I miss just worrying about bringing down the Lich King.
I miss just worrying about bringing down the Lich King.
What we will focus on at BlizzCon is how the team is committed to making sure we bring you a steady stream of content going forward, and we can’t wait to share what’s next for Legion.
-J. Allen Brack, WoW Community Manager forum post
We’ll get back the the top part of the post that quote came from on another day.
The promise from Blizzard, explicit, implied, or otherwise, was that the WoW Legion expansion would not leave players hanging for a year without any new content. You might have thought they would have learned this after Mists of Pandaria, but I guess the subscriber count didn’t drop low enough during that drought, so they let it happen again with Warlords of Draenor.
The problem was compounded by some of the choices made with Warlords of Draenor . I know, everybody likes to beat up on garrisons, but the subscriber numbers indicate that they were not a big hit. We’ll never get any sort of “real” player housing in WoW after garrisons.
But that was the last expansion and we are now eight weeks into WoW Legion and the first post-launch content drop, WoW 7.1 – Return to Karazhan. The date has arrived, the patch notes are final, and the content is upon us.
The headline item for the release is a five person mythic run set in the Burning Crusade era raid Karazhan. While being a mythic level dungeon means I probably won’t see it until we get a couple more expansions down the road, I still think this is a good use of their time.
Then there is a new Trial of Valor raid opening up in normal and heroic modes, with mythic and LFR tourist modes opening up some time down the road. Again, content for a core demographic in WoW.
For the rest of us, there is the continuation of the campaign in Suramar and more world quests. Eventually I will actually START on Suramar and world quests, but I cannot hold my lagging behind against Blizz. Both of those do sound like “things to do” for players out in the open world.
So, more content with the first patch out. But I think Blizz has always managed to do that in the past. They will manage a 7.1 and a 7.2 based on past experience. But will we see a 7.3, 7.4, and even a 7.5 patch and beyond with content as the expansions ages?
Meanwhile, the patch notes are full of other little items, including changes to classes, changes to professions, to some of the skills new players get for levels 1-10, to a quick join feature that will let you see what people on your friends list have queued up for and allow you to join up with them in the queue.
My own personal favorite line item from the patch notes is:
I like that because nameplates were the first thing I noticed when I logged in on day one of the expansion. I generally have them set off as much as possible, but the redid the configuration and, as part of that changed, turned everything on by default. So I was standing in Stormwind in a sea of green nameplates. I eventually got it back to my usual minimalist setting, and I suspect that I will have to do that again with this change… but it should be less confusing now, right?
And finally, I guess this is the Chris Metzen emote for the game. Gone (from Blizzard) but not forgotten:
I am a bit surprised this wasn’t a thing much sooner.
I made it through the main quest lines of Stormheim over the weekend. It actually seemed to go by pretty quickly, with a diversion into hell for a bit.
Finishing the main quest lines got me the achievement which I assume will count towards unlocking flying in the Broken Isles at some future date.
That wrapped up my initial clockwise run through the initial four zones of WoW Legion.
That still leaves me with Suramar and the Broken Shore to tackle… I guess… and whatever else the expansion offers at level 110. But, while I have been enjoying the quest lines and such, I haven’t been feeling any real drive to finish them up. I could have finished up Stormheim a couple weeks back had I a mind to do so. I was finishing up Highmountain about three weeks back.
I was even starting to fall off when it game to those last couple of shipyard missions from the Draenor garrison. I let almost all of last week go by without even logging in to do that or collect hexweave for bags. Again, I got back to it over the weekend, and even got two of the final three achievements I was shooting for.
Meanwhile, I still have a pile of level 100 characters that haven’t really done much of anything. Vikund is 110, but there are five more characters sitting around PLUS there is that level 100 boost that I have yet to use. I have not dove into Legion the way I did into Warlords of Draenor, though the design of Legion seems to be as much to blame as anything when it comes to alts.
So, I started down the path that I often follow when the main thread of the game isn’t holding me. I started looking for something from past releases that I missed which I could go back and work on for a bit. I ran down the now very long list of faction reputations in my character sheet, looking for somebody I could bump up to exalted.
Deep down I found that I still had a number of factions still available for work from the Burning Crusade era. Honor Hold was deep into revered, so I decided to start with that. I think I had been working on that previously, then lost interest and went elsewhere. To get that running meant heading to Outland to run Shattered Halls. Being just a five person instance, that went pretty quickly. I did not get a ton of faction from it, but enough that I only need a couple more runs to hit revered.
