Sunday, November 8, 2015

Legion And The Great Outdoors : WoW

I'm no kind of a Blizzard fan. Indeed, WoW is the only Blizzard game I have ever played and I haven't really played all that much of that, so the annual BlizzCon bash for the faithful tends to slip past me largely unnoticed. If it wasn't for the reports on various blogs and news sites I follow I wouldn't really be aware of it at all. Even then I tend to pay only the most fleeting attention to the detail.

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."

Or this:

"The whole world will have constantly changing world quests and objectives"

Or this:

"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!


  1. Two things. First, the most entertaining part of my first Garrison was the creation, building of, and collection of followers. After that being faced with having to do essentially endgame gearing of followers in each Garrison of an alt is a large part of what killed any idea of playing alts. I can't imagine the boost-related Garrison is anything but to make sure you can get into Tanaan, which requires a level 3 Garrison.

    Second, I really like small group instanced content. It was heavily implied that we'd be getting more 5-man dungeons later in the game during WoD, so when that didn't pan out I left. This isn't really looking like much more (2 more dungeons), so they had better be putting in a ton of content.


    1. According to the Live Blog report "Dungeons are “at the heart of the experience in Legion.” Can tackle leveling dungeons in any order, just like the zones. There are Five level-up dungeons: Eye of Azshara, Neltharion’s Lair, Halls of Valor, Darkheart Thicket, and Violet Hold. Vault of the Wardens, Black Rook Hold, Helheim, Suramar Noble District, and the Suramar Catacombs are max-level-only dungeons."

      That's 10 new dungeons in total. Looks like they realized WoW players like dungeons.

    2. You know, I'm going to come across as a spoiled bastard for this, but I think 10 isn't that much. The base game had 20 dungeons (and 3 years+ to make them), BC had 16, only one of which was added later (but Heroic dungeons where seen as an alternate endgame), and Wrath had 16, 4 of which were added later. Even Mists, which only had 8 dungeons at least substituted 14 Scenarios, which aren't coming back either. There is the possibility that they'll introduce more with subsequent patches, but I'd expect more of a ZA/ZG situation like in Cataclysm than Wrath (which was bad btw). But I'm cynical and a bit of a curmudgeon. ^_^


  2. If ther's one thing Blizzard does well, it's steal shamelessly, then attempt to polish it till it gleams.

  3. I have played some of the Blizzard games, actually the older ones and barely touched WoW and haven't finished the expansion of D3.

    When I read the list it also seemed to me it could be a GW2 dev blogpost.

    WoW combat style is not my kind of thing so I won't be touching it.

    1. @Jeromai & Gaia Hunter - there's some appealing synergy here. It's only a week or two since I was going on about how GW2 is slowly turning itself into WoW and now here's WoW turning itself into GW2. With a bit of luck they'll meet in a sweet spot somewhere in the middle and keep almost everyone happy.

  4. I hope the 100/108 is not phasing (not a fan). I see no reason why a swipe from a 104 NPC bear could not have a "pro forma" damage of 2000 which is first modified up/down based upon the level of the recipient before applying the traditional armor/dodge/shield mechanics, E.g. the same AOE roar with 2000 pro forma damage could hit the 100 for 1000 and the 108 for 3000. Or internally keep all NPC values as % - this ability does 10% of the recipients max health.

  5. It's the GW2 expansion for WoW, no doubt about it. In fact, they've already copied things from GW2 and Rift for Draenor - Blizzard have stopped setting MMORPG standards since Cataclysm. Now they are just like everybody else, copying whatever seems trend.


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