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Thread: Skyblade on WoW: Legion, and a restrospective

  1. #1
    Skyblade's Avatar
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    Default Skyblade on WoW: Legion, and a restrospective

    So, I've been playing a lot of World of Warcraft lately. Like, more than I should be.

    I decided, with the Megathread being a bit deadish, that I'd sum up my thoughts and feelings on the new expansion, the features and decisions that went into it, as well as going over some of the content that I missed before. Maybe this belongs in the Megathread, but I think some people may just skip by it, and this is going to be a fairly hefty post, so I'm hoping to drum up some more attention.

    Retrospective, and why I left:For those who don't know, I've been a long time sucker for World of Warcraft, and I have my Panda Cub from the original Collector's Edition to prove it (still the best pet in the game). I stayed with the game through Vanilla, through Burning Crusade, through Wrath of the Lich King, before burning out shortly into Cataclysm. I went back very briefly around the end of Mists of Pandaria, but I didn't even make it out of the first zone. And I didn't try Warlords of Draenor at all.

    Legion drew me back. Actually, a combination of Legion and Hearthstone (the Tyrande hero made me want to nab a few others, and I went for Lady Liandra, even though I'll stick with Uther for my Paladin decks).

    I enjoyed Warcraft II, but it was Warcraft III that brought me strongly into the world and its troubles. I loved that game, I loved the campaign, and the side missions, or Rexxar's Diablo-esque side campaign.

    So, when World of Warcraft was announced, I was pretty hyped. And, what was my favorite class that I was most looking forward to playing? A Demon Hunter. They didn't wind up in the game, but oh well. My Warrior Skyblade took me all over Azeroth, learning and exploring its secrets, delving into every hidden nook and ruin I could find. The initial grind to 60 was a slow one for me. Not because I didn't play, but because I tried to do everything. Every quest, every zone, every bit of exploration. Seeing the rise of power blocks and the spread of evils across the realm. Hunting out the secrets of the Scythe of Elune and the Worgen back in Duskwood, the first hints of the Emerald Nightmare, the power struggle between the Dark Iron Dwarves and the forces of Nefarian. I loved it all.

    During my adventures, I joined a casual guild that was more in it for fun and helping each other. They wanted a tank for some dungeons, and were willing to pay the respec cost if I were to try it (remember when respec costs were a thing?). So, I did. Fantastic decision, I found I loved the tank playstyle, and it's been my go-to play style ever since. Something about the visceral thrill of going toe-to-toe with your enemies. Focusing on them, having them focus on you. The DPS, the healers, they're there, they're important. But the fight? It's between the boss and you. It's personal.

    When Burning Crusades launched, I went into Outlands. Exploring the new stuff, learning to fly, and watching one of my favorite characters from the lore be made into an incredibly out-of-character villain, before being discarded for his lieutenant to be the final boss of the expansion. I wasn't happy with that lore choice, but there was so much more there that I had plenty more to immerse myself in. It was solid, but nothing really stood out to me. I had fun with it, but it seemed more a continuation, a couple extra zones, than a whole new adventure.

    Then Wrath of the Lich King came, and man oh man, did it deliver. So much content. I tore across Northrend, exploring the lands of the Lich King, the Blue Dragonflight, the Nerubians, the Vrykul. I loved this land, I loved this game. Even when I reached "endgame", and was never really interested in raiding, there was plenty of content, and they kept adding more. Bringing in more dailies, the Argent Tournament, and the opening of Icecrown itself... It was a heady time, and many consider it the heyday of WoW. And I enjoyed it thoroughly.

    But nothing lasts forever, and Wrath gave way to Cataclysm. And the downfall started. The content seemed smaller, less engaging. I remember tearing through all the new quests in the Eastern Kingdoms in a week. The new zones themselves were beautiful, and had some fun stories, but the content seemed weaker, lacking. Either a handful of quests that were over quickly, or a reputation grind which seemed the epitome of filler content. And nothing new was ever added, unless you were pushing endgame content, which I always hated. It just lost it's lustre, and I left.

    When Mists of Pandaria dropped, I avoided it, just a bit too burnt out to care. When I finally did check back in, it was just a quick glance. I let it pass me by, unruffled.

    I had no interest in Warlords of Draenor at all. I'm not a fan of the orcs, and their continuity has been upended so many times. Time travel and more Garrosh was not what I wanted. At all. I didn't even try this one out, and I'm glad I didn't.


    This, finally, brings us to Legion. Right out of the door, Blizzard hit me hard with two of my favorite things from the lore. Two things I had wanted in the game when it launched, but which never manifested. The first was Alliance/Horde unity.

    See, at the end of Warcraft III, the Horde and the Alliance weren't enemies. They weren't friends, by any means, but they had grouped up to take on a bigger threat, and they let each other go their separate ways. When WoW began, there was a huge focus on the enmity between the groups, and it always soured me a bit to that part of the game. Legion's intro begins with King Wrynn, of all people, flying into combat beside Sylvanis, talking of how he learned to trust the Horde and fight for what was more important.

