark masters. These servants quickly stormed Azeroth by force and began to wage a systematic war on the elementals, casting Azeroth into a shadow of chaos and suffering.

During their journey across the cosmos, the Titan Pantheon stumbled across the sleeping Azeroth and were horrified by what they saw. The Elemental Lords, now conquered by the Old Gods, waged war against each other’s masters as each eldritch horror sought to dominate the planet. Seeing the Old Gods as forces of utter chaos and evil, the Pantheon began to wage their own war with the goal of ordering and protecting the greatest Titan Soul they had yet encountered.

Fearing that their combined presence would damage Azeroth’s World Soul, the Titans created legions of metallic soldiers. These Titanforged took the battle to the elemental servants of the Old Gods, eventually managing to best them and seal the totality of the primordial forces into new Elemental Planes. Turning their sights onto the dominion of Y’shaarj, the largest of the Old God’s domains, they began to cut a bloody swath towards its seat of power. Fearing their servants would be unable to defeat the Old God, Aman’thul, the leader of the Pantheon reached down to rip Y’shaarj from the surface of the world. In doing so the horrific beast was torn to shreds and killed instantly, but its final breath cursed the land it stood upon and would later give birth to the Sha.


From where it was torn apart, Y’shaarj created a wound in the very flesh of the planet. There its lifeblood came to the surface in a potent and horrific whirlpool of magical power. This pool would later become known as the Well of Eternity. Horrified by what had occurred, the Pantheon realized that the Old Gods had infested the planet too deeply; tearing them from the surface of the earth would undoubtably kill Azeroth and its sleeping Titan Soul. Instead the Pantheon decided to imprison the Old Gods and their minions deep below the surface of the world.

The campaign was long and brutal, but the Titanforged swept across the face of Azeroth one league at a time, imprisoning the Old Gods in ornate structures and safe-checks. C’thun was the first to be captured and was bound deep in the fortress-city of Ahn’qiraj, located close to the Titanforged stronghold of Uldum. N’zoth was imprisoned in a similar manner, though the location of his cell has been lost to time. Yogg-saron, the God of Death, was the last to be imprisoned of his kin. So ferociously did he fight to stop the advance of the Titanforged that after his imprisonment in the city of Ulduar, he was kept under strict watch by six Keepers, embodiments of the Titans on Azeroth.

Ordering Azeroth, the Titans knew that the Old Gods would attempt to work free of their prisons. To an extent they already had; the Earthen and several other Titanforged creations had begun to succumb to the Curse of Flesh, a disease that turned metallic creatures mortal and opened them to the influence of the Void. The Vrykul, who originally had iron-forged skin, were afflicted the worst of all as their kin began to produce smaller and weaker offspring and mutations of themselves. Even as their tenure on Azeroth came to a close, the Pantheon had already lost to the eldritch gods; they would not unmake the world. Only as a last resort would they scour the planet clean of its life, its soul, and the Old Gods’ influence.


Over time, both independently and together, the Old Gods began to work on subverting their prisons. As the bonds that held them weakened, effigies of their true nature bubbled to the surface as the avatars players encounter in famous raids today. Over time each Old God worked to free themselves of their own prison while preparing for the greater future. They would call this moment of their freedom the Hour of Twilight. It would be then that their true forms would break free of their prisons and Azeroth would once more become theirs.

As the ages wore on each played their part. Yogg-Saron, chained in the roof of the world, began to whisper into the minds of his Keepers. One by one he turned them against each other and pit their armies into war with the other. Odyn and Helya he pitched into eternal conflict. Ra’den, the Keeper of the South, fell dormant after the slaying of the Titanic Pantheon and was kept so. Using Loken he turned Thorim against the other keepers and placed Ulduar solely under his puppet’s control. Those who resisted were slain, such as the heroic Tyr. Content with his victory, Yogg-Saron forced all of his controlled keepers into a dormant slumber and waited.

N’zoth worked to create newer armies in the deep places of the world. His first and greatest acquisition was Neltharion the Earth-Warder. Using the Black Dragon Aspect’s connection to the deep earth, he twisted the dragon’s mind until he was little more than a puppet of rage and hatred. Using his knowledge and power, Neltharion was pitted against the other Dragonflights and decimated their forces. Deathwing, as he would come to be known, depowered their magical acumen and scattered the Old God’s jailers to the far corners of the world.

World of Warcraft
Queen Azshara and her legions of Highborne were next to join N’zoth. Fallen after the Sundering of the World and the defeat of the Burning Legion’s first invasion, Azshara’s followers were on the brink of death. Sensing an opportunity, N’zoth granted them power with a price; swear fealty to him and he would rebirth them in the waves. To Azshara he made her a Queen, a prophet to his new legion of followers.

