Nine days of Legion

We are now about a week and a half into Legion, and a few things about the expansion are starting to become clear. Hunter class rage aside, I have been having fun so far, and I think at least for the initial experience the balance scales come down on the positive side for Legion. I am not wild about it, mind you, but it is certainly an improvement over WoD, and there are undeniably awesome pieces to it. And of course the first raid tier opens up in just under two weeks, so that might change things one way or another.

That said, I think my most dominant impression of Legion is a combination of total confusion leavened with a fair amount of frustration. Make no mistake, Legion is “not your father’s WoW”. Blizz has made a sharp turn with the direction and philosophy of the game, strengthening their hold on forcing “approved” play styles, and in the process promoting some players as clear winners and some — if not exactly losers — as at least non-winners. What do I mean?

First, while Blizz has made it relatively easy and fast to level up to 110, the leveling process is really the only straightforward and easily accessible part of the game. Everything else — professions, gear, reputation — is both confusing and complex, and requires significant time commitment, on the order of many hours or days or weeks, to make progress in. I am not passing judgement now on whether this is good or bad, merely noting what is a sea change in the game, one that many players, myself included, are having a hard time adjusting to.

One result of this development is that it really ups the ante for casual players, who form the majority of the player base. Both the time commitment and the exceptionally high learning curve will, I think, serve to frustrate the most casual players to the extent that they will just stop trying to figure it all out. Blizz yesterday reported that they sold 3.3 million copies of Legion, which I interpret as a triumph of optimism over experience on the part of the purchasers. I don’t know how many of those customers were hard core fans like me and how many were disgruntled WoD players deciding to give it one more chance, but my bet is for many of them Legion is the last shot at remaining with the game. (Admin note: I edited the number sold to reflect the actual report, not the 10 million number I for some reason misremembered and first quoted.)

This is all pure speculation, of course, but if someone like me — who has read everything I could about Legion, who makes frequent use of the third party sites, who played a little beta towards the end of the testing, who belongs to a guild with helpful and knowledgeable people, who plays about 20 hours a week and has probably at least doubled that in the first week of Legion — if someone like me is frustrated and confused, what must be the reaction of the players who do not have that kind of extensive support and commitment? I will tell you — they will try Legion, they may get one or two characters to 110, and then they will hit a wall and quit.

Another possible result of this might be that, except for hardcore raiding guilds, the raid experience will be exceptionally difficult. For one thing, “the good stuff” derived from professions will be much more difficult to come by for several weeks at least. I am talking about things like reasonably-leveled crafted gear, enchants, flasks and pots, gems, etc. Large guilds will undoubtedly have a few crafters who can make raid items, but this is likely not the case with smaller guilds. The stereotyped “friends and family” raid teams will just not be raid-ready for a very long time, and if they try to force it, they will fall prey to a lot of frustration from a lack of progress.

So I think that Legion has opened the possibility of a wide gulf in the player base. On the one hand, there is a lot to engage the “player butterflies”, the players who log on once or twice a week for a couple of hours just to pass some time. They can leisurely level, they can gather some mats, explore, do a profession quest here and there, maybe eventually do some wold quests. On the other hand, there are many paths to end game competition for more driven players, the ones who raid with pro or semi-pro raid teams, the ones who typically play 40 or more hours a week. They can go hard core into crafting for raiding or for personal gear, they can max out gear early through grouping for normal then heroic then mythic instances, they can pursue nearly every world quest, rapidly gain rep and thus access to more gear, etc.

But for many players in between these two extremes, Legion is very challenging and frustrating right now. I am talking about the players who do not have huge amounts of time to devote to the game but who nevertheless in the past have managed to maximize their potential or just achieve their game goals within a reasonable amount of time after a new expansion. For these players, Blizz has moved the goal posts a significant distance further away. They now have to reassess their years-long definition of “reasonable amount of time after a new expansion”. Because what used to be a couple of weeks or a month is now at least several weeks or even months.

Again, I am not saying this change is either good or bad, just that for most players it is a huge change in the tempo of the game. I think Legion is an unmitigated success for the fringe players — the butterflies and the hard core types — but it is a drastic change for those of us in the middle, and it is very hard to get used to.

Second, Blizz has finally forced us all into their restrictive alt play definition. They started this process in earnest in WoD, and in Legion they have completed it. That is, the only legitimate purpose of alts, in the approved rules, is to play them as mini-mains. They are not/not/not under any circumstances to be used to further the ends of a main or simply as gold makers. No, no, no. By forcing all professions to not only be leveled (nothing new here) but to also be geared enough and skilled enough in the class to compete in the world with mains in order to get mats or even to learn their professions. In Legion, alts must be able to do PvP, dungeons and raids, spend long hours gaining rep with nearly all factions, and defeat relatively difficult enemies, just to be able to craft items.

This logic totally escapes me. Honestly, Blizz, why the fuck do you care what my reasons are for having alts? This is the game developer equivalent of the nanny state — sticking its big fat nose into areas it has no business in.

And before I get hate mail, let me say I am not against having to work a bit for one’s professions. What I am against is forcing every alt to be played with the same intensity and time commitment as a main, to be proficient in every aspect of the game, just to be able to pursue a profession.

Blizz, if you want every profession to compete at a high level in the end game, in order to achieve profession competency, then allow us to pursue every profession on our mains, like some other games do. If you did that, then the only reason to have alts would be your approved one: just to experience another play style. Everybody wins.

