World of Warcraft: Legion's Illidan

During the first part of my review, about a month ago, I made the claim that World of Warcraft: Legion was an absurdly massive game. When I said that I was only being half-serious, because let's face it, how big can a game truly be? Well, as it turns out - pretty damn big! 

I've been playing Legion daily ever since it first launched, and only now can I truly say that I have experienced everything it has to offer. As such, it is time to use all of this newfound knowledge in order to delve deep into Legion's endgame and see whether it will stand the test of time, how it compares to Warlords of Draenor, but most importantly, is it any fun? 

Video version of this review

World Quests

Daily, repeatable quests are no strangers to World of Warcraft given that they were first introduced with The Burning Crusade, some 10 or so years ago. However, while they may have been a constant companion to World of Warcraft, they were never actually fun to do. There is only so many times you can explode a kobold with a giant fireball before the excitement runs dry and the whole thing turns into gaming's worst enemy - a chore! It also doesn't help that these quests traditionally require your participation every single day (hence the name), so if you manage to miss out on a couple of them, well tough luck, you're now behind everyone else! 

I initially feared that the World Quests would be the same sort of boring nonsense, but much to my surprise, Blizzard has managed to learn from their past mistakes and have actually implemented a system that is both rewarding and fun. Instead of having only a couple of daily quests that repeat ad nauseum, Legion has brought with it hundreds that rotate on some sort of a hidden timer. This, combined with the fact that World Quests send you to a different zone every single day means that you are highly unlikely to keep running into the same sort of events. As you can imagine, this goes a long way towards keeping the content fresh and interesting, even if you do World Quests every single day.

World of Warcraft screenshot showing off a world quest

I guess I didn't really plan on sleeping tonight...

The rewards have also been greatly improved, so you're no longer going to encounter daily quests that only reward a tiny bit of reputation and a crushing depression once you realize what exactly you're doing with your life. Rather than lock away rewards behind a certain amount of reputation, the Legion World Quests just give it to you outright! These rewards can be simple things like gold and garrison resources, but also the highly useful Artifact Power and items that scale with your equipment level. In other words, even if you're as decked out in raid gear as I am, you still have a reason to go out into the world explore! Not only is this useful when it comes to gearing up your characters, but it also makes the world feel alive as there are now hundreds of players constantly roaming every nook and cranny of The Broken Isles. For the first time in many years, World of Warcraft feels like an actual world, and not a 'queue time' simulator!

If I would to level one complaint against the World Quests, it would be against the contents of the 'big' treasure chest that awaits you once you complete a set of four quests in a certain zone. On first glance this treasure chest sounds amazing - it can give out lots of gold, garrison resources, gear, and even has a chance to give you a legendary item! What's not to like? As it turns out, pretty much everything given that its most common drop is a brand new piece of gear that's so bad I don't even look at it anymore before selling it. The World Quests themselves reward gear that's just around your power level, so why does this 'amazing' cache of items always reward absolute garbage? It just makes the whole experience of completing a series of World Quests feel a lot less rewarding than if you simply gained no extra reward at all.

World of Warcraft: Legion's weekly boss

The weekly cash cow world boss helps ease the pain somewhat

Suramar

Continuing on with the theme of world building we have Suramar - the only city in the history of World of Warcraft that actually feels like a city people might live in. There are plenty of houses for everyone to live in, the townsfolk are active and can actually be seen buying groceries, children frolic in the various public parks, and there are even a whole bunch of mana addicts lying around in the streets! As you can see, Suramar features pretty much everything we've come to accept as a part of city living.

Rather than simply be a giant set piece with a couple of dungeon entrances, Suramar is also one of the most quest-heavy zones in all of World of Warcraft. Every time you think you're about to be finished, a new series of events pops up and you are once again forced to postpone dinner in order to clean them out. As for the story behind these quests, it is a bit cliche, but it is an effective tale nonetheless. I won't go into any details as I don't want to spoil it for you, but it touches upon the themes of addiction, organized rebellion, and betrayal from those you may have once trusted. Don't get your hopes up for a deep and mature storyline, however, as all of it is permeated with the standard World of Warcraft cheesiness, but its still nice to have an 'end-game' zone that has a bit of substance to it - its not just a pile of daily quests stringed together with the flimsiest of plots.

World of Warcraft: Legion's Suramar city

All of this is about 1/6 of Suramar City

Class Halls

I've expressed my dissatisfaction with the Class Halls during the first part of my review, and after playing my Demon Hunter for well over 100 hours now I can comfortably say that I hate the Class Halls way more than I did back then. They are perfectly fine as far as the visuals and story are concerned, I mean who wouldn't like to pilot a giant demonic spaceship and blow up an entire planet, but when it comes to the actual content the Class Halls fall flat on their face.

