With the World of Warcraft: Legion alpha on hiatus until sometime in early 2016, it gives us a breather in order to assess the things we learned during the first part of testing. While much is known thanks to data-miners, it’s often the experiential knowledge that is the most compelling and worthy of contemplation.
Here are a few of highlights from Legion Alpha 1:
Classes will be undergoing significant changes in Legion. Of particular note is that there will be many fewer crossover skills between specs.
For instance, many of the healing abilities that Paladins share currently in Warlords of Draenor will be removed, or severely curtailed, for Retribution Paladins and Protection Paladins. In addition, Holy Paladins will be more combat-oriented, with healing abilities used in close combat rather than standing out on the edges of combat.
Blizzard has indicated that this reorganization of skills, talents and glyphs helps players identify better with “class fantasy” and sets each apart as something unique as compared both to other specs and to other classes.
We now know the names and at least a bit of the backstory with regard to each Artifact weapon. While most are not steeped in Warcraft lore, Blizzard is making an effort to make the journey to acquire one important and gratifying to players though some have expressed disappointment that, for instance, their weapon is not as “important” as the Enhancement Shaman’s Doomhammer or the Retribution Paladin’s Ashbringer or even the Frost Death Knight’s Icebringer and Soulreaper (based on the shards of Frostmourne).
In addition to the more story-based side of Artifacts, the traits that each will feature have also been revealed. Players will effectively ‘level up’ their weapons, no longer dependent on crafting or finding the best weapons in the game. Traits will add both passive and active abilities that will bring new ways to play each class specification with Blizzard hoping to put away the “FotW” type builds that currently exist in WoW.
CLASS ORDER HALLS
In addition to having individualized weapons, each player will become the leader of his/her class. Death Knights have an updated Acherus Hold, Paladins will reside in the depths of Light’s Hope Chapel and, most controversially, Rogues will find their haven in the Dalaran Sewers. Each class order hall is tailored to represent all specs and, at least theoretically, all races though it can clearly be seen, for instance, that the Hunter Order Hall is heavily influenced by Night Elven architecture. Some players are asking for Blizzard to include more racial influences. Early as it is in the testing phase, it will remain to be seen if any further changes are made.
For those who may have missed it, PvP is probably the one game system that is undergoing the most drastic changes in Legion. To call it a “shake up in the status quo” is to severely understate what is being done.
To begin with, Honor and Conquest currencies will no longer be used to purchase gear from PvP vendors. Rather, players sitting at level 110 will earn Honor Points from arenas and battlegrounds in a way not dissimilar to how experience is earned while leveling up. Honor points yield honor levels up to a maximum of 50. To go with the new attainment of Honor Points, players will also gain special PvP-only talents that unlock as Honor Levels are gained.
Another significant change is the removal of PvP-specific gear. The maximum iLevel difference between someone fresh from PvE entering a PvP zone and a grizzled PvP veteran will largely be nullified. As normal PvE gear increases in level, pre-determined PvP stats will only increase by 0.01%. Blizzard explained that "means a 25 item level difference between two players only results in a 2.5% difference in stats compared to the 25% difference it makes today thereby leveling the playing field. Since there is no PvP specific gear, the best players in PvP and PvE will be able to earn the best gear. Utilizing a system without PvP-centric gear allows Blizzard to more easily tweak balance.
Other changes of note include: faction rewards at the end of each season; shorter, more frequent seasons; resetting Honor Levels adds a Prestige Level to earn titles, pets, mounts, artifact appearances, and more.
Lastly, two new arena maps are being added for the first time since Mists of Pandaria: Val'sharah Arena and Ravencourt.
While all of these changes have been well-documented by Blizzard, none have yet to make it into the alpha. It’s assumed that the new alpha version that will come out in January will include PvP. We’ll keep you posted as more is known!
Of course, the most significant thing that has come from the Legion alpha is the knowledge that Blizzard isn’t going to make its previously stated goal of “beta later this year” and the Blizzcon promise that the beta will begin “in the weeks following” the annual convention. With alpha still very much in progress and with arguably a lot of testing yet to go, it seems that beta is still at least several months away. September 2016 is the outside edge of the release window and it seems that, indeed, that will be how long players needy for more content will have to wait.
Have you been following the Legion alpha? What are you most looking forward to and / or are you most concerned about? Leave us your thoughts in the comments.