World of Warcraft: Legion

World of Warcraft: Legion Hands-On

It's been nine years since players raided The Black Temple to defeat Illidan Stormrage...

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That was in World of Warcraft's The Burning Crusade expansion. However, Azeroth's most infamous misfit, also known as Illidan the Betrayer, has always been a character of interest, his story leaving enough loose ends for it to be revisited. In Legion, World of Warcraft's newest expansion, we'll be doing just that.

Like the previous expansion, Warlords of Draenor, Legion takes us back in time. At the start of your Legion journey you're given a glimpse into the storyline and lore from 1000 years past. A great build up to the current events that are unfolding where the mighty Burning Legion, the main protagonists from the Burning Crusade expansion, have risen again, this time under a more sinister leader. Following the events of Warlords of Draenor, Gul'dan returns to the main timeline of Azeroth, but not before re-opening the demon portal from whence a thousand years earlier the Burning Legion tried to invade Azeroth. Now stronger and in larger numbers, the demonic army seeks to summon their creator and supreme leader: the dark titan Sargeras.

In order to prevent the return of Sargeras, players must learn to master powerful weapons known as Artifacts and make a pact with Demon Hunters in an attempt to defeat the Burning Legion once and for all.

If the return of the Burning Legion didn't induce nostalgic feelings, then Artifact weapons surely will. Wielded by legends of Azeroth, 36 elusive weapons will now be available to every class and specialisation. Doomhammer, Ashbringer, and Soulreaper just to name a few, will be obtainable by completing quests. Similarly to what we've experienced with Heirloom weapons, Artifact weapons level up with players as well, and can be enhanced with spell/ability trees. In order to prevent the game flooding with Icebringers and Soulreapers, players can customise their weapon to create variations in appearance.

Legion raises the level cap from 100 to 110. Similarly, Character Boosts sold in Blizzard's e-shop are raised from 90 to 100, enabling players to jump straight into the action if desired.

Situated on The Broken Isles, seven new zones are added to the game. As original birthplace of the elven race, The Broken Isles are filled with beautiful forests and cities older than human civilisation. Besides a land rich in lore, relics and ancient cities to explore, many dangers lurk there too - along with known enemies such as satyrs, new species as well as new world bosses can be found here too.

World of Warcraft: Legion

The Broken Shore is the mandatory starting area for the Broken Isles, but fortunately players are immediately able to traverse across much of the Broken Isles due to level scaling. This allows for a much smoother experience when levelling with others, as falling behind or speeding ahead a few levels doesn't matter anymore.

With as many as nine new dungeons readily available, Blizzard seems to have lived up to their promise of making Legion more 'dungeon orientated'. As with the Broken Isles, dungeons are scaled too: instead of tediously running the same dungeon over and over again, you don't need to play them in order of level anymore.

Also, after having teased players for a long time with the Emerald Dream, we finally get to access it, or at least to some extent with the new 7-boss raid, Emerald Nightmare. The second raid in Legion, Suramar Palace, will have players enter through a back entrance much like The Black Temple. Suramar Palace is expected to have 10 bosses, one of which being the final face-off against Gul'dan.

Fervent PVP players are in for a treat as well: with the newly introduced Honor System 3.0, players can earn Honor Ranks, eventually leading up to Prestige Ranks, each with new bonuses and abilities. PVP abilities as well as PVP gear (apart form Artifact weapons) will only be usable in PVP battle, further separating PVP and PVE. The aim is to create a more balanced experience, which would be a very welcome aspect to the game.

If you've played Warlords of Draenor, you may remember the less than successful introduction of Garrisons. While the concept of a personal retreat for your characters seemed appealing, the phased instances were extremely bugged and, once bored with the mundane daily grind on each and every character's personal Garrison, they quickly became desolate.

World of Warcraft: Legion

Having learned from this, Blizzard is now introducing Order Halls; class-specific areas where players can retreat. Not only does this eliminate yet more wasted space for soon forgotten solo-instances, it also adds to the social experience that MMOs are popular for.

Order Halls will be accessible by players from both factions, however PVP isn't permitted - similar to Dalaran, Order Halls are considered a sanctuary. Some aspects of the Garrison are taken to the Order Halls, such as recruiting followers and likely class-exclusive missions.

Blizzard has attempted to please long-serving players before with Warlords of Draenor, playing on feelings of nostalgia by taking players back to a (albeit altered) version of the beginning of World of Warcraft. Bringing up the past initially seemed successful in Warlords of Draenor, until buggy garrisons and a lack of new content quickly diminished this newfound interest. Luckily Blizzard listened to their fan base: regardless of once again revisiting the past, Legion feels like a fresh new game, providing a lot of new content as well as offering a good dose of nostalgia for those who faced the Burning Legion before. With the promise of much more new to come (with World of Warcraft director Tom Chilton even stating there's enough material for at least another ten years - fingers crossed Ethereals and Dryads will one day become playable races), our hopes for Legion are set high.

Whilst the game is will still feel accessible to new players, perhaps even providing a better introductory point to World of Warcraft than any of its previous expansions, Legion also strives to recreate fond feelings amongst The Burning Crusade fans. We can't deny we're looking forward to face the Burning Legion after all these years, and seeing the desolate city of Dalaran alive with visitors once again.

We are prepared.


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