More on Legion

The meat of this post has apparently been sat in my drafts folder for more than four months at this point, but I guess when you're writing about content from an expansion that's already more than five years old, a few months more or less don't really make a difference anymore. If anything, talking about Legion is about to become more relevant again, with Blizzard planning to retune some Legion content to become replayable at level during Shadowlands... or something.

Still, the focus of this post was actually meant to be on the demon hunter alts my husband and I created earlier in the year and our progress through Legion. We didn't quite "100%" it, but we did complete the quest content for all the major patches and duoed all the old raids. We always meant to do the same for the BfA raids actually, but just never got around to even trying.

It's been quite fun, because while regular attacks basically didn't hurt our characters even a mere two levels above the content, some special mechanics could still kill us and actually introduced a bit of challenge. Me just about finishing off Fallen Avatar with my husband's character already dead and just as the boss's last platform was disappearing into the green goo was certainly a moment.

Not having set foot into a WoW raid, not even in its LFR version, since Mists of Pandaria, I was also surprised by how story-heavy some of these have been. Nighthold and Tomb of Sargeras for example definitely had more going on than us simply killing a big bad. I can see how that wouldn't have been popular with a certain segment of the player base.

But anyway, I'm only four paragraphs in and already digressing. What I really wanted to focus on was that the Legion content has been surprisingly fun, and I feel that even with all the borrowed power mechanics stripped out or made irrelevant, you can still tell why it's the modern expansion that people look back on with the most fondness. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if not having to deal with systems like legendaries and artifact power actually improves the experience, considering that those seemed to be the main things I remember hearing people gripe about back in the day. (My demon hunter did find three legendaries by the way, but they might as well be greens at this point in the game.)

One thing I liked is that Legion felt extremely thematically coherent, which is something that BfA was not. The core of the base expansion content is basically: The Burning Legion (demonic bad guys) are invading and we need to find these MacGuffins to defend ourselves! Also, some ancient elves in this land are actually working with the demons because of course they are. And after that the progression is: dealing with the demon-loving elves (Nighthold), pushing back against the demons themselves (Tomb of Sargeras), taking the fight to the demon home world (Argus).

The intro to Argus was bloody brilliant by the way. The scale of it all was impressive and the music bombastic, giving the whole thing a real feel of the end times. If anything I think Blizzard probably took that too far, because it's hard to dial things down again in a meaningful way after dealing with those kinds of world-ending stakes, something that I recall people criticising about Mists of Pandaria in the wake of Cataclysm as well, even if public perception seems to have changed to look back on MoP with a degree of fondness now.

Anyway, it's commonly accepted that most WoW players don't care much about lore and I agree, but I think there's a difference between caring about the intricacies of the lore and having at least a vague idea of what's going on, what your character is doing and why. If the game fails at conveying the latter as it kind of did in BfA with its weird meandering from faction conflict to adventures under the sea to old gods, people won't take to the forums en masse to complain that the story is bad (edit four months later: apparently it takes a cut scene with Sylvanas for that), but I'm 100% convinced that it does result in the average player feeling less engaged by the game.

Legion definitely didn't have that problem. Some details may have been confusing (Why does Turalyon talk about fighting the Legion for thousands of years? Surely he can't have been with the Army of Light for more than a couple of decades, tops?) but you could always follow the main throughline.

The way major lore characters were involved was also pretty well done for the most part in that they fight by your side and provide some guidance, and there are interesting things happening to them, but you don't need to like them or care about the details of their stories for things to work. The closest the game came to violating that rule was with Illidan, and it's no coincidence that I thought the "travel around the world to watch selected two-minute cut scenes of Illidan's life" quest chain was not a great piece of content, and not just because the removal of most portals from Legion-era Dalaran made it a pain in the butt from a gameplay perspective as well. The point is, even if you thought that Illidan was annoying, smug and generally overrated, the rest of the story still worked (more or less).

This is something that has shaped up to be a problem in Shadowlands, with the plot being heavily focused on Sylvanas Windrunner and Anduin Wrynn, both characters that have had almost no interaction with the player character up to this point in the expansion. At the same time the threat being posed by the Jailer is poorly explained and also feels very distant, meaning that players are essentially left to tread water in the covenant zones, with the occasional foray into the Maw, which is supposed to be a hellhole and it's never our plan to make it nice or anything, so why are we here again? It all just feels extremely unfocused, which is quite a feat for an expansion that is all about us spending all of our time on a different plane of existence with none of the usual old world concerns around to distract us.


  1. Turalyon is a thousand years old. Unfortunately, all of that is explained in a book and never in the game. It's things like this which add to complaints about Blizzard story telling methods.

    Legendaries, at first, were a pain because getting them was pure RNG. You could have none, but others in your guild could have 3 or 4. That made a big difference in your effectiveness. :/ (Worse, if you got a generic legendary that was just bad *cough*Sephuz Secret*cough* you were back to square one for chances.)

    The Artifact weapons were fun -- having a weapon grow with you was cool -- but getting the artifact power to build it up was incredibly annoying since it was per _spec_. Want or need to play multiple roles? You were gimped in some fashion.

    All this said, Legion was a solid expansion for the most part. I enjoyed it and wished that we could have had the option to continue powering up and using our weapons. (I'm at the point I'm not excited by RNG drops of gear. Let me progress my stuff predictably.)

    1. A thousand years old, what the hell? And how many of those has he been married to Alleria? XD Which book is that in?

    2. Ah, it wasn't a book, but was an audio drama. There is a PDF available at the bottom of the page if you want to read it, instead.


    3. Thanks for that! I actually listened to the whole thing over the course of this afternoon and it was quite enjoyable! Now I also know where some other bits of lore that I'd picked up from other players (such as that Alleria and Tyralion can't touch each other anymore) came from... what a random place to hide such important pieces of context though!

    4. They started trying to make Wow a 'rich multimedia' franchise, but keep putting useful bits of information only in certain things. This made the game lore more confusing if you just played the game. I mean, sure, use other media to expand on things in the game, but the basics need to be in the game.

      Personally, I didn't want to buy the books, but I did make the effort to read the synopses of the various books and other media. I understand many players don't care about the lore, but leaving plot plots out of the game doesn't help.

      The way Blizzard's current storytelling is going, I feel if they had written Star Wars the key point about Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker wouldn't have been in Empire Strikes Back. It would have been in this obscure audio holiday special... :sigh:

    5. Yeah, it all started to go wrong in Cataclysm in my opinion, when they put the actual events of that into a novel and zero explanation of what happened in game. Before that I enjoyed reading tie-ins for the extra background knowledge, but I did not like "having" to buy additional media to understand what's even going on.

  2. I agree, some of the stories in Legion are great. One of my favorites is the whole Suramar experience - how it starts with helping a lone desperate refugee to find a safe place, then slowly gathering allies and helping other people, going through some setbacks, till finally gathering a rebel army against the queen - and all that naturally leading you to the raid.