My history and love for World of Warcraft and Blizzard Entertainment is well documented here on Level Down Games. Perhaps my favorite game of all time, World of Warcraft is something I continuously find myself getting lost and swept away in, as each new expansion rolls around. I look forward to when new information is released about upcoming patches and expansions. BlizzCon can never seem to get here fast enough. And I just never seem to have enough time in the day to spend in Azeroth as I would like. Legion is by far one of Blizzard’s best. After the negative reactions that both Mists of Pandaria and Warlords of Draenor received from the community, they seem to of hit a home run with this one. Read on for our full review of World of Warcraft: Legion.
Title: World of Warcraft: Legion
Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Available On: PC
Reviewed On: PC
Release Date: August 30, 2016
Where to begin with this? May as well start from the beginning, as that’s where all newcomers to the expansion are going to start anyway. Leveling from 100 to 110 has never been more fun than it is in Legion. Once you begin the initial chain that introduces you back to Dalaran and sends you teleporting off to the Broken Isles, you get the intro quest for your Artifact Weapon (more on that later). After completing this and going to your Class Order Hall, you’re given the option of selecting from one of four zones currently available. These zones are Stormheim, Highmountain, Val’Sharrah, and Azsuna.
One of the new technologies being used in Legion is level scaling. So no matter which zone you choose, it will always be relevant to your specific level. One person could be in Stormheim at level 100, while another could be there at 109. It doesn’t matter, and it’s all the same. Even at max level, all the zones are scaled up to 110 so that everything remains relevant throughout the entire expansion, which is a huge breath of fresh air. Blizzard has mentioned that we may see this technology implemented in other areas of the game in the future, but for now, it’s really nice having it available for the current content.
Back to the zones. Each zone tells a self-contained story with an overall story hanging overhead. It’s absolutely worth experiencing each zone in full, including the additional side missions that don’t count toward the overall completion of the zone. The storytelling. Oh wow, the storytelling. Blizzard has always been extremely good with knowing how to tell a story and make it captivating and fit within the established lore they have built. Legion takes this to a whole new level, as each and every zone is an incredible journey through the lives of the people living there, their struggles, and their triumphs. For the first time, players feel compelled to actually complete each zone in its entirety, not only to see the story from beginning to end, but because of the new technology Blizzard has implemented into the Broken Isles with makes it so that you never out-level a zone you’re currently in. Some of the stories will make you laugh. Some will leave you confused and wondering what’s going to happen later. One in particular will have you on the brink of tears, if not full on crying. And yes, I’ve had many people tell me they cried after completing this individual story.
Once you’ve reached 110, Legion truly begins. The amount of things to do that open up at max level is staggering. Never before has there been so much to physically do at end game, and the best part is, it’s all actually quite fun. The first thing to mention is Suramar. Designed as the first ever “end-game zone” in Warcraft, this area is specifically for max level characters, and will continue to advance and progress as the expansion goes on. There’s a number of different story line related things to do in Suramar, and the area itself is absolutely gorgeous. Specifically, Suramar City. The amount of detail and finesse that Blizzard paid when creating this city is incredible. I’m honestly hoping for a point sometime during the expansion when we’ll be able to reclaim the city for the Nightfallen and actually turn it into a Sanctuary, with Dalaran having served its purpose and being sent back to its original location.
Another thing that is fairly important to focus on is all the various reputations spread out across the Broken Isles. Most importantly being the Nightfallen, which again is found in Suramar. This reputation not only unlocks more quests and story related content the higher you get, but it is also the only way to unlock two additional dungeons. Each reputation has a bunch of different items that can be purchased once a certain rank is achieved, ranging from pets, to items, to recipes for professions, enchants, etc. Most of these will be completed throughout the life of the expansion naturally if you keep up with doing World Quests, as each time you complete the daily Emissary Mission, you’re awarded with 1500 reputation toward that individual faction. Speaking of World Quests, let’s jump to those.
Upon reaching 110, the first thing you’ll want to do is make sure all reputations from each of the zones are at least Friendly in status. This is easily done by just questing through the zones while leveling. The only thing you should have to do is accept the quest to go to Suramar, and do the initial quest chain there, which takes anywhere from a half an hour to an hour. Once you’re done with that, all reputations should be Friendly and the World Quests will now be open. This is also something new being introduced to the World of Warcraft. World Quests are on different respawn timers, and last for a duration of time, so you can basically log in whenever and do them, so long as it’s before they expire. There’s also Emissary Quests that are tied to the World Quests. Once a day, a new Emissary Quest will pop up, which asks you to go to a specific zone and complete four World Quests. Once that’s done and the quest is turned in, you’ll be awarded with a chest and an item to increase your Artifact Power. The chest can contain any number of items, but the one’s people are currently hoping for our Legendaries.