Third — and last — we have still heard a big fat zip/zero/nada from Blizz on any recognition of hunter class deficiencies. (You didn’t think I would let a post go by without mentioning this, did you?) The most we have gotten is a patronizing blue post aimed at protecting raids from idiot hunters who insist on using Barrage indiscriminately in the decidedly Barrage-unfriendly Legion dungeons:

Barrage now fires in a tighter cone, and its visual has been improved to better show its area of effect.
Developers’ Notes– Barrage fulfills a fantasy of a wild spray of shots in a large area. Of course, that can be dangerous, and often Hunters accidentally pull additional enemies with Barrage, especially in Legion dungeons. We saw this as a failure on our part to convey what it actually does. This hotfix should allow Hunters to get a feel for the shape and size of it and build a reliable expectation of what will happen when they cast Barrage. No change was made to Barrage’s damage. We hope that this helps Hunters and their groupmates to have a more pleasant dungeon experience.

Yeah. (This sounds like one of those horrible breakup lines: “No, no, it’s not you, it’s me.”) Note that this was done not to improve the hunter experience, but to improve the experience of everyone in a group with a hunter. It’s nice they are so solicitous of every class in the game except hunters. Hey Blizz, what about the horrible pet control that often sends them off to pull mobs in dungeons even with no input from the hunter? What about the fact that even the existing pet controls of Assist, Defensive, and Passive are completely unreliable? What about the fact that hunters have less than zero control over Hati? What about the random disappearance of our pets in combat? What about the fact that hunters have so few shots that we automatically spam whichever ones we do have? What about…

Oh, forget it.

I will be listening intently to that oracle of all things WoW, Ion Hazzikosatas, in his next Dev Interview tomorrow. If he fails to even acknowledge the existence of valid and documented hunter concerns, or if he dares to insult us again by claiming “BM hunters are in a good place”, then I think it is clear that hunters are once again to be abandoned as a class in Legion.

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.

5 Responses to Nine days of Legion

  1. Grumsta says:

    >>Blizz yesterday reported that they sold 3.3 million copies of Legion<< Wasn't that figure the number sold on launch day? I don't think I've seen a total sold number as yet.

    I hit 110 last night and it was certainly overwhelming at how much stuff I had thrown at me! I haven't felt like this since hitting 90 in 5.4 and wondering where the hell to start. That was my first time at max level, and Timeless was open: no shortage of things to do that late in the MoP xpac.

    Partly it's my own fault in Legion: I don't have a lot of confidence in pugs so I kept putting off going into the end-of-zone dungeons to do those quests. I didn't realise I was preventing progression with my Alchemy and Mage quest lines until I saw an unrelated post on Reddit. Oh, *that's* why I still only have four followers…. /facepalm

    Well it certainly makes a refreshing change after WoD. I'd rather struggle to know what to do next than wish I had something interesting to do at all. I've gone from Oliver Twist to Mr Creosote.

    Perhaps with Herbalism and Alchemy I have two of the simplest professions so I've gotten off lightly? So far the quests have been interesting and rewarding, but I will need to read a guide to find out how I get more recipes because the game isn't letting on.

    I'm reading a lot from frustrated Engineers, and Blizz have taken steps (some welcome, others not so much) to try to "help". [Again it's interesting to see which concerns they see as worthy of addressing, and the methods they adopt to correct issues].

    Progression in cooking seems a bit random at the moment: either I help Nomi become a better Fire Mage than I am, or I hope for random drops off rares it seems. Again I need to read guides.

    I try to avoid game guides as much as possible because inevitably they contain spoilers. If the first raid wasn't coming up so fast I'd explore the game mechanics a bit more, but if I want to keep my raid team place I need to gear, flask, potion and food up so I need to get a shimmy on. Oh and decent gear with some crit would help too: usual problem of a Fire Mage being given Haste and Mastery 810 gear in his CH tier set. Am I supposed to be grateful? /sigh

    [Side bar: the new advice is to hold onto all high level gear you can't equip due to poor stats so that when a duplicate drops with PL you can trade it. Say hello to full bags again, raiders].

    Back to the grindstone tonight: try to get the Suramar intro quests completed so that I can try some World Quests, and then get to Friendly in Stormheim and complete the quests there.

    Nice to be busy! Now, how are those CH missions going….?

  2. gnomecore says:

    I am currently playing all classes, and I enjoy playing Survival Hunter (MM before Legion). Yes, it’s not the shooting type now, but i like the new class fantasy and how it works out in battle.

    Survival is pretty strong in leveling, I have no problems with it at all. It is powerful and easy to play. I would wish for it to stay as it is.

    My class rant would all go to mages. I’ve mained a mage since the very start in Cata, and it’s the first time I have changed my spec – to discover that others are very weak and squishy as well.

    Leveling and endgame for a mage is pain in Legion. You must eat after every single fight, and I spend a whole batch of conjured food for a common quest hub. When they gave me underwater quests in Suramar, I swam up from the depths every time to eat on a raft. I crawl like a snail, careful not to aggro – because even one extra mob could mean certain death. Imagine yourself using all your offence, defence, stun and interuupt abilities – yes, all of them – during a common one-on-one mob fight.

    I have not a slightest problem with other classes.

    The endgame is a bit confusing, but I say it’s better to have overload than lack of content. It’s been only first week, and compared to at least 2 years of the expansion this is more than enough to level and understand everything. There’s no hurry.

    • Grumsta says:

      I was fine everywhere with my Mage until I got to Suramar: it’s a similar experience to when Tanaan first opened, especially as I’m only at 797 ilevel currently. I’m sure as I gear up it’ll get easier.

      Currently teaming up in a group is the best for that area, then it become great fun.

  3. I fear for the casuals in my guild. There are several fun chatty players who log in for about five hours a week and like to do achievements and quests, once they learn something (tanaan dailies) they do them over and over again.
    These guys are “pulling back” and declaring that they are going slow on purpose. I fear that they’ll fade away without some serious support from my guild who is mostly driving forward and not sitting in Dalaran to chat. It is over-whelming.