I couldn’t say how long I’ve played Legion since launch in total. However on my Demon Hunter I’ve got 2 days, 21 hours, 9 minutes, and 34 seconds of play as of this sentence. Seeing as that class only came out with this expansion I feel that it is a solid jumping off point for this review.
For additional challenge points I’ll be writing this after our move which means I’m exhausted. I look forward to coming back to this in a week and wondering just how out of it I was when I wrote it.
So after nearly 72 hours of play, how do I feel about this expansion?
The Story Thus Far
I’m going to do my best to describe the story without actually spoiling any of the nuances. The adventure begins with a visit to the Broken Shore. Here you will experience a number of battles that leads to the revelation of just how screwed everyone is.
As is so often the case in adventures, this is not like battles before. Even the enemy at the bottom of the barrel in this fight, Gul’dan, is arguably one of the strongest mortals to ever live in Warcraft. This isn’t even our Gul’dan either, it’s one from the world of Warlords who has already outgrown his long dead multiversal kin.
Once you finish the Broken Shore you are then tasked with visiting the Broken Isle itself, the new zone for Legion. As the title would suggest your enemy this time around is the Burning Legion. While you might be thinking “We did that in Burning Crusade” you actually didn’t. Most of the Burning Crusade involves the players confusingly hunting down and defeating Illidan Stormrage.
It’s as though this expansion was tailor made for me because it goes to length to basically explain to the player that they were a moron for doing so. Seeing as I’ve been confused for years I’m happy that the game is finally saying “Dude, it’s ok, you were right to be confused.”
But back to point, now we are fighting the Legion. Endless in size and immortal (save for some special rules) this foe is seemingly impossible to overcome. By only strokes of luck and a particular pissed off Orc, we are spared the horror of battling with Sargeras himself. The mad titan, once defender of all life turned hot topic philosopher. He is still trapped between realities and his followers really really hate that.
From many vantage points in the Broken Shore you can see the Tomb of Sargeras. Even if you don’t follow the story you can gather from the name that this tomb is not a good thing. From it’s apex a beautiful beam of fel energy splits the clouds creating a maelstrom of bubbling green ill omens.
While I actually didn’t catch the “how” your task is to collect some items known as the Pillars of Eternity. The expressed goal here being that these powerful artifacts will help us destroy (or perhaps simply seal) the Tomb of Sargeras and push back the Legion.
Life in Azeroth, Save for Illidan, has always been about delaying the inevitable with the Legion rather than actually defeating them. Those that watch the intro video, or saw any of the promotional material for this game, will know that Illidan himself is coming back. This is good news for the people of Azeroth that enjoy not having their souls rent and their families slaughtered.
How he will intermingle with an army of (good intentioned) morons is anyone’s guess. Seeing as historically he ‘s tried to save the entire world and multiple times been punished for it.
Your adventures through the Broken Shore will involve spending a lot of quality time with Khadgar, the young mage turned old mage (a story for another day) who is easily one of my favorite parts of Warcraft. His voice actor does a great job of keeping things lively while tiptoeing between being serious and comical as you’d expect from a mage with incredibly ridiculous levels of power.
So here we are. The hero out of time, our actions seemingly both crucial and meaningless. Will we overcome the Legion? Can we? And what lies beyond? After all, Sargeras, functionally the most powerful force in the universe, spotted whatever birthed the Legion and it drove him mad. So something lurks in the darkness (as it is oft to do).
What is there to do?
Quite a lot! A great deal of it is optional and a lot of it can even be used to bypass other things you are less interested in doing. There is a solid chance that I’m going to forget some things, so my plan is just to talk about all the things that I do and hope that you realize there is even more waiting for you out there.
Mechanically there are a few new features that absolutely tickle me. The first of these new features is:
New Transmog system!
Ever since I was a kid I’ve loved collecting things. A well designed collectible game or mechanic is usually enough to keep me happy for a very large amount of time. In this case I think Blizzard has done an exceptional job. They’ve already got the collection system for Pets, Mounts, Toys, and Heirlooms. But with the arrival of appearances you can now collect (nearly) every single outfit in the game. You don’t have to, but if you want to the option is there for you!