C’thun sought to scour the world clean of the remnants of its mortal followers. Calling his mighty Aqir armies, he waited for them to breed in the bowels of Ahn’qiraj. When the force had become too great to contain, he unleashed them onto an unsuspecting nation of Kal’dorei. Thus the War of the Shifting Sands had begun, and would only abate when the shattered Dragonflights rallied to help the Night Elves. Even then they could not oppose C’thun himself and instead sealed Ahn’qiraj away from the mortal world. Stopped only by his new prison, C’thun instead burrowed deep and began to find his way to other places for his Aqir to free themselves.

All of this and more they accomplished in their dream-like slumber. Together the three Old Gods attempted to subvert time itself by trapping Nozdormu in the timeways. Its chief defender occupied, they then attempted to rewrite the War of the Ancients and bring the Hour of Twilight to Azeroth ten thousand years earlier. To this end they created the Infinite Dragonflight and corrupted a future incarnation of the Bronze Aspect of Time. Working throughout history, this Infinite Flight has been seen making rapid and great change across all of Azeroth to hasten their masters’ freedom.

Together the Old Gods also worked to corrupt the Emerald Dream. This realm outside of normal perception was a near blueprint of Azeroth’s pure state. In twisting it, they would seed their corruption into every corner of Azeroth. As such, when the Night Elves tried to create a second World Tree to fight back the encroachment of Saronite, the essence of Yogg-Saron, the moment to strike came. When Nordrassil’s roots touched Yogg-Saron’s prison the linked Old Gods began to invade it en masse. N’zoth, however, began to make a more permanent plan. Nordrassil was eventually corrupted and cut down by the Kal’dorei, but the God of the Deeps had already planted his seed deep within and created the Emerald Nightmare.


As the years drove on, mortals would fight the Old Gods time and time again. Cho’gall, the once Warlock of the Shadow Council, became their Prophet and a champion of C’thun. Under his command, the Twilight’s Hammer cult worked to awaken C’thun, Yogg-Saron and N’zoth, and succeeded. C’thun’s awakening made the world aware of the Qiraji armies once more, and his avatar was slain as mortals rallied. Yogg-Saron’s awakening alerted Algalon, a Celestial Titanic Observer, who nearly purged Azeroth of all life. Again mortals ventured into the titanic prison and slew this God’s avatar.

But these were just avatars, scabs of fragments of their true selves. Their true power is embedded deep beneath the crust of Azeroth’s titanic flesh, and there they remain to plan. While players have ‘slain’ their avatars in the past, their true bodies remain far out of touch and out of reach. The death of an Old God has not occurred since the beginning of Azeroth’s recorded history.

Yet they have not relented. Even still their plans are being acted upon as N’zoth seeded a Remnant of the Void within the very Heart of the Emerald Dream. The Hour of Twilight nearly came about under the ministrations of their pawn Deathwing. Using Azshara, N’zoth worked and succeeded in corrupting the Kul Tiran tidesages into K’thir. On Zandalar, G’huun, a titan experiment that had birthed a fifth, true Old God, worked to escape its prison and free its brothers. So deep was its corruption that even the Shadowlands, Azeroth’s plane of death, was thrown into utter chaos and disarray. Even the Heart of Azeroth, the relic intended to heal Azeroth’s mortal wounds, was attacked by the Old Gods in a bid to corrupt it.

It goes without saying that the Old Gods are vicious, chaotic and monstrous entities intent on defiling Azeroth itself. Having nearly corrupted the soul of the world for their dark masters, now they seek their freedom to continue their dark reign. Whether together or alone, the dark lords of the shadow break free of their prisons an inch at a time. Unlike the mortals waging war on their land, that time is on their side.

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WoW Wednesday: The Infinite Theory

The World of Warcraft has a vast array of diverse enemies and factions that seek to undo the lands of Azeroth and its denizens. While we have seen many world-threatening villains fall at the hands of the defenders of Azeroth, from the Lich King to the Aspect of Death itself. However, there several major villains that have vanished into the folds of the game that simply haven’t re-emerged. One long standing set of villains continue to threaten Azeroth yet to this day and possess the power to tear the very fabric of reality asunder. Some once knew them as the custodians of time, but most now know them as the Infinite Dragonflight.

