World of Warcraft: Legion Review
Despite having to bear the terrible weight of bringing WoW back from the brink of disaster, Legion smashes it out of the park. With new areas to explore on the Broken Isles, fabled artefact weapons suited to each class’ lore, an entirely new class to experiment with, and it has finally found a way to bring its community together for the first time in a while.
The story begins with the return of the Burning Legion – an insurmountable army of demons led by a corrupt God whose only goal is to eradicate all signs of order. You could say the odds are stacked up pretty high, but you didn’t re-subscribe to give up. Lead by Archmage Khadgar you and nine others carry the weight of the world on your shoulders as you take the fight to the Broken Shore and fight the Legion head on.
If you’ve been on any kind of forum recently you may have heard that something major happens during the events of the Broken Shore. I won’t say in any detail in case some of you are sensitive to spoilers, but if you’re with the Alliance what happens is glorious and memorable, whereas if you’re part of the Horde it just happens out of the blue. Despite that tiny thorn in my side, the intro really hits the nail on the head: The Burning Legion has returned.
“Despite that tiny thorn in my side, the intro really hits the nail on the head: The Burning Legion has returned.”
The newest thing that everyone has been pining over are the new artefact weapons. Acquired just before you’re sent to the Broken Isles, artefact weapons are tailored to each class’ different specializations. These weapons can level up beside you throughout the expansion by feeding it artefact power; a consumable item which you can collect whilst you level, be it through quests or random mob drops.
As much as I like the new identity theme that Blizzard has implemented to allow each class to differentiate itself from their other specializations, I disliked the fact that after I acquired my one-of-a-kind axe and was hailed as a legendary Deathlord by my followers, I saw ten other people with the very same axe. I felt kind of cheated. Though I do love the idea of implementing weapons that have a lot of history to them, when every class is rocking their respective fabled weapons that only a few people on Azeroth have ever seen before now, it starts to lose that awe-inspiring feeling once I’ve seen it for the tenth time today.
As I mentioned previously, Legion manages to do something that hasn’t happened properly in WoW since the golden age of 2009: bring its community together. Throughout my entire levelling experience I’d stumble upon a group of people who had banded together to take down a strong monster, and thanks to the new monster tagging system I was able to help them and still get something for it. There were people advertising for more players to join their dungeon run in the general chat instead of just queueing with the automatic dungeon finder, and we finally have a hugely active player-versus-player arena that can be found in the sewers of Dalaran.
What’s even better is that Blizzard has somehow found a way to scale each zone, quest, and dungeon to your level – which means I was able to play with a friend who was a few levels higher than I was. Thanks to this I wasn’t as much of a liability and was still doing a reasonable amount of damage compared to him when we were questing together. What’s more, with each zone scaling to your own level, there isn’t a linear path to follow on your questing, just whichever takes your fancy. This made my levelling all the sweeter and not at all like the grind I’m used to, allowing me to come and go between areas when I felt like a change of scenery, or just to enjoy some sightseeing.
“I won’t deny that some of the quests still whittled me down with the tedious ‘run here, collect ten X, and run back’, but those are few and far between…”
I won’t deny that some of the quests still whittled me down with the tedious ‘run here, collect ten X, and run back’, but those are few and far between as most every quest has its own journey to take you on and its own story if you’ll only read the quest log. There were quests that stood out above the rest to me and really cemented Blizzard’s story-telling skill miles above most. There are hundreds of characters full of personality that you’ll no doubt bump in to along the way, from a group of trolls watching snails race along a track, to my personal favourite of two giants throwing smaller NPCs in an arena to battle each other like Pokémon.
On top of that, during your travels you’ll find hundreds of more treasures to discover and fuss over as you spend hours trying to find out how to get up such a stupidly steep cliff. Though I’m happy that Blizzard stuck with the treasure system, I dislike how the majority of them are just purple-highlighted chests for me to click on. Unlike the treasures in the previous expansion, there isn’t much of a story surrounding these treasures, they just feel bland.
The areas themselves are receiving a lot of praise from the community for being well designed and for managing to make the long haul back to the quest giver that little bit less tedious by having the areas designed gorgeously. My unrivalled favourite is the expansive hillsides of Highmountain; a Tauren wonderland full of running streams, grassy plains, and snowy mountaintops. As with every expansion, the music is phenomenal and makes each area a joy to explore. Each zone has its own music that suits it perfectly; with the Viking-Age area of Stormheim having a soundtrack composed of horns and drums, whereas the mystical forest of Val’Shara is composed with harps, flutes, and a choir of people singing angelically. It really isn’t hard at all to take a break from the questing to just unwind, explore the different areas, and enjoy the game.
