Legion – let’s just get it over with

We are now 34 days, give or take a few hours, away from the Legion launch. I am doing my best to work up some enthusiasm over it, but that is turning out to be a harder task than it should be.

I should explain that I am somewhat of a launch junkie. I am predisposed to love the anticipation before each new expansion. A couple of months out, I make preparatory spreadsheets and to-do lists (hey, that’s how I do “excited”, don’t judge), I enjoy all the usual bank and bag cleaning, I like evaluating my alts to see which ones I will level first. I even usually take a farewell tour of the outgoing expansion on my main, flying through the zones, snapping a few screen shots, stopping at out of the way places to take in the scenery.  On launch day I get up in the middle of the night an hour or so before scheduled launch, brew coffee, and log in — in my jammies, coffee and cereal in hand. Usually there are guildies doing the same, and we chat and giggle together in Vent. It’s great fun, even if later the expansion turns out to be not so great.

But this time is different. I suppose it is possible that I am just too cynical, that the novelty has finally worn off. After all, Legion will be the 5th expansion I have experienced. (Although probably Wrath shouldn’t count as I had only been playing the game for about a month before it arrived.) But I really don’t think that’s the reason. I think the long dry spell of WoD, combined with a year-long “beta” and with Blizz’s failure to roll out sweeping game changes in any sort of cohesive manner, have dampened my enthusiasm for Legion. And this is not even considering the almost-certain gigantic technical snafu that will make Legion unplayable for the first few days.

WoD, by most accounts, will go down as one of the worst expansions in the game. OK, fine. But Blizz made the whole experience even worse by basically abandoning it immediately after launch, at the same time embarking on a policy of contempt for their players and engagement in a kind of dismissive snarkiness seldom if ever seen in customer relations in large companies. (Even Comcast at least pretends to be more respectful of its customers than Blizz was during the first year of WoD.)  In the end, it was, for all practical purposes, a one-patch expansion (I don’t count 6.1 as a real patch).

Even though in the last year Blizz has  undergone a major change in attitude — for the better — they still did not back off of the policy of washing their hands of WoD. They could have at least given us a series of minor patches over the last 13 months, some little sop to generate some whimsy or fun into WoD while we waited for Legion, but it is as if the whole episode has been too painful to even think about. If nothing else, they could have given us some new jukebox tunes or Son of Pepe or a few more garrison decorations. But they left WoD out on the curb sometime around March of 2015, and we have been on our own. You would think, in the face of this, I would be ecstatic at the prospect of Legion. But really I feel just kind of weary at the possibility, even if remote, that we could be in for another WoD. What if they decide to write off Legion, too, as a bad job? I hope it is a stunning success, but if it isn’t? We will be stuck in WoD-style abandonment for likely at least 3 years. “Once burned…”

Then there are the Legion changes. I am still overwhelmed by them, they are really too complex to deal with all at once, and they are certainly too complex to even attempt to plan for in the way I like to. Consequently, I am doing virtually no planning for Legion, and this effectively robs me of my style of anticipation. My fault, I know, but there it is.

The pre-patch has brought us some of the biggest changes, but it is the worst of both worlds now and will be for another month. We have characters that are for the most part wimpier than at any time in WoD, and they are incomplete, since they were designed for an artifact weapon we do not yet have access to. So we are trying to operate in an end-game status using early-leveling powers. It is frustrating and seems to continue the string of WoD bad decisions. At a time when we should be experiencing the full power of our leveled characters just before being plunged into a whole new continent, we are instead struggling to deal with content we thought we had mastered months ago.

This could have been done better, with less pain. Blizz could have taken some steps to truly compensate for the changes in secondary stat mechanics and for the lack of an artifact weapon, but they chose not to. They could have done a better job of tweaking Timewarped instances to match the new reality of class changes. But it was apparently too much work, and their new mantra of “If the minimum were not good enough it wouldn’t be the minimum” has taken over. If we players feel weak and ineffectual when we should feel we are at the top of our game, too effing bad. We will get over it, at most there will be a small blip in subscriptions, but that will be eclipsed by the usual surge for a new expansion. Besides, Blizz doesn’t publish subscription rates any more, so who is to know? Certainly not the stockholders.

