World of Warcraft Legion Review: Risen From Fel

Credit: Blizzard
Credit: Blizzard /

World of Warcraft’s newest expansion, Legion, must struggle to undo the damage done by the lackluster Warlords of Draenor. Can it draw players back into Azeroth and retain them meaningfully over time?

Developer: Blizzard Entertainment

Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment

Platforms: PC

Release Date: August 30th, 2016

The only thing that could have made the launch of “Legion” more glorious would be if we could nuke our Draenor garrisons with fel fire, chuck our Garrison hearthstones into the blaze, and never look back. Lacking that, the sudden rush of questlines and content after over a year of bare bones exhilarates committed World of Warcraft players such as myself. I know the euphoria doesn’t last forever. Legion must draw and retain a lapsed player base in an even bigger way than Warlords of Draenor was tasked with. We won’t know if it can succeed for a few months or more, but we can look closely at the offerings and make an educated guess.

Credit: Blizzard
Credit: Blizzard /

You’ve got class

Your attention in Legion will largely be split between two major activities: your adventures out in the world, and building up your Class Order Hall. Immediately upon entering Legion, you’ll be sent on a class-specific quest to establish your Order Hall, become its leader, and obtain a powerful class/spec artifact that will be your weapon for the entire expansion, complete with its own skill tree and point allocation.

Reusing technology from Draenor’s garrisons, you will spend time in your class hall sending champions out on missions, reaping rewards, crafting peon troops to aid them, doing time-based research into your class lore, and basically a lot of the same time and resource management tasks from Warlords of Draenor. While it’s really hard to argue (as Blizzard has tried) that this isn’t garrison 2.0, admittedly it’s a much easier pill to swallow this time. You have only a handful of troops. The missions are long (think in the 12 hours to multiple days range). And there’s context! Most missions you’ll do in the early phases are tied to a quest and have a conclusive purpose.

I don’t know if that saves Class Halls from being an odd, unnecessary addition to an MMORPG, but they’re not awful. Admittedly it’s pretty cool to hang out in a cave by the Maelstrom with buddies such as Farseer Nobundo and Rehgar Earthfury. There are lots of little easter eggs for every class, so be sure to thoroughly explore.

Related Story: 10 Things To Do In Draenor Before Legion

On that note, your class quests aren’t the only mundane activity suddenly blessed with context. Professions have also improved in this regard. All professions now require a combination of activities in the world, dungeons, and returns to old areas to progress with new recipes. Yes, even gathering professions! While it may seem overwhelming to do these alongside everything else, it’s a drastic improvement to the dull collect and craft system World of Warcraft has wasted its time on for years.

world of warcraft legion
Credit: Blizzard /

Choose your own adventure

Once you establish your Class Hall and send your first champions off on an adventure, you’re given the option to begin questing in one of four zones. There’s Val’sharah, a region emulating the natural beauty (and corruption) of the Emerald Dream; Azsuna, a destroyed shoreline where Azshara’s power is still strong; Highmountain, an enormous peak inhabited by moose-antlered Tauren; and Stormheim, the realm of ancient gods and Vrykul. You can quest in any order thanks to a fancy new level-scaling technology, and can even play alongside your friends who are lower levels than you with no trouble.

The questing itself is largely standard fare: you get the usual quests to kill x amount of things or collect y amount of items, with a few scattered exceptions. I won’t spoil the story for you, but if you’re a lore addict, Legion is like a dream come true. Pretty much every major storyline people have been asking about for years makes an appearance, complete with the most cutscenes I’ve ever seen in this game, and some surprising twists. Don’t worry if you’re not up on the latest news surrounding Malfurion, Azshara, or Sylvanas, though, as there’s plenty of new characters and stories as well.

Now that feels more like a dungeon.

