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I've had a longtime love/hate relationship with World of Warcraft.
One of my friends jumped into Discord last night and asked me, "So, how's the the new WoW expansion? Is it any good?" My response was, "Well, I'm still playing it."
By "still," I meant that I have been playing one of three characters since the launch of Legion with every spare moment I have. I think Blizzard has done a fantastic job with this expansion pack, and dare I say, it might be the best one yet.
That's a pretty bold statement for anyone to say about WoW. The game has broken multiple world records, has become a part of pop culture, and ignited the MMO craze. Everyone has a favorite version, with most people looking back to either the original (Vanilla) or the first expansion - Burning Crusade.
While I'll look back at those with fond memories of playing with friends, there was always something missing, and it's something Blizzard has been trying to achieve since the inception of WoW - making the game feel as epic as possible, and making me, the player, feel important.
MMOs Have A Bit Of A Problem
In a single player game, you are the only one fixing the issues that the game presents you. Because of this, it's easier to gain that feeling of importance and accomplishment. You saved the princess, brought down the evil doctor, won the race, and claimed victory. You did all those things.
In an MMO, that feeling of importance is washed away when you're having to fight a mob to get to a quest giver, because everyone just got the same "important" quest done. This is especially evident in WoW, where there's so many "heroes" walking around that I can't understand why the Burning Legion wasn't obliterated eons ago.
Attempts were made to make the world and you feel bigger and more grandiose, but even with sprawling dungeons that took hours to complete and a team of up to forty people, and Azeroth-wide events leading up to Burning Crusade, after a brief "wow, this is cool" moment it still felt like you were just on an autopilot. Kill the thing, get the loot, move on to the next thing. The only element that added any type of importance to you, the player, was the epic class quests, which they got rid of pretty early on.
So How Is WoW: Legion Different?
Blizzard has now had years of experience to see what works, and what doesn't. Seeing a thousand other people kill the same elite mob as you and turn in the quest for a chance at a belt or gloves doesn't feel epic. You know what does? When you feel like you've done it by yourself. Thus, phasing was created.
Though there are still a few kinks here and there, overall Blizzard has pretty much mastered quest phasing throughout the years. At first it was just instanced, where you couldn't even see your friends if you were standing next to each other if you weren't in the same part of the story line. Fast forward to Legion - for the most part, you don't even notice the phasing. It's almost seamless. I say almost, because there are still some issues where you have to re-login to get the quest kick started again, depending on where you are, and what you're doing.
Then there's the environment itself. Back in Vanilla one of the biggest complaints about the Barrens was that it was, in fact, barren - and huge to boot. For a low level without a mount and nothing to look at, most people sought after different zones (even going so far as to go to the other continent in order to quest, which took a lot of time) just so they didn't have to do the Barrens. Even worse, one of the most epic low level dungeons was smack dab in the middle of it - Wailing Caverns. Personally one of my favorites from Vanilla, most people hated WC because it was too open, too confusing, and too long.
Throughout the years Blizzard has confronted these issues. In WoW: Legion, there's so much to look at, and there are so many ways to travel. I could literally spend hours just riding along and looking at everything.
But these are just the basics that improve the overall feel of the game. There's so much more to WoW: Legion that makes me happy I came back.
So what about ME?
Time to talk a bit about how you feel important without giving too much away. Do you want to:
- Feel like a part of the story via cinematics that actually converse with you?
- Make decisions that feel like they have some gravitas and importance?
- Go on an epic journey to retrieve a weapon of significance?
- See familiar faces that were all but forgotten from years ago?
- Feel your class carries some weight in how the story rolls out?
All of this comes together to make YOU feel epic, which is a feat in of itself. Blizzard has done so much work on this expansion, and it shows. From the music, to the environments, to the cinematics, to the story itself, everything ties in together to form a great story that you get to be involved in.
This started awhile ago, but was heavy with the last expansion, Warlords of Draenor.
The problem in WoW: WoD was that you were there for the experiences, but weren't really a part of them in essence. The major players were there, you got to see them do their thing, but you didn't actually get to do as much as you would think to "impact" what was going on. In WoW: Legion, you're just as much a part of things as the main characters are.
I had left WoW for a while, but I'm so glad to be back. I'm getting to experience the game as Blizzard had wanted me to experience it years ago. I finally feel like the fate of Azeroth lies with me, and that's a great feeling.