Another break from the questing came in the form of the brand new order halls. These halls are custom built around each specific class and act as a home-hub for the different classes to visit on occasion to pick up quests and plan out some follower missions, earning them resources, gold, and items. This may sound similar to the garrisons introduced in WoW’s previous expansion Warlord of Draenor, but before any of you who actually played through Draenor start having horrific flashbacks, I can assure you that the similarities start and end with the follower missions.
This time, Instead of having tens of followers to level up and send on missions you are limited to five, and you’re even able to micromanage your followers from your phone with the new Legion Companion App. Granted, it does cost two-hundred and fifty gold to switch a follower in if they have a skill you need, but I find five to be plenty if I balance the skills evenly. There are no buildings to be built this time around, instead you can spend your resources on class-specific traits, minions to send alongside your followers to increase your chance of successfully completing a mission, and ways to research your artefact weapon to increase the speed at which it levels up. My favourite distinction of all, though, is that I’m no longer alone when in my order hall. I’m surrounded by my fellow death knights and have come across a few role-players speaking in character, which was magical and really added to the whole class identity experience.
I thoroughly enjoy how Blizzard have structured the individual class halls. Each order hall is placed in an area which fits the lore of each class and, having seen most of them, I have to say they did a spectacular job of it. Each hall is dotted with tiny little details to find and are a joy to explore. Alongside all of this, however, are multitudes of quests that take you down a rabbit hole of lore surrounding your chosen class, which allowed me to make good use of my cool Deathlord status.
Despite the bulk of Legion’s end-game content being released later in the month with raids and Mythic+ dungeons on their way, it still has an impressive amount of content to get through before all of that is released. Once you finally hit max level you must earn at least a friendly reputation level with the five areas within the Broke Isles, which won’t be a problem so long as you’ve completed the majority of the quests in each zone. Doing this unlocks Blizzard’s new world quest system, which are actually a surprising amount of fun. These quests have unique rewards and will take you around the continent redoing old quests or killing elite mobs with groups of people, and completing enough of them in certain areas with reward you with the daily emissary chest, full of rare loot and resources for your order hall.
All of the world quests are on a lengthy timer and will disappear once the timer runs out, meaning you won’t be stuck redoing the same quests day after day, but will also get a chance of the day’s loot even if you can’t play till the late evening. The loot you do receive from these quests are invaluable for gearing yourself up and prepping yourself for raid day. The gear scales with your item-level and it seems Blizzard has kept the random chance of an item to upgrade itself from a pretty standard piece of gear up to an epic, raid-ready item. I have to say, I’m unsure what to think about the RNG surrounding item upgrades. Those who marry lady luck seem to have gear upgrades coming out of the floorboards, leaving the unlucky ones to farm dungeons and world quests until they get a slither of luck, just like the good ol’ days.
But, despite how crazy it may sound, that’s exactly what I miss about WoW; spending weeks and weeks farming dungeons and raids to grab that elusive raid-tier armour piece and then being overwhelmed with satisfaction when it finally drops. Those are the moments I remember most about my old raiding guild – the screams of joy over TeamSpeak when our healer’s weapon finally dropped, or when Illidan finally blessed me with his blindfold. Though getting an instant item upgrade isn’t as memorable, it allows those who might not have enough time to raid consistently every week to keep up with those who do, but at a much slower pace. Of course, you could just as well draw the shortest straw imaginable and loose the loot roll by two when Invincible finally dropped.
As it is, I’m having a blast and have already sunk an unreasonable amount of hours into Legion. Obviously, Blizzard could shoot itself in the foot any day now and make all these nice things I’ve just written completely pointless, but with plenty of patches around the corner full of even more content, I seriously doubt it. This seems like the perfect gateway expansion to snag those players who might be on the border about buying WoW.
**The reviewer used his own personal PC code to review the game**
- Class identity
- Characters dripping with personality
- Stellar voice acting
- Stories that actually invoke feelings
- Numerous activities to experience
- Famed artefact weapons not legendary