In Praise Of World Of Warcraft: Legion

legion

I often feel sorry for the World of Warcraft team. You’re never far off a million complaints about everything from balance to nostalgic musings about how much better things used to be to the lingering “Wait, how is that clunky old thing still getting so much attention?” whenever anyone says anything nice about it. Today though, I want to put my positive hat on and rave about the Legion expansion. Minor quibbles aside, it’s the best work they’ve ever done – an epic story, the sense of a whole world coming together to fight something bigger than any individual faction, and above all, constant mechanical exploration and new ideas as far as you can Blink a mage at.

One minute you’re fighting demons, the next, saving a magician’s rabbits inside a pocket dimension of their hat. We’ve gone from fighting elementals on home territory to launching a space invasion of a new planet, which now hangs bright in Azeroth’s sky as a perpetual reminder and trophy of the ultimate battle being fought, and soon to be won. Whether it’s saving adorable dragon Chromie from imminent deaths – plural intentional – or simply grappling around Stormheim, Legion completely restored my faith that WoW has many good years left in it. And years I can’t wait to keep dipping in and playing, if only to see Blizzard keep schooling the rest of the genre.

RPS is out of office today. We asked our friends to write short posts like the one above on subjects of their choosing. Read them all here.

44 Comments

  1. Eraysor says:

    By far the best expansion since Wrath of the Lich King.

    My guild of relatively few people (about 15) have stayed together since the expansion launched and are still thoroughly enjoying it.

    • Bull0 says:

      That’s awesome. I managed to attract a couple of my friends back for Legion and we had a great time for about a month, then we all dropped off again, but really I’m fine with that. Agree with all of Mr. Cobbett’s points, it really is full of neat mechanical ideas and the overarching theme/plot is the best for a long time if not the best ever (They’ll never beat Wrath of the Lich King imo)

  2. Bluestormzion says:

    I ducked out of WoW during Warlords of Draenor, just because it kept feeling like a game. Like, what drew me into WoW in the first place was how remarkably unpolished it was. There were areas that were nearly empty, and devoid of anything to do, and just a short trip away were other areas jam packed with content, kind of like how New Jersey is so close to Manhattan. Quest lines sometimes ended with the vague promise that something might happen later, but maybe not (some of those took literally three expansions to ever pan out!) There was REAL exploration, where you’d read a quest description and have to actually FIND the thing you needed to find, not just go to the Blue Blob on your map and kill the guys whose names are conveniently highlighted. Some times you’d wander some strange way and find a thing that was never intended to be seen in the game. Now everything’s gotta be perfect and polished and evenly spread around the area with a convenient chain of quests to let you have a guided tour…

    And know what the real problem is? All that handholding ensures that even when you’re in a raid, there are people who are somehow level 150 or whatever the new cap is and STILL have never bothered to learn how to play their class.

    Has it gotten any better? Like, ACTUALLY better, not just more catered to what people think they want? Is there more Adventure in the game, or just more Adventures(TM)?

    • Dewal says:

      I felt wonder when exploring WoW for the first time, but I can’t say if it’s due to the fact that it was my first MMO or my age at launch (12). But I don’t think it’s due to “unpolishness”.
      I’d be interested to be contradicted by a person who was 20 or 30 at the time, and who would have played to DAoC and Anarchy Online before, if he/she felt the same wonder when first playing to WoW.

      Because I tried a lot of MMO since (and private vanilla WOW servers), and it never felt the same.

      But mostly I just wanted to write that people were bad at their classes since Vanilla. I don’t know what tinted glass you wear, but they must be quite opaque for you to have forgotten that.

      I think the only point where I (maybe) could agree with you would be to deactivate the quest marker. I loved the fact that each quest was almost like a treasure hunt but also hated all the time lost (sometime dozens of minutes) and I’m not sure I’d have the patience to do that again.

      • Thankmar says:

        Point is, in the Quest texts are no more directions to speak of. I remember distinctly when Burning Crusade came out how my go-to games magazine praised the updated quest texts, which now included better directions and, very important (its so ridiculous today), to who(m?) and where to return to when you were done. After the introduction of the markers, the texts contained less and less directions. Compare an Outland quest text with something from Legion, its very different.
        And I do miss old Azshara.

      • BeardyHat says:

        WoW came out when I was 20 and yes, I had that feeling. I’d played Everquest as my first MMO and it definitely had that sense of exploration, but WoW didn’t dull that at all. I believe the lack of handholding is what really made the game interesting to me; the fact that I had to figure out where things were or ask around the zone and see what people knew, was fabulous. It helped create a community around a server.

        All that’s gone now. Someday, it might happen again, but who knows if I’ll have the time for such things (I don’t right now).

