World Of Warcraft: Legion: The Kotaku Review 

Over the course of the first five expansion packs, Blizzard has slowly evolved World of Warcraft into something very different than the MMO that launched back in 2004. The Legion expansion feels like an entirely new game.

After 12 years of performing outrageous acts of heroism in the name of the Alliance or Horde, it's time for World of Warcraft players to take their place in the pantheon of Azeroth's greatest heroes. Where 2014's Warlords of Draenor elevated player characters from adventurers to military commanders, Legion makes them legends, wielding weapons of unimaginable power against the greatest threat the fantasy world has ever faced.

In a plot more traditionally video-gamey than ever before, the extra-planetary demonic hordes that plagued Azeroth hundreds of years in the past and are responsible for just about everything bad that's ever happened not involving the Lich King or evil spirits have returned to finish destroying all life on the planet.

Azeroth's salvation lies with ancient artifacts conveniently located on the same previously-unvisited subcontinent the Legion is launching its invasion from.

In order to recover these artifacts, players must take up legendary weapons to aid them in taming the wilds of the Broken Isles.

Just as well-known as Ashbringer, we swear.

Those fantastic weapons take center stage in Legion. They are the expansion's core means of progression. Players still level from 100 to 110 the traditional way, but since most of the expansion pack's content is scaled so the challenge remains the same regardless of player level, those numbers don't mean as much.

No new skills are unlocked through levelling, and players don't earn a new talent point at level 110. Instead they gain power by investing artifact points into their weapons, unlocking traits that follow a path not unlike a twisted version of World of Warcraft's older character talent system.

The artifact weapons also serve as the centrepiece for class Order Halls, special areas in the expansion focused on a single character class. Druids get a forest hideaway. Warlocks get a transplanar demonic base. Warriors are given the keys to Valhalla. Hunters get a mountaintop hunting lodge. Rogues get a dirty basement.

These Order Halls serve as a home base for characters during Legion content. It's where they apply new power to their artifact weapons. It's where they send their NPC followers out on timed retrieval missions. Order resources can be used to recruit new troops or build improvements. Each Order Hall features a quest line specific to its character class, giving players ample reason to play through the new content on every one they play.

Most importantly, from a lore fan standpoint at least, the Order Halls are where the player joins the ranks of the most notable non-player character members of their respective classes.

In the Rogue Order Hall I share a table with Garona Halforcen, the assassin who famously took out King Llane Wrynn of Stormwind. Across the table sits Valeera Sanguinar, famous blood elf rogue who was a companion to King Varian Wrynn along with Broll Bearmantle, who serves as an NPC companion at the Druid Order Hall.

For players even vaguely familiar with World of Warcraft lore, it's a real treat to walk the Broken Isles alongside some of the most famous characters in the game. They watch over Order Halls. They join players on quests. They are equals now. Well, some are more equal than others.

Meet my NPC companion, Serious Daddy Issues VanCleef. To be fair, we did kinda murder her father over and over again.

Between the order hall campaigns and the core storyline that carries players through the expansion's four initial zones (in any order) and beyond, Legion is packed with powerful plot moments, moments that carry real weight. I even found myself tearing up once or twice, as iconic beings I'd admired for years met their end. The stakes are high, and Blizzard is not shy about proving it. This might be the first time I've reached the end of World of Warcraft expansion content and been eager to see what happens next.

While I am enjoying myself immensely, there are some aspects of the expansion that leave me cold. The Order Halls rely heavily on timers to keep players from reaping rewards too early. In order to complete one Druid quest I had to send my followers on eight four-hour missions, one at a time. Once I gather enough resources, my next Order Advancement project will take 12 days to complete. If you weren't a fan of waiting for shit to happen in Warlords of Draenor, you're going to be even less of a fan of how long shit takes to happen in Legion.

Fortunately there is plenty to do do once a player hits the new 110 cap to take their mind off of those timers. It used to be hitting the high end of an expansion is what separated the more hardcore players from the casuals, but Legion eases players into end game content. Upon reaching the cap an overwhelming wave of fresh content appears.

World quests, a daily rotation of little things to do across the Broken Isles, gently gear up players for more difficult Heroic dungeons. The Heroics lead to even harder Mythics, then progressively harder Mythic+ dungeons. The only barrier to moving on to bigger and better dungeons are players who'd rather kick fresher players from their group than give them advice on how to be a better player. Those players sure are giant arsehole Warlocks. Did I say Warlocks? How oddly specific.

