World of Warcraft: The Burning Legion has returned…

Greetings, ladies and gentlemen!

So, Blizzard just recently announced the next expansion to World of Warcraft, which will be following on the coattails of Warlords of Draenor. The heroes of the Horde and Alliance will return to the world of Azeroth only to be sent to a new continent where Gul’dan has been hatching new schemes. They will be met by old allies, and even older enemies. This new expansion is simply titled:

WoWLegionLogo

For today’s post, I will go over some of the new features that were mentioned with the expansion announcement. I will also be sprinkling in some of my own thoughts on the new features, and address some concerns that I have.

New Continent: The Broken Isles

As with every expansion ever released to World of Warcraft (except, perhaps, Warlords of Draenor), Legion will be introducing a new continent to Azeroth for players to explore, called the Broken Isles. It is composed of six large zones, and will feature the return of Dalaran as a neutral capital city. There isn’t really any exciting information to be said here, except players of the last two expansions are finally safe from all “Orcs, Orcs, Orcs” content.

Oh! There are also some “new” Tauren residing in a new area called Highmountain. Though, the only thing that makes them different from player-made Tauren is their elk-like horns.

Artifact Weapons

Legion will be introducing new items to the game in the form of Artifact Weapons. Artifact weapons are unique weapons specific to each specialization that grant players new ways of progressing and customizing their character. There are 36 different artifact weapons (though, this number should be 37 – more on that later), which means each class has the potential to own more than one of these weapons at a time, and they can progress each of their specializations independently. Players will be able to unlock powerful new passives that are tied to the specific Artifact Weapon. Additionally, new appearances, and color swaps, can be unlocked to customize the appearance of the weapon.

WoW - LegionAshbringerProgression

The presented mock-up of the Artifact Weapon progression mechanic for a Retribution Paladin.

Personally, this is probably one of the cooler features that the Blizzard developers have come up with in recent years. Although, I feel it suits the classes who actually use their weapons in combat more than, say, spell-casters and healers. If the casting animations, or Monk animations, had the characters wielding the weapons, then this feature would be that much more amazing for everyone. Then again, Survival Hunters are getting a pole-arm as their artifact weapon, and they aren’t a melee specialization – so Blizzard screwed the pooch on that one. Hell, Feral and Guardian Druids don’t even show their weapons while in Cat or Bear forms, so they’re screwed, too.

WoW - LegionAshrbingerCustomization

Artifact Weapon appearance customization.

Well, that’s not totally accurate, because the Artifact Weapons will allow the Feral and Guardian specializations to modify the appearance of their Cat and Bear forms, respectively. This just means that Balance is going to get the shaft again… and by shaft, I mean, they’ll likely get a staff for an artifact weapon. Regardless, I don’t expect to see Balance Druids receive the same kind of appearance customization to the Boomkin. Oh! That’s what I meant by getting the shaft. Lawls!

Any connection between Artifact Weapons and Archaeology appears to be nil.

Class Order Halls

An interesting new feature to arrive with the release of Legion will be the Class Order Halls. These locations will be player sanctuaries that will function as social hubs for characters of a given class. Think of this as an expansion on the Necropolis that only Death Knights could reach. Each class will have a place to call home, and from this place they will be able to upgrade their artifact weapons, access special quests, and call upon their champions.

Champions are similar to the followers from the Garrisons system. There will be fewer in number, but each champion should be more impactful. The idea the developers have is that each champion won’t be doing the work for the player. Instead, they are aiding the player, and pushing them into the world to engage in content that only the champions can enable. One example they gave was a scout who had discovered some activity in an area, and the player could choose to investigate.

I am hoping, for the sake of the die-hard World of Warcraft players, this feature will live on and be expanded upon in future expansions. I am expecting it will, because, presently, this feature doesn’t seem to suffer from the same faults that followed Garrisons. The Garrisons were limited by the narrative that drove Warlords of Draenor. Players were building the Garrison to raise an army against the Iron Horde. So, the concept of the Garrison was great on paper, but, like so many dungeons from previous expansions, the Garrisons were doomed to be nothing more than a waste of development time, and, ultimately, a waste of player investment. I don’t see this being the case for the Class Order Halls, but I’m sure the developers will find some way of fucking it up. We’ll see, though.