Ten new dungeons join the dungeon queue in Legion, with two only available at endgame (more on that later). I was impressed by how well dungeons were integrated both into the leveling experience via quests at the end of each zone, and through various other methods such as profession resource collection. Rather than dungeons and questing feeling like two alternate routes to level, the two were intertwined.

At first, I scoffed at the easy-mode normal dungeons that I could burn through without paying much attention. Then I tried heroic, which not only adds health and damage to bosses but also new mechanics. Now that feels more like a dungeon. I have not yet gotten a chance to try Mythic difficulty, and Mythic+ doesn’t drop until Emerald Nightmare, but knowing that another layer of challenge exists even beyond this (with appropriate rewards) gives me hope that dungeons will be viable content for a long time to come.

world of warcraft legion
Credit: Blizzard /

Not the end of the world

At level 110, the final zone, Suramar opens. It’s a fully fleshed-out zone; a far cry from miserable Tanaan Jungle or the high-level challenges of the Timeless Isle. There’s a story that ties directly into the expansion’s second raid, a brand new currency, pets, mounts, achievements, two unlockable dungeons, and a masquerade ball. Suramar itself is about as big as two or three zones concerning content, and when partnered with the various Class Hall questlines, profession quests, and dungeons, new level 110s are likely to have interesting content for some time to come.

If Suramar isn’t your cup of tea, you can drop down into Dalaran’s underbelly, bribe the guards, and go to town with PvP and the multiple rare spawns in its depths. You can finish working on your professions quests or work on your Pathfinder achievement, which will eventually unlock flying. Or, you can tackle World Quests.

World Quests appear on your in-game map on a timed basis, each with their own duration, tasks, and special rewards. Some are simple kill or gather quests, but others ask you to listen to a bit of lore, play a brief platforming minigame, or perform a profession task. Rewards vary from gold to artifact power to powerful equipment and more. Tackling four World Quests for a particular faction when that faction is active on your map results in a special cache reward that can contain even better equipment. It’s perfect for those gearing up to dive into the Emerald Nightmare on September 20th.

world of warcraft legion
Credit: Blizzard /

I’ve only been in Legion for four days, but from my limited scope, the content seems to have some seriously long legs. Between dungeons, world quests, the upcoming raids, class halls, professions, quests, and PvP, the content almost feels on overload after the drought of Draenor. And on the whole, it’s all very enjoyable.

My biggest complaint? Poor explanations for changes to existing systems.

The quality of life adjustments, like more nuanced graphics options, the separation of PvE and PvP talents, and fixes to those awful escort quests, do wonders to soothe past frustrations. I’ve experienced no queue times when trying to log in, and minimal lag. There were a few disconnections mid-week as a result of DDoS attacks, but I can hardly fault Blizzard for those. It doesn’t hurt that all the zones are beautiful, the voice acting is on par, Blizzard’s ribbing humor colors the questlines, and the orchestrations by Russel Brower and Neal Acree fit the moods of each zone perfectly.

My biggest complaint? Poor explanations for changes to existing systems. Multiple known systems, including professions, followers, talents, and questing have received an overhaul. Yet, Legion doesn’t always clearly explain what has changed. I wouldn’t have known I could create additional peon followers had I not gone and clicked on everyone in my class hall. Some quest directions are unclear, sending you to the wrong area or without the right item. It’s a weird complaint to have for a game that usually does such explanations well, but I’ve found myself lost and confused often enough that it merited a mention.

world of warcraft legion
Credit: Blizzard /


As thrilled as I am with how Legion looks now, the memories of Warlords of Draenor remain with me. I cannot score this expansion in good faith until I have seen how the endgame content shapes up. Will I run out of world quests eventually? Will the grind for artifact power grow stale? How are the raids? Long-term commitment in an MMORPG is crucial to the game’s success.

Emerald Nightmare, the expansion’s first raid, launches in Normal and Heroic difficulty on September 20th. After experiencing it, I will update this review with a final score including raiding content and the expansion’s longevity over a month-long period.