In the last post I covered the major elements of Legion and my reaction to them. This post ties up my overall impressions of the expansion before I look ahead to September and what I would like to see from the new expansion: Battle for Azeroth.

I should really start by commenting on the Artefact Weapon. I really enjoyed this new mini-game of empowering my weapon. I wasn’t overly impressed with getting a scythe as Affliction, always having preferred a one handed blade and off-hand, but transmog and the unlocked appearances mitigated this somewhat.

What has been great about the Artefact Weapon has been the talent tree, Artefact Power and measured process of empowering our weapon as the expansion has gone on. Essentially the Class Order Hall was built around the Artefact Weapon and “Mission Table“. With the Garrison Mission Table scale back in scope and fewer champions Blizzard have fixed most issues with this mechanic. Mission rewards actually included quests for your character (rather than minions) to complete. This has a good fantasy synergy: “Your minions were in this area and we think you should go take a look yourself commander.” Order Halls are not prisons trapping players the same way the Garrison could. A perfect example of less is more design.

Missions are now a fun aside, to complete and set going, before going out into the world. My only real issue with Order Halls is being forced to go there to spend Artefact Talent points…if there was anywhere else to do it I would hearth at the nearest inn. Hearthing to Dalaran and then riding down into the sewers to portal to Dreadscar Rift became mildly irritating across the expansion. Blizzard wisely separated profession trainers and the bank well away from the Order Hall and zone quest hubs: in the capital city. This is good design because concentrating amenities in one locale will have everyone hanging around there and empty world. Important facilities were in Order Halls and Dalaran and the only Auction Houses were still in Orgrimmar, Undercity and Burger King Thunder Bluff for Horde (I’m not counting the engineer only AH in the Dalaran Engineering Shop or Gadgetzan).

Pet Battles were a confused mess in Legion. I still hope for an event to rival the challenge and variety of the Pandaren Celestial Tournament, but I guess that’s never going to happen. In Tanaan we had a set of quite challenging pets and an achievement to kill them all. This was relatively straightforward and farming these pets for a random drop from the reward bag wasn’t so onerous. Blizzard tried two new approaches to pet battling in Legion.

The first the massively disappointing Pet Battle Dungeon. Instanced pet battle arena’s in first Wailing Caverns then the Deadmines. The pet rewards were secured by completing the dungeons without healing. So for every battle in the dungeon you needed a team and a backup and although the opponents were similar in sections you couldn’t use the same pets twice (as you couldn’t heal them up between fights). This could’ve been a spectacular challenge and for some I expect it was. Though you would have to be a pet battle casual and either you battle and collect or…you don’t pretty much. In Wailing Caverns you needed about twenty five pets all told and around fifteen unique ones. Once you worked out which of your pets were optimal you could farm more and / or grind to level 25. Until you had a perfect set. Or stroll in off the street with 800+ unique pets and throw them at the opposition and zerg your way through like I did. I did refine my selection on the second and third visit. After which I had all the pets and no desire to grind around again. The same proved to be equally true in the Deadmines. With over 1000 pets it was less a question of assessing family, breed and opposition attacks and finessing a team as trial and error from a bottomless pit of options. I lack two pets and the several tokens for them but more importantly I lack the motivation to even go into the Deadmines: pet battle dungeons are deathly boring with zero replay-ability.

Then we come to Argus and the Family Fighter achievement, building lazily on the actual fun of Family Familiar. “Yeah,” the devs thought (I’m not sure they did think too much about this, to be honest). “Family Familiar was fun: let’s do it again but more.” Sometimes more is less. Family Fighter was more infuriating and interminable grind and less fun. The difference is a crucial one of design and is illustrative, I think, of how an idea can be good when gated, and presented in a particular way and how people say they want no gating to content, but they really do.

Family Familiar was a achievement to defeat 12 Master Tamers in Broken Isles with all families of pet. So 3 Aquatic, 3 Undead and so on. What made this achievement challenging was only 2 – 3 of the 12 Tamers spawned each day and you could only fight them once. So if you beat one Tamer with Aquatic pets you would have to wait for them to spawn again so you defeat them with another family. 12 Tamers, beaten 12 times, random Tamer spawns. Great, eventually you completed it.

With Family Fighter you need to defeat the 18 corrupted pets of Argus with each family of pets. That’s 18 pets. 12 times, or 196 pet battles (if you win first time every time, and you certainly won’t on Gloamwing with Aquatic and Critter combos). The problem is that as all pets are up all the time and you can battle them as many times a day as you wish. There’s nothing to stop you say trying to do one pet per day with all 12 families…and burning out in 2 – 3 days. Just like I did. Only limit the number of victorious fights per day to one, or limit the number that spawn a day…or both! This paces the achievement nicely and it doesn’t feel like you’ve simply dumped 18 new pets down without much of a thought and walked away.

For an expansion that corrected so many of the mistakes of it’s predecessor Legion has so many obvious flaws and short-comings. Yes, the player-base is becoming much more discerning, we have been consuming this content for over a decade. However, with some polishing and minor tweaking Blizzard could’ve made this expansion truly spectacular. In retrospect it’s difficult not mark Legion’s Report Card: very good try, some great ideas, if only would show more attention detail. My next blog will be a crystallisation of these thoughts and suggestions for what I’d like to see going forward. I wish the devs were reading, this stuff is constructive.