New Hero Class: Demon Hunter

In the new expansion, players will have the opportunity to play a new class in the Demon Hunter. You read that right! Players will finally be able to play a fabled Demon Hunter. Also, if you hadn’t heard, the Demon Hunter is a Hero class. This means that anyone playing this class is likely to start at level 95, and bypass a massive amount of (irrelevant) content, and go straight into the new content provided by Legion. I seem to recall a time when the WoW developers said they wouldn’t make any more Hero classes, but I guess they had a mental relapse.

WoW - LegionDemonHunterStyles

A collection of Demon Hunter appearance options.

As a Hero class, the Demon Hunter will have a unique starting experience, similar to what players are treated to when making a new Death Knight character. Additionally, they have a set of unique mechanics exclusive to them including double jump, metamorphosis (demonology?), and blindness. The Demon Hunter class is also exclusive to the two Elven races. So, for those of you Horde-to-the-core players still drinking the Blood Elf haterade, you’ll have to suck it up if you want to be a Demon Hunter. This is interesting to note since none of the other classes are limited to so few races. Druids are limited to four races, and Paladins are limited to five, but not since, perhaps, Vanilla WoW has a class been limited to so few races.

Now, I would like to return your attention to a parenthetical statement that I made earlier in the post where I stated there should be 37 artifact weapons, not 36, coming in Legion. Why would I make this statement? Well, if you think about it, 36 artifact weapons would make sense if each of the 12 classes (post-Legion) each had three specializations. However, the Druid class has 4 specializations. So, why aren’t there 37 artifact weapons? This is because the Demon Hunter will only have 2 specializations; Havoc, a melee DPS spec, and Vengeance, a Tanking spec. While this news will not bring forth the apocalypse, it does merit mentioning.

The reasoning that was given during the unveiling at Gamescom for limiting the Demon Hunter to two specializations came down to the theme of the class. There were some obvious statements made, when one thinks of the name Demon Hunter, DPS clearly comes to mind, and that a healing Demon Hunter didn’t make sense. Although, I can envision a DPS spec that could choose to shed some of its health to either boost its damage or heal nearby allies given the situation. However, I couldn’t have better ideas than people who have been making horrible game design decisions for 10 years, right? Then, they went on to explain why they didn’t (ahem, couldn’t) create a second damage specialization. Essentially, they attempted to flesh out some ideas for two damage specs, or two tanking specs, but felt that the identity of the class was being lost in doing so. Thus, they settled on two specializations, “concentrating the coolness” so that none of the flavor would be lost.

Personally, I don’t buy this statement, because the developers managed to come up with some cool and unique mechanics and abilities for the Death Knight when they released Wrath of the Lich King, and they had some good ideas for the Monk. Before the Wrath expansion had launched, I would have never thought of giving the Death Knight a “Blood” specialization (or tree, at the time) when creating the class. Though, I can say that it fits the class just as well as Frost and Unholy. I’d like to know the specifics that made it difficult for the developers to devise a concept for a second damage specialization for the Demon Hunter. I’m sure the character will be entertaining to play, but the concern I have is the level of customization the players will have, or not have, to make this one DPS spec feel varied when played alongside other players who are also playing this one DPS spec. However, if this explanation of the state of Hunters is any indication of how bad the developers can be at creating unique gameplay through specializations, then it shouldn’t be too surprising that they were limited in some fashion (imagination, limited by narrative, etc.). If the developers can design the Demon Hunter talents in such a way that a player can shape the specialization to fit their own playstyle, then some of the issues regarding the specialization limitation could be alleviated.

WoW - LegionDemonHunterAbilities

A few Demon Hunter abilities.

After all this has been said, the only other thought that comes to mind is this question: what will become of Demonology Warlocks if Demon Hunters are taking their two most prominent features, Demonic Fury and Metamorphosis?

