I spent some portion of my long weekend dabbling in the beta with some different classes. As we are rather recently able to copy our live characters over, I stuck to the classes that I have on live, on the shaky theory that I have at least a passing familiarity with how to play them, thus would get a fairer impression of the opening Legion quests. Also, they tend to have a higher gear level going in than the templated characters.
So far, I have gone through the initial artifact quest lines on two hunters (BM and MM), resto druid, mistweaver monk, and demonology warlock. My overall impression is that the artifact quest lines are very well designed and draw heavily on lore more or less related to what most players think of as the class fantasy. The quests are not trivial, but neither are they overly long nor overly difficult, and if you die during them it is not catastrophic, you can pretty much take up where you left off.
The template for the introductory Legion quests (not counting the pre-patch events that will start possibly within a couple of weeks) is:
- Do a rather drawn-out quest line in Stormwind designed to get you to the new Dalaran. The quest line includes doing a group Broken Shores scenario, which is quite well designed and sets up the Legion story line, but wears thin after you have done it once. Luckily, you only have to do it on one character per account. After this, you can tell the NPC that starts the whole Stormwind (and I am assuming the horde version as well) quest line that yeah yeah I know the story, just get me to Dalaran, and you are transported there. Thank you, Blizz. (But note that if you really want to keep doing the whole story quest line on all your alts you may do so.)
- Once in Dalaran you will get some sort of class-related NPC that appears by you and starts you off on the twin series of quests designed to get you to your class hall and into your artifact quest line. I have found these mechanisms quite entertaining so far.
- Once you accept this initial quest, you are embarked on a linear path that will wind up with you having access to your class hall, equipping your basic artifact weapon with your first weapon talent, and having access to the Broken Isles map that allows you to choose where you wish to start leveling your character.
- The artifact quest lines mostly take place in areas with lore importance to your class. For example, the MW quest takes you to the Terrace of Endless Spring.
- After this, the leveling process kicks in pretty much as for every expansion. In addition to leveling your character, you can find your profession trainers for your profession leveling quests, and you can start some of the quests leading to class hall follower missions. If you pick a leveling zone then change your mind, you can easily go back to the zone map in your class hall and pick a different one.
This is just a guess, but I think this entire intro process (up through getting your artifact weapon) will probably take the average player, with a level 100 character under 700 gear level, something on the order of 3-4 hours to complete, maybe an hour or so less if you can skip the getting-to-Dal part. Of course, YMMV.
I have written previously about the BM hunter and resto druid experiences and class halls. I found both artifact quest lines to be fun and class-appropriate, but in my opinion the druid class hall area has a far better “feel” to it than the hunter one.
Interestingly, I was also very pleased with both the artifact quest and the class hall area for my MW monk. Both the resto druid and the MW artifact lines require some basic proficiency with healing in order to complete them, and Blizz has done a nice job setting up your healer in an actual group with the NPCs so as to facilitate healing them. Also, since my monk is a panda, I was pretty excited to see that the monk class “hall” actually returns you to the panda starting area. This is something I have wished was possible ever since I first rolled my monk. (Now, if Blizz could just make it possible for my worgen to return to Gilneas…)
I had a little more trouble with my warlock (ilvl 710). I died a couple of times during the artifact quest. I think most if not all of this was due to the fact that I decided to change specs from destro (which I have played since Mists) to demo (which I have never played). But I have not been reading good feedback on destro locks in Legion so far (honestly, not on locks in general but that is another story), so I decided that since I was going to have to relearn a spec no matter what, that I would move to demo. Affliction is too dot-y for my taste, and demo seemed to offer the most versatility. It is not really all that different from destro, plus it has the advantage of not having to do the whole Havoc mouse-over dance to get decent damage numbers. (You expert locks out there will, I am sure, take issue with that opinion.) Still, it is different enough that I had some minor problems completing the artifact quest.
I was pretty unhappy with the warlock class hall setup. It does not even count as a “hall”, assuming the meaning of that word is, as Merriam-Webster gives for the simple meaning:
: a usually long, narrow passage inside a building with doors that lead to rooms on the sides
: the area inside the entrance of a building
: a large room or building for meetings, entertainment, etc.
Attention Blizz: a common theme in that definition is a freaking building! Not a big chunk of cold rock filled with green and purple fire and big honking monsters chained up and skulls and skeletons and hookers with whips everywhere you look. Seriously, someone needs to donate a bunch of dictionaries to the staff at Blizz, because they just seem to make up their own meanings for words. (Remember the trouble they always seem to have with the definition of “optional”.)
My idea of a class hall — order hall, whatever Blizz is calling it these days — is a place where you can go at the end of a long hard day questing, where you can kick off your boots and put your feet up and swap lies with your fellow class members. Maybe get a beer and a steak — or pebbles and bark if you are a druid, or whatever the hell kind of green glowy stuff warlocks might drink. But it should be an inviting place, with lots of places to sit and congregate, maybe some NPC-generated music like in the mess hall in Ashran. It should be a social gathering place, it should feel like home.
I just think Blizz has failed to grasp their own concept of class halls. Thus far, the only ones that work even slightly for me are the druid and monk ones. The hunter one is better than the warlock one, but both in my opinion — and for different reasons — fail in the categories of “inviting” and “socializing”. They are just quest hubs, nothing more, and slightly irritating at that because you have to leave the real expansion hub of Dalaran to get many of your quests.
And not for nothin’, but if class halls are supposed to be such terrific class gathering places, with horde and alliance joining ranks by class, all for the greater good, why don’t we have cross faction class-specific chat channels?
Blizz has said several times that they plan expansions years in advance. I feel like they had planned for more garrisons in Legion back when WoD was just coming out, but then there was a huge negative reaction to them. Not willing to scrap the whole idea, Blizz camouflaged them as class halls for Legion, but the camouflage is thin and they never really gave any depth to the reworked concept.
Anyway, here is the tl;dr: Artifact quest lines seem well designed, fun, and tell good stories. Class halls, not so much.