That having gone quickly, I looked at what else was on the list and came upon the Violet Eye faction, which was barely into friendly territory. I had to go look that faction up and found that to boost it you had to go run through Karazhan. Over at WoW Head the comments said that a full run through the old raid instance was worth about 10K faction for a full clear, which sounded good. It wouldn’t take that many runs to boost up the Violet Eye then.
Of course the trick is that you have to actually find your way through Karazhan to do this.
I never went to Karazhan back in the day, and can only recall going there once… maybe during Cataclysm… and getting pretty thoroughly lost. (We also tried to go visit at one point in the distant past, but found you needed a key back then.) Or, not lost, because I always ended up back at the front door, but unable to move find my way beyond the first couple of areas.
If you have been there, you know that Karazhan is a large, sprawling raid instance, the sort of “just got carried away” thing that Blizzard just doesn’t do much anymore.
Anyway, with nothing else on my list to do and no ops running in New Eden, I headed to Karazhan to start exploring.
The last time I went there were no in-instance maps, which probably explains my lack of progress. There are now maps in the instance, and while they don’t exactly hold you by the hand and direct you forward, you at least get a hint as to where connections to other areas might be as well as getting the various bosses marked on the map.
And so I have managed to stumble through the place, exploring, killing large groups of mobs for faction, collecting items for transmog (Maybe something from Burning Crusade looks good?), and occasionally getting a surprise drop.
So that has given me something to do, though because it is a raid I cannot log in and run through every night. The lockout timer keeps me away for a few days. I’ll be finished with Honor Hold rep much more quickly.
However, I did wonder if I was going be able to finish my Violet Eye faction run. A change is coming next week, one that features Karazhan.
In the past changes to old instances, such as Onyxia, have meant that the old versions have gone away. The patch notes I have seen for the public test realm seem to indicate that this will not be the case with Karazhan, the the update will just add an additional instance that will take place within the old raid zone. But it isn’t clear to me how that will affect just walking in the front door of the place once 7.1 hits.
Anyway, I will have at least one more chance to run through it this weekend based on my current timer. And while I wait for the timer to run down, Hallow’s End is upon us again so I can take the daily run at trying to get the mount drop. Maybe this year I will get lucky!
So far I would say that I like the WoW Legion expansion. The whole thing feels, in many ways, like a reaction to the Warlords of Draenor expansion.
For example, there are still missions and followers, but there only a few of each, and they are much more focused on helping you, as opposed to the way things were in Draenor, where garrison missions were a self-perpetuating system. There you ran missions to gain resources to run more missions, you gathered more followers in order to run more missions so you could gather more followers. You geared yourself up and fattened your wallet, all while never leaving your garrison. In WoW Legion you have to actually keep playing in the world to earn resources to have your followers do anything.
Likewise, crafting professions, which were made completely trivial in Draenor are now… well… I am not sure how to characterize them now. I think, as an engineer, I have made one item so far as part of the quest line for the professions. I’ve completed a number of mining related upgrade quests. And I finally got the sixth cooking recipe that finished up the initial quest there.
Maybe that is the theme of WoW Legion; Quest all the Things! Though I may not be far enough in to make that determination yet, the trend seems to be holding. And questing works for me.
I have been… slow… in getting into the Broken Isles. After mucking about a bit, trying to decide which character to get into the expansion first, I settled on my Paladin and started working through the zones in a clockwise fashion.
So far I have worked my way through Azsuna and Val’Sharah, getting both the exploration and questing achievements for both, and am almost done with the quest line in Highmountain. (Though I have a ways to go on the exploration achievement.)
Almost a month into the expansion, that isn’t very far… though by going more slowly I may have arrived at level 100 at about the same time I might have had I been playing more diligently thanks to always having blue bar exp as I went. That was how that was supposed to work right, back in the day? A way to keep slackers like me from falling too far behind or some such.
Anyway, yesterday I finally made it to level 110 with Vikund, my first character at the new level cap.
I still have all of Stormheim ahead with him, and then Suramar and Broken Shore and world quests and the artifact weapon to manage and all of that. Lots to do. I can see why people are saying that this is, perhaps, not an alt-happy expansion so far. Of course, wait until flying gets unlocked and all your follow-on characters can just zip through the air. That tune might change then.
Of course, this being Blizzard, there have been the usual staples of every expansion. I have slaughter the local fauna with the Nesingwary. I have helped out D.E.T.H.A. yet again.
