For this installment of MMO Co-Opportunities, I'm hijacking Tally's column to talk about World of Warcraft - Legion. Sorry about that! I haven't seriously played WoW since the Cataclysm days, though I did dip my toes into Mists of Pandaria. I also played around with the Warlords of Draenor content in the weeks leading up to Legion's launch, and a lot has changed. Considering many people who have lapsed on WoW seem to be interested in Legion, I'm going to briefly talk about some things that have changed in recent years before I get to what's completely new.New For Me: Cross-Realm Play
If you have friends on other servers, as long as you're on the same faction, you can play together. You can even join cross-realm guilds, provided your servers are "connected". Each server has one (or sometimes two) servers linked in this way.Raid Finder (Looking For Raid)
Not in a raiding guild, or just want to see the raid content with little pressure? Hop into LFR and you'll be dropped into a low-difficulty 25-man version of your chosen raid. Mechanics are a lot more forgiving in this mode, which my friends tell me is about on par with queueing up for a Heroic dungeon. The loot isn't as good as "real" raiding, but that's to be expected.Mythic-Difficulty Dungeons (And Raids)
Normally, you can run a dungeon as many times as you'd like. In past expansions, you could set the dungeon difficulty to Heroic and experience a more difficult (and rewarding) version with a daily lockout. Mythic ups the difficulty and loot rewards even further, but has a week-long lockout. Ouch!
Raids can now be run at Mythic difficulty as well, with 20-player groups. This is what your standard progression guild will aim to tackle.Challenge Mode
These are timed versions of five-man dungeons that scale your gear down to a specific level to maintain the difficulty level. Aim for the best time! All dungeons from Warlords of Draenor and Legion can be run in this way.Garrisons
Garrisons are one of the big features added in Warlords of Draenor, but the less said about them is probably for the best. The system allows you to build a base and send units out on missions, allowing you to earn gold, gear, and other types of high-level currency. Unfortunately, the mobile game-like structure never received any kind of mobile companion app, and the general dearth of content updates in WoD left a sour taste in players' mouths. In Legion, your Class Hall replaces your Garrison (though you can still use it if you like).
New For Legion:
Level cap increase to 110
I have to admit, seeing level 100 characters was strange enough when I first logged in, with their hundreds of thousands of hit points… Now that I'm level 110, and my Rogue has a cool million and a half hit points, I'm almost interested in hopping back into old raids and seeing just how long it'd take bosses to make a dent in my life bar.Demon Hunters
It's taken a few expansions, but we finally have our second Hero Class. Unlike the Death Knight, however, Demon Hunters begin at level 98, and end their introductory zone at level 100 - ready to jump into all of the latest content. Do you think Illidan is the bee's knees? Well, it's time to get your cosplay on.
Demon hunters can specialize as a melee DPS or take on a Tanking role. They're also the only class who can double jump, which has already led to some interesting glitch/out of bounds showcase videos. I haven't grouped with a tanking Demon Hunter yet, but as a melee DPS, they are extremely mobile and capable of doing great single-target and burst DPS. Their AOE abilities are tied to cooldowns and suffer in that regard, but overall they seem fairly versatile.
It should be noted that only Elven races can be Demon Hunters. Silly lore, getting my way.Complete Overhauls to Talents/Specs
Talents and specializations have received a pretty substantial overhaul - once you choose a specialization, your class will ONLY be able to use abilities specific to your spec. This has a couple of effects: first, it really makes your specialization feel unique within the class. An Outlaw rogue plays completely differently than a Subtlety one, and they share almost no abilities. Unfortunately, it also silos character specs into definite roles. You may have chosen a hybrid class (Like Paladins, who can be a Tank, DPS, or Healer), but you'll only focus on one role at a time rather than being able to mix and match from several trees.
Talents are now granted once every fifteen levels, allowing you to choose one of 3 upgrades for that tier. You can now change these at will in any Sanctuary (or via a consumable item crafted by players with the Inscription trade). The consumable item means you'll probably see people switching their talents around in raids to best match the mechanics of each boss. Some talents are obviously geared towards being more self-sufficient, and others only shine in group content, but you're not locked into your choice at all.
