World of Warcraft’s last expansion, Warlords of Draenor, was ultimately a failure. I had faith in it at first, but besides its raiding encounters and the addition of Mythic/Timewalking dungeons, WoD simply fell flat. Content releases were sparse, the garrison system was a nightmare, and frankly, there just wasn’t much for most players to do.
Luckily, Blizzard is trying to turn things around with a new expansion. If you were one of those players who felt burned by Warlords of Draenor, I have some good news: Legion is going to be much better. From my time in beta, Legion feels much more complete, with a greater emphasis on endgame and less on leveling.
While I’m not quite ready to divvy out a review score (I save reviews for live releases), I do have this nifty list. How and why, exactly, is Legion a better expansion than Warlords of Draenor? Let’s take a look at 10 specific reasons:
Leveling in Legion Won’t be as Monotonous
Leveling through WoD’s new areas the first time was awesome. There were treasures, rare mobs, and goodies scattered all over the map, and the storytelling was top-notch. After that first playthrough, however, there was a lot left to be desired in the expansion’s individual zones. Most zones, except for Spires of Arak and perhaps Talador, simply felt derivative and weren’t fun to explore. Even Tanaan didn’t feel very inspired. It didn’t help that we’d sort of seen these zones before—thanks to the landmass being a mirror of sorts to Outlands, but the connections weren’t strong or interesting enough.
There was no point in spending any more time than was absolutely necessary in each of the zones, and this was a shame. Archeology was useless, as were gathering skills, and even the world bosses became obsolete as better gear was rolled out. Playing through the expansion with an alternate character didn’t change up the WoD experience all that much, either. The experience was simply monotonous.
In Legion, players are able to level in any new zone they wish—in any order. The mobs, quests, and even rewards scale to the player’s level. This breaks up the leveling herd while giving players options. It’s win-win, and as an added bonus, it’s great for leveling alts. Were you half asleep during that one zone? Tackle it first on an alt. The options help ensure replayability.
Legion’s zones, for the most part, are also more unique, more colorful, and feature some iconic races and landscapes that are more interesting than most of what WoD had to offer. Take a look at Azsuna, Stormheim, and Highmountain, for example. We’ll be spending time with Druidic races, visual relatives of the Tauren race, and Valk’yr. It’s a good mix, and finally—we’re getting a bit of a break from orcs.
We Actually Got a New Class
Demon Hunters are pretty fun, and very iconic to Warcraft lore overall. The best thing about Demon Hunters (besides Double Jump and Glide, of course) might be the fact that we actually have a new class to explore for Legion, something Warlords of Draenor was desperately missing. Personally, I’m stoked anytime there’s a new tank class to toy with.
For the record, as much as I love tanks/melee DPS, the next new class better be a healer/ranged DPS. We have enough melee DPS in WoW now to make a boss just kind of fall through the floor, especially if all the melee stack up with the Hunter/Warlock/DK pets (watch out if there are any Pandaren in the mix…).
Professions Are Useful Again
The first time I unlocked my garrison and its mine/herb garden during WoD’s beta, a thought crossed my mind: “This is going to kill gathering.” Sure enough. Mining, herbalism, and skinning were completely gutted thanks to how simple it was to gather all the ore/herbs you could ever use by simply logging on a couple alts.
Luckily, Legion is making mining and herbalism useful again, thanks to profession dailies. Crafting professions also seem more useful in general (except for inscription perhaps), and a little less straightforward, partially due to the removal of the 3-item limit that was in place for WoD crafted gear. Blizzard listened to some WoD feedback in this regard, and that’s certainly welcome.
The Transmog System Is Actually Useful Now
One of the best features added into WoW’s pre-Legion patch was undeniably the new menu-based transmog system that actually lets us have bag space again. I won’t go on and on about this forever, because let’s face it—WoW’s needed this for years—but yes, it’s certainly a welcome addition to the game. It’s not perfect, but it’s the best transmog system the game has seen. It also lets me easily throw together all sorts of random looks that amuse me, so that’s always a plus.
Dungeon Quests Are Back
Dungeon quests have really been missing from leveling. I miss completing dungeon quests that round out a zone’s particular story, as well as assembling a team to tackle dungeons because the quest rewards are simply too good to pass up.
This is all back for Legion, and you’ll want to complete the dungeon quests if you want to unlock Mythic dungeons or maximize your artifact weapon AP (Artifact Power) gain. Dungeon quests help promote the fact that yes, World of Warcraft is a game played with others. Dungeons are integral to that experience whether they’re tackled by random groups or by friends.
The World Quest System Is Neat
Legion’s world quest system is essentially a mix of the dynamic “events” that happened across Tanaan/Timeless Isle, WoD’s obsession with Apexis Crystal objective areas, and daily quests. They open up at level 110 and give players a reason to keep exploring and keep going out into the world. They also are a major source of Artifact Power, so you won’t want to skimp on these too much.
Blizzard boasts that there are 100+ world quests to partake in, and they randomize by day, similar to how daily quests and objective areas currently work. They vary by type, too. We’ll see group world quests, solo adventures, profession quests, world bosses, dungeon challenges, PvP quests, and pet battle quests.