I’ve already put some time into it and I love using it to tailor my character to be a better expression of myself. The system could still be a little bit better. Letting us transmogrify the slot itself instead of the equipment piece would likely be the ideal situation. I understand that they don’t do this for getting gold out of the economy but that doesn’t make it bother me any less.
PvP Honor Talents!
I’ve not put a lot of time into this (as you can tell) but the actual idea is pretty solid. As you PVP or complete PVP objectives you will earn experience towards new abilities, traits, and loot. It is my understanding that there is also some kind of prestige system but I am not well versed enough in the system to explain it. If you are interested in that you can find more information here.
Historically I have really not enjoyed PVP. I’ve been upset just about every time they required it on a holiday event. But with the introduction of the Honor Talents I do find myself interested for the first time in ten years. I’m intrigued to see how this changes the experience and judging by the number of fresh PVP achievements earned by my guild mates it has apparently been a positive addition to the formula.
One of the biggest changes with Legion is the shift away from basic loot drops to a permanent “Artifact” weapon that levels up with you as you progress through the game. This item provides you with a skill tree to fill out that is reminiscent of Skyrim’s leveling system. You can speed up your leveling with an upgrade called “Artifact Knowledge” which actually is delivered to you in the form of an ever growing book that tells you the backstory of your weapon.
For lore whores like myself this is a great little feature and it gives me tons of new content to experience and enjoy. Additionally many of the traits (especially those with the golden dragon silhouettes) change how you play, sometimes dramatically. That screaming man on fire made it so that all my fire damage heals me a bit which completely changes my survivability. This system is not super ultra hardcore player friendly but I don’t think they could have made it friendly to them without completely ruining the game for the majority of users.
Each of these weapons is either based off a famous weapon that already existed in the Warcraft Lore, like the Ashbringer or Doomhammer, or off a brand new weapon that is itself based off some famous event, character, or place.
Much like Heirlooms the Artifact weapons help to make the game a bit more stressful and really give you something to grow with. No longer are people gimped until the fifth boss of the raid when they finally get that weapon that actually is good for them.
I’m using a lot of exclamation points today. I blame my general good mood and exhaustion. The point stands that World Quests are an additional layer of content that you can now enjoy. Random quests pop up on all the zones of the world with random loot from gold, to gear, to mounts and pets. These have been designed in such a way that people can relatively easily run out of them. That might sound like a bad idea but Blizzard has learned in the past that if you give people infinitely many pieces of content they will consume infinitely many pieces of content and end up dying or something.
Ultimately your best bet is to finish your emissary quests (those bottom three) which consist of 12 total quests. This provides you the maximum returns and gets you items at the rate that the developers are intending. This requires very little time investment and most of the quests are pretty fun which makes doing them pretty painless. Additionally there are quite a few of them so you should see some variety as you play. We’ve noticed a bit more repetition than Blizzard stated before but it may simply be an oversight.
Every single class has their own special class hall. The above screenshot might not look like much but each one is a fairly neat spectacle. While a Shaman might be hanging out around the Maelstrom, a Demon Hunter will find themselves in a Legion ship within the prison realm of Mardum, and Rogues will be hiding within the walls of Dalaran itself. Each hall has its own quest chains to follow which allow you to learn more about the history of your class and to get some information on the world as a whole that only your class will know.
This system gives strong incentives to people to try out multiple classes and also makes every class feel special. I might be one of about four people who will miss Garrisons but I feel like this is a great middle ground.
Well, yes. There are an enormous number of quests to complete. A lot are actually hidden around the maps that you find as you are exploring with a smaller subset of them being mandatory in order to collect the pillars of eternity. While you are doing those quests you can take breaks to collect some of the numerous new pets that exist all over the Broken Isles. Perhaps do a bit of fishing and crafting to help round out your character too.
If none of that interests you there are also treasures (and artifacts) to collect all over the map as well. All of this is optional and really each thing tends to appeal to a specific kind of person, sometimes without a lot of overlap. And naturally the most iconic activity of all, Raiding, is now unlocked as well. I personally am one of the two tanks in our group which is an incredibly interesting experience. I haven’t really tanked proper in a long time and relearning the ropes is a lot of fun.
There is a lot to discuss and much like the “What is there to do?” segment I’ll likely miss some things. Overall Legion marks arguably the greatest step forward in Warcraft history. The number of improvements to Quality of Life alone are worth admiration.
