WoW 2018 Review
With the upcoming release of BFA, I wanted to look back and review WoW in 2018. And so I present to you my WoW 2018 review. WoW has been around since 2004 and is a vastly different game today. In 2016 Legion released following and learning from Warlords of Draenor successes and mistakes. Legion added many new features to WoW but the biggest one for me is mythic plus dungeons. The addition of mythic plus has really elevated WoW for me from a game I play briefly at the start of each expansion to a game I played the most these past couple of years. but first things first, the Demon Hunter.
The 1st thing you notice about Legion is the addition of the Demon Hunter class. Blizzard has done an amazing job with this class, capturing its class fantasy perfectly with the havoc spec. Havoc DH are the most mobile class in WoW. As part of your basic kit as a DH you get a double jump and a glide. Moreover as havoc your mastery stat increases your movement speed, you have two charges of Fel Rush a short fast dash And you also get access to Vengeful Retreat, a back-flip which launches you several meters backwards similar to the hunter’s Disengage. All of these abilities make the Havoc DH extremely mobile, able to quickly position anywhere on the battlefield within seconds.
In regards to Havoc’s rotation and offensive capabilities Blizzard chose to keep it simple and satisfying. At it’s very core DH’s single target rotation is comprised of only two spells, Demon’s Bite and Chaos strike. Demon’s Bite is your builder with each cast dealing low damage and filling your fury. Chaos Strike is your spender, each cast spending fury to deal high damage. To complement these core spells you have several short and low cooldowns.
Metamorphosis is your biggest cooldown. Using Metamorphosis launches you to a target location, transforms you to a giant demon, increases your haste and empowers your Chaos Strike and Blade Dance. Other than Metamorphosis, you also get two short cooldowns, Fury of the Illidari and Eye Beam. Fury of the Illidari launches spinning glaves at your position which damage all enemies over 3 seconds. Eye Beam is pretty self explanatory, you briefly turn into a demon and shoot a laser beam from your eyes damaging everything in front of you.
Utility and Defensives
For utility and defensives DH has some interesting tools. You have a short AOE stun called Chaos nova. Your interrupt is a short cooldown ranged interrupt which gives you fury if successful. You also get a sap like CC ability in the form of Imprison, incapacitating a beast, humanoid, or demon for 1 minute. For defensives you have two options, first is Blur, popping Blur increases your chance to dodge and reduces damage taken. The second defensive option is Darkness which spreads darkness in a small circles around you for a few seconds. Players standing in the darkness have a small chance to avoid all damage taken. The final defensive option is Blade Dance’s 1 second 100% dodge window. While difficult to time correctly it is a valuable tool for high end content.
Vengeance Demon Hunters are tanks focusing on damage mitigation and life leech. As a Vengeance DH you still keep your double jump and glide but instead of Fel Rush and Vengeful Retreat you get Infernal Strike. Infernal Strike allows you to jump to a location similar to warrior’s Heroic Leap. An interesting thing to note is that while Havoc DH rotation is kept simple, Vengeance DH rotation and abilities are far more complex and I would argue that Vengeance DH is the most complex tank to play in its current Spirit Bomb build.
Vengeance’s rotation revolves around two resources, pain and soul fragments. Pain is your standard resource bar filling when you take damage and use certain abilities, very similar to warrior’s rage. Soul fragments however are these small purple orbs used either for instant healing or for damage and healing. Some of your spells have a chance to shatter a soul fragment from your target and you can have a maximum of five soul fragments.
Soul fragments can be used in three ways, First you can simply walk over them for some instant healing. Secondly you can use Soul Cleave spending pain and all soul fragments for healing and damage. Third is Spirit Bomb which turns your soul fragments into a bomb launching them at the enemy dealing massive damage and applying a debuff which causes 20% of all damage done to that enemy to heal you. The complexity of Vengeance comes from deciding how to use your soul fragments.
Utility and Defensives
Vengeance Demon Hunters offer great utility for five man dungeons in the form of their sigils. Vengeance has access to four different sigils each with a different effect and uses. Sigil of Flame simply places a sigil which deals fire damage. Sigil of Silence places a sigil which activates after two seconds silencing everything it hits for six seconds. Sigil of Misery places a sigil which fears all enemies in place for 30 seconds, effectively a mass CC ability. Sigil of Chains place a sigil which grips every mob affected to the center of the sigil and slows them by 70% for 6 seconds, this spell is similar to the Death Knight’s mass grip ability. Other than sigils you also have Imprison like Havoc.
