It was simply a few days in the past when Bree was sharing that I felt like Wrath of the Lich King was one of the best World of Warcraft has ever been. However was it truly the most effective, or is that a matter of reminiscence tilting it to be the most effective? I imply, that recreation was launched a decade in the past once I was nonetheless dwelling in a home with out air con. I’ve moved twice since then, plenty of new video games have come out, we lastly obtained an honest Mega Man recreation. There have been modifications.
In fact, at a look I’m not inclined to vary that exact viewpoint… however there are individuals who have argued that Legion is, actually, the most effective enlargement within the recreation’s historical past. And one of many advantages of this specific format is that I’m going in and not using a clear image forward of time; it’s all about placing collectively totals based mostly on the standards laid out. So let’s truly put these two expansions head-to-head. Wrath of the Lich King vs. Legion: Two expansions enter, one leaves as the perfect enlargement within the recreation’s historical past. Start!
The enjoyable factor about these two expansions is that from a sure perspective, they’re each persevering with the identical storyline. Wrath of the Lich King is coping with the prolonged fallout of a previous Burning Legion plot to demolish Azeroth; Legion, then again , is coping with the abandonment of subtletly and simply brute-force invading Azeroth the onerous method. This, to be truthful, type of raises the query of why that wasn’t the primary plan as an alternative of utilizing a number of dozen catspaws that each one failed.
(Sure, there are lore causes, however let’s not make Thermian arguments in right here. “Nicely truly” statements within the remark are usually not inspirational.)
For all that, although, it seems like Legion finally does a greater job of framing the battle within the mild of the general struggles of the world. Arthas looks like an exceedingly highly effective dude, however he nonetheless looks like only a dude and yet one more in a long-running collection of dudes with armies. The Legion, nevertheless, feels virtually unassailably large. It looks like Arthas is a troublesome foe who will show near-impossible to struggle; it feels just like the Burning Legion is definitely futile to battle, and also you get a way of desperation via every part.
The issue right here is that each foremost plots wind up fumbling the soccer right here partway by means of. In Wrath, after an extended marketing campaign to convey down Arthas, on the absolute eleventh hour we discover out that there all the time needs to be a Lich King for intensely silly causes. There’s additionally an try and construct up sympathy for Arthas as a tragic villain, which works… as much as the purpose when he takes up Frostmourne and willingly damns himself. That tragedy was already explored and accomplished with.
Legion, then again, persistently units up a necessity for redemption and correction with Illidan that it proves completely unwilling to comply with by way of with. There’s the primary a part of a redemption arc there, nevertheless it by no means truly goes anyplace; it principally ends on “Illidan is definitely the hero as a result of we stated so” regardless of Illidan by no means truly, like, being heroic. The ending feels just like the story is simply ignoring the various, many issues Illidan did incorrect in an effort to fake he’s completely been justified in all of his patently unjustifiable actions.
Sadly, whereas Wrath’s issues solely crop up within the absolute finish, Legion’s drawback is shot via all the enlargement, and “a sort of lackluster conclusion” goes to be higher than “systematically ignoring a horrible character being horrible.”
At first, I used to be just a little extra inclined to offer this benefit to Wrath as a result of Wrath made positive that each single zone tied again into the marketing campaign towards Arthas. This was, in some ways, a great factor. Against this, in Legion it felt such as you spent loads of time fixing an issue to unravel one other drawback in a method that might ultimately tie again into the primary battle. It was a bit of bit disconnected, in different phrases.
Nevertheless, upon additional reflection, this isn’t proper. The truth that Legion didn’t have each zone continually harping on the conflict towards the Legion meant that there was area to inform some actually nice particular person tales, like Mayla Highmountain’s progress into her position, the unhappy story of the blue dragons, the remoted Gilnean settlement of Bradenbrook… all of this stuff are nice. And you probably did get a way of how the presence of the Legion was destabilizing issues even when they weren’t continuously up in your grill. It didn’t repair the primary narrative, nevertheless it made the person zones extra enjoyable.
