If a song could represent the past 4 weeks of my life, it would be Aerosmith’s “Back in the Saddle Again”. Blizzard released Legion, its much-anticipated WoW expansion, and pulled me back in after being away (willingly, I must add) for 4 long years. This time, Illidan is back (we think) and demons are pouring out of every Azerothian orifice. Who will stop them? None other than the hero, who has to be you, right?
Felfire rains from the sky in the latest expansion, bringing corruption and demons to the lands as the Burning Legion attacks once more (for like the third time). Basically, you can look at them as a never-ending enemy that can never fully be destroyed—kind of like hipsters. Along with the helping of demons and death, Legion comes with new changes to the game, how it plays, and who you can be in this crazy, mixed-up world.
World of Warcraft was released by Blizzard in 2004, but it wasn’t their second expansion in 2006, Burning Crusade, that I started playing. Since then I have been playing off and on for the past 10 years. What usually happens is this: I buy an expansion, beat all of the raids, buy or earn all of the fancy mounts, and quit until the next expansion launches. I skipped Cataclysm and the last installment, Warlords of Draenor, but alas the Burning Legion has pulled me right back into the fray.
WoW, Now with Less Calories!
Surprisingly, a lot has been cut out for each class. A while ago talent trees were simplified, but this is the smallest they had ever been. I used to have three different action bars to house all of my attacks and actions, but now I barely use a single bar. Almost every important move I can make can be bound to just one button on my 14-button mouse. Now this is just speaking from a Hunter perspective—other classes may have more to do. This gives the game a more streamlined feel without taking away from the action. It’s like going from a 6-cylinder car to a 4-cylinder. Most of the time you don’t notice the difference and you still get from point A to point B the same exact way.
For the first time ever, each zone in the new land of The Broken Isles are completely scalable. This means that you can start questing in any region you want and the enemies you face will be the exact same level as you. Even if your friends join you, it will scale for them also. This is the kind of accessibility that MMOs have been missing forever. I play a lot more than any of my friends, but when they finally do get online (I’m looking at you, Rob) we can still get in a group and quest together without the glaring issues of level differences. Balancing issues with one member of the group overpowering bosses or another cowering in the corner trying as hard as they can to not pull aggro.
Leroy Jenkins ALL the Things
The only problem with the scaling I have seen with this so far is that I can no longer run past mobs of enemies without something attacking me. I used to be able to walk around Kalimdor and mine ore in peace without being bothered by boar attacks simply because I out leveled them by such a large margin that they wouldn’t dare lay their cloven hooves on me. But in the Broken Isles, I can be ambushed at any time by a Mana Saber, Withered dude, or giant spider. The downsides stop there, however. Overall, Blizzard changing its formula to let you play with your friends at any time is a huge win.
The other rather large change is the addition of artifact weapons. These weapons are specific to each talent spec, that makes 3 artifact weapons per class. What makes these different from other weapons is how you power them up—also, the fact that you can power them up in the first place. When you finish some quests, open treasure chests, or do certain world quests, you will be rewarded with items that can increase your weapon’s level. The higher the level, the more powerful your weapon will become. These items also give you a currency called Artifact Power, which you can use to unlock talents for your weapon. These talents alter your current attacks or abilities by increasing certain stats or the duration of different buffs. You can also unlock different colors and skins for your artifact weapon, which is nice since you will most likely use the same weapon through the entirety of the expansion. The concept is pretty unique, but I’m interested in seeing how Blizzard can make a system like this sustainable.
Wait, WTF WoW?
Oh, I forgot something—random quest bugs and confusing scenarios. Sometimes after picking up a quest, there is no direction on where to go or what to do. I would have to bounce back to WoWhead for answers only to find people just as confused as me. This is where addons like Quest Tracker and Cartographer came in handy. They really help flesh out the details that Blizzard glossed over. See the image below for a great example of WTF:
Wrap it up Already
There is even more to this expansion than I covered above, such as the addition of a specialized Demon Hunter class, a high power tank/DPS role that harnesses the power of dark energy obtained from killing demons to destroy their opponents. World quests have also been added, giving you the opportunity to raise your reputation with the new factions and earn extra loot, and of course, there are new dungeons to explore and professions to level up.
With all the new content, it’s hard to find yourself bored and very easy to lose track of time. I really feel like World of Warcraft is still moving forward and coming up with unique new ideas, even twelve years after its initial launch. If it keeps moving in this direction, I may be inclined to stick around for a while.
- Inventive Artifact System
- Rewarding World Quests
- Scalable Zones
- Drop In With Friends Easier
- Endless Aggro
- Initial NPC and Quest Glitches
- Quests Hidden Behind Rep Walls