Legion First Look

stormheimThe long awaited Legion expansion has finally dropped! Here’s Fussypants and Yotaan’s first impressions of the new expansion.

Fussypants: First things first, I want to give kudos where kudos are due, that pre-expansion event was AWESOME!  The quests, the invasions, the whispers, all were perfect for building up the excitement and anticipation for the final drop.  The Legion invasions in particular got me two new level 100s (a druid from 80 and a rogue from 64) as well as a bunch of shiny new gear to outfit out all my alts.  Two thumbs up from me!

Secondly, I’ve got another person to thank.  I would have had to wait several days for my copy of Legion to finally arrive had it not been for the super generous actions of one of my guildies.  Thank you so much Frandall for giving me the key that allowed me to enter Legion the day of launch!  You’re the real MVP!

Finally, onto the expansion itself!  I, of course, started leveling with my Holy Paladin right off the bat.  The whole Class Hall and artifact introduction was very, very well done (but I do have to say, it’s a little weird to be the big man in charge of all the paladins in Azeroth; I’m much more used to being underling number three).  I totally adored that aquiring the healing artifact took, you guessed it, healing! My lifelong dream has finally come true, healing quests are a thing!

the-silver-handSpeaking of healing quests being a thing, you know what else is a thing? Leveling in healing spec!  That’s right, I’ve been shockadining my way across the Broken Isles since the first moment I stepped foot and for the first time, it hasn’t been horribly inconvenient.  In fact, it’s much more akin to tank leveling now- I can pull anywhere from 3 to 5 mobs, pop a few AoEs, toss a couple heals on myself, and widdle down each and every mob.  The process has probably been slower than if I were leveling in a dps spec but at the same time, I cannot die.  And really, compared to previous expansions (looking at you Warlords), the only drawback is that it’s a just a bit slower instead of taking twice the amount of time.  Healers rejoice!

Right now I am level 105 and have quested through the entirety of Azuna and a majority of Stormheim.  If I were to write about each zone in specifics, we’d be looking at several thousand words so instead I’ll just brief over a few things that really stood out to me overall.  The biggest and best thing so far is that I haven’t been hit over the head with demons.  Sure, the Legion is invading and all that, but there’s a plethora of other lore having nothing to do with the demons.  Vykrul lore and Night elf lore and heck, even current Alliance v Horde lore, it’s been everywhere and it’s been awesome!

The other thing that has really stood out to me is the development of little side quests and characters.  I feel like everywhere I go, there is some fun little tidbit to watch out for.  Some of it has been highly comedic but others side stories have been incredibly sad.  If I had to recommend side quests to look for, my top three would definitely be Runas in Azuna, Tehd’s demon in Azuna as well, and the Moonkin up in Northern Stormheim.  (The goblins in Stormheim might also join that list but I have not yet completed that particular quest chain.)

Legion has just been… wow.  The story is fantastic, the zones are gorgeous, the voice acting is superb, man it’s almost perfect!  Now my only wish is that Blizzard maintains this level of perfection into the endgame; if this happens we might be looking at Pants’ new favorite expansion!

This part of the zone was so beautiful, I have over 50 screenshots of it!

This part of the zone was so beautiful, I have over 50 screenshots of it!

Yotaan: I have to agree with Fussypants, I really, really enjoyed the pre-expansion event.  The quests were an enjoyable as lore building.  I actually began to like Khadgar!  I do wish the whispers that lead to transforming into a demon were a little different.  The RNG gods smiled on my toons twice for this, but I was not able to complete the chores to transform.  It was not entirely easy or clear what to do.  I was hoping to achieve this (ala the Scourge transformation in the Lich King pre-expansion event) as I wanted to rampage as a vile Legion demon!  Speaking of rampages, the Legion invasions were very fun.  Initially, I was thought they were too simple – I had quickly grinded out Nethershards on Yotaan and did not need any gear.  But then I learned that they scaled for alt leveling.  I jumped on Poopertunity (for some reason Fussypants does not like this toon???) who was a lowly level 13 Brewmaster monk.  He had rested experience, full heirlooms, and access to the monk only daily experience gain quest.   So he joined the fight against the Legion and leveled like a mad dog!  It was so fun watching him ding repeatedly during just one invasion.  The other interesting effect of the invasion scaling was Poopertunity’s threat generation.  He was tanking the elites!  I had not really tanked on a monk (outside of a little with Fussypant’s help) and this new challenge was fun and rewarding.  It got even better the few times a healer targeted me and I never thought tanking would be so engaging.  Ultimately Poopertunity made it all the way to 71 from 13.  Very impressive for just a few hours of play.

