I done messed up. I went and did it. I pulled myself away from Final Fantasy XIV (PC) and Neverwinter (PS4) long enough to give my money to Blizzard. I know, I know, shame on me. I get it. I know better, but I did it anyway. I blame my brother. He jumped back in after years away. I couldn’t leave him hanging. Here is what I learned. Warning. There are some light spoilers here. You are now prepared!
The Blizzard art and cinematics team has taken it to a whole new level. It’s been great watching World of Warcraft grow and evolve over the years. Sure there are changes I don’t agree with but that’s the nature of life. Everything changes contrary to what the curmudgeons want so why would we expect MMOs to be any different? One of the changes, more of an evolution really, is how they use cinematics to help tell a story. The introductory cinematics are always top notch even if they are for an expansion I care nothing about (looking at you Mists of Kung Fu Panda). Legion is no exception. However, Blizzard has added a handful of vignettes in Legion which are jaw dropping. These are not in engine, nor are they full on cinematics. They are animated works that looks like full motions comics. Some of these can be viewed on the web. Even if you don’t have interest in the game as a whole I’d suggest you go to Blizzard’s YouTube channel and give them a watch. They are worth it especially if you are a lore hound. The one about Illidan will start to give you an entirely different perspective on the supposed villain you struck down in the Black Temple.
In addition to the cinematics there are also in engine set pieces. You’ll experience one of these early on that involves a funeral. There is a sense of weight added to the event by the art pieces. These are somber moments filled with sorrow and distrust. It is also phased. This is one bit of storytelling that Blizzard might want to take a lesson learned from Elder Scrolls Online. Be careful how far you separate your players. It can be frustrating when you don’t experience those moments with your group. They aren’t moments that single you out as the hero. There is no reason you should have to do them alone or that someone else can’t witness them again.
The Shattered Abyss, starting zone for the Demon Hunters, is an improvement over the Plaguelands the starting area for the Death Knights. I do have to admit it’s a bit weird that the two hero classes in game essentially are the one time disciples of the two most iconic villains in Warcraft lore. The Shattered Abyss feels a lot like a stream lined Tanaan Jungle. Even if you don’t plan on playing a demon hunter for any length of time its worth at least playing through this zone for the background information it provides for the expansion. At a reasonable pace, including reading the quest text, I was able to finish the starting zones in around two and a half hours. During this time you’ll go from level 98 to 100 and learn your abilities for both specs Havoc (DPS), and Vengeance (Tank). I like the new mobility of the demon hunter. Double jumping with the ability to glide is a lot of fun.
There are a series of invasions taking place over Azeroth. The Burning Legion has invaded. These invasions if left unchecked will last up to four hours. If you complete one you will get a feat of strength achievement. If you complete all six you’ll received a second feat of strength achievement. These are only available for a limited time. You’ll also earn iLevel 700 rare gear from completing these events. If you are just jumping in for the first time or coming back after a long hiatus these will help you quickly gear up for the impending leveling trek. FYI the Legion has arrived through portals in space ships. Yes, space ships. I just can’t….
There is also a new scenario in the game. It is one of the best I’ve played in a long time. It features some raid ideas I’ve been waiting 11 years for. It’s really cool. It’s also really heavy on lore and while I warned of mild spoilers in the beginning to talk anymore about it could ruin it for you, so… mums the word.
With WoW I’m never sure how long the fun will last. I refuse to pay a monthly fee for a game that isn’t updated on a regular basis, and by that I mean less than once a quarter. Once my sub stops I usually don’t reactivate until the next pre-expansion event begins. I always get my money’s worth though and I’m confident this time will be the same. I just wish Activision would toss in a month of game time with that $49.99 expansion fee. See you in Azeroth.