The Pros and Cons of “Legion”
Just a couple of weeks after the release of the latest “World of Warcraft” expansion, “Legion,” the numbers are proving what many of us speculated: This expansion will be much more successful than its predecessor, “Warlords of Draenor.” While both expansions sold 3.3 million copies in the first week post-release, “Legion” has retained more concurrent numbers than the last two expansions, showing the highest number of retained players since “Cataclysm.” When you think about the fact that “Warlords” saw the sharpest dropoff and record-breaking low numbers, it’s easy to be skeptical, but “Legion” is looking strong and future content already promises to be more rewarding and enthralling than “Warlords of Draenor” provided. Blizzard learned from their mistakes and were eager to make it up to the players. So, what has “Legion” done so differently and so right? I’ll explore the positives and negatives of this expansion in my experiences so far.
Right away in “Legion,” you are given a quest to pursue an artifact weapon. Which weapon you pursue is dependent on your class and spec, creating dozens of different experiences for a fresh level 100. The benefits to this alone put the launch of “Legion” so far above the launch of “Warlords of Draenor” in terms of how smooth and painless the launch was. Because players were going separate ways to get their weapons, there was limited bottle-necking at quest givers and less competition for tagging mobs. I play on a low-population server, and I saw no login queues and very minimal lag.
Blizzard also added level scaling for the first time, meaning that you can pick which zone to begin your questing, and for the entirety of “Legion,” everything will scale to your level. Add to that the fact that now as long as someone is the same faction as you, you can both tag the same enemies and receive credit and loot, and mining and herbalism nodes are shareable now, the launch felt smoother and less stressful than ever before. There is less competition and hostility without the race to be the first person to collect something or kill something, which allows you to focus more on the leveling experience. Within an hour of the launch, fans took to the subreddit to praise Blizzard on the best release to date. We were really able to focus on the quests, exploring the new locations, and didn’t have to worry about delays or bugs.
The journey to receive your artifact weapon utilizes all parts of your class and spec’s strengths, to really make you appreciate the uniqueness of the class you chose. Whether it’s remembering to use slow fall as a mage or controlling undead adds as a death knight, using spells that are otherwise niche spells and not often required in fight mechanics is a nice breath of fresh air. It sets your class apart from other classes and makes the fight feel less like a “tank and spank,” as well as gives hope that future fights will allow each class a way to contribute and be viable in raid content.
Showcasing the individuality of each class is important and Blizzard made sure we all appreciate not only the mechanics but the lore behind our weapons. As a frost death knight, for instance, I fought my way through Icecrown Citadel (which played on my love for the “Wrath of the Lich King” expansion) to gather shards of Frostmourne, culminating in a fight against the shadow of Arthas and forging the shards of the former weapon into my own. The feeling of returning to such an iconic, beloved location in itself was breathtaking, but Frostmourne is one of the most recognizable and epic weapons in the Warcraft universe (in my opinion.) Being able to make it my own thrilled me, and it solidified my decision to play a death knight. It was the first time since the starting area that I felt like my class held an unparalleled experience.
Class halls are another way that Blizzard has set each class apart from the rest. As a death knight, we return to Ebon Hold which has a new location at the Broken Isles, and send our minions to do our bidding from what is basically a revamped war table like we saw in garrisons in “Warlords.” While the main hub this expansion is Dalaran, class halls look and feel almost like you’re going home. It’s from there that you will receive your class campaign quests, taking orders from the Lich King (as a death knight) and raising allies to join you in your fight against the Burning Legion. It feels heroic and immersive, and forces you to care about the story in a way that I found “Warlords of Draenor” did not.
At end-game, there is plenty to do while we wait for raid content later this month. You can choose to work on your professions or you can focus on getting the “Broken Isles Pathfinder Part 1” achievement, which will no doubt be a requirement for flying when it becomes available. Having end-game content that is not 100 percent revolved around raiding or PvP is great for people in smaller guilds or people who simply want to play the game on their own.
Because it’s still early, it’s hard to say if end-game will be revolutionary, but with promises of a new Karazhan in the first major patch 7.1, nostalgia says that the max-level experience will be much better eventually. Right now, however, the focus for end-game is Suramar, a 110-only zone that involves stealthing and daily quests that can quickly become repetitive. Not being a fan of stealth games myself, I find Suramar slightly tedious, though beautiful. The zone focuses heavily on lore and the acquisition of ancient mana, a currency that is used to gain reputation with the Nightfallen, open portals and leylines around the zone, and to gain stat buffs and additional benefits while questing in Suramar. The storyline quests are gated by your reputation so you are forced to do a bit of farming or world quests in order to get to the further content, but it also prevents you from doing the harder quests before you are ready. The biggest gripe about this area is honestly that stealthing around the city can be frustrating, and while the mobs don’t seem to be harder or easier than normal quest areas, there are some areas of highly-concentrated enemies, which is annoying to fight through or go around..
Scaling is overall a great feature that lets you level up with your lower-level buddies if you so choose, but when you’re a solo player with lower survivability, never having a level advantage can get kind of rough, especially when you first hit 110 and have yet to gear yourself. This is where the benefit of being able to multi-tag enemies comes in handy, but that’s not a perfect solution. It’s not yet known if Blizzard will do something to make solo leveling a little easier, but in the mean time I recommend taking advantage of the fact that there are so many people out and about. World quests also bring max-level characters back to the leveling areas, which will also come in handy when you’re leveling, but it could also mean chaos if you are playing on a PvP server.
Despite the mild grievances so far, this expansion’s release has been outstanding and enjoyable. “Legion” is, in my opinion, a million times better than “Warlords of Draenor” so far. There’s no sitting around in your garrison by yourself, gathering professions are viable again, and the content is a blast. The pros outweigh the cons, future content looks promising, and Blizzard has expertly combined nostalgia with new content in a way that doesn’t feel recycled and overdone. I’m confident that the next months will continue to show that “Legion” is a strong, solid expansion and more than makes up for the faults left behind by “Warlords of Draenor.”