It’s been roughly five years since I put down my staff and walked away from World of Warcraft. I did not think I would ever return to the lands of Azeroth, and in the words of Illidan, I was not prepared.
For a returning player like myself, Legion was a great return to form for Blizzard. Taking up my new war glaives and setting out to make Illidan proud, I played the new Demon Hunter class for the majority of the new expansion. From the moment you set foot into the shattered lands of Mardum, to your arrival on the Broken Isles, WoW’s new expansion feels just as story driven as any single player game. In fact, I played the vast majority of Legion alone just to take my time and enjoy the story for what it was. Commanding the remaining Illdari and handed a pair of shiny artifact weapons, Legion really pushes you as the main character of the game. Azeroth once again needs saving from the Legion, but this time, actions and consequences actually felt important for once. It brought a new level of investment to see how things pan out for Azeroth, giving the world some meaning it lacked before.
Gameplay itself has been streamlined in the Broken Isles to take out some of the grind and multi-management, more so than in the past at least. After getting into the bulk of Legion’s beginning, each class gains access to a unique order hall. This means a home base to manage their own troops carrying out missions against the Legion, a class story line to follow and various character unlocks to achieve. Namely each player gets a new Artifact weapon. Replacing standard weapons, your artifact weapon levels with you and carries its own upgrade tree, becoming an invaluable piece of gear through all of this new world. Coupled with self-scaling content across each zone, you never feel particularly over or under powered to tackle the new content. Enjoyable as each zone has proven to be, they never truly step away from the odd kill quest. For all the improvements Legion is an improvement on the old, but it is still the WoW you know, love it or hate it. Some zones disguise this more than others, but the old grind remains, if handled better.
Surprisingly the only time I felt overpowered was during any of the new dungeons, each dungeon so far left me feeling a lack of any real strategy. It’s always been hard to balance time vs skill countering the needs of players, especially those with jobs and families, but regardless I tended to cut through groups with too much ease. Luckily these did tend to be story driven content if nothing else, as quest lines often ended in this last push for a resolution to the zones goals. Maybe this is the old player talking, but story or not, the new dungeons just lacked a sense of reward for beating what they offered.
In terms of visuals and gameplay, it’s tough to really comment on what’s actually new to Legion, and what’s just new for me. WoW is still WoW though, while Demon Hunters are truly a ton of fun to play with their streamlined agility and demonic powers (and wings), the basic systems are still what was on offer at launch. Azeroth was never exactly hard on the eyes with Blizzards style carried on from the Warcraft game, but it hasn’t improved over the years much. All of this said though, the environments are once again the best part of the games visuals. It’s clear that a lot of time was spent shaping the Broken Isles, and every zone had several moments that just made me stop and look, soaking up the atmosphere and presentation on hand aided in no small part by some wonderful accompanying music.
For someone who originally loved Warcraft before the World joined the title, I was always engrossed in the stories weaved by Blizzard. Legion has truly hooked me with a surprisingly engaging story that really puts life into the world, giving Azeroth a sense of purpose with its characters and narrative. Demon Hunters are a much needed addition to the continuing saga, the new class becoming a great jump in point for anyone with a level seventy on hand, and great fun to boot. Legion is a more tightly packed and streamlined experience than I would have expected, and I was pleasantly surprised.