For many players that have joined Warcraft over the last few expansions the Infinite Dragonflight may be a mystery. Originally appearing in the game’s second expansion, The Burning Crusade, the Infinite Flight emerged to threaten the timeways of Azeroth itself. Charged by the Titans, creators and shapers of worlds including Azeroth, the Bronze Dragonflight and its leader Nozdormu were given power to guard the one true timeline. This timeline, while still being written to the mortals who perceived the present, was the only timeline that could or should exist. From it Azeroth would grow from a dormant planet into the powerful titan its brethren foresaw, great enough to oppose evil growing throughout the universe.

Thus the Bronze Dragonflight set to their task in defending the timeways from those that would seek to rewrite the past or change the future. In an effort to gird the Bronze from corruption, the Titans showed Nozdormu and many of his kin the nature of their individual deaths. In the distant future a tormented Aspect of Time was tricked by the sleeping Old Gods beneath Azeroth into trying to subvert his own mortality. Seeing how timelines bled off from the Prime Line, Nozdormu realized he could subvert his future by recruiting the dragons from each of these timelines into his own force. Intent on this new path, the dragon now known as Murozond sought to stop the depowering of his flight and thus the Infinite Dragonflight was born.

Manipulating the Infinite flight as their mighty and never-ending army, the Old Gods attempted to set them upon the timeways of Azeroth to change history. Inspired by an adventure that saw vital pieces of the War of the Ancients altered, N’zoth tasked the Infinite flight to ensure that Thrall could not fulfill his destiny. If he were never to come to age on Azeroth, he could not prevent the Hour of Twilight and the release of the Old Gods from their prison.

Thus the Infinite Crusade began in the timeways as operatives of the Infinite Dragonflight sought to undo the fidelity of past events. Attacking vital points throughout history, the Infinite Flight sought to ensure the release of the Old Gods, until adventurers managed to kill Murozond and leave the Infinite Dragonflight leaderless. Nozdormu revealed, in passing, that the Infinite would once more emerge, and that he himself would head it again in the future:

“At last it has come to pass. The moment of my demise. The loop is closed. My future self will cause no more harm. Still, in the future, I will… fall to madness. And you, heroes… will vanquish me. The cycle will repeat. So it goes… All that matters…is this moment.” 

The Infinite Dragonflight would not again resurge until Warlords of Draenor, where the dragon researcher Kairozdormu liberated Garrosh Hellscream from his imprisonment and crushed a powerful relic. Using the Vision of Time he transported himself and Hellscream to an alternate timeline, to a Draenor thirty years before the invasion of Azeroth. There he was slain, and the Infinite’s only potential leadership was once more thrown into disarray.

This doesn’t mean, however, that the Infinite Dragonflight has gone quiet. Instead, many players believe the shadowy flight is merely biding its time, waiting to exploit vital points in time to make their next move. This theory, dubbed the, ‘Infinite Dragonflight Theory,’ foretells of the resurgence of an enemy with a sinister plan. With the rise of several other prominent Old God related forces in the upcoming Patch 8.2, it is certainly a theory worth discussing in the future, as Nozdormu himself has said that they will once again return.

Since the fall of Murozond, the Infinite flight has certainly made a few subtle moves in Azeroth. Making a brief appearance in the fight against Grand Magistrix Elisande in Legion, the Infinite Flight was expelled from the timeways while she weaponized her chronomancy against heroes of the Horde and Alliance. One of the Bronze Dragonflights more active members, Chromie (or Chronormu if you prefer) came under attack through a most curious means while heroes battled the Legion on the Broken Shore. Attacked both in the present and in various vital points in her history, someone with a powerful grasp of time-related magic attempted to assassinate the Dragon nearly eight times over. While removed for launch, Chromie expressed her concern to her savior about the nature of their attacker during the PTR release of the Death of Chromie scenario;

“Everything seems… back to normal. The Timelines are clearer. I don’t see myself dying anymore… There ARE a few things still bothering me, though. A whole lot of people seemed very intent on killing me. Demons, elements, undead, void lords… even the Horde and the Alliance! Why’s everybody so mad at me?”

Indeed the Infinite Flight has continued to make their appearance in Battle for Azeroth as well. Most players will now be familiar with the Timewalking holiday, where heroes are sent back through time to complete old dungeon content. In both The Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King Timewalking events, players are requested by Vormu to infiltrate pivotal moments of history that have very recently been changed. These moments, under threat from outside forces, are in danger of being irrevocably altered to a disturbing degree.

In the Black Temple a vital piece of Illidain Stormrage’s plan has been altered, resulting in a cascading disaster throughout the timelines. Players travel inside to besiege the darkened halls once more, and when successful discover that indeed something has been changed. In examining the plans for the Illidari’s raid on the planet of Mardum, the plans have been drastically improved! Such a change would mean that the Illidari forces had returned to the Black Temple far sooner than originally intended. This act resulted in the entire Demon Hunter forces being captured wholesale, depriving the world of a powerful military force.