Then there is the new way Blizz chose to do Legion testing. They decided that the best early, development-shaping input they could get would be from professional players and from those who would derive an actual monetary benefit from being in on the new systems. They did not solicit opinions from the normal casual player, from the kind of player that makes up most of their base, and by the time they gave such people access it was far too late to make any significant changes. Thus Legion will be an expansion of, by, and for professional players, the elite guilds, the streamers, the eSport wannabes. The rest of us will have to just live with it.

People get excited about things they are invested in, things they feel they have a say in  and have helped to create — even if that is only a facade. I don’t know about you, but I feel like I have zero investment in Legion, it is something being foisted upon me, not a shared endeavor. Any input I, and others like me, expressed to Blizz has been ignored, not even the courtesy of a “here’s why we are not going to change it” response. We are not big wheels in the game, we bring no revenue beyond our subscriptions, we are nothing in the big picture, so there is no reason to give us even the perception of investment in the game.

So that’s it. Legion will go live in 34 days, and the only way I am looking forward to it is to get it over with. After two years with a horrible expansion even Blizz apparently hated, after a year of elite players shaping the new expansion and Blizz ignoring all comments that were not strictly numbers, after giving up on being able to really grasp the new interactions of spec mechanics and artifact weapons, after a pre-patch that has only made me feel as if playing my hunter for all these years counts for nothing — after all this, no I am not excited about Legion.

Yes, I will probably do my coffe-and-jammies thing on launch day, but it will be with more of a feeling of “Thank god, at last” than “Wheeeee!” Right now my sense of anticipation can be summed up as, “Let’s just get it over with.” 

About Fiannor
I have a day job but escape by playing WoW. I love playing a hunter, and my Lake Wobegonian goal is to become "above average" at it.

4 Responses to Legion – let’s just get it over with

  1. Grumsta says:

    The Legion have certainly picked a great time to invade while our powers are at their lowest ebb….

    I ran HFC HC with the guild last night and we had a really good turnout. Lots of technical issues (mainly DCs) but we got a full clear done in about 2.5 hours. We wiped twice on Zakuun otherwise it was straightforward.

    We could easily have got it done in under 2 hours, but the new Personal Loot system created exactly the delays and debate I thought it would. Immediately after an item dropped the whispers would start: “do you need that?”. Okay most of us are well geared by now so there were lots of “swapsies” available.

    It was really annoying when something dropped that I didn’t need (a really good OH) but I couldn’t give it to a WL who desperately needed it. [In Legion I’ll have to hang on to stuff I don’t need so that I can trade duplicates I still don’t need later on. Sigh.] Similarly if tier dropped it was as a Mage item so I couldn’t give it to a DK who shares the same token type. There are some clear bugs too: I dropped a trinket but I wasn’t able to trade it despite having the same trinket with a gem slot.

    I think the new PL system is going to make PUGs a nightmare for RLs, especially later in the xpac. Players will be asking huge amounts of gold for stuff they can trade, there will be horse-trading, tantrums, and most of all delays. I hope my guild sticks with ML!

    HFC is fine to do because of the health and damage nerfs to the adds and bosses. We all know the fights backwards by now too. It’s much tougher out in Tanaan right now because all the NPCs there have the same power and health and we just got nerfed. On a positive side, it does encourage group play: it’s like being back when 6.2 first came out.

    After the raid I went looking for the Polymorph Porcupine spell for my Mage. This is a typical lazy Blizz dev job. How does a Mage carefully research the Arcane knowledge required to learn how to turn enemies into pigs? Why, he spends a couple of relaxing hours slaughtering porcupines apparently. Quite the immersive class fantasy experience. Okay it’s only a “novelty” item, but from what I’ve read there’s going to a lot of senseless slaughter in Legion to get random drops like this. Fang’rila and Timeless Frogs were just a warm up, apparently.

    Currently the biggest issue in the game is phasing, I hope they get that sorted out soon. I was in a group of two and it really seemed a 50/50 chance whether we were able to see each other or not.