The artifact weapon thing has been fine so far. At least that is one equipment slot I don’t have to worry about updating, even if every ret pally in the order hall has an Ashbringer of one color or another. I was a little crestfallen when the experience required to upgrade it went from a steadily increasing tempo… 750, 800, 1000… to a 6.8x jump.
That pretty much killed off any forward progress there. It takes a lot of ~150 upgrade hits… never mind the low impact of all those 10-25 boosts you find in the field… to get anywhere. I am hoping that I am just lagging behind somewhere and that better bumps will be available at some point.
But overall I am happy enough, if not overly enthusiastic. Lots left to do, and with the usual two year expansion cycle unlikely to change, it is probably good to be a month in and still have a lot of content ahead.
Of course, I could probably do with a bit less of being pestered by Khadgar. If his servant or his upgraded servant chasing me all over wasn’t enough, Now I have his disembodied head following me around trying to get me to take a quest when I am just back in town to clear out bags and take care of a few things.
Yeah, I know, take the damn quest and he’ll go away… only then I’ll forget about it in my quest log. I’ve been trained by various games to take quests only when I am ready to do them, lest I kick off some event for which I do not have time.
At least I am not poor. The plan to replace the garrison mission income in Draenor seems to be to make gray trash loot worth a lot more. My auto-sell addon rings up hundreds of gold every time I stop at a vendor after question for a while.
So that is where I stand in the Broken Isles so far. No exactly unbridled enthusiasm, but happy enough with things overall.
Today, Blizzard announced that players have forged a truly formidable defensive front—as of the expansion’s first full day of launch on August 30, more than 3.3 million copies of Legion had sold through, matching the all-time record achieved by previous expansions and making it one of the fastest-selling PC games ever. In addition, World of Warcraft’s launch-week player concurrency climbed to its highest point since the 2010 launch of the Cataclysm expansion…
Blizzard press release, September 8, 2016
WoW Legion launched, which almost requires that there be some celebratory press release in which Blizzard referred to itself in the third person.
My guess is that they had that press release ready to go for a bit now, as they didn’t even bother to fill in the date before they posted it. I imagine they will fix that before the day is out, so here it is a screen shot for the record.
So we got some numbers. Blizzard kept to its promise not to mention subscription numbers ever again, so they had to make due with vague claims about concurrency. (No numbers = vague in my book)
The number we did get was 3.3 million copies sold in the first 24 hours. (Yes, they said “more than 3.3 million” in the press release, but if it had been 3.4 million they would have run with that number, so it is likely 3.3 million and change.) As usual, with any number standing alone, I start looking for context. Fortunately, the internet provides context if you look for it. The first day sales track record looks like this:
So, for first day sales, WoW Legion ranks with… I don’t want to say “the best,” since its peers at that level are not my favorite expansions… past top sellers.
Warlords of Draenor did just as well according to the Blizzard press release from its launch, which included a mention of exceeding 10 million subscribers, a mark that would soon drop precipitously.
Mists of Pandaria, which in hindsight was a pretty good expansion, maybe my second favorite, and which held on to the player base admirably compare to WoD, had to go a full week to get to 2.7 million sales, which put it below every expansion save Burning Crusade. The pleading for a new expansion towards the end of Mists of Pandaria now seem almost quaint given the mass exodus from the game that came with WoD.
Then there was Cataclysm, which I am going to say was probably the first point when digital sales made up a significant portion of the first day sales, setting a record as yet unbeaten, with 3.3 million sales. There were some good things in that expansion, but the destruction of the old world still stings.
Then Wrath of the Lich King and Burning Crusade check in at 2.8 and 2.4 million units sold on the first day. That was back when Fry’s was open at midnight to sell you a copy and they had pallets of boxes out on the sales floor. That was the era of growth, which Cataclysm put paid to.
And finally, just for completeness, there was World of Warcraft back in 2004, which sold 240,000 copies on the first day, which was a record at the time. No digital sales in that number I bet!
So that is how the list stacks up. WoW Legion sold well enough, though judging from what I have seen… or not seen… on store shelves, it was almost all digital. (I was at Best Buy on Monday and they had a single standard edition, wrapped up protectively in an anti-theft device and sitting alone at the bottom of a shelf. No display. No signs. No big deal. How times have changed.) That likely means WoW Legion sold directly into the currently subscribed base in the US/EU.
It would be interesting to know what the subscriber base jumped up to with the launch. I suspect that if it had passed 10 million, Blizz might have mentioned it. But maybe not, and we’ll likely never see a number to prove it either way.