Sending players to Ulduar, Vormu made a second and incredibly far more concerning discovery. After ensuring the defeat of the Old God Yogg-Saron, the bindings holding the void-aberration were examined by the Bronze Drake. Under her expert gaze it was discovered that the locks holding the God’s influence at bay had been artificially aged by nearly forty thousand years. Thus, the corruption of Ulduar’s guardians and the fallout of Yogg-Saron’s release had been accelerated, nearly resulting in the Lich King or the Old God’s victory and their freedom in Northrend.

At the end of Cataclysm and the foiling of the Hour of Twilight, the Aspects and Dragonflights surrendered their power, their task apparently having been completed. However, time in the World of Warcraft is not a linear force; it is pliable, and only its enforcers stop it from being altered. The Bronze Dragons still maintain the ability to move within the timeways, though their ability to manipulate them has been reduced. With the subversive nature of the Infinite Flight, it is certainly possible that they are in battle with the Bronze not just in another where, but another when.

A looked over event in the Wrath of the Lich King expansion was the battle for the Bronze Dragonshrine. Being a sacred burial site for the Bronze Dragonflight, the land is steeped in a, ‘time storm,’ and features an ongoing battle between the combatants of time. This location later becomes the staging ground for Murozond’s final stand against Thrall and the Dragonflights in the End Time, as he works to ensure the Hour of Twilight comes. It also makes a return appearance in a Tools of the Trade questline. Most recently in Battle for Azeroth, tailors join with Timeweaver Delormi, one of the Syncronous Tailors working to mend and maintain the fabric of time. Joining her in traveling through her own possible futures, it is discovered an Infinite version of herself is assassinating her possible futures to find her! Fighting her, the agent destroys her ability to mend the fabric of time, thus depriving the Bronze of a vital enforcer, as the two Dragonflights do battle above them.

There is certainly a lot to dissect here, but one thing is utterly undeniable. Whether or not the Infinite Dragonflight has returned to subvert the Bronze Dragonflight, something or someone is purposefully engaging time’s guardians throughout Azeroth’s history. While the original progenitor of this attack has been thwarted and is currently leaderless, Nozdormu himself has confessed that he will eventually fall again. The Infinites, while unconfirmed to be attached to the attempted assassination of Chromie and the altering of vital parts of history, continue to persist in areas where time is being purposefully manipulated.

All of this is occurring while other aspects of the Old God N’zoth’s plan begin to come to fruition; the rising of Xal’atah, the return of Azshara’s Empire and seeding of the Emerald Dream have occurred exactly to his design. Now with the corruption of the Tidesages and House Stormsong, N’zoth has agents once more upon the shores of Azeroth that listen to his whispers alone. The seven-eyed goat of prophecy has made his appearance, watching Azeroth from outside its time. Even now whispers of the mythical empire of Ny’alotha emerge in Battle for Azeroth’s storytelling. Something is preparing to release an Old God from its prison, an act so far unseen in the history of Azeroth, and something that players may not be able to truly fight. Even with C’thun and Yogg-Saron still vastly imprisoned beneath Azeroth it took concentrated siege efforts to pierce their hides and render them defeated. The very heart of Y’shaarj plagued Pandaria with a dark curse for ten thousand years with its dying breath.

An Old God unleashed is N’zoth’s final goal, and someone, Infinite or otherwise, is putting the pieces in motion to make that play.

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WoW Wednesday: The Lore of Kul Tiras and Zandalar

Kul Tiras and the Empire of Zandalar are Azeroth’s greatest naval forces known to the mortal races. The former carved out its legacy on a hostile land and rose to greatness, the latter built itself as the greatest empire that the world has ever known ruled by gods of both troll and men. This week in Battle for Azeroth these two mighty nations join both the Alliance and the Horde in gambits to not only secure their future, but the very future of Azeroth itself. As such we’ll be diving deep into the history of these island nations and where they stand now as they officially enter the greatest war for Azeroth’s survival.

Kul Tiras: A Nation of Sailors

The island nation of Kul Tiras is known by and large as the boldest nation of sailors. While they say every Gilnean is born with the scent of brine in their heart it is only Kul Tirans who are born with it in their very veins. The sea is to Tirisians as it is to the rest of Azeroth; it gives life to its people, protects them from the gravest threats, and becomes one with their very ships. The ocean has seeped into the very essence of the hardy peoples’ lifestyle, from their religion to their commerce, but this was not always the case.

