World of Warcraft: Legion is the sixth expansion for Blizzard Entertainment’s behemoth of an MMORPG World of Warcraft, and it is an expansion that I have been waiting for a very long time to experience. It’s almost as if Blizzard Entertainment made a checklist of long standing issues with the game and made sure to fix nearly everything on it. This includes Garrisons, the end-game, professions, quests, spells, PVP, and pretty much anything else you can think of.
Legion begins as the combined forces of the Alliance and the Horde prepare to assault the Broken Shore, the initial invasion point for the Broken Isles and where the expansion takes place. The player is quickly shown that this expansion is different and yet very similar while playing through the Broken Shore scenario. Nearly everything is voice acted, there are high-quality cutscenes, and the player is as involved in the events as players could ever be. This is brought to the forefront by the end of the battle, where players actually lose and are forced to retreat... all while losing a couple of prominent figures in Warcraft’s lore.
It’s too bad that the intensity of the Broken Shore is not seen throughout the rest of the questing experience, but what’s there is excellent. While you are still killing metaphorical boars and retrieving bear skins at the core of it all, Blizzard has made intertwined these actions with the storyline, something that has been seen and tantalizingly hinted at in Mists of Pandaria and Warlords of Draenor, but finally brought to the forefront here. Legion’s questing experience is tight and polished to a nearly blinding sheen, which has provoked no complaints from this reviewer save one. Namely, an annoying reoccurring bug that has voice-acted characters occasionally speaking over each other like overeager amateur stage performers.
When entering the Broken Isles, players are given an Artifact, a weapon of power that players will level up and use throughout the entire expansion. While this initially may look like Blizzard is just taking away the chance of getting cool weapons from players (which they are) I like what they have done here. Leveling the weapon gives players something to strive for through the initial leveling experience and after the player reaches the leveling gap, which is great.
It took me around twenty hours to reach the leveling cap of 110 from level 100, but I have no way of knowing for sure the exact amount of time. One of the greatest things about Legion is that there is just so much you can do, but that it also doesn't feel overwhelming. The world finally feels alive, to the extent that wherever I explored I would find or receive something for my efforts, whether it be a mini-boss, loot, or a funny/cool little exchange between some characters.
The gameplay is what one would expect from the sixth expansion of World of Warcraft. Players control a single player in the famous MMORPG setting, leveling up their characters all the way up a new cap of 110, with Legion adding a further ten levels and five new zones for players to conquer. One of the most prominent changes to this expansion was that the frankly nearly overwhelming list of spells was finally whittled down, with the classes and specs going through a much-needed redesign to get the classes and specs back to their 'core fantasy'.
Did this move work? Mostly. Although Blizzard did remove a bunch of spells that I barely ever used, there are still a couple that I liked that are now gone. Also, Blizzard has cut down the amount of spells and the overall amount of amounts to a dangerous level. Your mileage may vary on this of course, but for me, the Protection Paladin was my favorite class to play, but now it feels boring and too similar to Diablo 3's Crusader class. Visually, it looks more like a Protection Paladin, but mechanically it just feels bland, like Blizzard tried to evenly split up it's 'holy' repertoire amongst all the Light-wielding classes. It isn't terrible, but I ended up switching to Legion's new Demon Hunter class for my tanking needs and switching my Protection Paladin to a Retribution Paladin.
Speaking of Demon Hunters, the introductory questline and the class itself are a lot of fun. Demon Hunters are by far the most mobile classes, and flying and leaping about everywhere while dealing a hefty dosage of pain to your enemies is addicting. This new class is brought about by the revival of Illidan Stormrage, who was last seen in The Burning Crusade getting killed off. Evidently, killing Illidan Stormrage was a move that Blizzard later regretted, as the retconning involved to bring him back is fairly obvious but also somewhat ingenious. Without going into spoilers, the Illidari, Illidan's private army, go to some intriguing and unexpected places in the name of hunting down the Burning Legion. Overall, the Demon Hunters are a perfect fit for this expansion, just as the Death Knights were for Wrath of the Lich King.
Questing is what you would expect in World of Warcraft's sixth expansion - as previously stated it's still the same 'kill 10 boars/find my pocket watch' type of quests, but now they are fully embedded into the linear storyline, something that may prove divisive for the more open-world inclined players. Everything that you do as a player accomplishes something, which is compounded further by frequent voice acting that's decent enough to draw you in further into the expansion's world. Each zone you go into has a main quest, which can be completed quickly and ultimately finishes in a dungeon.
Like Warlords of Draenor, there are a myriad of side-quests which serve to further give depth to the zones and answer some questions that you may have had going into this expansion. For example, in Azsuna I found the last remnants of the Blue Dragonflight, which were decimated in the War of the Ancients and all but destroyed in Wrath of the Lich King. Now weakened further like the rest of the Dragonflights by the events of Cataclysm, it is discovered that the ancient Blue Dragonflight can no longer lay eggs, adding another nail to the Blues' coffin. During the course of this questline, the player saves the Blue Dragons from total destruction and eventually adds them as 'loyal allies' to their cause.
Now, was this questline needed to the game? No, and even as recently as the last expansion, I would hesitate to say that the questline was needed. However, it is there, and the fact that it is there is great, as it serves to adds much more depth to Legion by just being there.
While Legion was improved in many ways, the music of WoW needs no polishing. Blizzard Entertainment’s skill at creating a compelling soundscape is nearly unparalleled in any entertainment industry, to the extent that I have had the Legion soundtrack playing as I write this review. Each zone has its own distinct sound, to the point where you can easily close your eyes and pick out each distinct soundtrack as you play, from the restless ethereal tranquility of Val’Sharah to the relentless Norse beats of Stormheim. Make sure your in-game music is enabled and playing as you quest through the Broken Isles, you will not regret it.
The graphics are beautiful in Legion, something I noted as I stopped and stared at the horizons like an oblivious tourist for a few moments. No longer being propped by its immortal art style, Legion actually looks like a game that was released in 2016 and is easily one of the best looking games to be released on the PC platform if you have the rig to push the game to its limits.
It has taken close to 12 years, but World of Warcraft: Legion finally taps into the potential that we all first saw when World of Warcraft first launched. Overall, Legion is easily the best product Blizzard Entertainment has released since the initial launch of World of Warcraft and is an absolutely stunning rebound that every World of Warcraft player should at least try.
World of Warcraft: Legion was purchased by the reviewer and reviewed on PC via Battle.net.
World of Warcraft: Legion is easily the best product Blizzard Entertainment has released since the initial launch of World of Warcraft, and is an excellent expansion that every World of Warcraft player should at least try.(Review Policy)
- Cohesive Storyline
- Beautiful Visuals
- Streamlined Gameplay
- Minor Bugs