That said, there was a time earlier this year, when I was toying with the idea of buying the next WoW expansion, Legion, when it arrives so I have been paying slightly more attention than I normally do to the news coming out of Anaheim. The timing of Legion's arrival has been the subject of some speculation as expansion dates, especially WoW's, always are, but the pleasure of reading the runes has been rudely curtailed by the announcement of something close to a launch date. A launch season, at least: Summer 2016.
Along with the date comes a modicum of hard information about the content and to this curious outsider some of it looks more appealing by a margin than anything in the last two expansions, neither of which tempted me for a moment. Take this, from the MassivelyOP summary of the Legion panel:
"An open world to explore, no set path beyond ending in Suramar. All four zones scale flexibly."
"The whole world will have constantly changing world quests and objectives"
"Expect minigames, gathering skills, garrison-style missions for players, reputation objectives, PvP objectives, world raid bosses, profession missions – the idea is to give insane amounts of variety. “Freedom without press or obligation.” They’re calling it “outdoor endgame.”
And on it goes. People a lot more familiar with Blizzard's oeuvre than I are comparing it to Diablo III’s adventure mode but to me it sounds an awful lot like what other MMOs, particularly GW2, have been offering players for several years now: choice and self-determination.
Whatever the inspiration behind the change, on paper, at least, it looks well-tailored to fit my personal preferences. The expansion comes with the now-traditional leg-up to the new de facto starting level of 100, leaving ten levels to gain, supposedly, by exploring the new continent in any way that takes your fancy.
Well, that's right up my alley, that is. Of course, I'd do it my way, anyway, whether the game systems support it or not, but the journey's always smoother going with the grain. Some of the statements on the mechanics do puzzle me a little, though. Whereas GW2 scales the player down to the zone, for example, Legion will apparently scale the zone to the player.
|Ten levels will positively fly by. Not just metaphorically this time I hope.|
Questions have been asked about how this will work for, say, a duo where one player is level 100 and the other is 108. I haven't yet seen an answer although there has been much speculation on phasing, a technique used extensively in WoW and a few other MMOs I've played, and one which I generally dislike. On the other hand, its only ten levels. Maybe the difference won't be that noticeable anyway. Beta starts "soon" so I guess we'll find out more then, NDA permitting.
Tobold, who isn't impressed by any of it but who has nevertheless already pre-ordered, mentions that the Level 100 character, access to which is available immediately, comes with a Level 3 Garrison. Given the numerous bloggers I've read who found the maintenance of Garrisons onerous over time and the widespread opinion that it was a one-expansion idea that Blizzard would allow to die on the vine, that sounds like a decent bonus in itself for new or returning players who skipped Warlords of Draenor.
Although I guess you get WoD bundled in with Legion so how the garrison grind on alternate characters that broke so many will figure come next Summer remains to be seen. Honestly, I don't know enough about how WoW works even to take a stab at how that might go. Just thinking aloud here...
|Didn't I see something about the Tauren featuring in Legion? I wasn't really paying attention.|
Returning to the point, such as it was, as a result of all this new news, Legion is back on my radar and the possibility of my playing WoW next year has improved. In the end, though, whether I do or don't will most likely depend a lot more on what else is going on around the time it comes to market than in the specific qualities of the expansion itself.
For all the supposed malaise of the genre, there seems to be an inexhaustible supply of new product. It's hard to predict what might catch fire and what might crash and burn. For example, I never expected to be so completely taken over by Heart of Thorns that I'd literally play nothing else for two solid weeks after it launched, with no slow-down of interest yet in sight. Come Summer 2016 who knows what might be holding my attention hostage?
With the recent announcements, though, Legion is definitely in with a shout. I do like me some open-world gameplay and leveling up!