Aside from gearing up and getting things done, the Suramar zone quests begin at level 110, giving players a chance to help an entire race of drug addict elves regain some of their dignity. I am only slightly kidding here. Every day you have to give them some mana to get them to stop shaking long enough to give you missions. It's kind of depressing, really.

I just got this dog via an Order Hall mission. He is the best.

I've been playing Legion regularly since its release. One might say far more regularly than would be necessary for a review. That one would be my wife, who has seen me invest far too much time in an MMO before. But this one's different. I'm sure I'll slow down once I have one of every character at level 110 and they stop handing out free Corgis.


Comments

    World of Warcraft subscription renewal generator gave me a chuckle

    My druid goes on a auest to recover ancient weapons, is first name badis with the greatest Druids in all the world, Archdruid in command of the Broken Isles... Neutral with the latest Druid Reputation. #/$#! They slept in and didnt get the memo Im the boss.

    I'm loving Legion. Having skipped MoP/WoD I missed a lot of the bad stuff they introduced in WoD.

    The only gripes I have with legion are the timers that you mentioned and also the way artifact weapons work. They've gone back to the old way of making you invest in one spec so that it's hard to swap specs or play two specs. They did away with that years ago when dual specs came in and now they've brought it back. Being locked into a spec isn't fun, it was great when raiding that the off-tank could switch to dps spec and help on fights that only needed 1 tank.

      In regards to Artifact Weapons, I know that currently it would be an extreme Korean-MMO style grind to max out all specs but Blizzard have already come out and said that as time goes on, the required amount of Power will be reduced, the first reduction I believe is around Dec-Jan. It will be a realistic goal to max out all three.

        It won't be. So when you fill the current talent choices in the artifact weapon, a new one opens that is just flat stat boosts.
        It's intended that you can have your MS, and your OS will be 2-3 levels behind. Third spec would be too hard to keep up.

        It's certainly realistic to max all your artifact weapons, including the fishing artifact. @comban, your weapon is considered maxed out at 34 ranks. The final infinite slot is simply there to give you something to spend your points on after you've maxed the weapon out. It works the same way Future Tech on the Civ tech tree does.

        The AP requirements aren't reduced as time goes on, but the rate at which you can gain Artifact Knowledge improves. Right now it takes 5 days each AK, but as the expansion goes on you'll gain them faster. You can max your Artifact Knowledge in about 4 months at the current rate, at which point you have a 24,000% increase in AP gain, which makes leveling subsequent artifacts much faster. A max ranked artifact takes around 5.2 million AP, but when your AK is also maxed that's the equivalent of only 22,000 AP at rank 1.

        Edit: Ran some quick spreadsheet maths. At a conservative estimate of 4000 AP per day base rate, you'll be earning a million AP a day at AK25, on day 130 of the expansion, just over 4 months in (assuming no rate increases in that time). At that rate you can max an artifact in just over 5 days. Even druids with 4+1 artifacts would be able to max them all in a month.

        Last edited 28/09/16 9:37 am

          Think I get where you're going with this. I played a DH from Legion launch (returning player, am enjoying the class), and got to the point where the ranks exploded from ~1k to ~7k a point, so switched to the tank tree to dump points into that for a while instead. Interesting tank class by the way.

          Was much faster to hit the same point on the tank artifact, but I noticed along the way that artifact points I was getting from missions had jumped from about 150 as a max, to 625 now. Tier 2 or 3 AK, cant remember which.

          So now both artifacts are at the same point, I'll put everything back into the havoc artifact and see where that gets me.

            I edited my post to add some quick maths, but you're right, it's much faster to level a subsequent artifact once you have a few AK ranks under your belt.

      It's not that bad. I'm a Druid with 4 weps to level up and I'm not having too much trouble. Due to the artifact knowledge unlocks as time goes on, you just get more and more artefact power. I stopped to put a bunch of points in my resto wep and its now level 16 (feral 14) with my main being level 23. You'll find when your main wep is costing 70k to upgrade, you're much more inclined to start spreading the points around to your other weps until you get the knowledge up a bit more. Plus running mythics and mythic pluses gives a ton of power.