New Honor System

The new Honor system being introduced through Legion is simply a revamp of the system World of Warcraft players have been accustomed to since The Burning Crusade. While this isn’t the first time the Honor System has been revamped, this feature will not have been touched (intimately or otherwise) until the Legion expansion. From what was unveiled at Gamescom, players who participate in player-versus-player content will no longer be grinding for honor points to acquire the second best gear in the game. Instead, players will be earning new Honor Levels, unlocking access to a new set of PvP talents. These talents are intended to function strictly in PvP and have no functionality in PvE content like raids and dungeons. The idea here is that the developers were looking for a way to balance PvP content independently of PvE. Additionally, one of the biggest concerns players have had is that gear plays too big of a role in PvP. So, through this system, gear will still play a role, but it should now be playing second fiddle to the new Honor system.

WoW - LegionHonorTalents

The new Honor PvP Talents (for Shaman).

To be honest, this change could have come much sooner. Granted, World of Warcraft has never been a PvP-centric game, and you’re as sharp as the stoppable force if you think it is, but the game’s player-versus-player combat has always been excruciatingly unbalanced due to massive gear disparity, poor class design choices, and a raid-centric mindset. Now, there is a chance for World of Warcraft PvP to be meaningful again, and be significantly more viable. Though, we’ll have to wait and see what the actual talents are for each class. Hopefully, they’ll be meaningful choices (unlike the current PvE talents).

WoW - LegionPvPTalents

Some examples of PvP talents.

Another thing to note about the new Honor system is the Prestige mechanic that can be activated after acquiring enough honor while at the Honor level cap of 50. By activating the prestige mechanic, your Honor level will be reset to 1, and you will start earning your Honor levels all over again. Doing this will yield some additional cosmetic rewards such as portrait badges, mounts and special appearance variants for your artifact weapons. There is a question I must ask about this mechanic: since the PvP talents are tied to your Honor level, will resetting your Honor Level through the Prestige mechanic also reset your access to the PvP Talents? I’m hoping the answer is no.

Adventure to Level 110

In the classic tradition of making all previous content irrelevant, Blizzard is once again increasing the level cap by 10 levels. While this is far from shocking, I was fully expecting them to stop at 100. The developers have yet to show they are good at handling changes to the game that stem from increasing the level cap. I have my own personal gripes as to why increasing the level cap is an idiotic idea, and I could (and will) go into it in another post. However, the developers repeat the same mistakes from expansion to expansion, not learning from previous lessons, even when they claim they have learned from past mistakes.

I believe that increasing the level cap beyond 100 is a huge misstep, especially given the content that Blizzard is adding in Legion. If this change wasn’t happening, the Broken Isles would be the first continent added to Azeroth to be composed of zones all at the level cap. For players who have already reached level 100, there wouldn’t be the same rush to reach the new level cap that there has been with every previous expansion. The players might actually stop to smell the roses for once. Not all, but much more than in previous years. Additionally, those players who have access to the Demon Hunter would only have a small number of levels to burn through to reach the level cap. Though, the time to go through those 5-ish levels could be made to take a couple hours, giving players new to the class a good amount of time to get accustomed to the playstyle. I’m looking at what the game has and what it loses with each expansion, and just find increasing the level cap to be incredibly unnecessary anymore.

This is one of those major changes to the game that forced me to quit a few years back. I couldn’t keep spending time on a game that was going to negate any investment I made in the content with the release of an expansion. It just wasn’t worth it.

sigh

WoW - LegionBestComment

An awesome comment from the WoW site.

Anyways, what do you think of World of Warcraft: Legion? Have you seen the Feature Overview? Did you watch the Gamescom unveiling? Are you excited for the Demon Hunter? Did I bum you out at the end?

Join the discussion below.

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About The War Fist

I am an aspiring writer and gamer designer who enjoys the act of creating something from nothing. Typically, my creations are stories, characters, and concepts for game mechanics and/or features. I've been developing my own philosophies of storytelling, game design, and , to an extent, filmmaking, and would eventually like the opportunity to put them into practice.

Posted on August 7, 2015, in Gaming and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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