Oh, and for the avid PVPer, once you hit level 110, you can start earning ‘Honor' talents, which grant bonuses in PVP content. If you max these out, you can prestige and start over, thus tying WoW mechanics to Call of Duty.
Shortly after you enter the Broken Isles (Legion's new continent), you'll be asked to choose your starting zone. Unlike previous expansions, zone order doesn't matter because enemies now scale to whatever level you are. Certain enemies in the world also scale their hit points to the number of characters fighting it, ensuring fights can't be cheesed by a high level player.Artifact Weapons
There are no weapon drops in Legion zones or dungeons. Early on, you will acquire a powerful Artifact weapon, which is tailored to your specialization and levels up independently of your character.
Earning your Artifact weapon involves a short, single-player story quest that will ask you to master the particulars of your spec. As an Outlaw Rogue, I was tasked with sneaking through a mine-littered beach, capturing a pirate ship, and solving several combat puzzles that require skills only my spec contained. These quests are well-designed and do a lot for making you feel like your class actually has a place in the world outside of their combat role. I've done four of them at this point, and I'd love to eventually do them all.
Artifact weapons start with one ability that you can add to your hotbar, and as you level it up, you'll be able to add points to its talent tree and gradually unlock more power. Your Artifact also has three slots to socket Relics, which grant bonus points in its talent tree and boost its item level. Higher item level means the base stats of the weapon scale up. This is a great alternative to how similar weapons are earned in other MMOs (I'm looking straight at you, FFXIV's Anima Weapons).
After you get to level 102, you'll be presented with the option to hunt down the other Artifacts available for your class, so don't worry on missing out!Class Campaign & Halls
This is one of my favorite new additions to Legion. Once you reach Dalaran in the expansion, you'll be contacted by a representative of your particular class, who directs you to your Order Hall. As a Rogue, I was introduced to The Uncrowned, who occupy the Hall of Shadows, hidden underneath Dalaran.
You'll be sent on missions to advance an agenda for your class that ties into the overall Legion storyline, acquire your Artifact Weapons, and eventually recruit champions to your cause. Champions can accompany you in battle, or be sent out on missions, similar to how Garrisons worked...
...except this time, Blizzard wisely released a smartphone app that allows you to handle all of that stuff without being logged into the game.
In a move that strikes me as completely identical to Adventure Mode in Diablo 3, there are a variety of quests to complete in each zone. Complete four of them for the zone's Emissary and you will receive a bonus chest! Sound familiar? Each quest also has a reward upon completion - gold, an item that grants artifact power, or a piece of gear. You'll want to stay on top of this, as quests rotate fairly often.
Enemies that are related to quests in a given area are also able to be tagged by multiple characters, which is a nice change. You'll still see people try to group up as many mobs as they can for fear of other players ‘stealing' their mobs, but in most cases, it's safe to share.Mythic+ Dungeons
These haven't been released just yet, but you can think of this as the WoW version of Greater Rifts in Diablo 3. Completing a Mythic dungeon will grant you a keystone that will allow you take on a Mythic+ version of the same dungeon. These dungeons are not only quite difficult, but they will receive some kind of modifier to up the challenge, in addition to simply scaling up the HP and damage of the enemies. Completing a Mythic+ dungeon will level up your keystone and allow you to take on an even more difficult version.Final Thoughts
In addition to all of the above, Blizzard has stepped up their story presentation quite a bit. There is voiceover just about everywhere, which helps the world feel much more alive. Heck, the very first thing you'll do in this expansion is join a 25-man raid that is absolutely packed with story. The new zones are among the most beautiful I've seen. Class identity is at an all-time high. Because of the campaigns and order halls, I actually feel like the class I chose matters in the grand scheme of things.
While World Quests give players more reason to work together in the open world areas, much of the structure of Legion is similar to what's come before. Fortunately, WoW has always had a healthy mix of single-player and group content for all skill levels, and that hasn't changed.
All in all, if you bounced on WoW long ago, now's as good a time as ever to come back. It doesn't hurt that each copy of Legion comes with a free level 100 character boost!