Review: World of Warcraft: Legion

The Nightfallen city of Suramar is quite pretty
The Nightfallen city of Suramar is quite pretty

Legion is the sixth expansion of the World of Warcraft, and a welcome rejuvenation of the old master of the genre. #wow #legion

The expansion comes with all the usual features: the level cap is raised to 110, and there are five new zones, ten new dungeons and two raids. There’s a new hero class, the demon hunter, which starts at level 98 and comes with tank and damage specializations, plus eye lasers and moves from a particularly over-the-top kind of martial arts anime. Like Wrath of the Lich King’s death knight, the demon hunter comes with an introductory questline that unlocks their class abilities one by one.

Among the new features are the class-specific Order Halls which are strongholds for your character to lead and manage. While the concept may bring flashbacks from the dreary Warlords of Draenor experience, the Order Hall doesn’t require nearly as much attention and mostly functions as a quest hub for your class campaign and your artifact weapon. Indeed, the quotidian affairs of your Order Hall do not even need you to enter the game – there’s an app for that. In addition to a room of one’s own, the hero gets their own artifact weapon which grows in power as they level up. The hero’s weapon is no longer just another piece of gear to be discarded when a higher-level version comes along. It has a name and a story. There’s a weapon for each class specialization, some of them old favourites from Warcraft lore. One of the shaman weapons is Doomhammer, and paladins get to wield Ashbringer.

Another welcome change is in the nature of the endgame reputation grind. Instead of repeating the same few daily quests ad nauseam, Legion introduces the world quest system, serving up a rotating selection of varied quest. In addition to the usual ”kill x monsters” gigs, there are profession quests and even pet battles. Thus far, my favourite was a Herbalism quest where you pick rare herbs growing on a treant as he walks through the forest.

In Val'sharah, you fight satyrs and corrupted treants
In Val’sharah, you fight satyrs and corrupted treants

To go along with such legendary armaments, we get a suitably epic plot. The Burning Legion is back, heralded by the warlock Gul’dan. Whereas Warlords of Draenor’s big threat was basically defeated in the opening quest and the rest of the expansion felt like mopping up the remains, Legion’s opening quest ends with the situation a hair above hopeless and the stakes feel high throughout, alternating between making the hero seem like the stupendously powerful individual they are and serving up palpable defeats with major repercussions. Significant characters die, and they die well. The quality of writing is the best the game has yet seen. While you cannot make a World of Warcraft game without a measure of whimsy, the overall tone is a great deal more serious than the previous expansions.

I just wonder if there still is a place the game can go to top this.

Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
Platform: PC
Release date: August 30th, 2016