As a developer, Blizzard has always chosen to master a video game genre instead of innovating it. While the Warcraft and Starcraft RTS games were far from being the first in the genre, they are widely considered some of the best. Overwatch is a refinement of class-based first-person shooters. The same concept applies to World of Warcraft. With Everquest, Ultima Online, and several other games of the genre before it laying out the groundwork to what became the most successful MMORPG ever.
This concept transcends throughout all of World of Warcraft’s expansions. They add new features and make venturing through Azeroth a slightly more streamlined adventure each time. The latest expansion, World of Warcraft: Legion, is no exception to the rule. The first several hours of the expansion offer interesting new twists on gameplay, but nothing to warp the way fans look at Warcraft.
Blizzard drops players in a new world conflict in Azeroth with the latest invasion of the demon army known as the Burning Legion. At this point in the lore, the story is convoluted and somewhat difficult to follow. However, the main plot points remain poignant. Without going into spoiler territory, there are several twists and interesting character moments presented in the early moments of the game.
The story brings players’ level 100 character to the Broken Isles, the base of the Burning Legion’s invasion. The new zones aesthetically resemble what players experienced years ago with The Burning Crusade, and a few spots that draw inspiration from Wrath of the Lich King. Looming towers embedded with neon green fel energy and hulking demons occupy the new land. The area Stormheim involves scaling a large mountain and infiltrating the barracks at the bottom of them. The varied world gives an ominous feeling throughout with an enormous sense of scale.
Questing is more flexible and open-ended this time around. Instead of a linear progression from one area to another the five new locations, players may complete them in any order. Enemies scale to player level so progressing feels natural. This scaling prevents any sort of difficulty spike throughout the journey. However, I completed far too many quests with ease. While I’m still in the early levels of Legion, the combat consists of mostly brainless button mashing. Defeating the creatures standing in my way is rarely a problem, especially while leveling in a tank specialization which decreases damage taken and increases area of effect damage done.
In fact, returning to World of Warcraft since the previous expansion showed how dated hotkey based combat feels. It is less about adapting strategies for each situation and more of hitting cooldowns as they become available. The most rewarding part of questing is less of the combat and more of the exploration and story bits that are discovered along the way.
The tedium of combat breaks up with the introduction of class halls. Players receive these fortresses are given to players as the latest iteration of Warlords of Draenor’s garrison feature. Here players gather resources, recruit new soldiers, and send allies on quests for experience, loot, and new abilities. The class halls require far less attention than the garrisons before them. Players focus on commanding a small handful of allies as opposed to over a dozen of them. It’s a rewarding new system that takes the great parts of garrisons and condenses it.
Class halls introduce players to their legendary weapon which is unlocked after a few short quest lines. These weapons typically bear some sort of importance in the Warcraft lore and offer customizable stats. Leveling up weapons through quests and dungeons allows the player to add new stats to the weapon. It's similar to the talent system that Blizzard dropped years ago. The idea is to give players more choice in order to the tedium of optimizing stats, so there are multiple ways to customize a class. The choices feel important early on in the leveling experience, but only time will tell if it manages to break the chains of min-maxing.
While my adventure through the Broken Isles proves to be interesting, it is still early in the journey. There are still uncharted zones to explore, dungeons to conquer, a new demon hunter class to try, and more. As a long time on and off World of Warcraft player I feel at home with Blizzards latest expansion Legion. However, the tedium of combat may diminish my desire to continue playing.
How has your journey into World of Warcraft: Legion been? What’s your favorite new feature? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to check out our full review in the near future.