Demon hunters are fantastic.  Fussypants and I intend to write a whole post on this so I won’t say any more.

Yotaan has not traveled in the Broken Isle as much as Fussypants has.  He is level 102 and has gone thorough most, but not all of Azuna.  The scenery has been beautiful to say the least.  When I came across unicorns and rainbow winged hippogriffs, I immediately ran off to get my youngest daughter to show her.  She loved it and demanded that Yotaan stay there forever.  I can really appreciate the new draw distance and attention to detail even on my Mac.  So far the questing has been inventive and the narrative has been reasonably complex.  I did not always know where the story was taking me.  I am a little bit concerned about leveling too fast as I want to take this slowly, but then again, the scaling tech is allowing me to go anywhere.

I am not particularly thrilled about the profession leveling however.  While the quests are cool and unique to the prof, I’m not actually making anything I could use.  Perhaps when I get farther along it will improve.

In an earlier post I complained about the shaman elemental artifact, a fist weapon.  The quests for Yotaan to obtain The Fist of Ra-Den were unusual and I liked the traveling beyond the Broken Isles.  The artifact tree totally reminds me of spec trees back in Burning Crusade.  All that is good.  Still don’t like the pointy claw thing and the teeny tiny shield.  I’m actually motivated to transmog….

Despite the very few missteps I overall really really like Legion so far.  I haven’t had a chance to play as much as Fussypants, for that I am jealous.  And, patch 7.1 is looking very exciting.   See you in Azeroth!

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No Taxation with Artifaction

I thought the title was pretty clever  /pats self on back

I thought the title was pretty clever /pats self on back

Editor’s Note: This was actually supposed to go live yesterday but as you see, I was a little bit late.  Pretend it’s still Sunday!

This blog post technically contains Legion spoilers.  However, they pertain to the cost of switching specs, something that will undoubtedly change before the game is officially released.  There are no lore or class change or even artifact spoilers here.  But if you are avoiding everything Legion, read on at your own risk.

To start off, this post deals with a feature in the alpha, meaning there is a very high chance it will change before the game is launched.  I realize this.  However, alpha is also the very best time to offer feedback like this because the developers are looking to change the game.  Yes I understand this will change, I’m writing this because I think it will.  And now, without further adieu or preamble, the article!

Currently in the Legion alpha, you can play all of your classes’ specs.  There is no dual spec anymore.  Each class has access to every spec.  However, there is right now a 100 gold tax every time you switch specs.

First of all, this tax is entirely too high.

Lets say you swap your spec 3 times per hour.  Not an entirely unreasonable number, especially if you are raiding (changing per boss), trying out a new spec, or just running dungeons.  You play about 3 hours a night for about 5 days a week, meaning you play for 15 hours a week.  Again, not totally unreasonable. Now if you change your spec 3 times every hour, you change your spec about 45 times in a given week.  Which means, with the 100g cost, you pay about 4,500g gold a week, just to switch specs.

4,500g a week. Over the course of a normal month, that becomes 18,000g.  The course of a year? Almost a quarter of a million.   For some gold moguls, that’s nothing.  For me, that’s all of my gold after a few months.  I don’t think everyone is rolling in the dough, near gold cap.  So for a lot of people, that’s a lot of gold.  And this is isn’t even factoring in all the beginning of expansion gold draining.

The 100g spec change is entirely too high.  Even with all the gold people have amassed from the garrison, the spec change tax  is far too exorbitant.  And the greatest irony of it, a tax such as this would actually act to deter people from switching specs.  The expansion when we finally could play all three (or two or four) specs of our class and many people would opt with just one.

But making the 100g cost lower isn’t the issue.  Lower it a little and the barrier is still there.  Lower it a lot and then why even have the tax in the first place.

I advocate for the complete removal of the spec tax.

Not only is the tax expensive, it’s also double dipping.  Blizzard already has a barrier in place to keep people from changing specs willy-nilly and it’s called artifacts.