      • Cederic says:

        I played EQ and AO, and I’ve played over a dozen MMOs since.

        WoW on release was just awesome to explore. Less punitive than EQ but still risky going through higher level areas, seeing the sights, jumping off waterfalls.

        The Barrens was still too damn empty though. So many quests, so much running around, killed the joy of discovery because you were just traversing the same territory for the eighteenth time.

      • FriendlyFire says:

        I played GW1 in my teens and GW2 in my early twenties and had that feeling each time. I got it from Witcher 3 as well.

        Any game world that’s this meticulously crafted and well paced is going to elicit these things. There’s just not that many of those around.

    • ColonelFlanders says:

      How do map markers have any bearing on how a character performs in a raid? The rules are different in high level PvE; what we need is people who are willing to do the job together and help each other out, not a bunch of salty, elitist nerds who act like they’ve never been new to the experience.

      • Thankmar says:

        Well, there *are* people who do not care about high-level PvE or “performance” and and enjoy WoW for different reasons.

      • Asurmen says:

        Because when everything is made too easy and straight, there’s never a requirement to learn or get better.

  3. Ghostwise says:

    The notion of paying $15 a month for this creaky old thing is a particularly odd one.

    That amount of money spent during sales will get you lots and lots of games these days. Which you can play at your leisure without a subscription ticking.

    • Dewal says:

      Yeah but then, if you have a good time playing it every day and don’t need other games, then 15 a month isn’t a lot to spend on video games.

      Plus, it is possible to pay a month token with in-game currency and it’s not that hard to achieve the required amount.

    • SaintAn says:

      I’m sorry you don’t understand how money works and how money funds content to keep a game expanding. Maybe look into the whole subject before complaining about it?

      • Stijn says:

        Well, I very much doubt 100% of the money Blizzard makes through WoW subscriptions feeds into the game’s on-going maintenance. It’s also just good business that makes the Activision/Blizzard shareholders happy.

        Your post is also quite mean, I don’t think your passive-aggressiveness was warranted.

      • FriendlyFire says:

        Considering there are other MMOs with just as much content and depth as WoW (relative to their age, of course) which do not have a monthly sub, I think that’s a completely unfounded rationalization, actually.

        Then, of course, WoW also charges you for buying the actual expansion on top of the $15/mo. There’s your funding, WoW is just double dipping.

        • Flopper says:

          Double dip is the understatement of the year.

          Most retail games cost $60. They take about 2 years to make a non MMO. 4-5 years for an MMO.

          $60 for 2 years of work. So maybe you could argue an MMO should cost $120 since it’s about double the time invested to make the game.

          But after launch you get updates about every quarter that are minuscule in comparison to the content included with the vanilla game.

          So paying $180 a year for a World of Warcraft subsciption should be about 1.5x the content included in vanilla added every year right? Wrong. You usually just get 1 new small questing zone and some new gear treadmill to run on.

          Nothing has been added for PVP since Mists of Panderia. So people who only play for PVP have been paying out the ass for nothing since 2012.

          But people work for their money and they can spend it how they please. So really… Do what makes you happy. Even if it includes throwing money at Blizzard for nothing.

          In reality if everyone just stopped subbing to WoW Blizzard would just make it F2P. The servers wouldn’t shut down. The only reason it’s not F2P is some people choose to surrender their money for nothing.

          • badpathing says:

            Do you actually play the game? I feel like you don’t based on your wildly inaccurate response.

            PvP has added the prestige system, PvP talent trees, PvP stat-templating, new Arenas and PvP brawls.

            As for ‘modest patches’, you should probably look again. The patches have been coming in frequent releases full of content.

            Honestly, I am puzzled over what exactly you DO expect for your precious $15/month (which, btw, it’s not that expensive if you pay in bulk).

  4. Podarkes says:

    Every. Damn. Fall.

  5. Bombuzal says:

    Loved the original WoW and played it to death. Molten Core raids were such fun. But since Legion, it just isn’t the same game anymore at all. You join the queue for a dungeon and rather than exploring and conquering that dungeon as a group, it’s just a huge rush-fest and suddenly you’re hit with a load of XP and what-have-you and the dungeon is complete. The game just feels too fast to enjoy now.

    There is no “hang on while priest applies fortitude buffs” and “wait while rogue applies poisons to daggers” or “wait for warlock to heal up”. There’s just no tension build-up and no tactics anymore.

    Pfftt. Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be. I do miss that sense of awe though on stumbling into a new environment though. Nothing has matched that feeling since the original WoW for me.

    • Nevard says:

      Since… Legion?
      Dungeons have been something you rush through since Wrath of the Lich King.

