World of Warcraft: Legion, the newest World of Warcraft expansion, was announced yesterday at Gamescom 2015. As a fan of the lore and occasional player of the game, I was incredibly excited, even more so when I got to see even a tiny teaser of a Blizzard cinematic. Though, once I removed my fanboy blinders, I realized all was not well in the world of Azeroth.
Warning: Much of this will make little to no sense without a good familiarity with World of Warcraft. Even less so if you know little about the lore.
However, I'd first like to say that it does appear as though Blizzard has put in more effort/thought in Legion than in Warlords of Draenor. They have revamped the Honor System, for better or worse; created an entirely new continent for us to explore; and created a new class in the Demon Hunters. The fact that we will get to explore Mar'duun (the world Sargeras created to imprison demons that he then destroyed) as the Demon Hunter starting area is evidence of that, though we don't know how extensive that will be yet.
Though, I'll only give them a little credit for Class Orders and the champion system. These are just reworked Garrisons and followers, respectively. At least Blizzard nailed what was wrong with those two systems and are trying to address them.
Garrisons were far too isolated and solitary. We want something less Fortress of Solitude and more Hall of Justice. The Class Halls appear to be something like that. How they work exactly, who will be there—anything really—is still unknown. Conceptually though, Class Halls are a step in the right direction.
The same can be said for the champion system. Sending followers out on a mission was nothing better than a Facebook/mobile game designed to eat up as much time with as little reward as possible. The followers were names and faces you largely ignored as you went to the relevant buildings to do whatever needed to be done. Blizzard promises that champions will be more than that. There will be fewer of them and players should have more meaningful experiences with them. Again, nothing is really known yet, but it is a step in the right direction.
However, Legion is still pushing this singleplayer experience too far. Thinking on it for a bit, I realized that all of the things that have appealed to me in Legion are pretty much things that will enhance my singleplayer experience. In other words, Legion seems to do nothing to help foster the MMO experience or make me interested in playing an MMO again. Rather, it is there to foster the individual experience, allowing for as much isolation as one would want. Why not just make a singleplayer RPG?
The greatest fun you can have in an MMO is creating relationships with interesting people and complete/achieve a goal together online. It sounds pretentious, stupid, and a bit nerdy, but it is true. The Burning Crusade was the perfect manifestation of that, and Blizzard seems to have done everything they can to tear that down.
Questing and completing certain objectives for artifacts hasn't been entirely detailed yet, but it does seem to be something that will heavily cater to singleplayer. (Also, I just realized it perfectly evidences Blizzard's current design emphasis: accessibility. Why not let all players have access to these super rare and powerful lore weapons?) Obtaining such artifacts took a lot of teamwork in the past, and while a select few received said artifact, obtaining it was the result of working together. Again, we don't know the details, but this just seems to be another isolating factor.
The Class Orders are playing into that as well. Who is in charge of them? The player of course. No way there are any lore characters suitable for each of the nine classes. No way would this be an interesting opportunity to flesh out some side characters/possibly make new ones. Nope, the player is in charge. Again, without knowing details, it seems to cater to solitary play. Why not have these be mingling hubs instead of what will ostensibly be where the player gives "orders" to champions?
Bear with me in an exercise of my nerddom: why not Yrel, Tirion, or Liadrin for the Paladin leader? Thassarian or Koltira Deathweaver for Death Knights? Hamuul Runetotem, Broll Bearmantle, or even Malfurion for Druids? Khadgar, Jaina, or pretty much anyone on the Council of Six for Mages? Taran Zhu for Monks? Maiev or Mathias Shaw for Rogues? Drek'thar or Nobundo for Shamans? Magni or Durotan for Warriors? Probably someone new for Warlocks as most of them are evil. Anduin for Priests? Rexxar or any of the Windrunners for Hunters? And as for Demon Hunters, they'd probably have to introduce someone new as well.
Again, for all of the above they could do someone new too. As a lore nerd to an admittedly just okayish lore, it seems like a missed opportunity. I mean, the player could still be the "champion" of the class and all.
Anyway, back on track. I really hope resource gathering gets a bit of an overhaul. The Garrisons made it to where I pretty much would never have to interact with another person ever again if I wanted to craft something. While those were never meaningful interactions, they were still something. Not to mention the fact that resource gathering in Warlords really killed the economy in a lot of ways.
Combine all that new emphasis on solitary play with the raid finder, lack of meaningful group quests, lack of guild goals/quests (like farming Shadowmourne for example), and so much more. The only time people seem to have somewhat meaningful interactions with others is through dungeons, raid finder, and PvP, all of which can be done by ignoring the other players completely.