Legendary Items are being handled a bit differently this time around. Now, instead of there just being one item that everyone is working toward getting, there’s a ton of different Legendary Items that can be found. Each spec and class has a certain number that they can use, and they are found by either doing World Quests, killing heroic or mythic dungeon bosses, and by killing raid bosses. Every character has the ability to equip one Legendary at the start, and through Class Hall upgrades, eventually two will be available to be equipped.
Speaking of the Class Halls, these are not to be confused and mistaken as Garrisons 2.0. They retain some of the same features that the old Garrison model used, but it is a much better designed and refined system. Missions aren’t as important, and while you’ll still want to do them (especially the ones for completing your Class Hall Campaign), they don’t feel as dire as they did back in Warlords of Draenor. The emphasis is much more on being out in the world and doing things now, as opposed to standing around in your Garrison and micromanaging missions and followers. One really neat thing about Class Halls… every class has a unique one that can be found somewhere out in Azeroth. For example, Shamans are located at the Maelstrom in the middle of the ocean, Paladins go to Light’s Hope Chapel in Eastern Plaguelands, Demon Hunters go back to their home planet Mardum, Rogue’s now inhabit the Dalaran sewers, Hunters have made a Lodge out in Highmountain, etc. It makes playing through each class a fun and rewarding experience, because you’re seeing a lot of content that you otherwise would miss if you just stayed on one single character.
Demon Hunters. Since I just mentioned Demon Hunters, you’re probably wondering what that is all about. Demon Hunters, a class many people have been asking for since the early days of the game, has finally been introduced as the new Hero class. Hero classes start at a much higher level. Demon Hunters in particular start at level 98, and by the time their initial opening sequence is completed, they will be level 100. This allows people re-rolling a main character to be able to jump straight in to the new content without having to start over from the beginning. Demon Hunters are a lot of fun to play, and have the most movement based utility of any class currently. They have the ability to double jump, and can also spread their demon wings and glide, with no set limit to how long you can glide for. Jumping off the tallest mountain in Highmountain, a Demon Hunter can honestly glide almost all the way across the Broken Isles before landing. Their DPS specialization, Havoc, is extremely strong at the moment, which has a lot of people considering jumping on that bandwagon to increase their DPS. The tank spec, Vengeance, feels a little under-performing when it comes to absorbing and dodging incoming hits, but overall, I think its way more fun to play than the DPS spec. I have been playing Tank classes for a handful of years now after switching over from my Hunter back in Mists of Pandaria, and my Demon Hunter tank is my new main character, having replaced my Guardian Druid. Even if you have no interest in actually playing this class, make sure to at least start one to see their initial introduction to the world. Just remember, “You are not prepared!”
Another completely new thing that has been introduced with Legion is the Artifact Weapon system. Gone are the various weapon drops we are used to seeing throughout the life cycle of an expansion. Instead, we will be using the same weapons that are given to us during the initial introduction to Legion for the full duration of the expansion. The weapons will slowly go up in power by using Artifact Power, and the stats will slowly increase thanks to Relics that can be equipped on the weapons like a gem. Each Artifact Weapon has three Relic slots that can be utilized, and while you’ll want to follow some sort of priority system for which to use based on what they actually do, you’ll also almost always want to prioritize higher ilevel Relics over lower ones thanks to the stat increase it’ll provide to your base weapon. So where does Artifact Power come from? Basically, everywhere. Anything you do in the game now basically rewards Artifact Power, which is great because you’ll eventually need millions to completely max our your weapon. It’ll also slowly get easier to collect Artifact Power as Legion rolls on, thanks to Artifact Knowledge that is researched in your Class Hall. Every four days, you’ll increase your Artifact Knowledge so long as you are spending the Order Hall Resources to keep the research flowing. This makes it so that you’re seeing bigger increases in Artifact Power from the various channels it can be obtained from.
Each Artifact Weapon also has multiple looks that you can choose from, most of which require a bit of work in order to unlock. There’s also some secret ones that currently remain hidden on how to unlock, which is giving players more to do currently as they seek out the correct method for unlocking all of these appearances. It’s definitely a fun system, and one I hope they keep exploring in the future. My only complaint here is that it still isn’t very friendly for those who like to run more than one character at a time. Making the Artifact Knowledge scale account wide instead of just by character would be a quick and simple fix to this, and one that I hope they explore in the future if this system sticks around in the following expansions.
