World of Warcraft: Legion Review - dfo4gold.com

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We Are Legion. Again.

For years it's been safe to take digs at World of Warcraft's shortcomings relative to more modern games while still acknowledging its enduring greatness. “Sure,” you could say, “Blizzard does dungeons well and there's a nice mix of in-game activities, but too bad it's not as social as it used to be.”

Legion makes me unwilling to say such things anymore. It's been little more than a week since launch and I've been making new friends in the open world in a way I haven't since 2004. For the past few days I've been running with a small group of players from other servers I met through the custom Group Finder, galloping between the new world quests through sprawling, attractive zones. We originally grouped up for a boss none of us could tackle alone but we found we liked our synergy, and together we finished the zone’s four other world quests even though we could have done those on our own. It's always been possible to find such groups through staid guild applications or groups of pre-existing real-life friends, but this tendency to make new friends just by playing has long been one of the things I've missed about early WoW.

The timing couldn't be better. Despite a promising launch, Warlords of Draenor, the previous expansion, quickly devolved into one of Blizzard's biggest failures, with patches giving us whack-a-mole orc-slaying lore at best and a full year without content patches at worst. Subscriptions dipped so low that Blizzard stopped reporting them, and many players found they could get many of WoW’s usual rewards without ever having to leave their new garrisons, leading to antisocial playstyles.

World of Warcraft: Legion Cinematic Trailer
04:05
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And now we have Legion, which finds World of Warcraft brimming with life again. It's surely (partly) accidental, but Legion gives us a tale that that mirrors some of WoW's own troubles and its seeming recovery. With the return of the threat of the Burning Legion, the central antagonist of the Warcraft universe, annihilation has never seemed so inevitable. Demons pour into the world through portals and some of the greatest heroes die in fantastic cutscenes. Relations between the Alliance and the Horde deteriorate after a botched joint initiative, which admittedly has the happy effect of restoring the inter-faction tension that's always instilled such devotion for players on either side. For the most part, though, everyone comes together to save the world when its needs it most.

Blizzard gives us plenty of reasons that remind us this is a world with saving.

A lot of that it's because Blizzard gives us plenty of reasons that remind us this is a world with saving. Almost every class has been overhauled with updated playstyles and (occasionally) combat animations, resulting in some novel choices like melee Hunters or pirate-themed Rogues. Most of the changes are fantastic, especially with new Artifact skills from Legion worked in. Some, though, are questionable. All mage specializations save fire feel like they lack at the energy and burst they had in the past, but hopefully that'll change once the first raids open in a couple of weeks.

But regardless of class, never has the sense of belonging to the lore been quite so strong and meaningful. Previous expansions treated you pretty much the same regardless of whether you wielded a magic staff or a poison-tipped dagger, but Legion does much to give each class its own sense of identity. It does this best through the Order Halls for each class that superficially resemble garrisons but scrap the single-player focus in favor of a design where you hobnob with members of your class. Each is memorable and sometimes magnificent. My fellow Monks and I get the entire Wandering Isle that serves as the pandaren starting zone, Warriors get a gold-hued take on Valhalla where Vrykul chug mead at long tables, and Rogues get a seedy den of sin ensconced in the Dalaran sewers. Associated class quests enrich this sense of identity further, occasionally taking you out of the new zones of the Broken Isles to inject new life into older zones, such as when my Monk had to fight off invading demons in Mists of Pandaria's Jade Forest.

World of Warcraft: Legion - 100 or Bust Trailer
02:25
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Surprisingly, this welcome sense of identity carries over to crafting professions. Consider skinning: for years it entailed little more than stripping hides from dead animals and paying to train upgrades every expansion, but Legion sends you off to learn new techniques from mountain tauren and legendary hunter Hemet Nesingwary. There's work involved, and travel. You get out what you put into it, resulting in a nice change of affairs in which every endgame Leatherworker isn't running around with the exact same skills. Some of the associated quests even send professions like Leatherworkers back to the tanning racks and workbenches to unlock some stuff, injecting a dose of roleplay that's been lost in recent years.

Each Artifact weapon comes with a devastating ability.

I'm more conflicted about the new Artifact weapons that characters of every combat class spec get within an hour of booting up the expansion and which they'll keep for the whole of Legion. The idea is appealing enough, as most of them feature such iconic weapons from Warcraft lore as the famed Ashbringer sword for Retribution Paladins or Thrall's (former) Doomhammer for Enhancement Shamans. Each comes with a devastating ability – my Monk often one-shots groups of enemies with a single punch – and you level each weapon with drops from treasure chests and rare enemies and fill in powerful passive through a talent tree of sorts.

In practice, this means everyone of your spec is running around with the same weapon. You can easily change their appearance with WoW's transmog ability if you wish, but in the case of the fist weapon Artifact for my Windwalker Monk (my main) that means I can only change it into other first weapons. You can unlock additional appearances, but by and large the excitement of getting a new weapon is a thing of the past.

World of Warcraft: Legion Official The Demons Arrive: Cinematic Cut
00:45
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After playing for 36 hours at level 110, though, this bothers me less than it used to. Beyond the first few passives, fully maxing out an Artifact weapon will clearly take time. Blizzard keeps the process fun, though, by continually rewarding you with Artifact-leveling items for undertaking a randomized world quest – a model lifted straight from Diablo 3 – which also rewards heavy faction reputation boosts for completing four within a particular zone. Many are soloable, but there's a lot of variety. Some you'll need to bring some friends for, some you'll need to venture into dungeons for, and some you can finish with your crafting specialization.

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