One of many massive guarantees earlier than the launch of Wrath was that the zones wouldn’t all be a continuing assault of ice and snow. That is true, and the environments do really feel totally different sufficient that, say, the Storm Peaks are visually distinct from Icecrown or Dragonblight. However all three of these zones are nonetheless principally simply “massive snowy locations.” Against this, the zones of the Damaged Isles are all instantly distinct, even on Argus; there’s some robust similarities between the Damaged Shore and large chunks of Argus, however they don’t really feel as same-ish as any stretch of Northrend.
In fact, the flip aspect is that Northrend looks like one land mass with a singular visible id whereas the Damaged Isles seems like a set of wholly disconnected locales. Nonetheless, I’m giving this nod to Legion.
After which, to flip the equation, that unified sense of visible design works out nicely for Wrath. There’s a distinct look to Wrath from its armor units on downward. Iron banding. Rivets. Worn wooden and leather-based. Damaged and splintered ends. Skulls. Ice. There are many particular person touches, however the pseudo-Norse aesthetic and general design by no means allow you to overlook that in Northrend, you’re the interloper. You aren’t needed right here, and this area isn’t pleasant.
Against this, Legion is a visible seize bag to the purpose it may by no means fairly grasp one factor firmly. I don’t have any concept what visually impressed any given set right here apart from previous units, the enemies are all pasted from elsewhere, and even probably the most visually putting bits (like Bradenbrook) are principally simply ported from elsewhere. It by no means develops its personal visible language; it traffics on being a biggest hits of the sport’s visuals.
The fight in Legion felt the perfect that it had in a really, very very long time. Each single spec was designed from the bottom as much as work on a hard and fast rotation and to play good with its particular person artifact. It was so good that it’s straightforward to overlook the rationale it felt so good was partly as a result of fight had felt so dangerous for such a very long time, and within the course of it trimmed a variety of rotations right down to a three-button sequence.
Against this, much more of Wrath’s fight felt wild and wooly… however it additionally had tons extra in the best way of situational talents that didn’t match right into a agency rotation however required evaluations and sensible play. There was undoubtedly stuff to be refined right here (as an alternative of gutted and thrown out, which is what we truly obtained), however at their core, each spec on this period used the identical primary class toolkit and tuned accordingly. It was simply extra involving to play.
The dungeon recreation in Wrath was the perfect it’s ever been, on an entire. That doesn’t imply not one of the later expansions had dungeons which have been good; a few of them have been even outright nice. However it does imply that on stability, the Wrath dungeon setting was the perfect, and it was the purpose when the builders began to actually perceive the way to develop fascinating boss arenas and fights.
Sadly, the issue is that the sport has by no means actually moved on past that. Dungeons and their mechanics have by no means gotten higher than Wrath on an entire. Extra to the purpose, most of the encounters in Legion have been unnecessarily easy in regular and Heroic mode in favor of specializing in Mythic problem. This meant that a lot of the fights became “beat on this punching bag for much too lengthy with out foreign money rewards,” which was one thing lower than the rallying cry to group content material.
Wrath launched the thought of each raid having a 10-person problem and a 25-person problem. On the one hand, meaning it’s the apparent factor responsible for the sport now providing 4 distinct raiding difficulties, three of which can by no means be skilled by nearly all of gamers and two of which might be skilled by solely a tiny minority. Then again, it additionally meant that the sport made extra variations of content material accessible to extra gamers, even when 10-player runs wound up usually tougher on account of much less cushion than 25-player runs.
Legion, no less than, gave you an choice to see the raids for those who weren’t interested by forming a raid group. Nevertheless it additionally had the issues I simply described above. Frankly, I’m inclined to name this a wash and transfer any discussions of the nice level into endgame fashions.
