On August 6th, at Gamescom in Germany, Blizzard held a press conference to announce that WoW 7.0 is going to be called Legion. The venerable MMO’s seventh expansion will take players to The Broken Isles, a set of sundered islands that are home to High Elves and the revived Burning Legion. And yes, that means that once again we’ll have Illidan Stormrage to contend with in an expansion.
First we went back to Draenor. Now we’re fighting Illidan again. One has to wonder if perhaps the lore of Warcraft has been exhausted at this point.
While the narrative might not be the freshest thing in the world, the features presented in the Legion announcement trailer seem substantial enough to lure back a large portion of players. Garrisons have been replaced with ‘Class Halls’, communal areas open to all members of a particular class; followers are becoming more powerful and more direct in their effect on your gameplay, with examples like ‘providing buffs for your hero in the zones the follower quests in’ being thrown out over the course of Blizzard’s hour-long press conference.
The big highlight of Legion has to be the new class being introduced: the Demon Hunter. Restricted to either night elves or blood elves, Demon Hunters will become the 12th playable class in World of Warcraft. While they are certainly visually striking – essentially mimicking Illidan in the aesthetics department – they are, at the end of the day, another leather-wearing hybrid class. They will use Demonic Fury and will be capable of either tanking or dealing damage.
Hot on the heels of the Demon Hunter, though, was the revelation that essentially every specialization of every class will be receiving an ‘Artifact’ weapon – an upgradeable legendary that is consistent with the lore of the spec. Most intriguing about this system is that each weapon will represent a sort of secondary talent system, making me wonder how much of the artifact upgrade system is in fact the end result of the old Path of the Titans system that was announced for Cataclysm but never made it into the game. I also have to wonder if the artifact talent system will share the same fate, come to think of it.
The expansion features lots of new dungeons and raids and 10 more levels to get through; in addition, those who pre-order Legion will receive a complimentary character level boost to 100. While no official date of release was announced, a Blizzard press release did state that the beta would be out this year. Earlier this week, Activision Blizzard also announced that World of Warcraft subscriptions had fallen from 10 million seven months ago (upon the release of Warlords of Draenor) to 5.6 million (which is still a lot, but also a 10 year low point for the MMO).
If I’m totally honest, I’m not sure how I feel about Legion at first glance. The Demon Hunter is something I’m very interested in playing (IT CAN DOUBLE JUMP!) and I love the idea that not just every class, but every spec, will have their own personal storyline to get through with the artifact system (I was a fan of the old Paladin and Warlock mount quests in vanilla). Class Halls strike me as odd, though, and there just has to be some other compelling stories to tell than a rehashed Illidan arc.
I’ve seen some reference to Legion potentially being the spiritual successor to both The Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King expansions and I agree it certainly has that feel at first blush. Then again, so did Warlords of Draenor.