    It hasn't fully played out that way, but it's a step in the right direction, and it immediately played on my nostalgia for that since of bringing together ALL the forces of the world to stop the Legion.

    The other big thing that brought me back was Demon Hunters. My favorite Hero class in Warcraft III was the Demon Hunter. They were the class I hoped to play when the game launched. And now I could.

    So, I finally cracked, and I started up my Demon Hunter.

    And I fell in love with this game all over again.

    First, the Demon Hunter. Insane mobility, and the opportunity to play as another tank class. All my yes. I have been playing Vengeance the entire time, and it's the most fun I've had playing any class since the game started. Good self heals, good survivability, fun abilities and rotation, and huge burst damage potential (for a tank).

    Second, the stories. Legion introduced Class Order Halls, and a story for each class. This was huge. For the first time ever, I'm encouraged to play alts. My individual characters no longer feel like merely mercenaries filling a role. They're now characters with their own place in the story, their own presence in this world. This was something I loved about Star Wars: The Old Republic (which, sadly, it's lost in its expansions), and something WoW never had.

    And the new Artifact system ties in to this. We no longer have to sit back and watch the greatest weapons in the lore go to NPCs who kill-steal the bosses from us (Maiev against Illidan, Tirion against Arthas, etcetera). Finally, we get to claim these tools, and the story, for ourselves. A lot has been done in this expansion to make YOU feel like the hero. When I interact with characters across the Broken Isles, they recognize me, my weapons, my role. They defer to my judgment, and yield to my power. Instead of the other way around. Oh, the quests are all still predefined. But the way they're presented is so much more satisfying.

    As a Demon Hunter, I become the head of the Illidari. And, when I interact with the Illidari in their camps, they recognize me as their leader, and we get our own special dialogue indicating this. It's a small touch, but it's SO welcome, and I hope they expand on this. Give each Class Order a role in the world. Let us see what they're doing, how they're affecting the world, how our other characters are shaping and driving things.

    Then there's the new endgame system. And it blows away everything that has come before. The new World Quest system replaces the old daily system, and it's solved that system's biggest problem. Namely, repetition. With the dailies, you had every quest available. You chose the best, and you ran them every day, doing the exact same thing, for the rewards. If a new, better one came out, you substituted out your old one, and continued the grind. World Quests, though the same basic content, are randomized. Different quests pop up each day, and they all offer random rewards. Some give loot, some give Artifact Power, some give gold. Each gives rep with a different faction based on who offers it. And they're different, every day. You'll see some repetition this way, but by focusing on the rewards you want, you'll see far more content variety than any previous incarnation of the game.

    Crafting has also been revamped, and is more fun and useful than it has been at any time since Vanilla (when it was quite handy). You don't need to have played every previous expansion to jump into Legion crafting, you can do so at Profession Skill 1. Items you craft can be improved with recipes that reduce the material cost. So, as you become a better crafter, you become more efficient with your materials, a very nice touch. And, finally, the gear that you craft at endgame can be upgraded. From the "just become 110" gear that starts at item ilevel 815, to the "intro raid level epics" at ilevel 855. It takes a lot of materials (or gold) to get there, but it's a great way to give the professions some longer term payouts.

    The progression is also a lot smoother at postgame. World Quest rewards scale with your item level, and continue to dole out higher level gear (up to a soft cap around 840 item level), so you get a slow, but constant progression to better and better gear. What's more, the abilty for any piece of gear to drop as "Warforged" or "Titanforged", with a corresponding +5 to +15 to the item level, means that you can see bigger jumps, or push lower reward gear past its usual limit.

    My Demon Hunter is currently sitting at item level 855 for the gear total. And I've nearly exhausted the intro level content. Only a handful of quests left, and a few calls into the harder-than-Heroic "Mythic" dungeons. I'll take them on, slowly.

    But, instead of being downtrodden by the lack of content, I can do a handful of World Quests a day, hoping to get a Titanforged drop that will still be an upgrade, while I build my gold and rep.

    And now, I'm building up my Paladin, who will be joined by my Warrior. And my Death Knight. And then maybe my Priest. My Shaman. My Druid. Etcetera. For the first time since release, I WANT to play my alts. To see more of their stories. To see how the new content plays out with them. To earn their artifacts (seriously, the Paladin gets Ashbringer, the Shaman gets Doomhammer, and the Druid gets the Scythe of Elune, among countless others. How could a lore nerd NOT be hyped?!).

    I have more thoughts yet to come on this expansion. Details of how systems have played out, how certain things could be improved. As well as my thoughts on the last two expansions now that my Paladin has ripped through them on her quest to hit 100 and start in on the new content. So, more will be coming. But I'm out of time to post right now. So, TTFN, and, if you enjoy this look back, and this mini-review, look forward for more to come!
    Last edited by Skyblade; 12-06-2016 at 02:50 PM.