I will have to hang on to the two WoW Legion boxes we got at our house.
Given the state of the retail channel for the expansion, those might be collectible in a few years. I mean, a DVD for WoW Legion? I am not sure why they even bother. The patcher had everything in place already. All I needed was the code off the label and I was upgraded and playing. Modern times.
It took me a few days to get rolling with WoW Legion. I was facing a bit of choice paralysis. Which character did I want to play? Which of the zones would I start out on?
I rolled out with Vikund, my paladin initially, getting him to his artifact weapon, but then turned aside from him and did the same with my alliance druid Alioto and then my alliance warrior Makarov, getting each their weapon and exploring their order halls a bit. I must admit to liking the warrior hall. The leader is fun, even if borrowed from Norse mythology and spiffed up a bit.
Also, getting in and out of the warrior class hall is pretty funny.
I was less impressed with the druid class hall. It is pretty… the graphics overall in the expansion so far are very well done given the system requirements… but somewhat generic in that “seen one redwood tree, seen them all” sort of way.
And if that wasn’t enough, I also decided that maybe I should start a demon hunter. So I ran through the starting area with one. A decent melee class I suppose. But I am sure, somewhere in some post at some point, I said that Blizzard should steal fae glide from EverQuest II. Well, mission accomplished on that front. Double jump is great, but getting glide on the third jump seals the deal.
Then, on top of that, I found that I was not entirely done with Draenor. There is still one garrison shipyard achievement I am working on, which meant Vikund hanging about in the Lunarfall and running missions now and again.
Those naval bonus missions just haven’t been coming up often enough, and I can’t do this on another character without starting pretty much from scratch because Vikund is the only one with which I went all out on the shipyard. So just 13 naval bonus missions and I can wrap that up.
So basically I pottered about and didn’t do much with the expansion except hang around Dalaran or the various order halls waiting for a sign. Fortunately, Dalaran had such a sign for me. As Darkmoon Faire is up this week I decided that I had best get Vikund setup with Legion level professions. So I wandered about Dalaran speaking to the various trainers, stopping for a bit to fish in the fountain.
As it turns out, the goldfish from the fountain are decent food to have around… also, the vendor now sells bonus items to add to your fishing pole to scoop up the coins from the fountain for the achievement… though I am not sure they work on THIS fountain, as opposed to the fountain in the Dalaran that is still floating above Northrend.
But I digress.
When I hit the engineer trainer, as Vikund is an engineer… which must be why he is my main… he told me, after a bit of running around, that I needed to go to Azsuna to finish setting myself up. So, choice
And even then it took me a bit to get into things. You launch straight into killing demons and I might have been a bit burnt out on simply killing demons after three weeks of leveling characters up via demon invasions. However, after a bit of just killing demons for a bit, the zone did start to get going with what Blizzard does pretty well at this point: Story lines that are actually engaging and lead you across the map. I spent most of Sunday afternoon running around Azsura and enjoying myself. I made it through what I would guess is a large chunk of the zone and ended up just shy of level 103.
Along the way I also acquired a bunch of items for Ashbringer, leveling that up or whatever we want to call it when you get to upgrade it.
The artifact weapon is good and completes my ret pally. Rotation and skills felt awkward after the pre-Legion revamp, but now things are better. I am sure this was by design. However, that does make me wonder about the whole 1-100 experience. Does anybody really want to run that many levels with a “not quite done” set of skills? Does anybody actually go from level 1-100 any more? Is that a significant portion of the population? Or is Blizzard just hoping everybody will buy level 100 boosts?
Anyway, Ashbringer and I get along nicely, though I have a couple of additional nits to pick. First, running back to the order hall to change things up is probably the right plan, but it does remind me a bit too much of the legendary weapon thing from Lord of the Rings Online, which is not a happy association.
The second is the little bits and pieces the drop which you can click on for artifact experience. It would be cool if they were not seemingly a random set of reused icons, as I lose them in my bag all the time. Every once in a while I am mousing over items in my bag and find some artifact experience item hidden away in there.
Neither are big items, just minor annoyances. I’ll live.
Meanwhile, back in the order hall things were moving along. I started off with the first couple of followers and the missions thing, which is clearly a product of the Draenor-era in some ways.
Missions themselves are a little more tied into the story line of the expansion as opposed to being so very focused on being an ecosystem in and of itself.
There was a funny bit of time when the status icon on my mini-map went away, no doubt because I was still running missions back in my Draenor garrison as well as order hall missions. Eventually it seemed to sort itself out, and even showed me what my other characters were up to… which was all Draenor stuff.