Professions have also been overhauled once again, with the recipes mostly coming from quests that send you all over Azeroth, doing random tasks that actually involve the profession. It’s an insanely nice change instead of just grinding out the levels and learning all the recipes from the trainers. They also have kept the ability that allows the current expansion stuff to be done at any level, so you don’t need to worry about leveling up the profession all the way to 700 before you can start crafting new recipes. This is extremely beneficial to newcomers and for those who recently have switched professions. The only thing I wish was different here was the Cooking profession. Nomi, a character you may remember from Mists of Pandaria, is the new Chef in Dalaran, and you give him materials for him to cook for you, with hopes that a recipe will be dropped so you can make your own food. Ninety-five percent of the time he burns everything, so it’s currently very frustrating to actually get cooking recipes. But the rest is working just fine.
Dungeon content is some of the best we have ever seen. The encounters they have designed and the settings they take place in are remarkable. Wait until you run the Maw of Souls. You’re doing battle on an actual ghost ship, working your way through it and eventually reaching the deck. That’s when you see the violent swirling ocean around you, and it is so cool looking. The rest of the locations are nice too. You’ll be running through the Vrykul area that is very reminiscent of Valhalla, the deepest and darkest cave which was home to Deathwing, a dense and dark forest that has been extremely corrupted, a Warden prison that used to house all of the Demon Hunters until they were awoken, and many others.
Mythic+ Dungeons are another new feature that is available to max level characters for end game content. Designed very much like Diablo 3, this will allow a group of five people to get together and use Keystones which will gradually increase the difficulty of each dungeon. As the difficulty increases, the loot rewards will also be increasing, so the incentive is definitely there to try these out. This is actually an alternate path to raiding now, as the Mythic+ system will allow for gearing up characters and getting loot that is somewhat similar to those dropping from current raids.
The actual raid content is the main reason why I delayed this review for so long. I wanted to be able to at least run in to the Emerald Nightmare and get a feel for how raiding is going to be in Legion. And let me be the first to say, it’s fantastic. The Emerald Nightmare is a nightmare version of the Emerald Dream, and it is perhaps one of the most interesting raids Blizzard has created from an aesthetic point of view. Since the Emerald Dream links all of Azeroth together, the raid takes place at various points throughout the world, like Grizzly Hills and Un’goro Crater. Raiding is the main reason that I physically play Warcraft, and it hasn’t let me down yet. I’m extremely excited to see what new content is going to be delivered in this area throughout Legion.
PvP is one area of the game that I’m not an expert on, but it has also been totally redesigned for Legion, making it way more accessible to players such as myself. The PvP system now has its own unique talents and honor system, which will slowly go up the more you actively participate in PvP. The most I’ve been doing at the moment is the World Quests which have a little bit of PvP built in to them, but it’s still a nice way to be working on increasing my honor level and working toward the new Prestige levels.
The graphics have come a very long way since 2004. Traveling back to the old zones, it’s easy to see the transition we’ve been making as each new expansion is released. The zones available on the Broken Isles are by far the best looking areas in the World of Warcraft, and that is to be expected. Blizzard keeps pushing the graphical capabilities of their engine to the maximum, and it’s nice to see them continue to expand on it and make the game look modern and the best it can on the engine they have. Running the game on maximum settings with a GTX 970, it looks beautiful.
The music is also one other thing I want to touch on. The sounds and music from World of Warcraft is one thing I can never get tired of. As each expansion is released, I always make sure to secure a copy of the official soundtrack so that I can listen to it whenever. During long road trips, these soundtracks have taken my mind off of the long and boring drive, and whisked me away back to Azeroth. Legion is no different. Do yourself a favor and don’t play with the sound and music turned off. There is some really good tracks to be found.
All in all, at the moment, Legion is by far my favorite expansion for World of Warcraft that has ever been released. That sentiment is echoed throughout the community for the most part, and everyone is currently very hopeful for what this means for the future of the game we all love so very much. If Blizzard can truly stick to their plan now of releasing more content for each expansion, while releasing newer expansions at a slower pace, we could be returning to a golden age for Warcraft once again. The current subscription numbers since launch could also be a reflection of that, based on what Blizzard has come out and said. If you’ve ever played World of Warcraft, if you currently still do, or even if you never have. Legion is the perfect point to jump in, and start shaping your story and your legacy in Azeroth.