World of Warcraft: Legion

World of Warcraft: Legion Review

You thought you were safe after fending off the Burning Legion in Hellfire Citadel, but you were wrong. Something has been stirring in the Great Dark… Bearing a grudge for what you did. The Burning Legion of Mardum and Argus have returned… Illidan knew before everyone else that you are not prepared.

Legion is Blizzard Entertainment’s 6th Expansion to their majorly successful franchise: World of Warcraft, and is so far its biggest success ever since The Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King. Directly after the events of the Hellfire Citadel raid in Warlords of Draenor, Gul’dan has been banished to present day Azeroth, and has contacted the Burning Legion to bring them to Azeroth once again. Having arrived on the Broken Isles, he searched for the Vault of the Wardens, to capture and steal away Illidan, who was thought to be dead, but was clinging to life with the last of his very existence. The factions of Azeroth need to unite once again to find the Pillars of Creation, use powerful artifacts, and save Illidan Stormrage, in order to combat the Burning Legion.

The new expansion has come with a new hero class to be able to complete these goals. Say hello to the Demon Hunters of the Illidari. When you start your adventures as a Demon Hunter, you go back 10 years to the time of the raid on the Black Temple, where Illidan, who is fully aware of the Burning Legion’s plans, sends you and his other most powerful Illidari Demon Hunters to Mardum, to thwart the Burning Legion. After returning triumphantly from your mission, you get captured by Maiev and her Wardens, and discover that Illidan has fallen in battle. You are then imprisoned in the Vault of the Wardens along with the body of Illidan. You later get awoken by your desperate jailors to help combat the Legion’s invasion. Illidan’s actions have always seemed extreme, coming across as a chaotic good guy of sorts, and his only true desire was to grow in power to be able to destroy the Burning Legion. His eyes were open to and witness to the horrible power of the Legion, and has known the lengths required to combat them. I do not see him as a Betrayer. Here is the shocking twist; When he said “You are not prepared” he was hinting at the fact that nobody is prepared for the Burning Legion’s onslaught.

Forgotten Territories Now Remembered

Screenshot by Michael du Plessis

The lands of The Broken Isles are available to quest on, providing story-rich environments and NPCs that leaves you wanting more. The level cap has been raised to 110 I found it difficult to not gather all of the Pillars of Creation, because the journey to reclaiming each one of them is absolutely captivating. You’re able to learn about some old lore in every region, and for the old-school, die-hard Warcraft fans, this will be an absolute treat being able to run around the areas where it all began. There are 6 regions; Stormheim – Home of the Vrykul and two warring Titan keepers, Highmountain – Serving as the highest point in The Broken Isles and also home to the Highmountain Tauren and Drogbar, Val’sharah – Home and refuge to the Druids, Aszuna – Home of the once proud Highborne and Queen Azshara before the Sundering, Suramar – previous home of the ancient Kal’dorei city, Suramar City, a place that even Tyrande, Illidan, and Malfurion used to call home, and finally, the Broken Shore – The place that serves as Ground Zero for the Legion’s invasion and also is the location of the Tomb of Sargeras. The Main home city for the Horde and Alliance to work from is once again the stunning flying city of mages, Dalaran, my favourite of all the places to call Home in Warcraft. Blizzard has introduced Class Order Halls into the mix where you are able to recruit Lore important champions where they can go on missions on your behalf to gather items and gold, etc… It may sound similar to a Garrison, but it also is not. A lot of the Garrison functionalities have been done away with. This is mostly where you will be able to manage your Class Artifact and do Order Hall quests which are also crucial to the game’s overall story, and you can “research” bonus buffs for your Order Hall to help out with these Order Hall missions and Artifact history, to increase the rate for gaining Artifact Power.

Talented Overhaul

A lot of changes have once again come to the fray, but in a good way. In fact, it has made playing more comfortable and allows more freedom once again. These changes come specifically when related to Class Specializations, and whereas I never approved of the previous occurences of change, I now really enjoy the freedom that has been provided now. You are able to freely change between any of your specs at any moment. Dual-Specialization is completely a thing of the past, and I guess you can sort of call it Poly-Specialization now? Many classes have seen either a remastering of one or two specializations or a complete overhaul. An example of the former being with Balance Druids, where certain annoying mechanics have been done away with such as the Lunar/Solar cycle, and bringing in a bit of a buff to each type of spell to allow more freedom in rotations. The latter case with Rogues, for example, is where the Combat Specialization has been thrown out and replaced with the Outlaw specialization, where you are quite literally a Pirate, acting “outside of the law” and making your own rules, fighting dirty by bringing a gun to a sword-fight, concealing a pistol for a surprise quick-shot in the eyes. Of course, these aren’t the only changes that have been made; with Hunters for example, Survival has seen an overhaul as well, bringing a focus on melee battle; with Enchancement Shamans, being given more of a “battle mage” feel, by empowering their physical attacks with spells to face their enemies up close. Holy Paladins have been getting positive feedback again, though I have never played with one before, and Discipline Priests have been getting a lot of attention too, bringing in a fantastic balance between Healing and DPS. For a full overview of all the class specializations, go to the World of Warcraft page that summarises it all here – (https://worldofwarcraft.com/en-us/news/19941175)

Not only have class Specializations, Talent trees and Abilities/Spells seen it’s share of changes, PvP has also been given a new “look” and provides a more comfortable experience. Once you reach Level 110, you unlock a new feature called Honor Talents, and you unlock more of these talents by reaching higher Prestige levels through gaining more honor points. There are no longer PvP-specific gear sets, and thus, gear no longer has an impact on PvP battles. Although fortunately, you are still able to find any of the previous PvP Season gear at the vendors. However, past a certain item level, you get severely diminished advantages from said item level during PvP combat. The higher the item level, the ever-so-slight the advantage is over a fresh Level 110, for example, but this still also depends on your overall skill and mastery over your character’s class. The more times that you “Prestige”, the more other rewards you unlock, such as PvP Artifact Appearance Variants and even Portrait Badges.

