At this point, just months out from its summer 2016 release, there's a fair bit that we know about World of Warcraft: Legion, Blizzard's sixth expansion pack for its decade-old massively multiplayer game. We know the level cap will be going up. We know there will be new lands to explore. And we know that a plot twist will bring back Illidan Stormrage, the main antagonist of 2007's Burning Crusade expansion, long thought dead at the hands of the players themselves.
But whose side will Illidan be on upon his return? Blizzard has heavily hinted that players will be working with rather than against Illidan; the game will even be getting a new demon hunter class based around the iconic character. However, Illidan is, historically, an anti-hero of sorts. He often does things for the right reasons but in the wrong ways, which led to him eventually fully embracing his role as a bad guy.
If a new World of Warcraft novel is to be believed, that could be changed with Legion. Over on the MMO Champion forums, user Pothemus got a hold of an early copy of Illidan: World of Warcraft, a novel set in the game's universe that will be releasing officially next week. Keep in mind that this post (as with Pothemus') will contain spoilers for the book.
The novel deals with Illidan's movements following the events of Warcraft 3: The Frozen Throne. It reveals how Illidan created his faction of demon hunters, and how he fought back against the Warcraft universe's cosmic bad guys, the Burning Legion. It also lays down a set canon for the events of World of Warcraft's Burning Crusade expansion, up to and including a raid group of Alliance and Horde heroes crashing uninvited into Illidan's temple and taking him out.
Here's the most interesting bit, though. At one point in the book, Illidan encounters a naaru — sort of the good guy opposites of the Burning Legion. The naaru tells Illidan of an enemy "greater even than Sargeras and his Burning Legion." The enemy that the naaru refers to is known as "The Void," and it's described as "the ultimate opponent of the Light."
The naaru then grants Illidan a vision. Here's an excerpt:
Amid mountains of corpses, a winged figure battled at the head of the legions of Light. A golden glow surrounded his warglaives. He cleft demons asunder with mighty blows. The soldiers surrounding him gazed up in awe and wonder at their leader. It took Illidan a moment to realize that this being's features were his own, transformed, his eyes growing fiercely. This avatar of Light looked calm and strong and at peace. His face was filled with confidence, shorn of all suffering.
As Illidan watched, the winged figure rose above the battle, defying gigantic entitie4s of darkness, creations of the evil of the Void. A halo played around his head. His body began to glow brighter than the sun, and from his outstretched arms, rays of Light emerged to strike down his foes.
There was a sense of rightness about this, as if he looked upon a vision of the unborn future.
Not only does Illidan become a leader of the forces of good in this vision, he gets a literal halo. After the vision, the naaru tells him: "Whatever you were, whatever you are, a champion of Light is what you will be."
Blizzard has teased a return and potential faction change for Illidan for a long time. Back in 2010, Blizzard senior vice president of story and franchise development Chris Metzen told a crowd at Blizzcon that he was "a sucker for a good redemption story" when asked about the possibility of resurrecting Illidan. It seems like Legion may finally be the opportunity for Metzen and company to start making good on those hints.
Illidan: World of Warcraft will hit shelves next week, on April 12. For more on World of Warcraft: Legion, you can discover the lore of demon hunters in a video we reported on previously. You can also watch the cinematic for the new expansion below.