World of Warcraft: Legion is at the 9 month mark, and as we go through the last quarter of the first year I think it's time to take a moment and say my piece on the state of the game.
- The leveling experience is improved yet again, iterating on what worked in Warlords of Draenor.
- The launch was a smooth one. Hardly any issues experienced.
- The promised emphasis on player experience via the fulfillment of a power fantasy did get delivered. So long as you forgot that you needed other players for dungeons and raids, your status as "The Paragon of (Your Class), wielder of (Artifact)" worked.
- The emphasis on putting quests for everything into the content areas--zones and instances--worked for improving player use of those content areas and the tools intended to facilitate grouping up.
- The reskinning of Diablo 3 Nephilim Rift systems into the Mythic Plus system did work, but not quite as intended.
- The pace of content patches has been the best since Mists of Pandaria.
- Some of the systems has perverse incentives that were not addressed, or still haven't. (Maw of Souls was the best option for grinding out Artifact Power until the recent normalization of distribution in Mythic Plus.)
- Item power inflation is ridiculous, prompting talk of a stat squish coming next expansion. The raw power between someone who just hit the cap and someone geared enough to run the current raid as of this post (Nighthold) and not be dead weight is huge; this is a persistent issue and the devs refuse to see the solution after all these years.
- The actual content in the expansion and its patches hasn't been as much as they claimed, continuing the problem where you do end up at "Raid or Die". All that's changed is the point where you get to that; the hope the devs are after is to release patches just fast enough that 80% of the players finish up what's live when the new patch hits. They aren't there yet.
- What they did to the economy around raiding was enough for a lot of sub-Mythic raiders to just hang it up. (I did.) When a week's raiding entertainment has a five-figure gold cost, and you're not swimming it in like you were in Warlords, that get prohibitively expensive fast- especially if gold is how you pay for your subscription.
- Until this recent patch (7.2), the game was as alt-friendly as Kryptonite is to Superman.
- Artifact Power became so important that even casuals felt compelled to prioritize it over all else or get benched by the entire community. The changes brought on by the release of the Broken Shore did not change that, but rather just stretched out the time until it became fucking cancer.
- Player feedback goes in one ear and out the other. Known issues have plagued the game since the expansion's Alpha, and only now have some of them been addressed and fixed. The Q&A livestreams are PR stunts and nothing more. Joke.
- There are still dead specs in the game, meaning specializations that do not meet competitive viability and therefore don't get anywhere near the playtime by the community--especially after the theorycrafters do the math and show you what sucks--which is the continuation of a known problem since the game's launch over 10 years ago. The devs do not play the same game as the community, if they play at all. (At least one dev does, and streams on occasion.)
- PVP remains a joke if you are at all competitive about it. Stick to Guild Wars 2, or another MMO where PVP is not an afterthought.
- There is no hard cap to your character progression due to how Artifact Power interacts with your Artifact Weapon. Making it worse is the ridiculous amount of RNG for gear drops, meaning that you can get top-level gear from doing milk run content, and that does not include the Legendary gear that is gated by RNG and is mandatory to be taken seriously in endgame content. Player skill is seriously devalued.
It's a good thing I went from an active raider to actively feeding raiders the gear, consumables, and raw materials needed to raid properly this time around. I've gone from being stressed and scheduling my life around this game to actually enjoying it again, as I now have full and total control over when, how, and how long I play at any time. Thanks to the streamers, I don't need to raid with my guild to finish the raid-specific quests; when I'm ready, I can join a streamer-run PUG and blaze through it.
Which leads me to my conclusion: Legion is better than Warlords of Draenor, but that's like enjoying pizza after being bedridden for a month. There's a hell of a lot of room for improvement, starting with a wholesale rebuilding of the dev mindset; they need to play their own game, at the same level of the community that they purport to serve, and they need to do it right now.