Review: World of Warcraft: Legion

Blizzard has given the jewel in its crown a good polishing

We’ve had a great a few weeks of play since our first impressions of World of Warcraft: Legion and our positive first look has been consistent up till now. Legion undid a lot of troubles World of Warcraft had been facing in recent times. Blizzard is a juggernaut in the gaming industry and World of Warcraft is its crown jewel, even though the MMORPG has faltered in the recent years, Legion comes in roaring to undo a lot of past mistakes and give its faithful and hopeful returning player base an expansion worthy of its legacy.

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The Legion story

Ask any seasoned WoW player why they love it so much and keep coming back to play after all these years and, among other things, one consistent answer will always be: story. Blizzard does storytelling well and has done so since the game launched. The single player quests are some of the most enthralling experiences I’ve found in MMOs and keeps players focused on what’s going on rather than simply the final objective. I can be an impatient player who loves to grind through missions without paying much heed to the story, but in World of Warcraft I take my time with quests to read and understand what’s going on. Legion comes packed with a fun story of the impending threat of the Burning Legion. The stories are given a beautiful treatment using state-of-the-art CGI cutscenes for cinematic trailers showing some of the greatest heroes fall. The Alliance and Horde join forces for a short period of time to fight off the invasion though very quickly go back to being sworn foes, just the way all the players like it.

Previous World of Warcraft expansion launches – and online game launches in general – have been a perilous journey fraught with fear of server queues, time outs, crashes and a variety of in-game bugs because the developers are always in such a rush to get the game into player hands. This was my biggest surprise with Legion: no issues whatsoever. The game never froze, lagged or glitched and I hesitantly applauded it every day. This is not to say the game was void of bugs – there were a few minor launch day issues you may have come across – but nothing out of the realm of expectancy.

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What’s new

Legion has done a lot of overhauling for the classes giving players a refreshed sense of play and a much-needed break from the monotony that had become commonplace for veteran players. Order Halls are class-specific areas where you can mingle with members of your own class. They’re magnificently designed and crafted specifically for each class. These make for a great social setting between raids, dungeons or lonely exploration. You’ve also got the associated class quests that enhance your experience further and sometimes venture outside the Broken Isles so returning players get to reminisce in areas they haven’t visited in a long time. Artifacts are another class-specific addition that allow players to show off their classes in a more personal way. The weapons are based on ancient World of Warcraft lore, giving players in-the-know even more of a reward in knowing exactly what makes their weapon so prominent. These artifacts are fully customisable, so the same weapon can look different on each player.

An important question in every MMO is the end game: “What do I do once I hit the level cap?” Even though Legion only gives you ten more levels, there’s a lot of stuff to do once level 110 is achieved. The path to 110 is easier than it sounds. New characters can be created that start directly at level 100 so new players or players wanting to try out the new classes don’t have to spend an excruciating amount of time before being able to enjoy Legion. The path to 110 from 100 is quick and packed with brilliant story. Solo questing is easily done through most classes and it’s general easy finding a group to tackle an area that’s challenging on your own. Once you hit level cap, there are even more things to do. I’ve yet to see a MMO pack in this much end game content for an expansion. Then again, World of Warcraft has consistently paved the way forward for MMO gaming.

A new zone called Suramar is unlocked at level 110. World Quests become available to you. These are an evolved version of Daily Quests, which give you timed objectives in the world, several at a time, resetting after some hours or days, require a varied number of players and use existing non-playable characters to dole out quests and rewards. The quests will take you across Azeroth seeking out the rewards you want, rather than being forced to chase a fixed reward. Every aspect of the quest is tailored to you and how you want your character to progress. The level of personalisation in so many aspects of this game is amazing.

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Player ve player (PvP) play is the cornerstone of any MMO as far as I’m concerned. There’s definitely no dearth of players who have possibly never fought another live player in WoW, but to me it’s one of the most exciting aspects. World of Warcraft has had a solid Guild and PvP system with some nice new improvements in Legion. A separate PvP Talent System has been introduced to bring more balance to classes who PvP and PvE extensively. As players earn Honour ranks, they can unlock abilities that only work in battlegrounds and arenas. This new system also takes the focus away from grinding Honour and Conquest gear. Your choice of PvP Talents will be more crucial than your equipment. This way, players are more balanced on and off the PvP floor.

I love dungeons. These have been my favourite aspects of MMO play since I first got into the genre and World of Warcraft has some of the most fun and immersive dungeons every created. There’s quite a few dungeons to get through in Legion and once you hit 110, you unlock more dungeons as well as higher difficulty versions of the existing dungeons. Bosses are challenging, finding a good group is easy thanks to the in-game system and I was lucky enough to always be put into a serious group of players who liked to have fun. The dungeons are following a lot of what is being implemented in many top-tier MMOs where they contain random modifiers to make it more challenging so it’s more fun to repeat with a better reward system to boot.

Verdict

I returned to World of Warcraft after a long time and I enjoyed myself thoroughly and will continue to enjoy myself for some time. At first I thought it was because my expectations were low but after solid playtime, I realise Blizzard has delivered a kind reminder to the gaming world of what they are capable of. I guarantee every returning player will be very happy with Legion and may just become a long-term subscriber once again. There’s a lot more I haven’t been able to see and I look forward to getting the full Legion experience. After many hours of play, having the knowledge that there’s so much I have yet to see is a testament to the extent of Legion‘s endgame.