Review: World of Warcraft: Legion

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Review: World of Warcraft: Legion

Twelve years after its launch, World of Warcraft still remains the biggest MMORPG in terms of user base and arguably the best around. Newer MMOs try to copy what WoW does, but none have bested the titan that is the World of Warcraft. Although, the game has seen a notable decline in recent years. This was most likely due to the slow trickle of new content from its previous expansion, Warlords of Draenor. However, with the advent of LegionWoW is seems poised to make a full-on comeback.

In fact, due to the Legion’s launch, WoW has seen its biggest spike in sales since 2010’s expansion, Cataclysm. At the time of this writing, Legion has been delighting fans with new questing zones, interesting dungeon encounters, artifact weapons that level up with you, and so much lore that’ll have you scouring every nook and cranny for answers. But does it have the legs to keep the community around?

Hit the jump to read on!

The Burning Legion has returned to Azeroth, and this time they intend to finish the job they started way back at the beginning of the original Warcraft. Unfortunately for them, the denizens of Azeroth are not going to go down without a fight. To counter the initial invasion force, champions of the Alliance and the Horde gathered at the broken shore to push the demons back into the portal for whence they came.

The campaign to rid Azeroth of the demons was going well until the joint forces of the Alliance and Horde began to be overrun by the unending onslaught of the burning legion. This forced Slyvanas Windrunner to call for the Horde’s retreat as she carried the mortally wounded Warchief Vol’jin to safety, leaving the Alliance to fight the legion by themselves for about three seconds before King Varian Wrynn ordered for a full retreat.

But the Alliance did not leave without their share of casualties; in order to guarantee the safety of his champions, King Varian Wrynn chose to stay behind and hold off the legion long enough for his allies to make their escape. And his reward was a slow and painful death at the hands of Gul’dan. With King Varian gone and Warcheif Vol’jin succumbing to his wounds, the Alliance and Horde must now rally their forces behind Anduin Wrynn, Varian’s son, and Sylvanas Windrunner and take the fight to the Broken Isles where their last hope for victory may lie.

The moment to moment gameplay of WoW hasn’t changed much in the years I’ve spent away from it, which is both good and bad. But first, I have to give credit where credit is due: the developers over at Blizzard have done a wonderful job at continuously adding a number of quality of life improvements that make WoW an extremely accessible MMO to jump into for the first time, or to return to after a long hiatus. Although, with the advent of newer MMOs with more fluid combat systems, robust character customization options, and world-wide dynamic events like Final Fantasy XIV, Wild Star, and Guild Wars 2, World of Warcraft begins to show its age. Granted, character customization and dynamic events aside, WoW’s combat system has changed over the years. Gone are the days of one class playing like all of the others. Nowadays each class, and subclass has its own distinct play style.

As someone who hasn’t touched World or Warcraft in six years, I was definitely afraid to jump into Legion. And after logging onto a newly created paladin with my free level 100 boost that comes with the expansion, I felt overwhelmed by the sheer number of things that had changed. My character was plopped into the endgame of the previous expansion, Warlords of Dreanor, which had me in a fully loaded garrison. Don’t know what a garrison is? Neither did I. Apparently Warlords of Dreanor centered around a garrison that acted as your main base of operations, instead of a major city.

Although it was cool to have my very own base, it felt a bit lonely. I was used to running around Stormwind and Iron Forge as an Alliance character or Orgrimmar and Under City as a member of the Horde. Granted, I could still do that, after I figured out how to make my way back to the Azeroth I knew. That’s about where the confusion ended though as I was immediately approached by a messenger who gave me a quest to seek out the Archmage Khadgar and begin the Legion preparations.

With a few lore heavy quests out of the way, you hitch a ride on Dalaran as it is teleported above the Broken Isles where the majority of the Legion expansion takes place. However, before you can actually begin questing on the Broken Isles, you must first acquire your artifact weapon. Each subclass of every class gets its own special artifact that will be leveling up with you as you venture forth onto the Broken Isles. The good news is, you can eventually unlock the artifact weapons for the rest of your subclasses, if you’re so inclined that is.