  2. #2
    Ghost of Christmas' past theundeadhero's Avatar
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    I enjoyed reading this review. I can relate to your early experiences. I also first rolled a warrior in Vanilla. It was much closer to the end of vanilla WoW, and to this day my warrior still runs around with the mini diablo instead of the panda cub. Sadly, its a remade warrior, because at some point my account got hacked when I was in Iraq. I was able to recover the account, but not my original characters, which caused me to stop playing for a while. My experience was also more of a run around and do everything instead of a focused playstyle to beat the raids. I was convinced to play again in Wrath, and that was also some of my best times in the game. Its when I became absorbed, addicted, and realized just how much more I could have been doing in my earlier experiences. That addiction lasted until the end of MoP, probably because I met some amazing people in early Cata that I still play with to this day, but I never truly stopped playing the game. I just took a big step back.

    I disagree with some of your points about the current game, but that's based more on personal opinion and experiences rather than an objective view of the game, so I'm not going to debate them in this post.

    Bork Bork

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    Skyblade's Avatar
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    So, let's get into specifics a bit more now.

    Artifacts are the first big new step for the game. Overall, I love this addition. Instead of having a weapon which you discard every thirty seconds as soon as a slightly shinier one drops, you have a tool that you work with and progress throughout your journey. It makes for better lore, better stories, and much more progress for your character as you go.

    The Artifacts have their own progression, which acts much like the old Talent Trees did (which further makes sense because each Artifact is tied to a spec). One of the big differences, however, is that you can hit every trait in this new tree eventually (the first Artifact weapon was maxed just a few days ago). You aren't locked out from anything, you just get continual progress.

    The fantastic thing about this system is that it brings back the old, slow progression of vanilla WoW. My path to 60 was originally very slow, but my path to max level has been quite swift in all subsequent expansions, including this one. However, while we still cap our level relatively quickly, there is an alternative progression path outside of just grinding out more gear. We get to grind out Artifact power instead. And it is a grind, as Artifact power, while moving pretty quick for the first few levels, winds up stalling out and taking longer and longer the more traits you pick up. To counteract this, they do introduce a system called "Artifact Knowledge" which increases the rate at which you gain the Artifact Power, but those boosts are slow to acquire, and you still wind up with a slow push to maxing your Artifact of choice (though it makes ripping into an Artifact for your alternate specializations much faster).

    This keeps growth coming constantly no matter what content you're playing. Which is very welcome after burning out on the game's old "push for harder and harder content if you want to see your character progress", which is part of why I burnt out on the game in the first place.

    It's not without its downsides. It is fairly unfriendly to running multiple characters because they have to start the grind all over (at least until the next patch, when they introduce catch-up mechanics). And, of course, because using an alternate spec requires starting over or taking Artifact Power away from your main spec. But it's still a welcome system that I feel adds a lot more duration to the game.

    There's also the lore of these objects, and how their stories play out. Enhancement Shaman wield the Doomhammer, one of the oldest and most storied weapons in the history of the series. Retribution Paladins get their hands on Ashbringer, a weapon which started as an exclusive piece of gear that the GameMasters wielded back when they were actual players in the game, and had its story unfold and be expanded upon through tons of add-in content after fans discovered it (some of the old Easter Eggs around it are actually brought forth for the Hidden Appearance of the Ashbringer). Balance Druids get the Scythe of Elune, a weapon that started as a quest object that was the focus of an entire zone (and one of my favorite zones in the game), before being brought back for the Gilneas and Worgen starter content, and is now finally able to be wielded by players. Strom'kar, the weapon wielded by the King or Arathor, the bane of Trolls, is carried by Arms Warriors. For a lore nerd, this is fantastic. So many weapons we've seen in quests, or mentioned by NPCs (like Kael'thas's own Felo'melorn, the sword he wielded against Arthas), now in the hands of the players. Currently, for the first time, I feel like I'm actually taking part in the grand story, instead of being there to facilitate Blizzard's NPCs.

    Of course, this means that every character of a certain spec runs around with the same weapon. So, to counteract this, they not only allowed you to Transmogrify the weapon into the design of another weapon that you've previously collected and may like more, but there are also more skins and styles unlockable as you do content in Legion. These include switching some weapons into different styles completely (like making Strom'kar a two handed axe if you don't like wielding a sword). So, a lot of customization that lets you take the weapon, but make it your own.


    Overall, I love the Artifact system, and I'm filled with some apprehension at the thought that it might not continue into the next expansion. Because I feel like discarding this system would only be a step back for the game. Though, if it's popular enough, I'm sure it'll continue, even if it will need a massive overhaul.

    My personal thoughts for where to go from here: Give us a quest that imbues our Artifact with a new level of power, resetting us to a new tree, and cycling some of the points of the old one into base class abilities. Story wise, we're only getting stronger, but it lets us start fresh on the progression.



    In my next post, I'll go over the new content that has been introduced to the game: Varying difficulty dungeons and raids, and the new World Quest system.

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