No longer are zones relegated to specific level ranges in this new realm (and hopefully other realms in the future). Zones now scale with you in a manner that is almost seamless. I’ve played with Liz a number of times with 3 or more levels between us and no real sign of issues. She would see 101 on the mob and I’d see 104 and both of us would deal damage properly. It’s a neat system that means you can play with friends at basically any time.
Questing in this expansion is somewhat effortless. The classes handle really well and the content is top notch. I would like if there was something similar to Artifact Knowledge for EXP gains on alts but I am enjoying myself enough to not exactly mind.
Outside of questing they’ve brought crafting back to relevance which is appreciated. For a long time crafting was a great source of money making and time wasting. But perhaps an expansion or so ago it go basically butchered for a “let everyone make everything” approach that apparently everyone else disliked as much as I did. It wasn’t quite that bad but they had basically relegated crafting to irrelevancy in a way that felt almost malicious.
Alongside with the Artifact weapons and their enhancement of crafting Blizzard has also added an Artifact Fishing Rod. Fishing is one of those things that really only appeals to a singular kind of person. Someone who likes doing repetitious things while they watch shows. I am one of those people and man was I excited to see that new rod. It functionally turns you into a god tier fisherman. You can be invisible, walk on water, catch giant bundles of fish, and even turn into a fish yourself. It’s a nice touch that really rewards weird people like me.
Your reasons for hating other players have dropped dramatically as well. With the introduction of a shared tagging system you can no longer kill steal. Furthermore, other people hitting your mobs is an ideal situation. They’ll help you deal more damage and everyone gets loot from it. This is also true of gathering nodes with the special exception of skinning. The latter is something they are working on and hopefully will have supported in the next few months.
Treasure hunting is back from Mists and Warlords which is one of my favorite new additions that has stuck around. Basically all over the map are treasure boxes of varying sizes that provide you with gold, loot, and artifact power. These aren’t mandatory and serve as a special treat for people who explore or just nice surprises those that are questing.
Overall this expansion provides great deals of replayability with a lot of wonderful benefits to serve people of all walks of life.
What needs work?
Nothing is perfect. A statement I use less and less these days because more and more I find it to be kind of a stupid thing to point out. As mentioned in the last section there are some mechanics that need work like skinning. Anything that involves “harvesting” a mob that people have already hit. Sometimes this involves mining and engineering as well. This is a small annoyance but it can be quite bad in some situations.
The shared gathering node system also is slightly buggy. If your buddies harvest too early before you the gathering spot will vanish for everyone in your party but not for people outside of your party. It should only vanish for the person who harvested it. This is another bug that I’ve read is already in the works to be resolved.
Certain quests will phase you away from your friends when you are in a party which is less than ideal. One quest that takes place in a spoilery area doesn’t allow me to play it with Liz for no reason that I can ascertain.
Really most of my issues are just bugs. The most serious problem I’ve seen only exists in the Demon Hunter class. Almost the moment you start the new character you’ll be given a choice that stresses in highlighted text that it has no real impact on the game. This is flat out a lie. Later in the story this decision will determine whether you become friends with one of my favorite characters or if you rip their soul from their body. It’s a relatively infuriating realization that you’d only know about if you spoiled a great deal of content to read up on it.
Beyond that incredibly out of place error there isn’t much to write home about on the negatives front.
Should you get it?
If you like MMOs on any level you’ll probably really enjoy Legion. If you don’t like MMOs you probably won’t. This genre is a bit like Sports games in that it will either appeal to you or it won’t. I don’t really know anyone that just kind of likes MMOs. I’m sure they exist in vast numbers but it isn’t something I come across very often.
Ultimately I can recommend this without much reservation. I’ve been having an incredibly good time with only a single bad moment (mentioned above). The zones are gorgeous, the quests are both fun and occasionally heartbreaking, the story itself is solid and the events I’ve experience thus far have been pretty cool.
I’ll likely be finishing all of the raids throughout this expansion. The first few bosses for the Emerald Nightmare have been really well designed and it has me optimistic for the entirety.
A bit too soon to be asking but I’m kinda fascinated by what they’ll do for the next expansion. I have my suspicions but I feel like we are going to be closing a few major chapters soon and perhaps starting some storylines that are genuinely unique to WoW as opposed to carryovers from the RTS series.