Our journey into the wilds of Draenor takes us next into Talador. We unabashedly absconded with a little of Associate Quest Designer Johnny Cash’s* time to learn what’s waiting for players here.
Located in the heart of Draenor, Talador offers significant strategic value to the Iron Horde should they complete their quest to gain control. The city of Shattrath, a shining jewel of draenei civilization, now lies in the Iron Horde’s clutches, and the situation is looking grim..
Zone Music Piece: Last Light by Neal Acree
What can you tell us about the path that leads players into the events taking place in Talador? How does the story evolve within this zone?
Johnny Cash: After coming out of a major confrontation against the Iron Horde in Gorgrond and leaving one of their bases in ruin, you and your forces have begun erecting an outpost just north of the draenei city of Tuurem in a bid to push back the invading fleet. Under the command of the ruthless Warlord Blackhand the Destroyer, the Iron Horde has already made landfall on the Orunai Coast and have taken most of northern Talador—including the sprawling city of Shattrath, the trade capital for all of draenei civilization. If they aren’t stopped soon, all of Talador will fall into Grommash Hellscream’s grip, and the rest of Draenor is sure to follow. Talador’s strategic location at the heart of Draenor would give the Iron Horde the perfect launching point for their amassing forces in Tanaan Jungle.
Pushing the Iron Horde back will be no simple feat, however. They have greater numbers, a stronger foothold, and one of the most brilliant military generals to ever live backing its mission. A confrontation of epic proportions between Warlord Blackhand and Orgrim Doomhammer within Shattrath will shake the city’s foundations, and not every hero who enters may make it out alive.
Even once the Iron Horde is routed out of Shattrath, the city will not remain safe for long, as new foes are waiting to emerge and lay claim to the city. The Sargerai are a sect of draenei who have aligned themselves with the Shadow Council to usher Gul’dan’s twisted schemes into fruition. With most draenei cities razed and sacked by the Iron Horde, allies are few and far between . . . but they do exist. Pockets of draenei resistance dot Talador’s forests, eager to retake their homes and enact vengeance on their assailants. In an ancient caldera to the east at a major ley line nexus, Archmage Khadgar and the Kirin Tor have taken up residence. Perhaps most curiously, there have been several sightings near the city of Aruuna of arakkoa outcasts—flightless bird-men powerful in the ways of shadow magic. Some say their existence is little more than a legend, but players will have to find out for themselves if the rumors are true—and if they are, what brings the arakkoa outside of their ancestral home in Spires of Arak . . . or, more importantly, who.
On top of all of the very real threats players face in their first foray into Talador, a darker, more sinister threat lurks to the south. Teron’gor, right hand of Gul’dan, leads a massive assault on the holy mausoleum of Auchindoun, resting place for all draenei souls. Demons pour in at the Burning Front from the remains of a ruined world somewhere in the Twisting Nether. The Shadow Council eyes the city of Telmor. Exarch Maladaar leads the Auchenai, ancient defenders of Auchindoun, in a desperate effort to hold off the seemingly endless waves of death. If their lines falter, Teron’gor will have unhindered access to innumerable draenei souls . . . and plans to consume them to gain a terrible power not meant for mortal hands. But the Auchenai have an ally that Teron’gor did not expect. Lady Liadrin and her Sunsworn felt the demonic presence and have flocked to Auchindoun’s aid, and will call upon players to help turn the tide—but will they be enough?
How would you describe the zone’s ambience and the creatures that can be found in it?
Johnny Cash: Talador is home to the heart of draenei civilization. It is stunningly beautiful, and the zone has a palette of oranges, golds, and greens that make it incredibly vibrant.
It is stunningly beautiful, and the zone has a palette of oranges, golds, and greens that make it incredibly vibrant.
It’s particularly lovely at dusk and into the evening, where its gentle orange sky fades into a dazzling starry night. The zone really showcases the breadth of draenei life: the sprawling trade hub of Shattrath, the massive mausoleum that is Auchindoun, the iconic city of Tuurem, the mythical Telmor (it does exist!), and so many others. Talador is more than a pretty place, though, and there is a prevailing sense of urgency that you feel everywhere you go. The Iron Horde and the Shadow Council threaten to unravel all that you’ve done in one fell swoop. Talador also boasts these great contrasts everywhere: old versus new, tranquil versus literally on fire.
Of course, while you’re in Talador you’ll have run-ins with the many creatures that call this great forest home, many of whom have adapted unique hunting techniques to survive. The devious stalker is able to change its skin coloration to camouflage it, allowing it to ambush prey or escape predators unseen. Mighty teroclaws, flying beasts that use their strong beaks to sever both flesh and bone, rule the skies here rather than the rylaks found in many of Draenor’s other locales. Moths are drawn to the plentiful water sources, and have developed the ability to channel the abundant magic energy in the air around them into condensed blasts. Those same water sources are home to all sorts of electric eels, poison frogs, and even mighty riverbeasts. Some caves are home to ferocious territorial spiders that few dare disturb—their venom is said to be able to alter both the body and mind. Tigers prowl the lower mountain ridges, hungry for their next kill. Talador looks like a welcoming place . . . but every forest has its dark side.
Which locations are some of your favorites? Any highlights players should make sure to see and experience?
Johnny Cash: Talador offers some truly diverse locations that are all worth a visit. You’re seeing these places that you may be familiar with from The Burning Crusade in a totally different light. You know more or less where everything is in Talador already if you braved the Terokkar Forest, but nothing in those locations is quite as you remember it. That’s what makes it so exciting to explore. I would say there are three main areas and their surroundings that really define Talador: Shattrath, Auchindoun, and the northeastern forest.
Shattrath is initially occupied by the Iron Horde and is exponentially larger than the Shattrath players know from The Burning Crusade. Carefully manicured trees and hedges lines its walkways, and numerous rises, canals, and bridges connect several large, unique sections of the city. One section is protected and cordoned off by an ornate, magically enhanced shell structure. Nearby, Shattrath’s docks offer ample room for traders from all across Draenor to come peddle their wares—or for an Iron Horde war fleet to bring their ships. Those who prefer to live a quieter lifestyle outside of the hustle and bustle of the big city may find themselves in Tuurem or a village along the Orunai Coast.
Auchindoun has not yet been sullied by the Shadow Council, and players will have a chance to see it in all its glory. Draenei from all around make pilgrimages there to pay their respects to their ancestors and the recently deceased. The northeastern forest may not have an enormous city dominating its horizon, but it is far from short on sights worth seeing. Your Garrison outpost stands tall in an ideal position for accessing the whole of Talador, wherever your presence is needed.
What outpost bulidings are available, and what will players be able to earn for their Garrison?
Johnny Cash: Talador will offer some really cool choices that will affect your Garrison. You’ll have the opportunity to build an Arcane Sanctum or an Arsenal in the last available spot in the outpost. Which building you choose will offer you a different questing experience, a blueprint to construct a Mage Tower or Armory at your Garrison, and a special follower. Each building also unlocks a special zone ability to use anytime you’re in Talador. You can call in an artillery strike from the cannon mounted on the Arsenal, or summon a guardian orb from the Arcane Sanctum that will follow you around for a time and fry any enemies that dare to get too close.
Talador is full of enemies to slay and problems to solve, and I hope you enjoy playing it as much as we did making it. Good luck; have fun!
We hope you’ve enjoyed learning more about Talador, and we look forward to continuing the journey through Draenor in our next zone preview.
*Not to be confused with the original “man in black,” though Johnny—like most game designers—does own a healthy collection of black T-shirts. He does not, however, take song requests.