The names are color coded for what class they are… or so I gather. And it does show characters across servers, which is nice. The one anomaly is Selirus/Hurmoo, which are the same character, my druid that I moved over to the Horde. Somebody is having problems letting go I guess. More fun.
Having hit level 102, I was also offered the option to obtain the class artifact for another spec, which I am posting here to answer a question that came up for a couple of friends who seemed to be unhappy with their initial choices.
I figured there would be such an option, given the fact that there is an achievement for getting all of the artifacts for your given class. I passed on this option for the moment, primarily because you have to change spec to get the appropriate artifact weapon and I was finally getting into the groove for retribution and I didn’t want to screw that up by changing specs.
All in all, I am pretty happy with the expansion so far. I think my plan at the moment is to carry on with Vikund now that I have the ret pally rhythm going.
My last grumble is about transmog. I remain mildly annoyed that it applies to gear as opposed to slots, so when leveling up your chosen outfit is pretty much constantly disrupted and there is never a transmog NPC handy when you need one. This wouldn’t be much of an item to me… I just went back to showing whatever gear I was wearing… except that Blizz seems to have gotten rid of the “show helm/cloak” options from the settings, so to not show helm… and the helms are astonishingly ugly so far… you have to do it through transmog. It is free to not show helm, and I made a transmog set that is just that, but you need that NPC around. I’ll have to check, maybe engineers can create a deployable transmog bot.
Finally, I saw somewhere along the line this weekend a complaint that leveling in WoW Legion was too slow, something that would have made me do a spit-take had I been drinking something at the moment.
Given the number of 110s I saw in Dalaran this weekend, I might suggest that leveling is a bit too hasty. Even I am just shy of 103 and I haven’t even finished my first zone yet. I know that some people are keen to get to heroic dungeons and raids as they become available, but remember, we’re likely going to be playing in the Broken Isles for the next two years. There is no need to wear it out on the first weekend.
All in all, I am happy enough with the expansion so far. It feels like a “lessons learned” expansion in some ways. We’ll so how it weathers over time.
The boxes arrived last night, from which my daughter and I immediately extracted the code which would unlock the expansion on our respective accounts. The included DVD was purely decorative. And then it was straight into the game for a bit.
Unfortunately, my wife and I had other plans for the evening. It was “Back to School” night at my daughter’s high school, so we spent most of the evening meeting teachers and hearing about their classroom plans.
Still, I managed to find a bit of time to play.
I didn’t have time to sit and think about what to do, so I did the natural thing and jumped into the game with my paladin, Vikund, who is my second oldest character and has generally been my “do all the things” vehicle. I logged him in, accepted what I hoped was the last quest delivered by Khadgar’s Upgraded Servant for a while, and made my way to Dalaran where I got to watch Khadgar himself engage the spindizzy spell and move the whole place to the Broken Isles.
There was a bit of an introduction around the place.
But eventually the reception line led to the table where you got to choose your weapon. Of course, as a retribution pally, there is really only one choice.
However, this wasn’t like some cheap hotel high school reunion where you pick the airline quality chicken entree and then they just bring it to you. You have to go get it! So a mild adventure ensued, at the end of which I possessed Ashbringer.
At that point, because I possessed the magic dingus, I had to go back to the order hall. There I was presented to the bored crowd in the basement theater under Light’s Hope Chapel, out in the Eastern Plaguelands, which still looks like a bad neighborhood. But I bet the rent on the place is cheap.
After that I was elected Queen of the May, Man of the Year, and head of the order, something I am sure was unique to my character alone and based solely on my semi-competent performance in obtaining what is surely the one and only Asherbringer. I accepted all of this with due solemnity.
After that they seemed to want me to do something, like these were not merely honorary or administrative offices I had been awarded. They wanted me to go out and fight the Legion.
So I wandered back down the corridor, past the card room and the basketball court, leaving the solo phase I had been in up to that point, and thus joining a stream of other players, many of whom had a very similar weapon across their back. Mere replicas I bet, created in envy of me and the one true Ashbringer.
Down the hallway, past the cloak room, I found my destination. It was a map. I had to choose where I would land in the Broken Isles to begin my one-man heroic assault on the Legion.
But I didn’t really have enough time for that. We had to leave for “Back to School” night. So I left Vikund there in the order hall, probably getting all Cameron’s dad about Ashbringer and sitting there polishing it with a diaper.
The actual first zone choice will have to wait until tonight.