Nearly three millennia prior to the building of the Dark Portal, the humans of the united kingdom of Arathor began expanding their vast empire in size and power unhindered by the blood-drenched Troll Wars. Those who settled in the Gilnean highlands constructed harbors to connect the rest of the world, but the boldest of their kin sailed even beyond that. Eventually they discovered a massive island laden with metal, wood, and plentiful natural resources. The first of these seafarers became what we know today as the Tidesages and guided the remainder of Arathor to the island. Some remained and formed the outpost known as Kul Tiras, which eventually developed into the kingdom of the same name.

Shortly after their arrival, the humans of Arathor began to encounter the native Drust people, barbaric natives that practiced old druidic customs akin to the Harvest Witches of Gilneas. While the mainlanders focused on the cycle of life, the Drust were more about the inverse cycle: Death. Initially meeting on friendly, if cautious terms, the Drust leader Gorak Tul called for an extermination of the humans leading to a generations long conflict. After many years of raiding upon human settlements and outpost, Colonel Arom of the noble House Waycrest decided that the time had come. The Order of Embers rose to counter these deadly attacks and Arom led his House to the city of Gol Osigr. Facing Gorak Tul in direct combat he slew the Drust King, and his armies and constructs fell to pieces.

For this Arom was promoted to Lord and became the head of House Waycrest, which occupied Drustvar until the current day. House Stormsong and their Tidesages would take the northernmost landmass, Stromsong Valley, for its bountiful fields and proximity to the open sea. House Proudmoore remained in Tirigarde Sound to command Kul Tiras’ vast forces, with House Ashvane arising many years later to command commerce. Only in recent history has House Proudmoore ruled Kul Tiras unopposed, with its Lord Admiral in true command of the island nation’s military forces. The island remained a center of commerce for nearly two millennia until the orcish invasions and the Second War.

The Noble Houses of Kul Tiras. From Left to Right: Stormsong, Proudmoure, Ashvane, and Waycrest.

Called on by Anduin Lothar and King Terenas Menethil to combat what was evolving into a global menace, Kul Tiras joined the Council of Seven Nations and formally joined the Alliance. Under the control of the new Grand Admiral, Lord Daelin Proudmoore, the Alliance Navy decimated the Horde’s ramshackle fleet before finding themselves beset by a greater foe. Aware of the Alliance’s naval superiority, Warchief Orgrim Doomhammer ordered the Dragonmaw clan to supply their enslaved Red Dragons as support. Three dragons decimated a sizable portion of the fleet and would continue to harry the naval forces throughout the wars. Among the heavy losses of the Kul Tiran armada was the Third Fleet, which took the Grand Admiral’s son, Derek Proudmoore, to the bottom of the seas.

Kul Tiras would then suffer its greatest blow by its own daughter shortly after the Third War. Ignorant of the tenuous peace Jaina Proudmoore and Thrall of the Frostwolf Clan had made in the founding of Durotar and Theramore, the Grand Admiral landed upon Kalimdor’s shores and made war against the fugitive orcs and Darkspear Trolls. Assisted by Jaina, Thrall’s Horde lay waste to the Tirisian forces, including Lord Admiral Daelin Proudmoore. Survivors of the bloody campaign would go on to create folk-tales of the horrific slaughter, including the now infamous shanty Daughter of the Sea, which described in detail the betrayal of Lady Proudmoore at Daelin’s final battle. While native Kul Tirans called for vengeance, the Alliance was unable to give it while still reeling from the plague of undeath and the slaughter of Lordaeron. The island nation rightfully turned their back on the Alliance, though a second wave of Tirisians returned to Kalimdor to keep an outpost in Durotar. The Cataclysm saw it ravaged and destroyed, while Horde forces in the area saw its survivors wiped out.


In more recent history Kul Tiras was sought by the Alliance to aid them in their total world war for Azerite. Shaken by the death of her husband and son, Lord Admiral Katherine Proudmoore denied both the Alliance and her daughter just in time for a coup by House Ashvane to come to a head. After the end of this sordid affair and the returning of peace to the land, Jaina Proudmoore was named Lord Admiral and Kul Tiras officially rejoined the Alliance to wage war on the open seas.  While seeing a sizable loss at the Battle of Dazar’alor the Kul Tiran Fleet is still Azeroth’s greatest naval force, and may now single-handedly have dominion of the open ocean.

 

The Zandalari: An Empire of Kings and Queens

The Empire of Zandalar is one that is as old as recorded time. Trolls were the first race of a primordial Azeroth, and they are rightfully proud of that. While some of their siblings have evolved into what others would call more, ‘refined species,’ the Zandalari are still the greatest Empire that has ever existed and have stood the test of time as not only a naval superpower but a military force naught to be reckoned with.

