WoW Factor: Analyzing Legion with a critical eye

All right, let me just say for the record that when it comes to this expansion, my speculation last week was meant as just that. But it turns out that I was right on the money, that this was all ramping up as a reminder that the Legion exists, and now we’re going to be storming the beaches quite literally with our new Demon Hunter pals to kick some demons up and down the block like an old, familiar can.

Or whatever you kick up and down the block. I don’t know what your deal is. You do your thing, my friends; I do not judge you in the least.

I said last time that I was rather doubtful of what we’d see with this expansion announcement, and now we’ve seen what World of Warcraft has to offer. So now we get to analyze, speculate, and think about what this means for the next several months. Let’s get on that, shall we?

World of Warcraft: Legion, in a vacuum, is a really good announcement. Unfortunately, it wasn’t announced in a vacuum; it was announced in a real environment where Blizzard has a track record that is… let’s be generous and say “not great” at the moment. And it’s here that we run into a problem because no one is going to be asking whether or not it’s good so much as whether or not it’s an improvement.

Don’t get me wrong; Mists of Pandaria was not a bad expansion on the whole. But it was a problematic one in many aspects. There was stuff in there that didn’t exactly help the game in the long run, such as the horrible daily unlock systems, issues with reputations in general, huge content gaps, overemphasis on the top tier of raid difficulties, and so forth. And neither Warlords of Draenor nor Cataclysm needs to take a fresh drubbing for being awful; it’s an established fact, so hopefully we can all move on and so forth.

In other words, this expansion is delivering a lot of things that players have said they want for quite some time, but it’s also doing so at a time when player confidence in the development team is at a pretty low pulse. It reads less like “here’s a set of great ideas for we have for the game” and more like “oh no, come on, we’ve got to fix this mess.”

The announcement had a good launch. But so did most of Warlords of Draenor, and look how that turned out.

I'll say it, the Demon Hunters have the look.

There is a major hope spot here, though, insofar as many of the aspects announced thus far cannot possibly be made worse than they sound. I don’t know whether the developers are actually going to give dungeons more relevance in Legion than they have in recent expansions (although I have a hope, as I will discuss momentarily), but it’s not possible to give them worse service. Whether or not class orders will be massively better than Garrisons or not, they’re not going to be scaled back from an announcement of housing because that’s not what they’re sold as, and we know what their worst possible incarnation could be.

And thank any deity, no orcs. We didn’t even hear the word to my memory. Gul’dan is one, sure, but he’s not exactly taking us on a magical orc tour, and he’ll be dead soon anyhow. I realize that not everyone is on board with the Legion as an enemy, but I like it; much like the Scourge, the Legion has a distinct visual feel on the whole, and I think WoW does its best work when it’s not focusing on individual characters so much on as massive forces that serve as backdrops. Only when we’re mired in NPCs does the storytelling become draining and sub-par.

Yes, I say this even though I do rather like Yrel.

I would be lying if I said I didn’t get a strong feeling of the developers following hard on the heels of Final Fantasy XIV with this expansion, as well. There’s a renewed focus on class identity, the whole idea of artifact weapons, and a revamped PvP system that is almost exactly the one from that game don’t strike me as a coincidence. I see this as a good thing; FFXIV has been a huge success story, and taking ideas from it is something WoW could stand to do more often. I’d roll my eyes if we were trading in Alien Tombstones for gear, but I wouldn’t complain.

And the part of my brain and heart that has so much of my energy devoted to this stuff is very excited. I’ve never been a main fan of Demon Hunters, but the idea of them as a hero class specifically spun off of the Illidari? Yeah, I can get behind that. New sub-races of Tauren? You bet. More Vrykul? I’ll take it. Bringing back the old talent trees, but on weapons? This is a laundry list of cool ideas.

I’m also in the boat that we were never going to get an Emerald Dream expansion anyway. It’s Azeroth but with fewer buildings.

Funny thing is, if you had asked me before the announcement if I felt a need for the class, I would have said no.What’s going to have a big impact is when we stop talking about concepts and start examining the meat. Legion, at this point, is inheriting a mess. Crafting is so far beyond damaged that the expansion would almost benefit from wiping the slate and starting over altogether because Garrisons made things so much worse than they had been before while also being integral to leveling a craft. Endgame for non-raiders is an unpleasant punchline, even more so if you consider LFR as non-raiding (which Blizzard certainly seems to). The main narrative thread has been bashed badly. Players are burned and burned hard.

