I still remember when gamers were first invited to explore the wider world of Azeroth back in 2004. Back in the day when the MMORPG market was still growing and didn’t have anywhere near as many major titles as today, World of Warcraft reigned supreme… and in many ways rightfully so. Although it was a much smaller and different world than it is today, the game combined strong action-adventure RPG mechanics with a great class/race system, offered good options for both PvP and PvE, and delivered high-quality lore which drew at least myself to the Warcraft video games years earlier.
More than a decade has passed since World of Warcraft launched on the PC, and to date still serves as the main Warcraft video game for Blizzard, even if some may want another real-time strategy title similar to major hits Warcraft III: Region of Chaos and Warcraft III: Frozen Throne. The universe has been expanded by six expansion packs since launch – each of which have offered a new assortment of dungeons, character races/classes, quests, lore and completely new gameplay features. These expansions have, in general, been released every two years since launch – complemented by a range of regular content updates. The latest of these expansions is World of Warcraft: Legion, released at the end of August 2016.
Whether it is through quests or stories weaved throughout dungeons, World of Warcraft itself offers a lot of plot across its two main groups – the Alliance and Horde – different races, and various expansion packs. But with more than a decade behind it, I am left wondering just how approachable the story would be to a new player given just how much of it there is. Adding even more to the wider World of Warcraft chronicle, Legion offers a storyline which feels more like a sequel to the first expansion (Burning Crusade) than the others. Explored through a number of quest chains and new game areas, the expansion’s plot involves the Tomb of Sargeras (Which was featured in earlier Warcraft titles) being opened, resulting in the demons of the Burning Legion causing even more chaos to Azeroth.
While not the first time they have offered such a thing, World of Warcraft: Legion comes with a “Character Boost” – which raises the level of one character to 100. This technically means that a new player can start their first character, and then from day one dive into the content offered by the expansion pack. I am torn by this. On one hand it allows lower level players to dive immediately into the content they have paid for, but on the other hand it may see players miss out on a lot of the experience you gain by progressing through the first 100 levels. Ultimately its value will differ person-to-person and I personally recommend newcomers do work their way through the levels with their first character, but this is nevertheless a nice bonus to have in any circumstance.
World of Warcraft: Legion features a whole new area to explore, known as the Broken Isle. This area is accessible once you reach level 98, and is broken down into smaller zones. What’s unique about the Broken Isle is that, with the exception of one zone, you can tackle them in any order of your choosing. This is because the zones are scaled to each players level, meaning that it is much harder to take a wrong turn and end up being pummelled by mobs ten levels above you. Not only that, when you reach the maximum level cap of 110, the entirety of the Broken Isle raises to the level cap. It means that you won’t find patches of the world which are either too weak or overpowered for your character. It is a great feature which provides a lot more freedom than previously existing content.
When Blizzard released World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King back in 2008, they introduced their first “hero class” known as Death Knights. Characters with this class were different from the standard classes, in that they started at a higher level, had unlock requirements, and were a little bit different from other choices. Up until now, Death Knights have been the only playable “hero class”. Many years later, Legion has introduced a second hero class known as “Demon Hunters”, which are currently available to Night Elf and Blood Elf characters. Available to those who have at least one Level 70 character on a realm, this class is focused on dealing melee-damage and tanking. While I personally prefer magic-oriented classes such as the Mage and Warlock, this proved to be a really solid melee class from my perspective, especially with core abilities like “Double Jump” and “Glide” which provided additional mobility when compared against similar classes. Even if you are not interested in this class, I recommend creating one just to experience its starting quest – which provides a lot of setting up for the expansion.
Another new addition to World of Warcraft: Legion is its Class Hall system, where each character class receives its own zone exclusive to members of each class. These are distinctly themed areas accessible through dedicated portals, where members of a specific class can come together to complete special missions, mingle and take advantage of amenities. Having viewed most of these halls, each are very different from one another, and serve as great hub areas outside of major cities.
Class Halls are also areas where players can work to improve their artifact, powerful weapons attainable in Legion through a questline. These weapons increase in strength as you progress through the expansion, with their own experience bar and talents to unlock. Although you won’t be dealing with weapon drops so much since the artifact will be your companion through the Broken Isle, you are still provided with an incentive to tackle challenges. This is because dungeons offer rare relics which can be used to further enhance your weapon, possibly tailoring it more to your liking. As these are only unlockable at level 98, you will still need to deal with regular weapon drops until then. This system provides a lot more customisability than regular weapon drops, and means you might not need to fork out a tonne of gold or grind for weeks or months to receive a drop which best suits your character.
Although this is an online game for a reason, I personally enjoy solo PvE play. In terms of my personal play style, I did genuinely enjoy my time trekking through the new content of World of Warcraft: Legion, and thought it provided a good number of new opportunities and a satisfying level of difficulty. That being said, there are several occasions where you are more or less required to party up. On the opposite side of the spectrum, those looking for dungeon crawls and raid opportunities shouldn’t be disappointed from my perspective – especially as more opportunities become available in the coming months.
With more than a decade until its belt, World of Warcraft is a title which has been overshadowed by a number of more recent titles when it comes to graphical quality. But excluding the one minor exception, this long-running MMORPG continues to satisfy by offering a tonne of enticing story/lore, a rich gameplay experience which offers hundreds if not thousands of hours worth of game time, and a solid community which provides opportunities for any desired play style. Legion continues to make World of Warcraft an rewarding choice, and I look forward to seeing how they take the foundations of this expansion pack and use it over the coming months and years.