The world of Azeroth has faced many threats over the last dozen years. Armies of undead threatening to devour all life, ancient evils awakening to break the world apart and even an invasion of orcs from another timeline trying to repeat a brutal history. All those threats pale in comparison to the Burning Legion, an army of immortal demons whose only goal is to eradicate all life in existence. Azeroth is the only world to ever defeat the Burning Legion before, a mistake the Legion intends to correct.
World of Warcraft is over 12 years old, but thanks to six expansions worth of content, graphical updates and refined game mechanics, it still holds up to most modern standards. Such a legacy might seem intimidating at first glance, but the game’s latest expansion, World of Warcraft: Legion, has made it much more accessible to anyone interested in giving it a try.
Whether you’re entirely new to the game or have played one of the past iterations, Legion comes with a free boost to level 100 for a new or existing character. This lets you get straight into the game’s most relevant content immediately and gives you the opportunity to go back to older content at your own leisure. Boosted characters start in a special single-player scenario that will teach you the basic game mechanics you would have learned while leveling from 1-100. The expansion also features the new Demon Hunter hero class that starts at level 98.
One thing Blizzard Entertainment has strived to do with this expansion is to focus on storytelling and what they call “the class fantasy.” They have tried to make specializations for each of the 12 classes unique, resulting in 36 drastically different play styles with their own themes. Each class also has a class-specific storyline that varies in tone and style. The paladin class stands as a champion of justice that rallies the forces of light to fight back the demon hordes, while the warlock uses knowledge of dark magic to enslave their own army of demons to fight fire with fire.
Legion is all about doing things at your own pace. Zones and dungeons scale to your level, which makes enemies retain a certain level of challenge even at max level. This also allows players to pick the order in which they progress through the expansion’s four new leveling zones. Maybe you want to go to Stormheim to battle with Vikings first or to Azuna to aid an ancient dragon and his cursed ghost neighbors. Once you hit max level you’ll unlock Suramar, a fifth zone devoted mostly to in-game storytelling.
Before you even begin leveling, you’ll be introduced to a new form of progression that will carry on after you reach level 110: your artifact weapon. Each class has an artifact weapon for each of their specializations. Every weapon has a unique skill tree that requires a resource called Artifact Power. Gaining certain thresholds of Artifact Power will allow players to spend it on a new ability in their talent tree. Each artifact has its own unique quest and backstory and some, like the Ashbringer and Doomhammer, are well known legendary weapons from the game’s lore. You can also unlock additional appearances and color schemes for each weapon.
Alongside your artifact weapons, you’ll be introduced to your class hall. This is an area in the game that only members of your specific class can enter and serves as your home base. From here, you can command champions to go out and unlock or complete quests for you in the world or accompany you as you do them yourself. For those that have played the previous expansion, Warlords of Draenor, it functions similar to the Garrison, yet requires much less micromanaging. It can also be managed out of the game with the new Legion Companion app for iPhone and Android devices.
Once you hit max level, there are a variety of options to keep progressing your character. One new feature is World Quests, which are recurring events that appear in any of the new zones and change daily. If you want to group with other players you can do dungeons, which have four difficulty settings. Professions are also much more in-depth and have their own quest lines and catch-up mechanics. Player vs. Player content has also been revamped to feature a prestige system that gradually unlocks a set of PvP specific abilities that can be reset for cosmetic rewards. Two 25-player raid tiers, The Emerald Nightmare and The Nighthold, as well as a slew of different world bosses, will be gradually released over several weeks starting Sept. 20.
The expansion’s first major content patch, Return to Karazhan, has also been revealed, which will feature the fan favorite raid remade as a five-player dungeon.
Legion can be purchased as an addition to the base World of Warcraft game for $49.99 and additional monthly subscription costs.