Overall, the system has the potential to be a little repetitive, similar to WoD’s bonus objective areas, but my hopes are a little higher this time.
Legendaries Give Us a Reason to Kill and Loot Mobs
Apparently WoW’s developers felt there weren’t enough legendary items in the game. In the past, legendary weapons were extremely difficult-to-obtain weapons that were super powerful and generally unique to each expansion. When someone had Shadowmourne, the legendary axe from Icecrown Citadel, you knew. It was a force to be reckoned with, and making one took the effort of an entire guild.
Not so much anymore. Legion has multiple legendaries—8+ for each and every spec in the game. They aren’t weapons this time around, either. Each legendary item has a unique effect that should make a fairly large impact on how the player who has that legendary plays. Some legendaries are better than others, of course, and here’s the kicker—they’re instantly soulbound (can’t be traded/sold to another player), and you can get them off any Legion mob.
That ugly boar-looking thing? It might have a legendary pair of boots. Those dead dungeon mobs you just Heroic Leaped over instead of looting? Look, a legendary ring! It’s a little silly when you think about it, but once you get past the fact that legendary items were once legendary in WoW, the system itself is kind of cool. There’s now a reason to loot everything you kill, and a reason to kill random stuff—anywhere and everywhere—to see what nifty shinies you get.
Frankly, I have mixed feelings about the legendary system and how some items will scale during raids, but I welcome a reason to loot all the things I come across. Random, rare rewards are fun, and WoW’s been lacking quality rewards for quite some time.
Mythic+ Dungeons Provide a Viable Alternative to Raiding
Legion’s kicking WoD’s Mythic dungeon system up a notch and blending it with Diablo III’s Greater Rift system and MoP/WoD’s Challenge Mode system. Mythic and Mythic+ dungeons can’t be randomly queued. Mythic dungeons are somewhere between the difficulty range of WoD’s Heroic dungeons and Mythic dungeons, while Mythic+ dungeons scale in difficulty all the way up to Mythic +15 and beyond, serving as a challenge for small groups.
Mythic+ dungeons utilize keystones that unlock nasty effects for a dungeon run, plus add a timer. These effects are randomized and can affect anything from how healers heal to how tanks tank or how quickly trash mobs need to die in succession to one another. If a group succeeds and beats the timer, they’ll get chests of loot containing raid-quality gear as well as gain a keystone for the next highest difficulty.
If it sounds confusing, don’t worry—it kind of is (and I didn’t explain all of it either—here’s a good summary if you want to know more), but essentially Mythic+ dungeons give small groups a way to truly tackle some progressive, tough content without forcing them to join a raid group. It’s also a great system for raiders looking to grab alternate gear pieces and for latecomers who need to quickly gear up.
The best thing about Mythic and Mythic+ dungeons is the fact that they start off non-faceroll and become as challenging as you want them to be. They don’t scale as tightly as Challenge Modes, which is actually awesome for those of us who don’t play classes/specs that were deemed “OP” (overpowered) in CMs. The tuning feels much better, and the lack of a timer in regular Mythic difficulty makes these runs more approachable to all players.
Ah, here we go. Legion’s shiniest feature, the artifact weapon system. These babies completely change how our characters look, how each spec plays, and give us added progression (via AP, which kind of works like EXP) once we reach level 110. They add new abilities to our rotations, too, which makes the current “pruned” status of most of our action bars not quite so drastic. Overall, most of the new abilities are awesome, and the weapons themselves look cool.
As the expansion continues, we’ll also be able to further customize our artifact weapons with drops we receive from quests, bosses, etc., making them more powerful by upgrading their base stats, effects, appearances, and item levels. For most of us, artifact weapons are the reason we’re looking forward to Legion. I’ll admit it—I’m really looking forward to being a badass-looking kitty cat or bear.
There Are No Garrisons
Enough said, right? Time to break out the party streamers. WoD’s garrison system is finally taking a hike in Legion. Class halls seem rather similar to garrisons on paper, but they’re quite different simply due to the fact that you’re not stuck there 99% of the time. They don’t quite house everything and the kitchen sink. And there’s the fact that they’re actually out there in the world, tucked away in class-iconic areas, instead of instanced to you and only you.
Each class hall also has class-specific storylines and quests surrounding them. Class halls are how we get our shiny artifact weapons when it comes time to leveling during Legion. Class halls are more tied to our classes overall, and that alone makes them more immersive.
On one hand, I’ll kind of miss hopping around and randomly Moonfiring critters without anyone being judgmental and thinking, “Wow, what an awful Druid representative,” but let’s face it—we don’t play WoW to feel alone. It’s time to get out of our damn garrisons and be among the people.
And there you have it. If you’re on the fence about trying Legion, my vote, obviously, is to give it a go. At the very least, it promises to be a different experience than Warlords of Draenor, and that alone makes it worth trying out. For my final verdict, look for my Legion review in a few days. Until then, enjoy the Broken Isles, folks.
Laura Hardgrave is a staff writer.