Screenshot by Michael du Plessis

Here comes another exciting new class-specific feature: Artifacts, which are class-specific weapons that have been made things of legend in Warcraft Lore, such as Thrall’s Doomhammer, once wielded by Orgrim, the famous Windrunner’s bow; Thas’dorah, and also a popular favourite, Ashbringer for Paladins. You can even wield the first Guardian of Tirisfal, Alodi’s, Greatstaff: Ebonchill. These weapons are infused with power that grants it’s wielder an advantage on the field of battle, especially against the Burning Legion. Artifacts have sockets in which you can set items named Relics. These will boost the item level, thereby boosting it’s stats, and grant an extra point into an Artifact Trait. Traits strengthen certain class spells or can unlock a new and very useful buff to an ability, like for instance, the Hunter’s Aimed Shot ability is granted a chance to, during it’s cast, shoot six powerful arrows in succession before the Aimed Shot cast-time has finished. There are a lot of Traits that need to be unlocked so that you can utilise your Artifact’s full potential and power. To do this, you need to track down items in the lands of Broken Isles that applies Artifact Power to your weapon, and this serves as “currency” to spend and unlock these Traits. This is only done in your class’s Order Hall. However, the more Traits you unlock though, the more expensive the next point will cost, which requires more Artifact Power. There are many ways to find these items that boost Artifact Power, even after you’ve reached Level 110, mostly through Order Hall missions and dungeons, raids and battlegrounds, Rare Spawns, and even World Quests. You can also boost Artifact Power gains by using Artifact Knowledge, which applies to all your Artifact weapons on a single character each.

There is a bigger focus on Professions now, especially after Garrisons in all honesty messed everything prof-related up, by replaced much of the functionality and cheating players out of being able to sell their services. Now Legion-level Professions each have questlines, and they’re not simple or boring gathering quests; Blizzard has made these quests interesting by adding really fun storylines to it, like a Titan destroying your Head Alchemist’s work table, or tracking down a thief in the Jewelcrafter’s trade, and more. The Professions system has gotten an improved UI with a new functionality where expertise is vital in learning the recipes of your craftables, by using a 3-star system, 1 star being the entry-level craftable and 3-stars meaning that you’ve mastered the recipe and guaranteeing better stats for the item than the lower starred recipes. The profession bonus buffs (Such as the “Master of Anatomy” buff that increased a Skinner’s Critical Strike rating once reaching a certain profession level) have been removed however, which is a little sad to say goodbye to, but the improvements do overshadow the unfortunate removals.

And of course, let us not forget the addition of new and exciting dungeons and raids, of which we are given a large variety from the launch day already! Interrupt the twisted Queen Azshara’s rituals in the Eye of Azshara, or rescue Malfurion Stormrage from the clutches of his oldest rival Xavius in Darkheart Thicket, unless you prefer disrupting a prison-break in the reprise of Dalaran’s dungeon: Violet Hold. There are a lot more dungeons, 9 in total to be exact, and all are available in Normal, Heroic, and Mythic+. You are forced to progress through the Normal difficulty dungeons first for a time, even after having reached Level 110 to loot gear until you reach an average item level of 810, which is a sizeable jump in comparison to previous expansions! Even so, it has been very positively received by all players, including myself, because it makes you work just that little bit harder towards getting strong enough for the more difficult modes before eventually being able to take on the amazing new Raid instances, and taking pride in the work that you put into your character. It even gives you a chance to explore and better familiarise yourself with your character’s strengths. So far there is only 1 Raid Instance available aside from the World bosses in the Broken Isles: brave the Emerald Nightmare and purge it’s corruption from the Emerald Dream. We can however look forward to one day venturing into Suramar Palace, where you will finally be able to face off against Gul’dan, and I fully intend on making him take an arrow to the knee…

Screenshot by Michael du Plessis

Tribute to Metzen

To those of you who are not aware of the unfortunate news, Chris Metzen, the man in charge of Warcraft’s Lore up until now, has hung up his cloak and retired after 23 years of story and franchise development. To some, this is good news, especially the Thrall-haters, but to people like me who have been fans of the franchise for a long time, it is sad news. All we can hope for is that whoever he has handed over the title of “Lorelord” to, will be able to live up to the legacy of this master storyteller, and continue to give us amazing story-related content. Chris has not disappointed me in the creative flow he has provided, and Legion might just be his best work so far with the direction it has been going, bringing a bigger focus on Illidan once again, creating the possibility that he could even be the hero of this expansion, to finally be able to fulfill the destiny he was born for. If you are not familiar with Illidan’s past, I would encourage you to read about it here. (http://wowwiki.wikia.com/wiki/Illidan_Stormrage)

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Conclusion

To quote many people who have played the game, as well as my brother, “Legion has fixed WoW”, and I am in total agreement. The new system implementations not only revives some nostalgic mechanics, but it also gives a completely fresh spin on them. Blizzard has even applied a visual overhaul where they upgraded in-game model textures and draw distances. I recommend to those of you who have not resubscribed yet, to do so as soon as you possibly can, or if you haven’t subscribed or played yet, now is the best time to do so. You can get your own digital copy from us right here.

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