Artifacts are unique to each spec, meaning you can’t use your Holy Artifact in your Retribution spec.  You can work to upgrade your artifact, but this improvement does not carry over to your artifacts of your other specs.  So you might have a totally maxed out Holy paladin artifact and a basic Ashbringer.  Yes Blizzard has said there will be catch up mechanics, but the weapons won’t just flip for each spec.  We are going to have to invest time (and perhaps money) into each and every artifact.

So we already have a tax in place.  A time sink tax.  The 100g tax is an extra, and I would argue, arbitrary tax.  There is already an effective barrier that makes people think twice about changing specs and I think adding another one is silly.

In addition, this gold price tax would impact hybrid classes more so than pure classes. While both rogues and paladins switch specs, I would argue that a paladin switches specs more.   I go from Holy to Protection to go from Healing to Tanking.  Because I can fill multiple roles, I often switch to do so.  But while rogues might switch from Assassination to Combat (soon to be Outlaw) for a different playstyle, they are still filling the same role of DPS.  So in theory a rogue could stay the same spec all expansion whereas the paladin will have to change to fill different roles.  In essence, a hybrid tax.

I generally think that gold sinks are an important part of maintaining the WoW economy.  But up until this point, gold sinks have been mainly optional.  This proposed tax is a huge and constant gold drain and it is very likely to be mandatory (especially if you do any sort of group content).  Sure, if Blizzard needs some sort of gold investment with the spec system, make it a one time gold cost to unlock.  You could even make it cost something relatively high like 10,000 gold.  Just make it a one time cost.  I would much rather pay that upfront than be charged a little every single time.  Drain me once, don’t keep coming back.

This being alpha, I know everything will change.  The artifact system, the spec tax, everything is still up in the air.  And since everything can change, I’m arguing now as opposed to later to get rid of the 100g.  We already have a time sink barrier.  We don’t need a gold sink barrier as well.  And we don’t want any more hybrid taxes.

Blizzcon Part 2 – Yotaan Strikes Back

Legion Stuff
Earlier this week you read Fussypant’s take on Blizzcon’s info dump about Legion, and now it’s Yotaan’s turn to opine!
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Transmog Changes
Fussypants was really, really excited about this one.  It clearly is a great improvement over the current system.  Yotaan only mogs his helm and weapon, so for me, this is a minor excitement.   The interesting bit will be that it is shared across the entire account.  All the random items that I’ve kept for posterity will be in the new system.  Considering that Fussypants and I have played for years, I bet there are a ton of potential mogs.  How is it going to handle hundreds of different helms, weapons, chests, pants, gloves, bracers, and off-hands?  Frankly, it’ll probably be too overwhelming for me to use…
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Crafting Changes
Ahh, now this is interesting.  Crafting in Warlords, particularly leather working has been by far the most lackluster experience.  I had a lot more fun on all the other previous expacs crafting than in the current one.   It will great for Yotaan to make gear that is worthwhile and relevant and that he can actually use!  The UI changes are great too but I think the entire UI needs to be updated to modern gaming standards.
 .Elemental Fist Wep
Artifacts
Nooooooo!  Blizz got it wrong!  In my eight years of playing an elemental shaman, Yotaan (formerly Yotin) had never, ever, EVER, equipped a fist weapon.  A quick search of Wowhead reveals a grand total of 20 fist weapons with intellect, half of them from Warlords.  That 20 total in the entire game.  So, naturally, the Artifact weapon for elemental shaman is The Fist of Ra-Den, a pointy hand/claw thing.  Huh?   Now we knew the enhancement folks got Doomhammer, so that choice was out, but couldn’t the devs find something else?  Plus I think a shield and a fist weapon looks dorky….
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I hear that there are mixed reviews of some of the other Artifacts, such as shadow priest’s dagger, Xal’athath, Blade of the Black Empire, so maybe I shouldn’t complain.  Overall, I am excited about the Artifact system and “leveling” the weapon.  I am curious how it will affect PvP (more on that later) and what happens beyond this expansion.
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Highmountain
Questing Changes
This is a great improvement.  The game will no longer choose where you level, you get to pick the zone and level away.  If the quality of the story in Legion matches Warlords, then this will be the best leveling experience yet.  I think it will be more friendly for alts as well, as you can go back to your favorite bits as you level up the next time at any time.  The one point that has not been clarified is when you have 2 different level characters in one zone leveling together.  Obviously, Fussypants and Yotaan level together and, in the past we needed to be close in level for it to work.  Can we be significantly different now, say 101 and 107, and still level in the same zone on the same quest?  That would be cool.
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The Cinematic
Fussypants said it all.  And, most interestingly, the cinematic was more arresting than the movie trailer.
 .
Who is Torby?