Garrisons even introduced a poor replacement for player interaction with followers. Legion is attempting to make it a bit better with champions, but it all still seems to be isolating. Why interact with other people when you can chill with your champions? Is this Blizzard's answer to the feeling of loneliness they have worked so diligently at creating? False friendship? Faux socializing?
In an effort to cater to all, it seems like Blizzard is leaving out those of us who had some of our best gaming experiences in The Burning Crusade. Those of us who vehemently argue for the objectively (that's the word you use when it is an indisputable fact, right?) better expansion are being left behind. All Blizzard has left for us is the time consuming Mythic Raids. The difficult heroics are gone, the gear progression is formulaic and uninteresting, it means little to nothing to be a leader in your profession, and too much more.
But this is about Legion, so let's talk more about The Burning Crusade. The Nostalgia Machine that is now disguised as Blizzard has done it again with Legion. They're losing player base, so why not bring back that sweet feeling of The Burning Crusade fans always talk about? Oh, and while we're at it, let's hit those Warcraft III fans as well. I mean, the Burning Legion is back, Tomb of Sargeras is back, and hell even Illidan is back. Oh, and Gul'dan is still here for some reason. Blizzard loves their formulas, and obviously the connecting character between expansions, the oh so wonderful Garrosh, worked well-enough.
The artifacts are complete and total fan service too. That's hitting the lore nerds and nostalgia factor for many for sure. So are the Demon Hunters, the most talked about potential class since we knew of the Hero Class' existence. Fans have been obsessed over their design since Warcraft III.
Has Blizzard really become so uncreative that Illidan appears to be a final boss again? He wasn't THE final boss in The Burning Crusade of course, but he was for sure the image they milked the most. There are still the Nathrezim to show off, which could have cool designs, and plenty more existing characters within the Burning Legion that could replace him. Or, you know, they could do something crazy and create an original character with interesting motivations. I just really hope they don't have Kil'jaeden return as the big bad boss, just like The Burning Crusade, seeing as we saw Archimonde last expansion.
At least the lore is heading in the correct direction again. The Burning Legion as a threat needed to happen in some form or another and using The Broken Isles and Tomb of Sargeras is the perfect way to do it. Though, I could do without it being Gul'dan, personally. But, the fulcrum of the Warcraft universe has been firmly planted in one orc or another since Cataclysm. Who will it be after Legion? Probably Thrall again.
Some of the right names and places are starting to get mentioned. Azshara seems to be in the mix somehow. We're looking at cool Titan stuff in the Pillars of Eternity. Xavius and finally a glimpse at the Emerald Dream/Nightmare (some N'zoth stuff?). We will see some Nightwell action and Suramar. The Halls of Valor will say something about the val'kyr. Neltharion's Lair should be a pretty cool place to get some insight on Deathwing and maybe Wrathion.
Oh, and then there's Turalyon and Alleria.
There better be a really, really good reason for their absence. Whatever made them trapped on the Broken Isles, as that is surely what the reason for the absence will be, better be good.
And why now? Wouldn't it have made more sense for some kind of return in the last expansion, since, you know, Turalyon was all about fighting the orcs? Since the last thing he was involved with was in Draenor, and he happened to be super buds with Khadgar, who made a big return last expansion, why not have those two return in Warlords of Draenor? Maybe Blizzard wants to emphasize the Windrunners more and they'll have a role this expansion, rather than Turalyon/Alliance stuff. That would make more sense considering the setting of The Broken Isles.
My guess is Turalyon and Alleria ended up on The Broken Isles through some stray or latent rift of Ner'zhul's, and they stumbled onto the Burning Legion's plans, where they have been observing them ever since. They'll be our exposition to the expansion, serving to set the stage. Then, they'll get right back into the swing of things like nothing happened. Khadgar and Turalyon will have some sort of scene. Alleria and the Windrunners will too.
Either that or they've been corrupted by the Burning Legion somehow. Please, no Blizzard. And please, please not the Old Gods. Everything is corrupted by the Old Gods.
All in all, while the lore may be a bit of a mess right now and Blizzard is being largely uncreative by relying on past successes, it is at least interesting. I am far more interested than at any point with Warlords of Draenor (oh, optimistically naive me).
To sum it up, World of Warcraft: Legion seems to be a step in the right direction in some ways. The ingrained philosophies of accessibility and catering to the lowest common denominator will still largely detract from the experience, but Blizzard is taking steps to improve everything outside of that at least. Until they start thinking like they were in The Burning Crusade again, instead of capitalizing/bastardizing it as a sort of cheap tactic now, WoW will always be hamstrung.
Stop worrying about people having the ability to experience everything and start worrying about creating something interesting enough for people to want to experience everything.
What were your thoughts on World of Warcraft: Legion? What are you excited for? What are you not excited for?