Twelve years after Blizzard revolutionized PC gaming with the release of World of Warcraft, the MMO is back with its sixth expansion. The Burning Legion has returned to Azeroth and MMO players have the chance to journey through a series of brand new zones in the decade-old game and take control of a second hero class. The subscription model and years of content to catch up on may scare off new players, but World of Warcraft: Legion is firing on all cylinders for veteran MMO players.
The expansion brings a ton of changes to WoW, but the main selling points are an increased level cap of 110 (that’s ten new levels), a new zone to explore (The Broken Isles), powerful artifact weapons to level up, and the introduction of the Demon Hunter character class. As is to be expected with a big WoW expansion, many other changes were patched in shortly before Legion’s launch to bring the game as close to the modern era as the twelve year-old engine can take it.
Legion includes a level 100 character boost, so new players, or returning players who skipped Warlords of Draneor, can jump right into the new content with a high-powered character. In the past, this would likely have been too confusing for new players, but the talent trees and spell rotations have all been simplified down to the point that a short tutorial is all the introduction that is needed to take any level 100 character for a spin through Azeroth. Players start off by completing a scenario that sets the scene and then head to the new zones, which can be tackled in any order thanks to dynamic scaling.
The dynamic quests, enemies, and zones are perhaps the most exciting of WoW’s many improvements that arrive with Legion. Players are able to go to any zone in The Broken Isles (except for the final one, Suramar) and they will find enemies that are their own level. This is true inside and outside of the zone’s five-man dungeons. This change applies when in groups as well, which means players can quest alongside their friends when one is level 102 and one is level 108 and each player will see the enemies at the appropriate difficulty and level. This change makes grouping up way easier and is a tremendous improvement over the old formula of having specific zones designated for each level range.
Blizzard has always had a talent for entertaining storytelling, but that is often lost in World of Warcraft due to players quickly skimming quest text and not really soaking anything in. The story in each Legion zone (and the overarching story) are all some of Blizzard’s best work yet. Short cinematic scenes are scattered throughout at just the right intervals, and it is nearly impossible to quest through these zones and not take away a big piece of the world’s lore. From questing alongside iconic Horde and Alliance leaders to saving ancient dragons from corruption, Legion’s story will have players crying one moment and laughing the next.
While questing through the new content, players will also seek out Artifact Weapons specific to their class specialization and establish a home base to level up the weapons. The new Class Hall and Artifact Weapon mechanics are both executed incredibly well and give players an addicting grind that will keep them logging in well after they hit max level, even if end-game raiding or PvP doesn’t interest them. The Class Hall is similar to the Garrison from Warlords of Draenor, but boils that housing mechanic down to just its best features. Players can log in daily (either in-game or via the Legion mobile app) and send champions off on missions that reward the player with experience, gold, or power to level up the Artifact Weapons.
The new Demon Hunter hero class offers fans of melee combat yet another option. Unlike the other classes that usually have three specialization options, Demon Hunters have two modes to jump back and forth between. Despite being a leather wearer, one of the Demon Hunter’s specs is actually a viable tanking option, the other is obviously melee DPS. The new class is incredibly fast and already seems to be a powerhouse in PvP scenarios. Time will tell, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see a nerf incoming at some point in the future.
Although every WoW expansion gives players something to do after hitting max level with difficult dungeons, raids, and daily quests, Legion once again makes a great improvement on the classic formula with the introduction of World Quests. These special quests unlock after earning a Friendly reputation with all of the new zones and offer players actual good gear and resources as rewards. The World Questing system means that there are about 50 quests available at any give time for players to work through. The quests appear throughout the world and are only available for a a short period of time (up to a few real world days) before being replaced with a new one. Players can check in on the available quests and their rewards on the Legion app to decide how soon they need to login if they want to grab a new helm or maybe an epic trinket. The World Questing mechanic is a welcome update to the daily quests grind and makes the end-game experience fun, rewarding, and addictive.
Although the game will still feel a bit overwhelming to new players, World of Warcraft: Legion really manages to learn from every prior WoW expansion and bring the game into a new era. The team at Blizzard is still managing to push some beautiful textures out of the aging engine and the flurry of upgrades to gameplay mechanics and story-delivery make World of Warcraft: Legion an absolute must-play for any fans of fantasy RPGs or MMOs.
World of Warcraft: Legion is currently available for PC. Game Rant played a retail PC version of the game.