Who’s Torby?

PvP Changes???
Where was the PvP discussion?  Was there any?  We do know that there not a new battleground and no world PvP zone in Legion.  Previously to Blizz, there was some discussion of having separate talents for PvP.  The announcement trailer did mention the new honor system.  There will be Honor Ranks that can reward prestige items.  Gear is less impactful in PvP.  There are a few other minor details that I found searching Wowhead but not much more.  Hopefully more info comes out during the Beta because these are major changes without much accompanying detail.
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Once again, Blizz is planning on changing a lot for the upcoming expac.  Like Fussypants, I cannot wait and I hope for an early, not late, 2016 release!

Blizzcon, and Transmog, and Trailers, Oh My!

LegionIt’s information overload! I was expecting information for sures (I mean, that’s what Blizzcon is for) but I wasn’t expecting this much! Taking the 5 changes I thought were the biggest, here’s my take of the news from Anaheim! Now with convenient hyperlinks so you know what I am discussing.

 

Transmog UITransmog Changes
We are going to talk about this first because this is the most important change to come from Blizzcon.

…Alright, maybe not quite number one.  But its high up there.

I am so super stoked by this announcement, I actually squealed when I heard about it.  Transmog has become a very large part of the game for some players (and the reason to keep playing for others)  and I am glad that Blizzard has decided to revamp the whole system.  Learning the appearances will free up thousands of bag spaces over all my toons.  Having transmog sets linked to spec has been something I’ve been asking for for years.  And the ability to save sets in game is honestly amazing! I can’t wait for Legion to drop, if only for this!
Profession UICrafting Changes
And all the crafters of the realm doth sayeth ‘Finally!’

All kidding aside, I am excited by the changes that Blizzard has announced (and I know there will be more).  It sounds like they are really pushing to make crafting relevant and interesting again and are not tying it to one specific aspect of the game (cough cough garrisons).  The new UI they demo-ed was sorely needed and the “disenchanting” of other professions goods solves the problem of what to do with old profession stuff.  This change was badly needed and greatly appreciated!

I don't even play my disc priest that much, but I may start to if only for this awesome looking staff!

I don’t even play my disc priest that much, but I may start to if only for this awesome looking staff!

Artifacts
I…. I have mixed feelings about this.  One on hand, I love the idea of having a weapon that you keep with you and get to augment and I really love the idea of a talent tree for the weapons.  But on the other hand, I worry that it might become a required and grindy activity after a while.  Also, I’m not a huge fan of being locked into one particular weapon type all expansion.  Especially considering a certain plate wearing healer I play is going to have to lug a lame book around with her all expansion.

I think if artifacts are going to work and stay relevant all expansion, Blizzard will need to make them upgradable through numerous channels so there is a choice on where to grind.  In addition, I vote that we should be able to transmog them into other types of weapons that our class can use.  While I love the staff that brewmasters get, I love duel wielding kegs as well.
Leveling LegionQuesting Changes
I’m tentatively optimistic about this change as well.  If everything really and truly scales then this will allow an amazing amount of leveling freedom. One possible downside I could see is that if we have to unlock the Pillar of Creation on each toon then doing every zone on 3+ alts could get grindy and redundant. If Blizzard plays it smart, they will allow for alternate ways to get that Pillar than questing so that while you need to go into every zone, you don’t have to do the same things every time.  I’m excited to play through this change as well!

The Trailer
Fussypants: The very first thing I thought of when the trailer first started up was ‘oh no, this is like the beginning of the Lich King trailer with the My Son business, has something happened to Varian or Anduin??’ which then turned in to ‘foreshadowing, foreshadowing, FORESHADOWING’ as the dialogue went on.  However as soon as the trailer really got going and the action started I began tuning out Varian’s dialogue.  I believe this is the first time we’ve gotten a CGI cinema with Varian and Sylvannas and I’ll be honest, I was drinking up the beautiful rendering of them.  Blizzard has once again delivered with a visual masterpiece.