The empire’s earliest origins started with a gathering of trolls about a mountain range in southern Kalimdor. It was here that many Wild Gods, or Loa, lived and blessed some of these trolls with their power. Naming the land Zandalar, these trolls began to build a life on its slopes in small villages and huts. Before the forming of a true nation, Shadow Hunters ruled over these tribes in a similar manner to present day Darkspears, though Dazar was the first king of his people. Leading them away from the swamps of Nazmir and the threat of G’huun, Dazar raised his tribe of Zandalar up and built with them a mighty city of gold. This temple-city of Loa and Trolls became known as Dazar’alor, and the land about it known as Zuldazar.

A Mojo Construct keeping watch over Zuldazar’s temples.

It was here that this society developed upon a caste system, which later evolved into their own peoples and tribes. In such a manner the Gurubashi and Amani first left the kingdom to seek conquests and lands of their own, which then came into fighting for their own lands and territories. Over time, as these empires lived in a tenuous harmony, the Zandalari came to be seen as custodians of their people and the head of their Loa-oriented religions.

There would come a time when this hunger for knowledge and power among the Loa eventually led to the discovering and unearthing of the ancient Aqir race, undisturbed since the ordering of Azeroth. Roused by curious trolls, a great C’Thraxxi known as Kith’ix rose to lead these armies to continue their conquest of Azeroth and rebirth the ancient Black Empire of the Old Gods. This ignited the conflict known as the Aqir Wars, where the Zandalari cemented themselves as rulers of all troll kind. Rallying the disparate tribes and nations the Zandalari commanded their united force which became known as the Empire of Zul. Housed in their sky-scraping temple-city, the Zandalari could see any weak-points and oncoming attacks. Convincing the other nations to quash the forces under heel, the Gurubashi and Amani pushed East, while the Drakkari pushed North. Driving the Aqir underground, they shattered the empire and nearly rode them to extinction.

Shortly after the war a High Priest of Zandalar reached out to the Mogu Empire in the south in an exchange of sorts. While the Mogu would surrender their knowledge of the Arcane, the Trolls would teach and show them the land beyond the vale. Creating a pact built on the safety of mutually assured destruction, both Empires rose to conquer the world together; Zandalar was content that the Mogu would neither have the strength to challenge them, nor would their king seek powers beyond the Vale of Eternal Blossoms. However, with Lei Shen’s disastrous move and a later war against the Pandaren the Empire suffered greatly due to a lack of leadership, its armies decimated by the Cloud Serpents nearly three centuries after. These were crippling blows that the Zandalari could not hope to recover from.

Despite these wars, the Empire of Zul yet found itself eclipsed by an unforeseen kingdom; the Night Elves. Evolved from a subterranean group of Trolls, these refined creatures wove magics unseen by the Troll kingdoms and brought to their doorstep the Burning Legion itself. Despite the threat of the demons the Zandalari opposed them to the bitter end, even up until the Sundering of Kalimdor. With hundreds of spell casters and priests of dozens of castes banding together the trolls shoved their kingdom away from a collapsing Kalimdor, shielding themselves from a disastrous fate. Finding their nation had suddenly became an island of its own, Zuldazar was content to remain just that even as the world around them collapsed. Building itself a great fleet, Zandalar maintained dominion of its seas, and allowed itself to be deployed anywhere across Azeroth should the need arise.


Over the following millennia Zuldazar would do everything in its power to try and assure a future for the troll race, often to poor and unforeseen results. From the breaking of the Amani Empire to the disastrous risings of Hakkar the Soulflayer, the Zandalar were rent asunder as much as their Gurubashi and Amani brethren. Even the Goblins eventually won over the trolls, subjugating an expedition to the holy island of Kezan. An attempt at summoning Atal’Hakkar to Zandalar unleashed a blood plague among their people, nearly eradicating the race. Taking a step back from their warlike ways the Trolls instead tried to turn to the world to support its waning powers. Recruiting adventurers of every walk they subjugated Hakkar twice as the dark Loa rent the Gurubashi Empire in twain. To preserve the Drakkari people priests and prophets of Zandalar attempted to stop them from murdering their own Loa in vain.