Many people watching the stream noted that the crowd just didn’t seem particularly hyped up, and to be honest I would agree, because I think everyone was waiting for the other shoe to drop. It was like watching an hour and a half of everyone terrified every single time another feature was brought up. There was a fear there, borne out of people who have watched the game make several missteps over the past several years being told a bunch of things that sound really cool.

What we need now are details. Or, more accurately, what we need in the next few months are details. I fully imagine at this point that beta is planned to start near BlizzCon, as there’s not a lot of “this year” left for wiggle room; while there was a lot of talk that this expansion has been in the works for a while now, I don’t think it’s realistic to expect things to move much faster than that. I think June of next year is already very, very accelerated.

But the details are where this expansion is either going to sink or swim. What the endgame looks like, what players can look forward to for rewards and content, what the game is doing with systems that have really taken a beating like crafting. We’ll find out soon enough, and the more we know, the more we can decide whether this is reversing the trend of the last three expansions or another step down.

Feedback is welcome in the comments below or by mail to eliot@massivelyop.com, as it always has been. Next time around, I want to talk about Demon Hunters some more, speculate wildly, and probably find out I’m totally wrong in a few months.

War never changes, but World of Warcraft does, with a decade of history and a huge footprint in the MMORPG industry. Join Eliot Lefebvre each week for a new installment of WoW Factor as he examines the enormous MMO, how it interacts with the larger world of online gaming, and what’s new in the worlds of Azeroth and Draenor.
SHARE THIS ARTICLE
Code of Conduct | Edit Your Profile | Commenting FAQ | Badge Reclamation | Badge Key

LEAVE A COMMENT

97 Comments on "WoW Factor: Analyzing Legion with a critical eye"

  Subscribe  
newest oldest most liked
Subscribe to:
melbrankin
Guest
melbrankin

Keraph melbrankin Eliot_Lefebvre Yeah  the more info over the last few days is suggesting a major overall to classes so it will be interesting to see if they can undo the  years of merging and produce different yet balanced play styles. 

My main concern is that you are going to see 1 viable option per class for raiding which wipes any choice they were trying to bring. I recall wanting to play a unholy dk and its dps being so far down the scale that I needed to either park him or spec to frost.

It would be really sad if raiders who loved their pets were forced to go spear hunters due to a massive dps imbalance etc

Keraph
Guest
Keraph

melbrankin Eliot_Lefebvre I do think that if they’re really taking a look at some of the class specs and changing their paradigm, like making Survival a melee spec (or taking one of the Rogue specs and making it ranged, which I don’t know why I keep expecting, but there it is), it’s definitely not the same as releasing new classes but it breathes new life into some of the specs, and is in a way very new in its own right.

It’s not the same as having other cool race-specific classes, but I feel like that would become a mess to balance. I’d still kill for a Forsaken/who even knows what Ally-side Dark Ranger class, but I could just as easily see that sort of thing fit into the Ranged Rogue archetype, if it were to happen.

I do agree that otherwise they should open up the existing class/race restrictions. Gnomes churn out guns like crazy, I’m sure a few could pick one up and start shooting people with it. Personally I want to see Draenei Warlock, in the same vein that the Demon Hunters embrace the power of the enemy, certain Draenei who are sick and tired of running from the Legion might finally snap and say “Fine, we’ll fight felfire with felfire!”

Alyndale
Guest
Alyndale

My question would be; Is it time for World of Warcraft 2? Yes, there are those that will say definitely not, but I think there are more and more now that are wagering it is already in the works. The point here is no matter what gimmicks Blizz adds to this “new” expansion it is still basically two roads for progression at “end-game”. These roads have been since “Vanilla” and shall remain pvp battlegrounds/arenas, and dungeon/raids-nothing more, nothing less. Possibly though, if we could dream our dreams here,  a thought that indeed the top guns at Blizz are creating a “different” experience as a successor to the original WoW.

Time will tell, and personally won’t surprise me one bit..
Alyn

Grimmtooth
Guest
Grimmtooth

Let me copy something I put up on Blizz watch on Rossi’s article about Warlord mistakes & how legion should avoid them.
“I would like to come back and play WoW or at least something resembling what I used to play.

