World of Warcraft (WoW) is the MMORPG all PC gamers have played at some point throughout their gaming career. Anyone who's played WoW will know the serene torture of existing within Azeroth: no one starts off with the intention of becoming invested in the game, but we've all been there. You probably started off with a friend recommending the game, you decided to check out the free trial, and before you know it... "when did I last go outside?"
No other MMORPG has this kind of impact on gamers, where it's treated as a dirty habit or an addiction that we just can't risk going back to. "Do you still play WoW?" gamer 1 might ask. "No," replies gamer 2, "I can't risk getting addicted again!" Truly, no other game inspires this kind of mindless devotion: this all-or-nothing fanaticism. Who can forget that iconic South Park episode? You know the one I mean; it was funny for all the wrong reasons!
A New Age of 'WoW'
However, in our absence World of Warcraft has kept building momentum with a loyal army of players. Are you still a loyal WoW gamer? Did you last play at the 'Burning Crusade' expansion, or 'Wrath of the Lich King,' 'Cataclysm,' 'Mists of Pandaria,' or 'Warlords of Draenor'? Each expansion has added incredible features and contributed just a little more to the gaming experience.
Despite their past successes, WoW has been destined to face insurrection: suffering under the rise of alternative MMORPGs such as Old Republic, based on the incredible Knights of the Old Republic games, and League of Legends, a MOBA with an ever growing fan-base.
But WoW isn't going down without a fight! At this year's Gamecom it was announced that Blizzard is working on something special, a new expansion: 'Legion,' which has some awesome new additions.
I'll cover the finest aspects of 'Legion' in a moment. But before that, it's worth noting that an image was captured which revealed the release date: "on or before September 21, 2016."
Unfortunately this seems to have gamers pretty riled-up, with some of them posting their disapproval on 'Reddit.'
"Blizzard is being very optimistic with how much latitude they have left with the community they have left aren't they? Are you prepared to wait (hypothetically) up to another 10 months for Legion while staying subbed?
10 more bloody months... Christ's sake, what are they smoking?"
It's apparent that some of the still-loyal WoW gamers are frustrated by this latest development.
"With the sub numbers already now at basically vanilla wow levels another year between now and next expansion means a few months of completely tanked numbers."
Whereas 'USgamer' reports that:
"The game is haemorrhaging subscribers, either because players are simply fatigued and aging out of the game, or because Blizzard is doing something wrong.
While WoW is still very high for an MMO, Blizzard can't rest on what it's done before.
Two years between expansions won't work when other titles have more ambitious content schedules."
Blizzard is getting some pretty negative press these days. Once upon a time WoW was the MMOPRG that every gamer just had to play, but times are changing. Is WoW dying a slow death in the modern age of gaming?
Will the gamers be willing to wait 10 months for Legion? Alongside the expansion comes some pretty interesting rewards. The deluxe edition -- $69.99, compared to $49,99 for the standard -- comes with an Illidari Felstalker mount and a pet, "Nibbles."
There's also the additional reward of bone wings for Diablo 3 and a Felstalker in Heroes of the Storm. Moreover, Eurogamer reports that they think there's "what looks like Illidan Stormrage for StarCraft 2."
So it seems Blizzard is using its latest WoW expansion to encourage gamers to come back to more than just Azeroth, but also Diablo 3, Heroes of the Storm and Starcraft 2. But will the fairly obvious ploy work?
So... What's New in 'World of Warcraft: Legion'?
1. Scaled Leveling
Every WoW expansion, from Burning Crusade to Lich King, has offered something new to the game, but one change is getting a lot of press. This is of course the introduction of scaled leveling, which will lead to a change in the way in which the game is played at higher levels.
The result of this will be that rather than sending high level players, say 100-109, from zone to zone in order to game, the zones themselves will scale in order to reflect the level of the character, which Blizzard hopes will lead to a truly open world.
There will be four scaled leveling zones: Azsuna, Val'Sharah, Highmountain and Stormheim, which characters will be free to enter at their leisure, assured that the foes, gear and quests will be suitable for their individual level. Moreover, at level 110 players will gain access to Suaramar, the climactic zone without scaling.
This expansion should make it significantly easier for friends of various levels to team up, eliminating the issue of a single level's difference, making team-ups inconvenient and of little use.
Finally, with the new scaled leveling system, end-game quests will be less specific and could result in the character being sent to anywhere across the scaled zones. This will allow players to move beyond a specific area when at the higher end levels within the game, and will additionally offer much greater freedom. The versatile end-game missions could involve anything from PvP (player vs. player), world raid bosses, crafting and mini-games.
