I’ve been having a lot of fun with World of Warcraft these last couple of weeks, mostly because “Legion” is really just that good. But to really understand what is right with “Legion”, we need to have a talk about what went wrong leading up to it.I played WoW from late beta, and in vanilla I set up a fairly well known PvP guild which killed more Alliance than anyone should really be able to do… This was before Blizzard removed city sieging and everything moved to ‘battegrounds’, where I eventually earned the “Warlord” PvP title. But without a real “war” in Warcraft, my guild transitioned to raiding, followed shortly by killing everything one could kill in 40-man content.
We were at the top of our game in “Crusade”, but eventually the rinse and repeat of boss farming took its toll and the guild broke up as we hit the gated content of “Wrath”.
After “Crusade” I was never really able to re-kindle my passion for the game because repeat content annoys me, and with Wrath the concept of ‘dailies’ was pretty much the entire end-game. I mean, repeat content was required to unlock new content – which is just crap game design and purely there to artificially extend game play.
Now “Cataclysm” did manage to hold my interest briefly; it was entirely new content with a new story, and this was enough to get me to roll a new character (a Tauren Druid) and go see what could be seen.
Then I hit level 50… And with the prospect of enduring yet another run through Outland (I despise Outland as I leveled through it like six times for various alts to support the guild) I once again called it quits.
The “Pandaria” expansion once again drew me into WoW, but I didn’t even finish out the 30 days I paid $15 for, let alone get any real use out of the $60 expansion. I think my exposure to all of the Asian import MMOs has made me jaded (pun intended) and I just couldn’t get into Pandas.
Then came “Warlords”, and another $75 to Blizzard for the expansion and a month of play time.
There’s no two ways around it really; Warlords sucked. Not only was the story a total shark jump, but Blizzard managed to surgically remove multiplayer from WoW with the whole Garrison concept. You could literally play most of the game’s content without seeing another player.
On top of this, Blizzard apparently pulled everyone off of WoW to work on Overwatch. So not only did Warlords suck, it was literally the only content for WoW for an entire year.
It was the nail in the coffin for me and I determined to just wash my hands of the game.
Then the movie came out…
Yes, that movie. The movie Blizzard had been teasing everyone with for like a decade. The movie the critics hated because you really had to be a fan to understand more than ‘big green dudes with funny names beating the tar out of little human dudes with funny names’.
The movie was a love-letter to fans of Orcs and Humans; the very bedrock of pretty much everything Warcraft had become over the years – good and bad. And it got my interest, so I went to go see it – and loved it – because I know who most of those funny names are from within the context of the narrative.
At this instant Blizzard released the trailer for “Legion”, and here again was another, albeit shorter, love letter to the Warcraft fan. And I resolved to dust off my Cataclysm Druid and give WoW one last attempt.
So 600-ish words later the stage is set for a short expose of what makes Legion so good:
To start with, the story is the epic war between literally everyone and the Burning Crusade that we’ve been wanting for about a decade now. And the story is really, really amazing with plenty of good voice acting, really well done cut-scenes, and even a couple of tear-jerker moments.
It’s worth the $60 just for the level 100 through 110 play through as it really is like five interactive fantasy movies following a common theme.
Secondly Legion fixes the Garrison solo-game with Class Halls. Every class has a rather epically themed HQ and the narrative does a really good job of making you feel like the most important whatever you are in the entire world… Even though there are a hundred other whatevers running around the class hall at any particular time.
Along with Class Halls you also get your very own legendary weapon(s). For anyone who remembers the epic efforts required for legendary weapons in vanilla WoW, this is that sort of deal – but done as more of a personal long-term solo-quest chain versus needing 39 other people to like you enough to devote a couple hundred hours to you getting a nice sword.
These legendary weapons are closely tied into the lore of the Warcraft Universe. For example, my Druid is wielding the Scythe of Elune… Yep, that Scythe of Elune.
The third thing is that the entire Broken Isles (the expansion map, kinda like Outland or Northrend or Pandaland) scales to your level. So you can go anywhere and do anything at any time. Feel free to pick a direction and run off looking for adventure – whatever you find will be scaled to your level and offer level-appropriate rewards, automatically.
And lastly (for this post) is the total and complete lack of ‘dailies’… Yes, finally!
What Legion does now is when you hit 110, you open up ‘world quests’ of which there seem to be thousands. Granted, some of them will be dealing with things you’ve dealt with before, but usually in new ways. For example, one day you may have to rub out a selection of Naga in a certain area, and this is couched in the narrative of the ongoing back and forth war going on and the fact the Naga have had reinforcements land in the area. Another day you may be sent back into the same area, but this time you need to gather some resource instead of killing everything. And a few days later you may be sent back to off the leader of the invasion (a mini world-boss).
So while there is repeat content – there has to be really as it would be impossible to have infinite quests – it is generally couched in narrative that makes it feel logical, and it is varied enough that it’s not Sunwell-style killing 50 arcane constructs every day.
Overall, I’m having a blast with this expansion. The story is good, the lore is solid, the content is pretty damn epic, and it’s not been super repetitious.
And that’s a win in my book.