At the part where Varian plunged into the water, I will admit I was genuinely worried we were about to lose him right there.  All that I could think of was how lame it was that a simple ship sinking took him out for good when he’s been through so much more, and how awesome the Fury Warrior artifacts were going to be. (In hind sight, I probably should have been more concerned about the fate of my supreme leader but I was more considering rolling a warrior to get his swords).

I will say, this trailer did not give me quite the chills that previous ones have, but it was still incredibly well done! Fantabulous fuel for the hype train!

I already cannot wait for Legion.  With all the quality of life changes, revamps, and new content promised, Legion is shaping up to be one heck of an expansion! All aboard the hype train!

Look for Yotaan’s responses in the next coming days…

Legion Hopes

Blizzcon

With the impending Blizzcon, Yotaan and Fussypants talk about what they hope will be revealed on that big stage.

 

Yotaan: Blizzcon is next week. NEXT WEEK!!! Someday I would love to take Fussypants out of school and travel there to experience the full glory. Obviously, we are excited about any Wow news but the other games are awesome too. But, it’s hard to get tickets and Anaheim is far, far away. So, let’s speculate on possible Legion news.

In the first announcement, a trickle of news about Artifacts came out. More details would be awesome and in particular Yotaan doesn’t care about the weapon. It could be a mace, a dagger, or any 1-handed shaman weapon. The Artifact could be any of those. Assuming that the Artifact for elemental shamans are a weapon, the important bit needs to be the shield! I am hoping for great a variety of shield drops since there will not be any weapon drops. Betcha you didn’t expect that!

Most agree that one of the best parts of Warlords was the leveling. Both the Alliance and the Horde had great stories and different paths to take. I am hoping Legion is the same because leveling can be so fun. Intricate stories are wonderful to unravel. Having read the novels and many of the short stories, watching the lore unfold during questing has been a particular fave of mine. Supposedly the devs have been working on Legion for many months – let’s hope the questing is a big part of that work.

Fussypants and I have never played any of the WoW betas. I still don’t plan to play Legion’s, either, but I am hoping for beta news. If the beta is coming out soon(tm) then it means the release is soon too! Given the fact that we have gotten only one patch of significance in Warlords and there is not any plans for major patches for this expansion, I suspect there could be a major introductory patch for Legion. The moose mount is a hint of this. Let’s have a major intro-patch, a la Lich King! If the beta is soon, then the intro-patch is soon too. Moar content please!

 

 

Fussypants: Someone needs to bring a pair of pants with the words Fussypants written on them in sharpie to Blizzcon. And send me pictures of those pants at the con. Pretty please?

But anyways, on to what I hope to hear about! Obviously, I need to know about the Holy Paladin artifact. I won’t go so far as to say I’ll quit Holy Paladin-ing if the artifact isn’t a shield… but it’s on the table (tongue planted firmly in cheek). Honestly though, the suspense of finding that out is killing me! But really I want to see all of the artifacts.

I am also very curious which features from the expansion reveal will stay, which will change, which will be gone, and which new ones will appear. I expect there to be more info on demon hunters but I’m curious to see what new there will be. For example the promised updates to the transmog system needs to be revealed. My bank and void storage space is begging for that to be revealed. And more info on the class halls would be very welcome (especially from a particularly rowdy faction of rogues…). I’m curious as to what purpose class halls will have and how the artifacts will tie into gameplay. Hopefully Blizzcon will info dump on all of this!

Like Yotaan mentioned, I would also like a timeline the beta release. Not because I necessarily want to get in, but a timeline would mean that the expansion is a measurable amount of months away. I want that content as soon as possible!

With Warlords, we had the animated Lords of War videos and I would love to see those continued with Legion. They were both beautiful and chockfull of tantalizing lore and I hope that we get another batch of them. Or maybe even two! Those videos were great also because they didn’t require you purchase them (like the novels) since they are freely available on the internet. Keep ‘em coming!

On a non-Warcraft note, I do hope there is more info on Overwatch. I sadly haven’t gotten into the beta yet (*checks battlenet page again*) but I would love to hear more info about the characters, the design process and the path that Blizzard wants to take with the game. I don’t think I’m alone when I say that I wish there was a story campaign in the game. Maybe Blizzard will announce one at the con, we just don’t know yet! A girl can dream!

Overall, I’m just excited for all the info that will be coming these next couple of days. Go go hype train!

 

So what about you guys? What do you want to see at Blizzcon?