As The Ancient Gaming Noob has it, today, we are Legion – except that actually, he isn’t because, as the linked post explains, he’s still waiting for his copy of the expansion. I, on the other hand, had pre-ordered a while back when I realised I was going to be sticking around in WoW for a while. That allowed me to boost my mage, Cassalle, up to 100 and (courtesy of the far too tolerant Wyld Hunt) demonstrate that I was a liability in raids, 2016-style. It also allowed me to dive into the expansion the moment the clock ticked over 23:00 UK time.
We weren’t expecting that. Everyone was braced for lag, server crashes, probable rollbacks and more bugs than Ahn’Qiraj. Instead, a little before the appointed hour people started noticing that they had an XP bar again, and those who had finished the prequel quest chains got to click on Khadgar (who had been standing there, channeling a spell for the last week, and presumably had a catheter under his robes) resulting in a quick cinematic and a relocation to the Broken Isles. I had done the done the full chain on my monk (who dinged 100 a couple of weeks ago, having earned her levels honestly) but hadn’t done last week’s ones on the mage, so there was a brief delay while I took care of that before I could be accosted in the street by a random Forsaken and press-ganged into opening up the mage class hall, which segued into choosing which spec’s artifact weapon I wanted and being sent off on the appropriate quest chain for that.
I won’t spoil the two weapon quest sequences I’ve done with too much detail – arcane mage and mistweaver monk – although I will say that I enjoyed both, and while they weren’t crushingly difficult they were not faceroll easy either. The monk one required me to heal a group of NPCs through a boss fight. I had levelled the monk up as a damage dealer and only started playing around with the healing spec a few days ago, so that fight was on a learning curve and a couple of the NPCs might have some repair bills because of the terrible healer.
I do think that (apart from breaking the tradition of release-day downtime) Blizzard have very much been Blizzard again-they’ve taken features from their competitors, polished them and made them a part of their own game. The added dialogue and cutscenes are edging the main story quests closer to SWTOR’s experience, if not as full-on. The artifact weapons bear more than a passing resemblance to LotRO’s legendary weapons, or rather what they were supposed to be. The pre-Legion invasions harkened back to the early days of RIFT (before everyone started ignoring the, y’know, rifts) and the world quest system sounds like it owes something to GW2’s dynamic events. In each case, Blizzard have polished the basic concept, and like any polish it tends to remove some of the fine detail as well as the rough edges. The end result is a smooth experience, without all of the depth of the original – not always a bad thing, when for the legendary weapons example ‘depth’ could mean ‘unnecessary levels of complexity’.
The end result is fun. And it actually stayed up and available, which was a pleasant surprise to all concerned. Nice to see that at least one of the changes Blizzard are wont to bring in will be universally appreciated 🙂