    • Bull0 says:

      There are multiple difficulty tiers for the dungeons specifically to cater to this, and you can take the pace slower if you are in a guild group etc. In the random dungeon finder groups you’ll get people moaning (or being rude) if the tank doesn’t pull fast enough, true.

      • ludde says:

        Difficulty sliders sort of underline the issue for me. Talk about making it feel gamey.

    • Flopper says:

      Wow died for me when every class became homogenized. Rogues and warriors have heals now.

      Healing is completely ridiculous on it’s own from actual healing classes that DPS being able to use smaller heals on themselves is a joke.

      I miss the days when you had a role and you filled it. You don’t have a healer? You die. Better learn how to make friends in a social game nerd.

      • Bull0 says:

        Quite misleading. You definitely, definitely still need a healer in your group. The changes only make solo questing less pain in the arsey for DPS classes and a bit more viable in PVP. You don’t have enough self-healing as a tank class to be able to do a dungeon without a healer unless you’re overlevelled and not really taking any damage anyway

  6. Premium User Badge

    Benratha says:

    Thank you Mr Cobbett!
    If you’re not too busy, please write more ‘stuff’ (for RPS).

    • SaintAn says:

      Please don’t, I hope you mean.

      • Nevard says:

        No I don’t think they did, that wouldn’t have made much sense given the context of the rest of their (fairly short) comment.

  7. Thankmar says:

    Its certainly the best expansion since Wrath, and I still play much, much less than Pandaria. Profession progression that requires dungeoning is such a turnoff.
    I’m gonna bring this up every time RPS mentions WoW until Blizzard patches it out, I swear. Do something.

    • SaintAn says:

      No. Completely wrong. Pandaria was the best xpac. Legion is the worst. I get you’re not a fan, but there’s no need to bring up your ignorance every time WoW is mentioned.

      • Nevard says:

        I thought Pandaria was the best expansion until this one came out. It’s an astronomical improvement over Warlords, my only real annoyance being the Legendary system and the fact that the zones need a bit more open space in them.

  8. SaintAn says:

    Yeah, no. You don’t know what you’re talking about and I suggest you don’t spread ignorance just because you don’t have anything to post about today.

    Legion is easily the worst xpac they’ve ever made and it’s a massive pile of shit. That’s why the subscriber numbers have dropped a ton. This xpac ruined the game lore by using those horrible Chronicles lore books that are so so stupid and poorly thought out and written.

    They removed the massively out of MMO so the game is literally just a multiplayer online game now and not a massively multiplayer online game. It’s because of sharding, which is like a sub server you can’t control.

    They killed RP with that sharding system just like they killed WPVP in Cata. Though they’ve stupidly been making everyone’s character the chosen one, so they’ve been running RP into the ground for a while so it was inevitable.

    The content is horrendous. It’s mostly grinds and not much actual content. Like to stop a Legion assault you have to go do 4 public quests about killing 50 things, or doing something lame, then you go grind legion at their base for 3 phases, then do a scenario with people that never speak and leave you behind. There’s a ton of rep grinds. You have to grind out the Artifact weapons. You have to grind so much and even though the story is horrible there’s still hardly any story, and it’s all a disjointed mess not making sense. Illidan is at the island near the ToS giving you quests and he’s supposed to be dead.

    Artifact weapons are going to be removed from the game once Legion ends so a huge amount of content and good skins that people paid for will not be obtainable after a Legion. That means you are being timed in everything you do, so you need to level up every class, every alt character you ever plan on making in the future, you have to rush them all to max level, THEN you need to do the grinding to unlock the Artifact appearances which take a long time, plus you have to master each classes playstyle over multiple specs because of the trial fight skins, you have to master PVP for the PVP skins, and you need to master raiding for the raiding skins.

    One person said it’s like grabbing as much as you can save out of your house during a fire.

    The leveling system in Legion is garbage too. It’s mostly just a return to the mindless low effort grinding of numbers like in Vanilla. They improved the questing a lot in Cata, but the questing in Legion just feels empty and mindless. It’s so bad.

    Blizzard just ignores fan feedback, questions, and criticisms. Which has the few fans left on the brink of a riot on the forums.

    The economy is a mess because they added P2W elements where you can buy gold with real money.

    There’s a ton of microtransactions.

    They rarely update the holiday content.

    I can keep going, there’s a ton of problems and the game isn’t getting better now that the lore is ruined. Hell, with the lore ruined even the old games are bad now, and a private servers too. They need to retcon that whole mess of Chronicles books and buy every copy they sold back then burn them all.

