Of the three Heroes announced and playable at BlizzCon, both Lunara and Greymane were overshadowed by the groundbreaking play mechanics of Cho'Gall. But many con attendees walked away from their demo stations with the fast-paced werewolf assassin as their favorite of the show. Greymane has finally entered the Nexus, so it's time for StormLegacy to review his design!
At BlizzCon 2014, Blizzard described their three core values when designing a hero:
- The Fantasy: What role does the hero play in their respective universe?
- The Look: What does the hero look and sound like?
- The Design: How does the hero function in their respective universe?
DISCLAIMER: It's with these design values in mind that we will discuss our first impressions of greymane. If you were seeking a discourse on his power level, his viability in Hero League, or his best builds, there are plenty of resources for that even after only a day. For us, those things are a temporary and rapidly fluctuating element, a matter of numbers that will inevitably be changed both by Blizzard and by the creative players playing the game, as well as the ever-in-flux meta. These three core design elements are what really makes a hero a favorite in the long run, and Blizzard is just getting better and better at them. We will also be taking a look at the hero's available skins and giving a quick impression of them. So let's get to it!
The Fantasy: Greymane is the King of Gilneas, a town afflicted with a lycanthropic plague, and home of the fan favorite Worgens. From the Battle.Net website:
Like most Gilneans, Genn Greymane is afflicted by the lycanthropic Worgen curse. Though he feels at fault for his people’s ill fate, he has embraced his inner beast without giving in to its feral nature. On the field of battle, Greymane relies on the marksman’s cunning to set up his targets and the beast’s savagery to pounce with deadly speed and accuracy. Now he leads his pack as both their alpha and their king.
So, the idea is that Greymane is a tough, vicious, but noble leader, capable of tactically controlling his battlefield situation and then letting loose with unbridled ferocity. His ideal design would be one of simmering brutality, a building explosion of uncontrolled rage. A charismatic and wizened leader who hides within himself a savage beast. While the Lupine aspects of Greymane in HotS are very well conveyed, his human side may be portrayed as something less than noble. He appears and sounds often like a swashbuckling old pirate or a roguish gunfighter, or Gothic Witch Hunter, than the esteemed king of a noble land. Perhaps this is accurate, as the lands of Gilneas are not a mighty kingdom, but can be viewed as more of a township or hamlet, occupied by rustic, hardy people. Still, for my purposes, if you're going to call him a King, then he should be a King. As someone who is not as familiar with later-era WoW lore, I would love for a hero to convey that lore to me in a succinct but complete way. As it stands, I did not gather what Greymane's "deal" was, from a characterization standpoint, by playing him in HotS.
The Look: This may be Blizzard's best work to date on a hero. It's obvious a lot of love went into this character, and he's teeming with beautiful design touches and flair. From head to toe, his model is gorgeous and full of meticulous detail, eclipsed only perhaps by Rexxar and Misha. His "Witch Hunter" vibe (mentioned above), resonates thoroughly in his attire and equipment, and he even gets a classic Witch Hunter hat with his master skin. He is full of exciting dialogue, and his animations are a joy to watch and hear, even while hearthing or mounting. (In his Ringmaster skin, make sure to check out how he smoothly combs back his lion's mane while mounting in beast form!) Definitely a superb looking and sounding hero that would strongly compel anyone in the shop screen to click "buy", even if they don't play assassins, and despite his complex gameplay.
Greymane's default skin, Master skin, and purchasable Ringmaster skin.
The Design: Greymane should control like a brawler with a high-risk, high-reward feel. Since the main staple of his theme is the savage Worgen inside of him, and the dichotomy of Greymane's perilous control over it, it should feel like turning to Worgen form is an outburst of power that's difficult to keep in check. Certainly, he plays in a way conducive to this idea. The chaos of battle erupts around Greymane when he unleashes the inner beast, and it can feel like a rollercoaster that you have to try to keep on the rails. This is fantastic, and the rewards for learning to harness his design seem plentiful. There are some Heroes guilty of being a quick task to "figure out", but Greymane's playstyle and design lend to a richer, more complex, and long-term gameplay experience.
All in all, Greymane is a great win for the hero designers at Blizzard. He's compelling, interesting, and very, very cool. Minor gripes about his lore presentation aside, he represents another sign of the great things players have to look forward to. Thanks for reading StormLegacy's Hero Review! You can expect continued coverage articles like this one, and much more, as we continue on in the future. Say, why don't you follow @StormLegacyTeam and @SaharaDrac on Twitter, while you're here? Then you'll know whenever we update. :)