2. PvP-Only Abilities
In World of Warcraft players have the choice of PvP (player vs. player) and PvE (player vs. everyone) servers. Simply, PvP servers allow players to fight against player-controlled characters from the alternate faction as long as they are in contested areas: areas which do not belong to either faction.
This means that Horde characters may freely attack Alliance characters in a PvP realm, and vice versa. PvE realms are simpler and safer: a character from another faction must ask your permission to fight, saving low-level players from being overrun or repeatedly killed.
Recent expansions have also introduced PvP aspects of PvE realms in addition to the ever-present "dueling" where characters may choose to fight. These PvP options were of course arena battles, where players of the same faction could team-up in 2v2, 3v3 (etc.) battles against the opposing faction. These tournaments really kicked-off, and in addition to Battle Grounds (BG's), where large groups of players battle to achieve a goal, PvP gaming has really taken-off in WoW.
However, this led to a problem, as players had to balance their PvP and PvE abilities and gear; what is suited to a 3v3 game may not be suited to questing. Consequently some players found their character's abilities unsuited to certain aspects of the game.
This has led Blizzard to introduce PvP-only abilities, which are perfectly suited to PvP gaming but will not exist in the wider game. The result of this will be that players will not have to switch out abilities in order to play arena matches, and also powerful PvP spells won't make characters overpowered (OP'd) in the game. Simply, the focus will be on the way in which players choose to utilize PvP talents.
A recurring complaint in WoW has always been the uneven class content. After some patches players would frequently complain that a certain class had become OP'd, and the class-specific content available to some players made for drastically uneven gameplay. For example, Warlocks are able to obtain their own class mount, the Felsteed and the much faster Dreadsteed, whereas Druids are able to gain access to fight form.
In the Mists of Pandaria and Warlords of Dreanor expansions, Blizzard offered Legendary items such as rings and cloaks which could be used universally, but even these benefited some classes more than others.
In Legion, Blizzard are proving that they really do listen to the complaints of players; to highlight this point they're introducing Artifacts. These incredible items will only be available to the highest of levels and will grow more powerful as the owner levels.
Each class will have their own specific artifact designed to suit the needs of the class; players will receive this artifact at the start of the expansion, from which point they will be able to customize it based on their individual preference. This should in theory avoid characters looking too similar, but it will also hinder the versatility of characters and individuality within the game.
This addition will ensure that each class has its own advantages, somewhat eliminating the chances of certain higher-level classes being OP'd. However, as this will only be available to the most devoted of players, it must be considered whether the addition will bring back long-gone WoW players.
4. The Demon Hunter
Legion will also bring the much anticipated addition to the established classes: the Demon Hunter. This new class will add to the already-prolific lore of World of Warcraft,
'Battlenet' describes the Demon Hunter as dangerous, unpredictable and ritually-blind warriors.
"Demon hunters, disciples of Illidan Stormrage, uphold a dark legacy, one that frightens their allies and enemies alike.
The Illidari embrace fel and chaotic magics—energies that have long threatened the world of Azeroth—believing them necessary to challenge the Burning Legion.
Wielding the powers of demons they’ve slain, they develop demonic features that incite revulsion and dread in fellow elves."
When beginning a new Demon Hunter character, the player will be able to run through flashbacks going as far back as the Burning Crusade expansion, which will presumably explain their origins and absence from previous gameplay.
The Demon Hunter class will have a special ability which will allow them to transform into their demon pray. Moreover, they will only have two talent trees instead of the traditional three: Havok, a damage spec, and Vengeance, a tank spec. The consequence of this could be a lack of individuality among varying characters, and could leave players disappointed in the new addition.
Much like the Death Knight of the Lich King expansion, Demon Hunters will start already at high level, so presumably there will be a requirement for players to already have a high level character in order to raise a Demon Hunter.
The new class is certainly a welcome addition to the game, however after the initial hype of the Death Knight certain players found them OP'd and dull, so it will be interesting to see how the Demon Hunter class is received by players.
The World of Warcraft Legion expansion looks like it's going to make a fantastic addition to the game. It seems that Blizzard have really listened to the gamers and are making positive changes which will make the gameplay more enjoyable and modern.
Even among gamers who no longer devote time to WoW, it's still considered the foundation of online gaming, looked upon with respect and nostalgia. There are truly no other MMORPG's which have withstood the test of time and thrived since their conception.
However, with World of Warcraft no longer having the monopoly on online gaming, players simply have much more choice in what they can play. Where once gamers would devote everything to WoW, many of us no longer have the time or energy to do so; consequently the all-or-nothing manner of gameplay associated with WoW just seems outdated.
With free-to-play games such as League of Legends, Old Republic, Smite, and countless others now readily available, will players really devote so much time, energy and money to a game like WoW?
Remember to get in on the discussion; watch the trailer for legion and remember to let me know what you think!