I Just Can't Quit
Well, here we are again. Two years ago, I was sitting here at my desk writing my review for World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor. Like several times before, I was enthralled as Blizzard Entertainment took me further into a world I've practically lived in as a hero alongside my real life adventures in the mundane. Since I began playing in the latter half of the Burning Crusade era, I've watched my character grow in power. I've brought Arthas to justice, seen the world torn asunder from a great cataclysm, and explored lands thought to be myth.
Hell, with the last expansion we literally travelled through time and space to an alternate dimension, to see legends and terrors reborn. I just can't quit. I may take breaks now and then to play the plethora of other games out there, but World of Warcraft has long been a staple in my gaming diet. The final few days before the launch of Legion were agonizing ones. So when it finally dropped, was I prepared for what was in store in the next chapter of Azeroth?
Up To Speed
So, what is the Legion expansion all about? Well, to establish that we have to look back to the final raid of Warlords of Draenor; Hellfire Citadel. Gul'dan, the infamous Orc warlock who is largely responsible for a lot of the misfortune that takes place in Warlords of Draenor, orchestrates his final stand from his fortress protected by loyal Fel Orcs, and supported by the Burning Legion proper. The motivation of the Burning Legion, for their entire role in the series even before World of Warcraft, is to dominate each and every world they touch. The one world that has stopped their onslaught thus far is Azeroth. This of course, has not made them happy. With Gul'dan's failure at Hellfire Citadel, he was essentially given one final chance by the Legion and cast through a portal which after much uncertainty, led him to Azeroth.
From there he would go on to find the imprisoned body of Illidan Stormrage, claiming him in the name of the Legion and from there began the all-or-nothing strategy; an all out attack on the Broken Isles, with the Tomb of Sargeras serving as their seat of power. The initial assault that took place in the pre-expansion Invasion Patch leaves two major characters slain; King Varian Wrynn, and Warchief Vol'jin. All caught up? Good.
A Split Narrative
Legion introduces a new take on questing in the Broken Isles. Rather than each zone being tiered towards a certain level range, the entirety of the content with the exception of a few max-level exclusive areas scales with the player. Along with this, players are allowed to decide which area they'd like to quest in, in any order they choose. This is an excellent way to give players more control over how they experience their content, but without the guidance of a zone to zone endeavour the story does suffer slightly at present.
Rather than having a major focus on the Legion, it feels like they only matter in certain spots at the moment. The zones themselves have their own individual sub-plots which eventually feed into the overall narrative, but more often than not it's not until the very last handful of quests in each zone. These subplots themselves are enjoyable, three of them are downright epic if you ask me, but there's that feeling of detachment that doesn't quite go away until you reach 110 and start to experience more content that ties into the events more consistently. There are also subplots for each class that center around the new Class Halls which are condensed versions of the Garrisons from Warlords of Draenor; unique in their own ways, but lacking that feeling of being a commander this time around (even though as a warrior I'm literally building up a force Odyn). It is also through these Class Halls you will go about earning and powering up various Artifact Weapons for your class. These have replaced traditional weapon drops, but serve as an extension to the player as you level them in ways you see fit.
The zones themselves are as unique and interesting as you'd come to expect from a World of Warcraft expansion, with each having their own distinct flavor. From the highest peak on Azeroth in High Mountain, to a near-mirror of the Emerald Dream that is Val'sharah, to lands of Vrykul and Naga, and even a trek through Nightborne territory thought long-lost. There's a lot to see along the way while you're questing. There are even new World Quests which take the place of daily quests at level 110, and you can do as many as you'd like to your hearts content. Since I'm always trying to earn gold and resources, I was very happy to see that.
But it's not just the zones that are new; there's also the introduction of the new level 98 hero class the Demon Hunter, based largely on the appearance and abilities of Illidan Stormrage. I've only dabbled with mine, far more focused on my warrior class, but it does look like it could be an addicting bit of overpowered-ness for a while much like the Death Knight was at the beginning of the Wrath of the Lich King expansion. I smell nerfs in the future.
Dungeons and Battlegrounds
But questing and exploration is never all there is to a new expansion for the game. When you need a break from that, you can drop into one of the several new dungeons. I've done 8 of them currently, with two more in my dungeon journal not yet appearing so I'm assuming they may be unlocked during the 7.1 patch or I just haven't met a prerequisite to run them. Five man groups can take on these challenges at their leisure as they unlock them in an effort to gear up. Those more daring can face Heroic difficulties, and those who are gluttons for punishment have the Mythic tier to look forward to. While a few expansions have had some minor troubles of settings for these dungeons appearing a bit too similar, this time it's been avoided completely making each first-trek through a dungeon feel new and unique.
I have to give a particular shout out to the Maw of Souls, which reminds me of a Viking take on the River Styx of Greek mythology. The majority of this dungeon takes place on a vessel aboard harsh seas in a realm for damned souls, leading to a climactic boss battle with a rather angry denizen named Helya as she tries to rip the boat apart. While the fight itself may not be too complicated, the setting and the speed of it along with the furious storm swells of the waves make it an especially memorable set piece.
As for the player versus player side of things, there are no new battlegrounds to speak of but there has been a substantial overhaul to pvp in the form of Honor Levels. The more honor you gain, the more abilities you unlock that are used specifically for pvp. I haven't made it that far up the ladder yet since I'm not great at pvp on WoW (I'm also an Alliance player, and we seem to lose everything that isn't Alterac Valley) but as far as I have made it I'll say it looks like these little tricks will come in handy, and put everyone on a more even playing field. It may make it a bit off putting for veterans at first, but I'm sure they'll adapt. I think it's a good way to encourage people who have shied away from this aspect of the game to take a dip in and have some fun.
State of the Game
Well, I'm still hooked on everything that World of Warcraft has to offer. Another expansion releases, another smile ear to ear, and I've had to tear myself away from playing just to write this review. If you're a current player, or someone interested in either returning or starting to play, there is never a time like the present.
The Broken Isles, New Dungeons, PVP "Honor Leveling", and World Quests offer more than enough to sate hungry fans on the next leg of the journey of World of Warcraft
Sub-Plots often seem too far gone from main story until the final few quests for a zone, no new battlegrounds