When I found this reference hidden in WoW I was amazed 🙂
Princess and I had talked about making a post about it for a while, and when I saw the new Blog Challenge by the amazing WoW bloggers Z and Cinder, we decided to do it now.
(Spoiler warning: this post will contain a key spoiler for the season 1 plot of the anime Sword Art Online)
First of all, why this is an important anime: it’s the story of a solo player who learns how to be a part of a team, and meets the love of his life and they go on amazing gaming adventures.
On Sword Art Online (SAO), the main character Kirito is a young expert in video games. He was a beta tester of the new fantasy MMORPG game that is about to come out, called “Sword Art Online”, which I can only describe as “imagine WoW on Virtual Reality”.
On this game, much like WoW, there are abilities and level ups and even profession skills. However, there are no magical powers, only weapon skills.
Kirito was always a lone wolf type of player, focusing on beating each level and soloing everything he can.
As soon as the game launches, and thousands of players log in, something tragic happens: the game creator announces that they will all be trapped in the virtual reality of the game until they reach the final level, which will require beating all the game’s dungeons and clearing each floor of the massive world. He also declares that dying in the game will result in dying in the real world, much for the despair of all the players.
SAO takes place on a massive flying tower world called Aincrad. There are 100 floors, and each is like a small continent, with several large cities, a lot of villages and lakes, forests, etc. One floor can be a snowy mountain type zone, and another a jungle zone. To pass to the next floor, a dungeon (with Bosses and mobs, like we are all so familiar with :D) has to be completed.
The difficulty of each dungeon will increase a lot, and each dungeon is more like what in WoW we’d call a raid, requiring more than 5 players and a lot of planing and knowledge of each boss ability.
Getting to the top level of the world would require a massive amount of cooperation, and a lot of the players group up and form Guilds. But for Kirito, being part of a group causes him great anxiety, so he remains alone, doing his best soloing every challenge he comes across.
Other players begin to resent him, saying he is a cheater (he isn’t. He just uses his knowledge to gain the upper hand, much like that player who soloed an Antorus raid boss) and since he was a beta tester that he had an unfair advantage over everyone else, and he becomes known as a “beater” of games (beta tester + cheater = beater).
One of the antagonists he comes across is Heathcliff, the leader of the Guild “Knights of Blood”. Heathcliff was a famous player by this point, know for being nearly invincible using his sword and shield technique, being rumoured that his HP had never been reduced bellow 50%.
They end up duelling at a point, and Kirito uses his hidden ability (dual wielding) only to discover that Heathcliff has a hidden ability too (changing from a 100% defensive stance to instant attack mode), which allows him to beat Kirito.
After a long time and several adventures, Kirito finds out that Heathcliff is in fact the avatar of the creator of SAO, the responsible for their dire situation, and that the reason his HP would never fall under 50% was because Heathcliff turned his character into an “Immortal Object” at that HP zone (an “immortal object” being anything programmed in the game as something that could never be destroyed or damaged).
The Paladin Legendary references not only Heathcliff, his immortality and status as an Immortal Object (which transcended the “natural laws” of Aincrad), but it also makes another fun connection to WoW:
On SAO he is the GM of Knights of Blood. On WoW, the Legendary says he is a Blood Knight.
Blood Knights are the Blood Elves’ order of Paladins, and Heathcliff definitely looks like a Protection Paladin 😀
(Even though neither of them wear plate armor, Kirito would probably be a Fury Warrior, and Asuna would be a Retribution Paladin ^^)
As a final note, a lot of the legendary items in Legion have amazing references. Try to find the ones on the items you already have!