With your new found artifact weapon, you go on to your class order hall and are immediately inaugurated as the new leader. This is mostly due to the fact that you have accomplished feats of heroism and bravery so great, that it’s a little weird nobody has really praised you all that much until now. Also, you are in possession of a weapon so sacred that it was thought to have been lost/destroyed/hidden away/etc and thus nobody but you deserves to be the leader of your class! Well, you and the millions of other players that are also the same class as you. It gets a bit silly that you and tons of other characters are all running around with the same title and artifact weapons but it’s all in an attempt to make you feel special, and I think it succeeds.

As leader of your class order hall, you’re able to send out a select few of your followers to go out and complete quests that take minutes to hours to complete. This aspect of the game feels a lot like what you would see in a mobile game, in fact Legion launched with a companion app for your smart phone so you can handle order hall quests while you’re away from the game.

You can also upgrade your order halls, recruit expendable troops, or look at the day’s world quests and quest rewards. This particular part of the game is a grind, but it’s entirely optional to a certain degree. Clearing all of your order hall specific quests rewards you with a piece of your class specific endgame armor set. You could always get equivalent armor elsewhere, but if you’re a completionist, you’re going to want to finish these quests.

Speaking of questing, the Broken Isles have an enjoyable questing experience. This is mostly due to the fact that enemies now scale to your level no matter which zone you choose to go to first. This is the sort of thing that makes you wonder why it hasn’t been implemented into the rest of the game, but for the time being it makes sense to only be relegated to the Broken Isles.

What’s more is that every zone feels unique in both environment and questlines. From the mountainous terrain of the aptly named High Mountain, to the lush green forests of Val’sharah, the Broken Isle zones are teeming with personality. This is further compounded by the max level zone, Suramar, which might be the best zone that’s ever been introduced into WoW. The questline in Suramar tasks the player with establishing an alliance with the Nightfallen and fighting against the Nightborne. These two factions of Nightelves have been waging a secret war unbeknownst to the rest of the inhabitants of Azeroth, but the advent of the Burning Legion has presented an opportunity for the Nightfallen to strike back against the Nightborne and push the Legion out of Suramar city.

The city itself is densely populated with Nightborne and demon NPCs and has all of the makings of a major city, except that it’s hostile towards literally everyone. Being spotted by a guard will either end with you fighting them to the death, being killed, or being chased for a ridiculous amount of time.

Max level doesn’t just give access to Suramar however, you also unlock world quests that refresh every day. These world quests also give you the option to complete four quests for a randomly selected Broken Isle faction. These particular quests are meant to help you grind out reputation for each of said factions. That coupled with dungeons, raids, world bosses, and sending your followers out on class hall quests, you have a good amount of content to keep you busy. However, all of this becomes a grind the second you decide to switch to another character.

Unfortunately, if you’re the type of player that likes to play multiple characters and grind to max level, you’re going to have a hard time. In the past, once one of your characters reached the highest reputation level for a faction, you were given an item that helps you gain rep faster on your alternate characters. These items aren’t present in Legion and it makes the game feel stale. Sure, you can start questing in a different zone, but you’re eventually going to have to go to all of them. And you’re more than likely going to redo the same quests you did on your main character. And then you’ll still have to grind out rep for all of the factions all over again.

Not only is it a slog to gain rep, but you still have to upgrade your artifact weapon which is also a grindfest. At the time of this writing, I’ve put at least 100 hours into my main character, and I still haven’t even maxed out ONE of my artifact weapons, let alone my other two. And this isn’t even taking my alternate characters into account.

It’s taken me a long time write this review, mostly because I wanted to see if my initial excitement for Legion would carry me for the long haul. For the most part, it has. Legion is chocked full of content to explore and conquer. And that’s not even considering the years of content that’s still available to you, should you wish to take a look back at what came before. In addition to that, there are more content patches in the works that’ll add even more things to do down the line. But then again, if you don’t enjoy having to do the same stuff over and over again just to get your alternate characters raid ready, then prepare for a grind.

So, for the time being, I’d say if you were to play Legion, you’re better off sticking to one main character and only switching to your alts when you want to mix up your gameplay or experience the entire game by starting a new character from scratch.

World of Warcraft is still the biggest MMORPG in the world, and right now it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. At Blizzcon 2016, Blizzard confirmed that lots and lots of content is still on the way. And with that content comes more quality of life changes and character balance changes. So from the look of things, WoW still maintains that same staying power that’s kept it leagues ahead of any other MMO for the past twelve years. And it seems it’ll still be at the top for the years to come.

World of Warcraft: Legion is available now.