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Roots

A screenshotof my death knight on her journey to receive the Maw of the Damned; somewhere on a Legion-infested world

Pretty much ever since Legion launched, a rumour circulates that at the end of the expansion we'd sacrifice our Artefact weapons. The rumour appears to be based in a developer statement according to which our characters would need to sacrifice something very important to them in order to prevail over the Legion. I'm not convinced of the existence of such a statement and didn't do research (lazy me). However, after watching Blizzcon play out over the weekend, by which my thoughts are inspired, I now feel confident in voicing my concerns regarding a possible sacrifice of our Artefact weapons.

First of all – and that's the weak and unimportant reason – our Artefact weapons aren't quite that meaningful to us, or in any case they shouldn't be. This game has a history of excessive reliance on gear and in my opinion sacrificing a weapon would reinforce that. Admittedly, a literal sacrifice of progression's (fictional) physical manifestation in order to save Azeroth and by that the very foundation for this game's greatness could send a powerful message. It would be a reminder that no matter how much and gear you gather, and no matter how powerful it gets, that's not a lasting gain. Yet it would be a tainted message because it would work on the assumption that the Artefact weapon had value to the player, and because that value lay in its gear or was of any ephemeral sort. And ultimately I can merely speak for myself, but gnome characters created by players most likely abandoned their city, while draenei have lost an entire planet. Demon Hunters almost never miss an opportunity to let you know that they already sacrificed everything, and maybe the sacrifice any weapon would fade in the face of all the people we already lost in this war against the Burning Legion.

The second, stronger argument against such a sacrifice is based in historical importance. The last time I felt this game had a notion of historical importance was in Cataclysm with the introduction of Archaeology as a secondary profession. Warlords could've been an example in historical importance, but let's just not talk about that now. Since Cataclysm introduced such important locations as Hyjal, Grim Batol, and Uldum, it's surprising that everything else in the expansion (as well as both following expansions) appeared to exist in the moment. We discovered the ancient evil in the depths of Grim Batol, and that should've been a huge deal but it wasn't. We just killed it, then we moved on and queued up again. We went to the Twiligth Highlands to help a couple of Wildhammer dwarves marry. We discovered Earthen and Therazane, and all we had to say was: “Did you see Deathwing? By the way, that pillar over there looks, uhm, broken.” There've been many great moments in the revamped old zones' quests but they were just that: moments in time. Once rich places (at least to me) feel as if they were reduced to footnotes. And it took me years to roughly figure out what was going on in Blackrock Caverns; mostly, I assume, because I never did the instance right after the accompanying quest line in Mount Hyjal.

But Legion brought that feeling back, and Artefact weapons have been one of the means to achieve that. We've got Artefact research which actually provides us with additional background to our Artefact weapons. The Artefact quest chains lead us back to places of important past events and reintroduce us to an incredible amount of characters with whom we may have interacted (even in controlling them back in Warcraft III). So our weapons are historically important artefacts, they're more or less filled with history, and it would be a shame to lose that for all eternity. They're great because they are or come close to being long-forgotten, legendary treasures. In the same way our characters found and now wield them in the great war against the Legion, future adventures should be able to retrieve them once again and carry these magnificent tools to battle. History shouldn't end with us, we should become part of it.