    • Fiannor says:

      I have always been a fan of PL, but you certainly make a good case against it, given the patch changes to it. My main criticism of GL has been that it inevitably, sooner or later, results in drama and hard feelings, but I can see that that could now also be a “feature” of PL. Personally, I am not bothered when people (not guildies, of course) act like ass hats and demand gold for trading gear they do not need — if someone wants that gear badly enough they are probably just as happy to put out some gold for it, and if the ass hat is being greedy, then let him just keep it and vendor it. Any guild that has to pug a few slots and does not condone such activity can make it clear in advance that if people engage in it and are found out they will be kicked.

      I am fairly certain my guild will continue with ML in Legion. We are not a high-drama group. My only problem with it is that typically we have maybe 5 seconds to roll on gear before it is handed out, and that is not nearly enough time for me to figure out if I can legitimately use it or not, what with all the permutations of level, warforging, gem slots, secondary stats, etc. So I seldom roll on gear and tend to lose out on a lot of it for that reason. I suppose I could just roll on everything with the appropriate level and primary stat, but that seems boorish. Honestly, I would rather have a loot council just award it. We have great officers and I trust them to be fair.

      But it seems like the loot change is another of Blizz’s act-first-think-later decisions. I do think PL is the way to go for pugs, but clearly there are some problems with it as currently implemented.

      Phasing? Another poorly-planned change. I think I understand why Blizz wanted to expand it, but it is turning into a disaster for game play, and they seem to be unable to get a handle on it. For several days, I got dc’ed every time I went into or out of an instance or ported anywhere. I have not personally experienced the separate phasing of group members, but I have been randomly dc’ed just walking around Stormwind because for some reason CRZ is auto-hopping me. Also, and I do not know if this is related to phasing or not, but every time I log in to a character, the graphics take close to a minute to draw out such things as NPCs, mailboxes, garrison profession buildings, etc.

      The tech issues with the pre-patch do not, in my opinion, bode well for the Legion rollout.

  2. ScryersHecubus says:

    I think we’ve been playing the game for close to the same amount of time 🙂 I started just before Wrath too Have you ever considered taking a bit of a break from it? The break that I took did wonders. WoW went from feeling like work I wasn’t getting paid for to fun again.

    Once they work out the bugs, I think the new personal loot system will be a plus in general. Unless they’ve changed things, folks still can’t trade gold cross server. So anyone in a pure pug won’t have a lot of luck trying to sell stuff. They might troll people by deleting it or vendoring it in front of them… Some people really seem to get a kick out of making others miserable. But at least there will be the opportunity for decent folks who want to help out other to do so.

    I’m not feeling much weaker then I was before the patch. There are gaps every now and then where another ability would fit right in. It might be that I didn’t have any of the Hellfire trinkets which apparently got nerfed. When I’ve been soloing some of the old raids, things are going down much quicker then before. Beastial wrath + stomp powered dire beast + crows + stampede takes things down sooooo fast 🙂

  3. Qamar says:

    Even though your post is from a few weeks ago, I want to comment especially on one aspect: Alpha and Beta testing. Though it is true that the top world guilds and professionals all got invites, I am the definition of casual and I was an Alpha invite. Many Alpha players were just like myself — average, casuals, even LFR only players. I remember someone in my guild asking: “We’re all 13/13 Mythic here, right?” and guild chat filling up with comments like “IR OP pet battler” and such. In Beta this is even more the case.

    Blizzard got plenty of negative feedback about class design in Alpha and Beta. They had the feedback, it was their choice what to do with it. So though I wouldn’t blame the design issues solely on the fact that top-end players are a priority for Alpha invites, I also don’t disagree with you that feedback from some probably counts more than feedback from others. Who those some are, I really don’t know.

    Are we weaker? Yes. Approximately 30%-40% weaker, which is why HFC was nerfed about 30%. While Legion leveling will be fine, millions now log into Live and find themselves 30% weaker with nothing to do for a month but run content they now can’t do as well. How was that a good plan?

    But imo, one pf the biggest problem is almost flying under the radar. Dungeons are a huge thing in Legion, but many specs and even classes don’t function well mechanically in 5-mans, even if some of these are ok in raiding. If the top raiders, bloggers, and pros failed us, it was in not calling more attention to this.

    Despite that, I’d say give Legion a try. The class hall and Artifact quest lines are a lot of fun, the leveling experience is interesting, and Suramar is a joy. I’d subscribe just to see Suramar. Whether I continue to raid and play as I have in the past I’m leaving open.

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