Much like the Garrisons of old, pretty much the only thing you do in your Class Hall is send followers on missions, set up work orders for follower armaments, and occasionally visit the forge once you're ready to upgrade your Artifact Weapon. That's it! While I would usually be OK with this, mostly because I like the idea of sending my minions out into the world to make me rich, the follower missions in Legion are simply boring. Once you reach level 110 on all of your followers and deck them out with the best gear you can find, there is very little reason for you to even bother with the Class Hall anymore.

Sure, you can occasionally find a mission that rewards you with a piece of gear or a pile of gold, but the vast majority of the missions all revolve around making your followers more efficient... at doing missions that make them more efficient at doing missions. As such, it is very hard for me to muster up any sort of excitement when I come back to my Class Hall and see that my followers have returned with a massive bounty - two useless follower items and ~2K Artifact Power (about 1 good World Quest's worth).

I understand that Blizzard wanted people to leave their Garrisons and venture out into the world, but if they were going to make the Class Halls this much of a side-attraction, why even go through the effort of designing such neat places and class-specific campaigns? 

World of Warcraft Class Hall mission screenshot

A whole 250 reputation for a 12 hour mission? You're spoiling me Blizzard!

Artifact Weapons

Much like the Class Halls, I expressed a fair bit of disappointment with the Artifact Weapon system during my previous review, but unlike the Class Halls I must admit I've actually quite warmed up to the idea. Its still a bit too simplistic, don't get me wrong, but I've come to realize the brilliance behind Artifact Power. Instead of having quests and dungeons reward you with a measly sum of gold, you now get a decent chunk of Artifact Power which slowly, but surely increases your overall strength. This way even if you don't get loot five dungeon runs in a row it doesn't feel like you've been wasting your time for absolutely nothing - you get to see tangible progress in your Artifact Weapon. Its a simple little feature, and one that I quite heavily underestimated, but at the end of the day Artifact Weapons and Power made my time with Legion a lot more enjoyable!

Unfortunately, the Artifact Weapon system punishes alts (alternate characters) far too harshly. My Demon Hunter has just recently unlocked his third golden trait, or in other words achieved a massive boost in power, while my Mage has only unlocked one and is currently a good hundred hours behind. No matter what I do, or how much I try, I will constantly remain behind the pack with my Mage unless I turn playing him into my job. This alone wouldn't be too much of an issue given that you can still top the DPS charts through skill alone, but the presence of ultra-rare legendary items means that alts are even further disadvantaged. If I get lucky on my Demon Hunter and one of the three good legendary items drops for me, I would feel even worse trying to swap over to my Mage as who knows if I will ever get a legendary again... or if it'll actually be useful!

All of this, along with some unnecessary reputation-gating and Class Hall research projects that take literal weeks, means that leveling alts in Legion is a needlessly frustrating task. I love experiencing raids and PvP through different points of view, but given how much superior my main character is right now I don't think I'm going to be doing that in Legion - not for a very long time at least. And in my eyes, that is a massive shame!

World of Warcraft: Legion's artifact weapon

Oh, and I forgot to mention - pretty much all of the Artifact Weapons look amazing!

Professions and Crafting

In a funny twist of fate, the professions that were once a massive problem for alts are now a complete non-issue. Not only can you access all of the Legion crafting content with a basic skill level, but you don't even need to spend a lot of time acquiring obscure recipes - they are given to you through a series of intriguing quests! While it might be a bit unfair towards players that spent thousands of gold getting their professions to the max level before Legion, this new system is an amazing boon for all newcomers and those that wish to swap their vocation. You no longer need to spend 20 hours crafting pointless junk nobody wants in order to get to the good stuff!

Not everything is perfect in paradise, however, as the profession system is so completely broken it is more or less irrelevant. I started out as an Engineer, the most iconic profession in World of Warcraft and one that always provides a good mixture of madness and usefulness, but as soon as I learned all of the recipes I was left wondering what exactly am I missing here. Not only are there no new and exciting toys to create, but the one 'mech' Engineers can create costs around ~500 gold per activation, and provides nothing of any value! A similar story applies to nearly all of the professions, except Alchemy and Jewelcrafting which have managed to remain consistently profitable.