“However what concerning the precise challenges of the raids?” Dude, each of those led to a raid whereby the whole get together mechanically died after which acquired resurrected. So far as I’m involved, if that’s your foremost mechanic for the finale, you’ve failed at raid design.
Do you know that Wrath is when Blizzard found out the best way to do automobiles? As a result of gosh, the sport wouldn’t allow you to overlook it. It was automobiles from nightfall till daybreak. Typically even when it didn’t make an entire lot of sense. It was clear that the questing had taken an enormous step up, however plenty of parts have been nonetheless very unfamiliar to the design workforce.
Against this, Legion exhibits a staff with a mature, restrained, and educated strategy to questing. Issues like bonus aims work marvelously to interrupt up the stream and scale back the variety of arbitrary separate quests in a given space, and also you get a great movement from level to level as you degree. It’s instantly apparent how a lot studying has occurred between the 2 installments, and it makes questing in Legion nonetheless really feel natural and enjoyable.
A minimum of Wrath launched a brand new career? However then, no less than Legion truly had crafting quests? Speaking about crafting in WoW isn’t a great time, I’m not going to let this choice journey on this level.
Ion Hazzikostas was completely right in saying that you may mark if you would get your upgrades on a calendar, proper up till the purpose the place he thinks that’s dangerous. He’s additionally incorrect as a result of it was attainable, even possible, that you’d get upgrades in different methods. Typically you’d get a fortunate drop, typically you’d get to a wanted fame quicker than you thought, and so forth. There was nonetheless moment-to-moment pleasure, however you didn’t depend on luck to get upgrades.
Legion did that. And that’s all the time going to be a mark towards it, extra so as a result of Legendaries exacerbated the identical points current within the prior enlargement, after which much more so when the waning days introduced a vendor that simply bought legendaries that ought to have been within the recreation since launch. There was great things about Legion’s endgame with Phrase Quests and such, however at a elementary degree, it could possibly’t match the truth that in a single mannequin you possibly can plan your upgrades and content material consumption, and within the different you need to hope.
That is an space the place each side actually sort of common out to a wash. On the one hand, Wrath’s tabard system was actually good for supplying you with a approach to farm up status once you wanted it, and it was one other component of getting rewards out of the dungeon you run even when you don’t get a brand new piece of drugs.
Then again? World Quests are an excellent system, the Emissary system allows you to take days off and break up tedium properly, and the reputations felt rather more targeted in Legion. So slightly than each side getting it partway proper, each side do good issues that cut up the distinction.
Content material lulls
Sure, we’re on to the marginally sillier classes, however let’s not overlook that the lull between Wrath and Cataclysm was so dangerous that Blizzard promised it might by no means be that dangerous ever once more. (And the lie detector check decided that was a lie.) The pacing of updates in Legion was quite a bit higher, even right down to having extra on supply for the post-conclusion stretch.
In Wrath of the Lich King, the Vrykul have been bizarre however neat. That they had some Norse taste and a few factors of fantasy there, however additionally they had a very bizarre set of interlocking beliefs that was clearly the results of somebody performing some serious about what it meant to revere demise. They felt alien and unique.
In Legion, there are Vrykul as a result of individuals appreciated Vrykul, they usually’re principally simply tall Norsemen who yell at you numerous. So, like… nonetheless cool, however not likely taxing the previous creativeness muscle.
This was an in depth one! However whenever you neglect the classes the place issues are toss-ups, the last word choice comes down in favor of Wrath of the Lich King, the winner and nonetheless champion. Positive, Legion does a greater job with questing and its visuals, however its final lack of ability to actually work by means of its essential story and the tedious state of its endgame signifies that you’re going to hit a a lot earlier wall of not having a lot to do. Otherwise you would, if it weren’t far within the rearview.
Will something dethrone Wrath? Properly, mix the design panache of Legion with the issues that Wrath obtained higher, clearly. So, you understand, just about the other of Battle for Azeroth.