World of Warcraft has given us six expansions in its twelve years, and each expansion seems to divide the game and its player base further apart. WoW has benefitted from many, admittedly wonderful quality of life changes like teleporting and queuing to dungeon instances, but the feeling of a real community and inhabited world has suffered.
Legion, the newly-released expansion, has embraced the “world” of Warcraft the most overtly since the MMO’s vanilla release, giving players a satisfying questing experience and awe-inspiring sense of connection to the world.
Yes, this is coming from a guy who has a stack of old Warcraft books behind him, but the game in recent years has lost its luster, and the subscription numbers show it. There are only so many “kill ten demons” quests one can handle. Legion, however, has something very fresh and yet, classic about it. Blizzard has enhanced their storytelling in recent expansions, but what’s presented here isn’t just #newcontent, it’s a great RPG experience. The one great flaw that I believe has led to the exodus of players, the loss of wonder at the world, has been met head on by Blizzard in Legion.
The plot is familiar — Demons have come back to Azeroth. But this time, they’re so badass, everyone is banding together (for real this time) and preparing for a massive pushback to the invasion. A bunch of major characters are killed, and now individual classes from the game band together to ditch the somewhat-boring Garrisons from Warlords of Draenor in order to concentrate their power. After a series of super-entertaining and absolutely awesome quests, players gather in Class Halls or, Order Halls. Death Knights do spooky stuff in Ebon Hold, warlocks hang out with a bunch of demons in the Twisting Nether and Paladins gather below Light’s Hope Chapel, where you can upgrade your Artifact Weapon, like Ashbringer.
Yes, the coolest weapon in WoW history is yours to wield and it kind of makes sense. Since you’re going to be level 110 and you can destroy level 80 gods that used to threaten the world with a one-shot, it’s time you strap some of the coolest weapons in Blizzard history to your hip. It feels good.
But, it’s also annoying to see everyone with the same weapon. You’ll be able to customize the weapon look and color by doing quests, unlocking achievements and PVPing, but it still is one immersion-breaking annoyance in what is mostly an awesome single-player experience to start the expansion.
Once you move beyond the Class Halls, it’s hopping on that XP treadmill like usual. That said, hidden treasures (which Draenor introduced) are as addictive to find as ever, and the quest design is much improved. This, combined with the refined combat system (and less homogenous in general classes) has led to probably the second most exciting expansion launch in its history, after Burning Crusade.
All signs point to Blizzard wanting its subscribers back, and it’s trying to get them back with quality WoW.