World of Warcraft: Legion review: The excitement returns in this online role-playing game

For the first time in several World of Warcraft expansions Blizzard is flexing its world-creation and storytelling muscles.

Over the past few years now, World of Warcraft subscribers have been drifting away from the game, canceling their accounts or putting them on hold. The question as to whether there was a game still worth playing, or even content really worth exploring, hung in the air.

With the release of the World of Warcraft: Legion expansion ($50 on Amazon), these questions appear to have been put to rest.

From its very outset, Legion means to grab your attention and keep it. The opening cinematic of a combined aerial and naval invasion between the Horde and the Alliance against the Burning Legion creates a feeling of dramatic tension. It’s Blizzard going for broke to establish the feeling that you are your character and that this campaign is the last, best hope for victory, even as your airship is shot down and you’re stranded on a foreign beach in the middle of enemy territory.

For the first time in several World of Warcraft expansions (Legion is the sixth one) Blizzard is flexing its world-creation and storytelling muscles. The game’s graphics and sound have been upped to beautiful new levels. Lush new environments and quests are genuinely worth exploring, rather than simply feeling as if you’re going through the paces.

wow legion 04

WoW still has gigantic dragons to take down.

Demon Hunter

The key to all of this, and perhaps the thing that makes Legion worth the effort, is the new Broken Isles content and the Demon Hunter player character. Following installation of the game, you can either use a one-time upgrade and boost one of your existing characters to level 100 or create a level 98 Demon Hunter and begin playing the tutorial quest line to fill yourself in on the back story, play style, and lore.

For anyone who ever wanted to play a Demon Hunter, this is your lucky day. In addition to creating a tough, resilient character with a good level of branching and customization, the Metamorphosis spell earned during the early gameplay segment allows you to transform into a hulking, spiky warrior, and the ability to decimate your opponents with eye beams will have you giggling with joy. Pair that with bat wings that you can use to glide from place to place and you have a fun, agile, and tough new class.

wow legion 07

That’s a lot of arms and swords.

Better expansion experience

World of Warcraft’s expansions in years past were treated with a mix of both joy and dread, and for good reason. During past around expansion times, logins were met with delays, long wait queues, and occasional crashes. This wasn’t the case with Legion and I was not only able to log in quickly, but also had next to no wait to participate in a quick group dungeon or raid mission. In spite of being briefly disconnected during gameplay, I was up and running on the server in under a minute and the connection remained stable.

One of the arguments against any role playing game is the inevitable grind to the next level and beyond, and Blizzard seems to have worked through some of this. The quests and new content are fun, well developed, and inviting. It’s a long road up to the new, tantalizing maximum of level 110, but it’s still fun to dig through the new Broken Isles continent and its content as well as go over familiar territory with the Demon Hunter quest and see what you can take on either solo or as part of a group. This, in addition to the new Order Halls feature within the game, allows you to build a genuine headquarters for yourself, send followers out on missions, upgrade the Order Hall as you see fit and gives you something to make all your own while working towards the next level.

wow legion 13

He’s made of fire and stone and he is angry. This might not go well.

Bottom line

For the first time in a very long time, Blizzard has released and expansion that’s truly exciting, which is saying something. The game’s boosted graphics and sound add to the epic feel, there’s new backstory and lore, and the game’s mechanics (which now include a grappling hook that can be picked up later on in Legion) help you scale steep walls and get around the map with ease. After taking on the initial start areas and running through the Alliance capital city of Stormwind, I wanted to get out there, explore and see what new, cool and funny things were out there waiting for me.

It’s been a long time since this has happened and even with the caveat that some of the hardcore players are finding that the endgame raid content has yet to be sorted out and is still a few weeks down the line from the writing of this review, it feels as if I’ve been sat down at a table where a tasty buffet of food has been assembled before me.

This is the expansion World of Warcraft players have been waiting for, even if your faith has been shaken by somewhat mediocre expansion packs over World of Warcraft’s 12-year history. Whether this gets you back as a subscriber and a fan is another thing, but for the time being, Legion is definitely worth your consideration.

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Chris Barylick

Macworld.com
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