Legion is Coming
Disclaimer: I am not going to talk about specifics. The only thing I’m going to say about the trailer is: Amazing! What I am going to talk about is my feel for what we learned at Blizzcon. If you don’t want this kind of spoilers, then move on to the next post or blog, this one is not for you.
Spoiler Free Version: Lots of things look amazing. There are several significant quality of life improvements. There are several good ways to feel social again. It really looks like the devs took a lot of time and thought through the mistakes of past expansions, trying to take the good of these things and center the game on the character again. I even think this expansion will be more alt-friendly than WoD.
On to the Juicy Details
New Zones: We always get new zones, and these look pretty awesome. This time, though, instead of having a very specific progression order, you can start anywhere in the four leveling zones. They are using the tech they have from Timewalking to scale the zones to your level. This also means that if you’re 106 and your friend is 102, you can still quest together on content you haven’t done yet, and your level 102 friend won’t be “carried”.
This has a ton of potential for the first day of launch: First and foremost, people will be spread across the zones on day 1, easing the load on servers, and making it possible to actually quest. I presume this is, of course, after we’ve split off onto 34 different quest lines to get our artifact weapons. How brilliant is that? The initial launch will have us going in 34 different directions, not 2! And then, it will compact down to 4, which will be much easier for everyone. Except maybe the Demon Hunters who didn’t pre-order and get early access to the class.
Artifact Weapons: They all look pretty amazing. I’m not sure I agree with every choice made as far as weapon type, but I do think every weapon is pretty interesting. They did an amazing job on the paladin weapons and off hands (spoiler: holy pallies will not be carrying a shield). I honestly think the limitation with the weapons was on the ones we’d already seen in-game, particularly those introduced in vanilla, when some of the high levels of detail weren’t an option. I do hope they open up transmog further for casters, as some of the weapon choices there may be unappealing to folks.
What really has me jazzed about artifact weapons is the game play for upgrading them. They say we’ll be able to fully unlock our weapons, but we don’t know yet if to do that we will have to do heroic or mythic raiding content. It seemed like the content like PvP and raiding may be where certain cosmetic options unlock, rather than where you get the ability unlocks. It also feels like there’s a reasonably good system in place for the potential to expand options as later patches are released.
Demon Hunters: Can’t be dwarves, so I won’t be starting there or maining one. I’ll get to a demon hunter eventually, but certainly not when 1/3 of the server is changing their main because of double jump. I honestly don’t get why that’s such a huge deal to people. The demon hunters look awesome, but I still want to see more of the female horn shapes. So far we see the males with Illidan’s horns, and the women with these little stubby ones. I want grand horns that look menacing.
Class Halls: These seem interesting, and while a lot of people are screaming for guild halls, there is something to say to being out in the world where you can potentially meet some folks you don’t know already.
Quality of Life: I can’t decide if my favorite is the Transmog Closet (woohoo bag space), the updated professions window, tabard collection, or getting all of our specs available at the outset. So many nice things there.
Timing: One of the things that always gets me about people complaining about the timing of when the next expansion is coming is that it always relates to raiding. Now, don’t get me wrong, a long time in a single raid tier isn’t fun for those for whom that is the primary content. But, it’s not the only part of the game, nor even the focus for every player. Keeping that in mind, however, I really wish Blizzard would spread out the content a little bit better; and I wish they’d go back to the patch release design of Mists, in that I’d like to see patches not only when a new raid tier comes out, but with good content world content. Maybe it could go something like this:
- 7.0: Pre-patch and launch event, launch about a month prior to release
- 7.1: Full release of new game including leveling content, and staged initial raid launch.
- 7.2: 3-4 months after release – new dailies and additional content for mini-games (think new garrison missions). New quest line(s) to introduce next raid tier (includes next tier LFR ilvl rewards for 1-2 slots)
- 7.3: 1-2 months after 7.2 release (this puts us at 4-6 months in the initial raid tier, but with new content of interest to raiders) – New raid tier and “catch-up” mechanic to get players to new LFR ilvl.
- 7.4: 3-4 months after 7.3 release (we’re now potentially at 10 months after the initial release of the game) – Open new zone (think Tanaan Jungle/Timeless Isle), complete with new quest line, dailies, and catch-up mechanic.
- 7.5: 1-2 months after 7.4 release (here we could be a full year after launch) – Final raid tier opens.
- 8.0 – 6 months after 7.5 release.
This would balance our time across the three raid tiers, and give us some world content at the tail of each tier. Putting the catch-up mechanic for raid gear into that non-raid patch would allow those who raid more casually or are extremely unlucky the ability to fill holes, while giving those who want to jump into raiding a little later in the expansion the opportunity to get the gear they need to join a raid team and contribute. It also gives non-raiders the opportunity to progress throughout the expansion.
At the light side, it would be 15 months between expansions. But with 5 major patches, I don’t think people would gripe about it being faster. On the long side, this would be 19 months, but with a lot less time on the tail. It also means that Beta would start just a couple months into the final patch. There’s no reason Blizzard would need to change their development in regards to the patch content, it’s just a matter of release times.
If Blizzard wanted to change the time between the expansion, but keep the raid model used in WoD, which they’ve indicated they’re using for Legion, it’s just a matter of adjusting patch timing.