These defeats would soon inspire a complacency with the rise of Rastakhan, the latest God King of the Empire. Despite urgings from his most trusted prophet, Zul, Rastakhan did nothing when the Cataclysm came and sunk a portion of Zuldazar into the sea. Taking fate into his own hands despite his King’s wishes, Zul sought twice to empower the nation of Zandalar. Taken the bulk of the Golden Fleet, Zul attempted to unite the Amani and Gurubashi tribes, much to the chagrin of Vol’jin of the Darkspear. After their failure in both Zul’aman and Zul’gurub, Zul took the fleet to Pandaria to attempt and regain the Mogu’s alliance. With the fear of Zandalar sinking into the very sea itself, Zul sent his underling Khar’zul to see that Pandaria was made a Troll Nation by any means necessary. This attack was thwarted once more by heroes of the Horde and the Alliance, with the forces crushed during a siege on the Throne of Thunder. In a last ditch effort the Golden Fleet attempted to rally the Frostmane Tribe of Dun Morogh to war against the Ironforge Dwarves, but this insurrection was quickly stifled by Alliance forces.

God King Rastakhan and his Zulchani Council.

Now in the heart of the Horde and Alliance’s war, Princess Talanji sought aid from the Horde against a shadowy war that was raging along the nation of Zandalar. Usurping King Rastakhan from the throne, the Prophet Zul and his dark benefactor attempted to raise G’huun, a manufactured Old God, to lead the Zandalari to an empire which could once more crush the lands of Azeroth and bring the world under their rule. With the aid of the Horde’s expeditionary forces, Talanji’s forces quashed both a rise of Blood Trolls and the Civil War, uniting Zandalar under her father’s banner. This strength would be tested by the Alliance’s siege upon Dazar’alor, which left God King Rastakhan slain and the Golden Fleet decimated. Now the head of her people, God Queen Talanji has decided to join forces with the Horde, pitting the mighty Empire of Zul and their incredible Loa directly against the bloodthirsty Alliance.

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WildStar Shares the Last of its World Story

Since WildStar is shutting down, players assumed that a great deal of plot details would be left twisting in the wind. A blog post shared on the game’s website, however, has offered the final pieces of the WildStar world story to help provide a least a bit of closure for fans of the MMO’s lore.

wildstar world story

For those unfamiliar with the story of WildStar, it was discovered by players in one of the game’s last major narrative updates that Drusera and the malevolent Entity were one and the same. The forward story beats, naturally, involved players working to split the two and destroy the Entity once and for all.

Performing this task would involve players working with a supercomputer named the Beholder to collect pureform primal essences of Fire, Earth, Wind, Water, and Life, then bring them to a hidden location to create a device capable of splitting Drusera and the Entity. After that, player characters would be tasked with completing the Beholder’s trials, and then ultimately asked to face the Entity itself.

The story steps in question all read like they were planned to be either high-level instances, dungeons, or raids, and the story even ends on a cliffhanger of sorts with the allusion that the Eldan Armada itself would be returning to Nexus. For those lorehounds out there who haven’t already read up, you can get the complete details here.

Our Thoughts

While it is nice to learn how the rest of WildStar’s story played out, we also can’t help but feel these encounters would have been a huge deal of fun to play. Regardless, it is very good of the folks behind WildStar to offer this bit of wrap-up for the fans.

Source: official site

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Upcoming The Division 2 Narrative Works to Get a Panel at SDCC

When it comes to looter shooters, looting and shooting are the expected activities, not reading stories. Then again, a game like The Division 2 which has novelist Tom Clancy’s name on it is bound to have some story to it. With that in mind, a panel at San Diego Comic-Con will focus on The Division 2 narrative works, specifically talking about three new upcoming books based on the series’ fiction.

the division 2 narrative

Lorehounds of The Division 2 can expect new reading material covering nearly every medium of book out there:

  • Comic book lovers will be getting a book from Dark Horse that elaborates more on the Strategic Homeland Division’s influence outside of the settings of the game. The story will take place in-between the events of the first and second titles.
  • A novel, also set in-between the events of the first and second game, will follow a survivor by the name of April Kelleher who travels from the hostile streets of New York City to the American midwest.
  • Finally, a lore book titled The World of Tom Clancy’s The Division will provide 192 pages of minutia, artwork and other lore snippets for fans of the series, from tactics to gear to the overall mission of The Division itself.

The three books in question will be highlighted during the convention in a panel titled “Infectiously Expanding The Universe of Tom Clancy’s The Division 2” and will feature creative director Julian Gerighty, lead narrative designer John Björling, author Alex Irvine, and Dark Horse editor Ian Tucker with What’s Good Games’ Andrea Rene hosting the affair.

As for release dates, the only one that’s available right now is a nebulous March 2019 arrival window for the novel, while the other two have no confirmed arrival dates at the time of this story’s writing.