      Relics have a far greater impact on effectiveness of an artifact than the trait points.
      Consider them more like a new glyph system - gives benefits to maximise your main spec.
      As long as you have decent relics and the 13 easy to get points in your offspec weapon then you should be right for the most part.

      I've managed to play 3 specs on my rogue quite easily - don't panic! The artifact power progression system is pretty much tailored to ensure most players progress at a similar rate, and artifact research makes it reasonably easy to catch your other specs up. Not to mention that it's the relics that hold the real power - it's quite easy to snag that one artifact trait which is vital to your spec, but your relics decide how effective you are in that spec, and have probably the greatest impact.

      I remember trying to heal (Holy) on what had been my shadowpriest, in a heroic dungeon. I struggled through the whole thing (no relics in my Holy artifact), until the 2nd boss who dropped a relic. Inserted it, and the rest of the run was MUCH easier. The same goes for any role - if you want to keep your specs up to date, switch your loot specialisation to the desired offspec whenever you're fighting a boss that drops trinkets/relics for that spec. I would argue that all of this, along with the fact that primary stats on gear depend on your current spec, makes maintaining and playing offspecs easier than before.

    What irks me most about the class campaigns is how very little input the character has in them. It's mostly comprised of time-gated missions with only a few actual quests along the way.

    Completed a mythic 5 run lastnight. Made me realise I would prefer anything but Bolstering..

      I have a feeling bolstering will be the least of our worries after reading the other ones.

        I mostly refer to the first grouping of affixes, as the highest I have achieved is the level 5 keystone with bolstering. I realise there are even worse affixes on the road ahead, haha. Worst part about bolstering isn't just the damage buff - it's the health buff which effectively extends the time it takes to kill each pack of enemies; we came pretty close to running out of time!

    Also Mike if you're so scared of being run on mythics, hit me up and I'll take you on a few. I can clear Mythic 6 atm and only reason I haven't pushed harder is the ilevel lock that is on for the first week. Cleared Normal Emerald nightmare and chipping away through Heroic. I reckon after a few more gearings of our weaker people this week when Mythic + unlocks we'll be cruising through heroic.

    interesting how you "complain" about the timers when one of the complaints of WoD Garrison was that it was too busy (i.e. logging in every 30min to an hr)

    proof blizzard can't win either way haha

      Pretty sure they'd win by not having time based missions. Or keep them but make it purely optional, not required for progression.

      Hell I'd prefer a skill based mini game over the timers, I've got four 12 hour missions to prod along over the next couple days.

        They could make us play the new Bejeweled mini game they added!

        This. I don't have a problem with missions. My issue is that they are the -only- way to progress through each campaign, and the player has very little input in how they play out. From the way blizzard explained it early on, they were going to make it so that we were outside of our 'garrisons' more, -doing- stuff. Can the missions not simply grant helpful rewards such as AP / gold, in the back drop of actually completing quests yourself?

        the final 5 missions is a form gear gating imo. are you a fan of those?

        I can understand why it exists but i can also understand why it shouldn't exist as the expansion progresses and while order hall missions could probably be reduced in terms of hours to completion, i don't see blizzard doing it

          A couple months down the track and none of it will matter - it'll just be an annoyance for alts. The legion app helps to overcome some of it.

          I just don't like the method they're using. I understand and also want things to take a reasonably long amount of time to complete in an MMO but just sticking a timer on it seems like the worst possible way in terms of game design. Timers aren't fun, there's nothing I can do to speed it up so I'm not even playing a game at that point...just waiting.

    done all the quest and maxed my professions.... 842 ilvl without one mythic
    do it all again on another character?.... no im going to play other games silly!
    might as well unsub but i got 3 free months... made 400k gold just selling cloth bracers.... yak yak yak

    Last edited 27/09/16 5:01 pm

    Im really liking legion. I feel the review should have mentioned the legion app when talking about the long companion quests, being able to start the missions through the app really helps and means you can make sure you always have one going without needing to jump on the game

      Couldn't agree more. Very handy for the time poor like myself.

    *puts lore nerd wizard hat on*

    ...are responsible for just about everything bad that’s ever happened not involving the Lich King...

    The legion created him too :(

    Last edited 28/09/16 9:42 am

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