One think that is broken that I doubt they will ever fix is the leveling content.
Zones are broken down in 10 level blocks then 5 level blocks of content that are linear for the entire zone. No skipping of quest hubs is possible. 
This problem is only exasperated by the fact that completing a zone gives more XP than is required to reach the next level block. If you decide to do other content (Dungeons, PvP, Gather, Pet Battles) or have Heirlooms you get out of level sync in a big hurry. 
So you have a choice do only the first parts of zones or finish the story for decreased XP/reward & be out of sync for the next zone.
They know how to make a proper level flow for leveling zones. They have done it for every new level cap leveling zones they have made for the game. From what I have read of Warlords of Dreanor the leveling parts are the only thing from this expansion they did that are universally well received. 

They are never going to go back and fix this because it’s easier and more profitable to sell characters that are the previous expansions level cap.

The other problem with leveling content is the power creep issue especially with heirlooms making any leveling content including dungeons trivially easy.
If there is no challenge until level cap it just becomes the 1st thing you have to grind through to get to the content instead of being content compelling itself. Leveling content used to be a good training grounds for learning all the aspects of your class. The different specs, The different talent set ups & all the abilities. Practicing rotations against leveling content that could easily kill you if you weren’t careful instead of being able to walk around and auto-attack until bars are filled while watching TV.”

Fair More
Guest
Fair More

Amazing how the WoW dev team can do so little as talk about features, that currently have as much substance as ideas scribbled on a napkin, and as a result convince almost everyone that they have changed.
Thank you Eliot Lefebvre for proceeding with caution. I can tell you appreciate the existence of other mmos that work hard on patches, updates, and expansions.
All that I saw from this announcement is that regardless of what features are released, the art team is still putting their heart and soul into the maps. Except for whoever made the demon hunters, those look their age.

Aldrnari
Guest
Aldrnari

Don’t forget that this announcement was made off their usual home turf for WoW stuff. Jetlag is a real thing, and California and Germany aren’t very close on the map.

Aldrnari
Guest
Aldrnari

This is where I’m at. Cautiously optimistic. I don’t want to get burned again like in WoD, but the things they are promising don’t seem unreasonable to develop. A real reason to do 5 man content again along with an emphasis on a story that actually moves the dang plot forward is promising. The focus on social interaction and class identity is something that so many people have asked for since they did away with class quests. The alternate advancement systems are more about getting the design and balance right (and keeping the fun factor up) as opposed to some crazy new tech like they needed to make the original vision of garrisons happen. I think they are trying to develop as many hooks as they can in LGN, while but biting off more than they can chew.

BryanCole
Guest
BryanCole

For me, WoD was and is still a great expansion up to the point where you hit level cap.  Then it becomes a tedious and mind numbing facebook game with the garrison daily stuff and top heavy raiding focus.  Raids are nice and should never be take away from the genre BUT, stop catering to ONLY those players.  

Now, granted I’m most excited about the Artifact and PVP systems for Legion as they look to be a type of AA(Alternate Advancement) system that the game desperately needs in it’s elder years to make replayability worthwhile. More class distinction is definitely needed and I’m intrigued about the class order halls, perhaps they will make a new community type in WoW bringing the mulitplayer part back to the regular game world, I don’t know, I hope so.

New class is always good to breathe life back into the game and professions can grow from their current point, it’s not like they can get worse, so I don’t see how they can’t “not” be fixed, unless Blizzard doesn’t consider them broken(possible).  New lands to explore always good and more dungeons that are worth running even after hitting cap and gearing up for raids is always good for those who can’t stand large raids with elitists(I’m a huge LFR supporter because I can see the same content and get a nice reward without getting screamed at by sociopaths with no life.

Silentcrypt
Guest
Silentcrypt

After all the promises Blizzard made about Warlods of Draenor about half of everything they’ve promised us with this expansion so far I have thrown out the window.  Blizzard has proven time and again they can not be trusted.  When Legion Launches I’m sure half the things they’ve shown off with get written off as being too costly to make or not enough time.  I’ve lost my ability to get hyped for WoW expansions after Cataclysm.  That being said, I am looking forward to seeing the story and trying out the Demon Hunters, who I have wanted in the game for years.

melbrankin
Guest
melbrankin

Eliot_Lefebvre Normally I would agree but after 0 new races and 0 new classes in WoD they could have done the big dish out