Our Thoughts

The overall backstory of The Division definitely leaves open a lot of room for expanded fiction, be it novel, comic book or otherwise. We assume diehard fans of this game are looking forward to seeing more stories about the game come soon.

Source: Ubisoft website

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Ship of Heroes Offers a Lore-Centric Look at Nanites

While the new Ship of Heroes Nanites power set is yet to be officially unveiled yet, it looks like the devs are close to that point at least. A new dev blog from the team has offered a little bit of backstory for how nanotechnology works in the game’s fiction, including its limitations and strengths.

ship of heroes nanites

According to the post, nanites and their use is a well-established part of life in the 25th century. These micro machines are capable of performing small, menial tasks like cleaning graffiti or repairing small scratches and are used regularly aboard the Justice. That said, they also require a great deal of energy and cannot handle tasks that require larger robots or manual labor like replacing structures.

The application of nanite technology in combat, then, come in the form of “counter-nanintes”. These counter-nanites can provide benefits to those who have them such as increasing their personal defense. Those who are capable of deploying these nanites can also use them to buff or heal others.

The side effect of this skill, however, is that these nanites draw from the energy of the wielder, meaning that they can only be deployed for a limited number of times and often those who use nanites in combat are required to eat more than three meals a day. So finally, you can make a hero that has a steady bundle of Hot Pockets nearby if that’s what you want.

The lore exploration of nanites is likely to precede a greater breakdown of the Nanite support powerset, but no hard timeline on when this will be revealed has been announced. In the meantime, the devs are still eyeing sometime in early August for the game’s login test. After that, several alphas are planned, followed by a beta test at the end of 2018 and a full launch at some point next year.

Our Thoughts

We enjoy a bit of sci-fi superheroic lore and these explanations pretty much explain just what nanites are in the fiction of the game. Of course, that’s not to suggest we won’t roleplay them as small pixies healing people or have that Hot Pocket-toting hero on standby.

Source: official site

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Heroes of the Storm Builds Some Lore with Rise of the Raven Lord

Now granted, I don’t usually think “MOBA” when I want a rich and involved video game narrative. That said, it would be nice to know why these people are whomping on each other and defending a bunch of random buildings. Enter Rise of the Raven Lord, a new digital comic book that will begin to weave a narrative around Heroes of the Storm.

rise of the raven lord

Rise of the Raven Lord tells the story of one of the Realm Lords and offers a bit more information on just what the Nexus is. The comic also offers a quick look at what’s referred to as Dark Nexus skins for some of Heroes’ more familiar faces. The comic in question has released its first issue and can be read here.

In a video put together by the team, game director Alan Dabiri and creative content lead Kevin Johnson sit down and discuss what the new narrative spin means for Heroes of the Storm through 2018, including additional comic stories as well as new skin content, original characters and more Nexus-related battlegrounds for the game. You can check out that video below.

Our Thoughts

While we definitely love the idea of fleshing out the world of Heroes of the Storm and offering a bit of narrative flair, we also have to ponder just how many players of this game – or of MOBAs in general – really care about having story beats added. Then again, Blizzard does have a talent for making characters in an otherwise cookie-cutter game type stand out and earn legions of fans, so anything can certainly happen!

Source: press release

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Meet the Two Factions of Bless Online

Will you choose an empire looking to enforce world order and unity, or a collection of city-states looking to return to their prior glory? That’s the basic rundown of the two Bless Online factions, as the devs have shared a lore-centric post detailing the history of the two sides and their current conflict.

bless online factions

The world of Bless Online is pretty much cut in half, so to speak, with the Hieron Empire to the north and the Union Alliance to the south.

The Hieron Empire traces its history back to the Habicht Empire, which drove away marauding barbarians and reclaimed territory. Members of this alliance are considered to be more conservative and believe in enforcing order. The Union Alliance, meanwhile, is made up of city-states that were part of the lands liberated by the Habicht Empire. However, the Union Alliance wants independence and has managed to rally enough people to take back several territories in the southern continent.

According to the post, the differences in worldview, politics and morals have led to the inevitable war that will set the scene fro Bless Online’s PvP activities. The post also promises that players on either faction will experience their own unique stories, with Hieron players facing events that “cause you to think about what really makes a true emperor” and Union players getting the opportunity to “challenge for supremacy in the new age.”

Our Thoughts

Well, considering that PvP is going to be a thing in Bless Online, we suppose it was only inevitable that there would be some deep-seeded sour feelings between the two sides. Which of the two factions are you most interested in? Or do you think that faction-specific PvP warfare is too boring?

Source: Steam

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Bless Online Discusses Combat, Character Growth and Cash Shop
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