More than just another expansion, the release of Legion was a revitalisation for the iconic MMORPG, and marked something of a make-or-break point for the long-running franchise. This time around, there is a lot more hope pinned on its success, especially considering the mediocre reception of Warlords of Draenor.

In terms of in-game narrative, a long and winding story has been laid in the last couple of expansions, now coming to a head with the Burning Legion setting their sights on Azeroth.

From the beginning, we are firmly on the back foot: the first scenario takes place on the Broken Shore, a massive effort from both factions to push the Legion back before the invasion even begins. We barely make it out alive, with major losses to both sides and distrust sewn back into the Alliance and the Horde.

After we realise the extent of the Legion’s power – which included Invasions throughout Azeroth during the pre-patch questline – Khadgar decides to take the fight to the Legion, magically teleporting these willing adventurers and an entire city to the Broken Isles.

Before we are thrown against the ranks of the Legion, we need to bolster our own: introducing Artifact weapons, legendary pieces of gear that are scattered across the world. There is one Artifact weapon per class specialisation, which has been crafted for that purpose and playstyle – some have been created solely for the expansion, but a few are being handed down to the heroes of Azeroth from lore figures – it’s that bad. You’ll keep hold of your Artifact throughout the expansion, upgrading and improving it with resources from the world and a new talent tree to boost your own abilities.

There is also the addition of a Class Order Hall, where all players – regardless of faction – from a class will hang out and do their daily duties. This is where you’ll run Missions with a smaller pool of followers, upgrade your Artifact weapon, and perform research into said weapon, among many other things. It’s both a cut-down and expanded version of Warlords’ Garrison, which ended up locking players away from the world and each other in an instanced fort.

order-hall
Paladin Order Hall

As always, the Blizzard teams have put a lot of effort into the design and feel for the zones of the Broken Isles. The music is perfect and really engrosses you in this new land, whether it’s the tribal aspects of Highmountain or the mystical beauty of Val’sharah. The zones are meticulously crafted, with secrets and treasures hidden in nooks and crannies that you have to hunt for. A fundamental change for Legion is the level scaling system, which means that zones and monsters scale up to the player level. You can quest through each area in any order you’d like, or drop out to help a friend across the island, but still gain experience and loot gear upgrades.

A number of the in-game systems have been revamped and revitalised, making panels cleaner and clearer to look through and find what you want. The Transmogrification system has a whole new UI element that shows you every appearance you’ve collected for a particular armour slot and what it looks like on your character, so you can mix and match for your perfect set.

Professions have fallen by the wayside over the years, confined to a small panel that tells you what you’re making and what you need to do it. It has now all been reworked, with a larger panel and more information. Professions include Ranks for your recipes, which you’ll need to hunt down out in the great unknown. There’s a whole slew of quests to acquire new recipes as well, sending you back down into the world to learn how to make some trousers. It’s a well needed, and well overdue, boost to this system.

It doesn’t take too long to level through 100 to 110, especially if you happen to be blessed with a few days of uninterrupted playtime. You don’t feel the need to rush through and get everything completed immediately. Although you are on the hunt for the Pillars of Creation, each zone has it’s own story in the larger picture. There are some great moments for you to experience and the new cutscenes are extremely well done – that technology has come along in leaps and bounds since Wrath of the Lich King.

The fun doesn’t come to an immediate halt at 110 either. In fact, you will likely find your quest log brimming upon hitting max level. Aside from the profession quests, Order Hall missions, and research quests, there is an entire zone dedicated to max level players with a real sense of freedom to the experience. There’s a lot of content from beginning to end, and this is only a few weeks after release.

Another area of change for this expansion is the dungeons, which have always been a fundamental part of the WoW experience.  Previously, you’d queue for any random dungeon as you were levelling, for a boost to your experience; to get to the next level that much quicker. In Legion, they’ve tweaked the gain you get from a Normal dungeon, using them more as a smaller zone to finish questlines. For example, each zone’s storyline to retrieve the Pillar of Creation will lead to the dungeon to finally get your mitts on it. There are profession-specific quests that will take you to these dungeons as well – in a welcome change, questlines are generally synced with the instanced dungeon experiences as they have been before.

hallsofvalor
Halls of Valor

 

Additionally, dungeons in this expansion are not as easy to smash through as they have been in the past; they are quite involved experiences and will require some of your precious attention. Some can take upwards of half an hour to fully complete, which can be a little exhausting, but rewarding. It also makes for a really interesting experience along the way.

Legion feels like a new lease of life for World of Warcraft, with a lot of effort put into bringing the game into the modern age. The whole experience feels like it’s been built with the players in mind, taking their concerns from Warlords of Draenor into account. The renewed version of the city of Dalaran is alive with players, running between shops, their Order Halls, and the world outside. An MMO is first-and-foremost a multiplayer experience, which was lost when Garrisons pocketed us away and made us play a glorified Facebook game.

With a content patch planned already, bringing with it a new dungeon, and raids and further questlines in the future, one can only hope they can continue this winning streak and make Legion an expansion to praise.

Score: 8/10

Rob Chambers

 

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