    This xpac was a massive failure for both Blizzard and the players. Sub numbers are the lowest they’ve ever been. The game feels empty most of the time on my server that used to be so full there was a slight queue even at night.

    So maybe don’t let your friends write articles and bring down the quality of RPS with their lack of gaming knowledge.

    • lasikbear says:

      lol this is really long

    • Nevard says:

      This post isn’t very good. It even seems very misinformed in places. Do you actually play the game or just read message boards?

      All artifact skins except the mage tower ones will still be obtainable after Legion, and all content pertaining to them will still be around. You will still use them between levels 100-110.
      Questing still uses pretty much the same system it was in Cataclysm, there’s not really been any change in quest philosophy at all since then.
      They’re adding as much new holiday content in this expansion as they have in any of the recent ones (more in some cases) as well as adding a large number of new holidays.

      I also just… don’t think you know much about the story. You think Illidan is supposed to be dead? You’ve clearly just not been paying very much attention.

      • malkav11 says:

        Even if they were removing them (and they’ve certainly removed cosmetics for no apparent reason in the past), the idea that you are somehow forced to grind for completely optional cosmetic content is ludicrous. That’s on you, dude.

    • hostilecrab says:

      This very long, very angry post is both aggressively wrong and actively disgusting. Not only have you decided that your opinion is irrefutable fact, which it isn’t – spoilers, you are not the centre of the universe – you’ve also decided that it’s appropriate to personally attack people for daring to disagree with you. I’m not even going to go into all the ways you are actually just factually wrong.

      You are not talking to faceless Internet drones. You are talking to real people with real emotions and experiences. A five year old knows how to show people basic human respect, it’s literally the least you could do.

      • Asurmen says:

        That’s because SaintAn is an ass in nearly all of their posts.

        • Premium User Badge

          teije says:

          Yes, this is a pretty typical post for them. Full of scorn and spite.

  9. Amake says:

    I remember when the world came together to meet something bigger than any individual faction. That was in 2004? And it was the Burning Legion that time too?

    Yeah, the artificial factionalism of WoW always bothered me. Especially as the Legion was ALWAYS there and spreading corruption in several zones, as a clear indication the bigger threat is still threatening the world bigly. How did Artorias become the Lich King again?

    So after thirteen years it’s finally time to deal with that? I get a strong feeling Blizz is wrapping up the game. If any of the plot resolving content was accessible without having to deal with other players I’d almost be tempted to see it through.

    • Nevard says:

      Barring a huge surprise at Blizzcon it’s not being dealt with on any real permanent basis. It’s the same as every other expansion where we hold hands to beat a big bad guy and then go back to each other’s throats again.

      I really wish they had dropped the faction thing ages ago, it forces the story into a pretty ridiculous status quo which in a game that didn’t have to have two factions of players, would definitely have changed or fallen apart in some way.
      You keep seeing places where you’re sure that alliances should change or loyalties shift, but then they snap magically back into place because the story can’t actually go in that direction for gameplay reasons.

      • satan says:

        I couldn’t stand the way the story kept going back to bigger threats, all I ever wanted to do as a horde player was push the alliance out of all horde territories, but lorewise I kept getting forced to work with them… by Legion with all the cross-faction stuff being so baked into the lore, I didn’t even bother trying the pvp in my brief time with it.

        • Premium User Badge

          Nauallis says:

          Right? I mean, if I wanted to side with those pansies I would’ve created a toon on the international wussie alliance. Can’t realistically expect great outcomes from a faction whose battlecry is “NOT IN THE FACE!!”

      • malkav11 says:

        Exactly. The factional conflict has been increasingly absurd with every expansion, to the point where they made the Warboss of the Horde the final raid boss in Pandaria. Give it a rest!

        I’m not saying there shouldn’t be lingering resentments, maybe the occasional minor flareup, but there’s no sensible reason for all out war anymore, and there hasn’t been for most of a decade.

  10. Pinga says:

    Great lore. Nice class halls. Epic artifact weapons. And playing Demon Hunters is one of the most fun things you can do with your clothes on.

    Yet, pretty much everyone I know, myself included, have quit. Top world guilds have quit. There’s just way too much grind to do in order to be competitive. Just google “legion grind”, you will find two billion topics about it.

    There are two kinds of moments in WoW history: you either have absolutely nothing to do (Cataclysm, Warlords of Draenor) or you have to play every day (Pandaria, Legion). And those moments take turns, because the selling points of the next expansion are the flaws of the current one.

    That “million complaints” you talk about? That’s feedback. Blizzard absolutely knows what’s wrong with WoW. They just won’t fix until the next expansion, when they will do a big announcement “We know we screwed up, but we totally are making a good expansion this time, trust us!”.