World of Warcraft: Legion

Blizzard is readying for the massive launch of World of Warcraft: Legion, the latest story expansion for the decade old MMORPG. The Legion expansion will have some major changes made to the way players interact and progress in the world.

In an interview with Gamespot, lead game designer Luis Garraga, character designer Genevieve St-Michel and technical game designer Chad Nervig discussed some of the major changes that were introduced for Legion.

According to Luis Garraga, one of the major changes made to the new expansion for World of Warcraft is the way players can level-up in the game. It's no longer level-restricted zones, where players would have to stay stuck leveling in a zone for those 15 -- 20 or a zone dedicated for those 30 -- 35. Garraga also explained that the world and each zone scales to the player's level, making it a completely new and dynamic experience for new and old players alike...

[...] one of the coolest things is the way that experience and leveling work in Legion. We have basically a world with five zones. Previously you would have to pick, "What are the two low level zones that I start the expansion with?" Now we have world-scaling, which basically allows us to say: If you go into Azuna at level 100, it'll be level 100 for you, but if you do Azuna last and your friend is level 108, you can group up together. It'll be 108 for him, 100 for you, and you will both contribute and you will both get appropriate awards.

That's a huge shift from the typical MMO setup, where players are encouraged to separate at specific levels, and those who play more or less are ultimately segregated from their friends. This is an issue that has plagued MMO gaming well beyond the confines of World of Warcraft, but it is exciting to see that Blizzard is addressing this issue finally in World of Warcraft. Games like Raiderz got around this issue due to it being a non-targeting game where no matter what your level was, skill-based twitch-reflexes were ultimately what would determine if you could win or lose in a battle.

Speaking of twitch skills, the new Demon Hunter class has been oriented around those twitch-based gameplay mechanics. According to Luis Garraga, the engineers went back to the drawing board to implement the sort of movement features that are now standard-fare in other non-targeting MMOs like Black Desert Online and TERA Online.

Our game was never designed with any sort of movement ability system for player-based movements, so it's very conservative in that end. A lot of our engineers had to basically look at the game, the way our engine worked, and make it do what an action game would do: double jumps, glides, and all sorts of almost twitch-based gameplay.

As Luis Garraga points out, though, it's still World of Warcraft. The game hasn't turned into Devil May Cry, even though you can double jump, glide and essentially platform the way you would in a third-person action title.

The expansion is also introducing new ways to pick up missions from the Class Order Halls, as well as attain followers who work a little like pets or Pokemon, helping you in battle and proving to be an ally in combat. And speaking of combat, there are also all new Artifact Weapons implemented for class specific specs, giving gamers something new to look forward to while questing and attempting to get strong.

You can look for Legion to launch for World of Warcraft starting August 30th.

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