For reasons unknown every single item Alchemists can create costs a ridiculous amounts of herbs, so much so that each flask currently sits at around 2000 gold. This wouldn't be too much of a problem if everyone had to pay the same price, but Alchemists with level 3 in flask-making (something that is achieved purely by random chance) are able to craft anywhere from 1-20 flasks out of the same materials. What this means is that if you're not an alchemist you are essentially burning money every time you go into a raid or Mythic+ dungeon. Some might argue this is pure conjecture on my part, but the wast amounts of Shredder mounts (more efficient herb gathering) and glitched-out bots currently skulking through every part of The Broken Isles in search of herbs tells a rather different story.

World of Warcraft: Legion's Piloted Skygolem

Forget all of your cool mounts. If you're serious about raiding/dungeoneering this is the only thing you'll be riding around on

A similar story applies to both Cooking and Archaeology, but surprisingly not Fishing. I don't know if you'll actually believe me but Fishing is actually pretty damn awesome in Legion, and it even has its own Artifact Weapon! What exactly it does I'm afraid you're going to have to find out for yourself because I find even real life fishing boring - and that gets me a tasty lunch - so you can imagine how I feel about World of Warcraft Fishing. As for the other two, since I don't want to relieve some terrible, terrible memories I'll just cover them in short.

Learning better cooking recipes is entirely up to random chance, so no matter how many damned pieces of meat you give Nomi, a Pandaren 'chef' that is secretly Ragnaros the Foodburninglord, you're not guaranteed to get the recipe you want. Oh, but that's not the best of it! Even once Nomi finally spews forth an upgraded version of the recipe you need, he won't simply stop wasting your resources on researching that very same recipe - he will continue doing it until he's blazed through every single piece of meat you own, just to spite you! But wait, there's more! Once he finally stops burning your food and coughs up 7 of the same recipe the real fun begins. You can't just pick them up and sell them though, that would be too easy. You have to pick them up and sell them one by one because they are Unique, essentially wasting even more of your time for no damned reason!

On a slightly different, but equally hellish note we have Archaeology. It was never a fun profession, at least not to me, but the things they've done to it in Legion have somehow made it even worse. Instead of being able to just dig around the world in hopes of finding cool and interesting artifacts, you now essentially shovel through pure garbage until you complete a bi-weekly quest that rewards you with a pre-determined item. The randomness is gone, sure, but some of these quests are absolutely insane. I tried to do one that requires you to complete 20 research projects, but about two hours and 7 projects later I remembered why exactly I hated Archaeology, so I did the smart thing and I queued up for a dungeon instead. I would advise you do the same.

World of Warcraft: Archaeology screenshot

Save yourself the time and sanity - don't bother with Archaeology

Mythic Keystone Dungeons

Now that I've spewed forth a ton of well-deserved bile about the profession system, its time to move towards a few aspects of Legion that I genuinely consider to be a great deal of fun - most notably Mythic Keystone Dungeons, Raids, and PvP.

Throughout World of Warcraft's history dungeons were the hardest thing to balance. If you create them just difficult enough for the top 1% of the playerbase, then everyone else will have a terrible time. However, if you make them easy enough for the majority of the players to enjoy they will quickly become useless, and all of the effort the developers put into creating them would essentially be pointless. Blizzard tried to get around this issue by introducing numerous difficulty settings, but their binary nature always resulted in the same problem - dungeons would become completely irrelevant the moment the raids became available.

This is where the Mythic Keystone Dungeons come in to save the day! Not only are they designed with the hardcore playerbase in mind, but they are able to scale upwards both in terms of gear and difficulty. No matter how good you are, and no matter what raid gear you're sporting, an appropriately leveled Keystone dungeon will present you with both a significant challenge and a significant reward. But rather than simply increase enemy health and damage, Blizzard has decided to borrow the whole 'special attributes' system from the Diablo series - and the results have so far been spectacular!

Mythic Keystone Dungeons gain a new attribute every 5 levels, so if you're attempting to complete a +10 Keystone Dungeon you are going to have to deal with two problematic abilities at once. These can range from enemies that stack a constantly-damaging effect on the tank, thus forcing you to have a good stun rotation or get wiped out entirely, to enemies that enrage when low on health, which means focus fire is greatly preferred over random AOE (area of effect) spam. The end result of all these changes is a Dungeon system that always gives you the opportunity to challenge yourself, to see how far you and your group can go before you get overwhelmed! As someone that doesn't like spending hours upon hours stuck in a raid, the presence of difficult (yet fair) dungeons has been a great blessing and one of the biggest reasons my World of Warcraft subscription will keep running for many months to come.

World of Warcraft: Legion Mythic Keystone Dungeon rewards

3 giant chests for beating a boss on time? I'm officially in loot heaven!

Raids

While I'm not a big fan of how much time an average raid takes, I do love how much teamwork and coordination they require out of you. There is nothing quite like being in snyc with 20 other people, tearing through challenging boss after challenging boss with the efficiency of a small army, all the while collecting even better and shinier pieces of loot! I just wish there wasn't over an hour worth of "trash" encounters between these bosses, but that's a topic for another day.

So how is The Emerald Nightmare raid, and how does it compare to the raids that came before it? This shouldn't come as much of a surprise given that even Warlords of Draenor had excellent raids, but The Emerald Nightmare has so far been amazing! All of the bosses are nicely varied and feature interesting mechanics, the visuals are beyond intriguing as the entire place represents a twisted version of Azeroth, and best of all, the difficulty is spot on. Normal is just challenging enough to give pick-up groups a hard time, but still easy enough to allow for constant progression. Heroic on the other hand requires everyone to be on the same page as the damage is higher, boss health is greatly increased, and there are a whole bunch of new mechanics to deal with. And the Mythic difficulty is about as what you would expect - so damn hard its next to impossible with a pick-up group, but that's exactly the point of it.

I've had a certain amount of issues with nearly every topic I've covered so far, but the Emerald Nightmare is nearly perfect for what its supposed to be - an introductory raid. If Blizzard continues on with this level of quality I am fairly confident in predicting that Legion that might just be the best expansion to raid in!

World of Warcraft: Legion's Il'Gynoth raid boss

Il'gynoth, a massive eyeball lodged in a tree, is my favorite Legion boss so far

PvP (Arenas and Rated Battlegrounds)

Before I talk about PvP, allow me to first digress for a moment. Why in the blazing hells are we even fighting each other anymore? The end of the world has come, demons are quite literally everywhere, all of our friends and allies are dying - and in the middle of all this carnage we have Sylvannas and Greymane slapping each other around like two five-year-olds! I know I'm not supposed to think about this, but the PvP aspect of World of Warcraft is becoming even more of a stretch with each new expansion... and we're currently right at the breaking point.

As for the actual PvP, its pretty much the same as it ever was. Some classes are favored, some compositions are easier to play, but no matter what you're playing the only thing that truly matters is how good you are (and how good your gear is). Even though I'm not a big fan of PvP (I've only once pushed for the Gladiator rank), I've had a good deal of fun with the Arena in Legion - mostly because the Looking for Group system allows for an easy way to find like-minded players.

World of Warcraft: Legion's PvP LFG system

Its simple, its easy to use, its efficient - what's not to like?

There is one big difference between Legion PvP and the previous seasons, however, and it comes in the form of the new PvP Talent Tree. Its not as influential as you would think, but having the ability to slightly customize your playstyle is a very welcome addition. The way you progress through this PvP Talent Tree is a bit different than your standard one as new talent choices unlock through the recently added Honor Levels - of which there are 50 in total. Since you will unlock pretty much all of the 'important' talents during the first 10 or so levels, there's no need to worry too much about farming honor in order to keep up with the other PvPers. But if you're a fan of PvP and continuously destroy your opposition you will eventually reach Honor Level 50, gain a rank in prestige, and begin the climb all over again (though with all of the talents unlocked this time around). 

As for Prestige itself, its there to give out small, cosmetic rewards to those most dedicated to PvP. The first few levels of Prestige will give you mostly pointless stuff such as titles, but the later ones will give you access to amazing PvP mounts, Artifact Weapon skins, and other such cosmetics that will really set you apart from the average player. In other words, the PvP may not have been greatly improved, but at the very least the rewards are now much more enticing - even if you aren't someone that wishes to compete for the Gladiator title.

World of Warcraft: Legion's PvP talents

You no longer need to waste a trinket slot for the PvP Medallion!

Closing Thoughts

I have been with World of Warcraft since the very beginning. I have seen it innovate, I have seen it push the boundaries of what we consider an MMO, but I have also seen it fail so spectacularly that Blizzard stopped publishing subscriber data - I've seen it all. But throughout all of the years I've never seen an expansion so dedicated to providing an enjoyable experience for all types of players as Legion.

The classes are unique and interesting to play, the world is once again full of life, the dungeons and raids offer plenty of challenge to those that seek it, PvP finally has a reward system outside of Gladiator mounts, but most importantly of all, Legion is just fun. If you're like me and you gave up on World of Warcraft during the abominable mess that was Warlords of Draenor, then I encourage you to give Legion a try. It has not only managed to reinvigorate within me that passion I once held for World of Warcraft, but it has also provided me with some of the most engaging MMO content I've experienced so far. Give it a look, you might like what you end up seeing.

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