For defensive cooldowns you have extremely powerful options in the form of Metamorphosis and Fiery Brand. Although Vengeance’s Metamorphosis shares the name with Havoc’s Metamorphosis they are different spells. Vengeance’s Metamorphosis transforms you into a demon increasing your HP by 30%, armor by 100%, empowering your Shear ability and generating pain passively every second. Metamorphosis is one of the best defensive cooldowns in the game. You become an unstoppable wall and can survive pretty much anything the game will throw at you. Vengeance second defensive cooldown is Fiery Brand, it is a short cooldown which reduces a single target damage done to you by 40%. While fiery brand is a powerful single target cooldown it has some downsides, it cannot prevent environment damage and it is limited to one target. Overall though Vengeance defensive options are very strong and on a short cooldown.
To summarise, both DH’s specs feel good to play in their own way. Havoc is a fast mobile demon infused badass, and Vengeance is a mobile complex tank with some great utility and cooldowns. moving on from the Demon Hunter I’d like to review Legion’s artifact weapons.
Artifact weapons and Legendaries
Legion introduced artifact weapons into Wow. Artifact weapons are special weapons tailored to each class and spec. Each artifact weapon can be filled with three relics which determine the item level of the weapon. Each relic also comes with a weapon trait so choosing the correct relic can have big results on your characters performance. Besides relic, your weapon also has traits which you gradually unlock throughout the expansion. Each trait gives you a passive ability, some of them increase your dps or hps output while others are more utility based.
In order to unlock these traits you must collect Artifact Power (AP). Artifact Power is awarded for almost any activity in Legion, be it a simple world quest or mythic raiding, you almost always will be awarded with some AP for your time. At the beginning of Legion AP was a bit problematic, hardcore raiders felt forced to grind AP 8-10 hours a day just so that they could keep up with raiding requirements. Since then, Blizzard has made changes to the way you earn AP and it no longer feels you have to grind AP in order to keep up.
Overall, the artifact weapons and AP systems felt good to progress in at the start of the expansion. But as Legion progressed and matured, AP and weapon traits became less and less relevant. Excluding traits provided by your relics, there is very little interaction and decision making with artifact weapons.
One of the best small features of Legion is the Mage Tower. The Mage Tower offers spec specific challenges that when completed successfully award you with a new transmog look for your artifact weapon. Each class spec is presented with a different challenge and they all require different things from you.
For example the Marksman Hunter’s challenge tasks you with defeating twins. In this challenge you enter a circular arena in which one of the twins stays in the middle casting spells while the other twin chases you constantly. If the chasing twin reaches you he smacks you for roughly half of your hp and knocks you back, forcing you to constantly kite and CC him. Meanwhile, the other twin is casting spells, summoning mobs which have to be interrupted and placing runes on the ground you have to stand in. These challenges can get quite hectic and difficult requiring you to use every spell your spec has.
I’m not a big transmog fan and usually just use a set so for me the rewards for the Mage Tower aren’t all that attractive. But even for someone like me who has little interest in transmogs the challenges were fun to complete and most of the transmogs look really good. Most of my guild went crazy for the Mage Tower with some people leveling alts just so that they could collect the transmog reward from the challenge.
Legion’s legendary system is a controversial issue. In previous WoW expansions legendaries were these unique items that you acquire after a long chain quest which you complete in small steps throughout the expansion. Traditionally, each expansion had just a handful of legendaries and they were made to feel unique and powerful. For legion Blizzard changed the amount of legendaries and the way you acquire them. In legion each class has several class specific and spec specific legendaries, in addition to non specific legendaries. Each legion legendary carries a unique effect with some of them focusing on utility and others on increasing your dps/hps/survivability. As you can probably tell, the legendaries focusing on output increase are the better ones for most encounters and are vastly more used than the utility focused legendaries.
The Luck of the Draw
The problem with legion legendaries isn’t in their effects or amount available. The problem lies with the way you acquire them. Legion legendaries are random drops that can drop from pretty much every encounter; raids, battlegrounds, arenas, dungeons, and even daily quests. To combat this RNG system and ensure every player will have at least some legendaries Blizzard implemented a bad luck protection system. This system tracks every activity that can drop a legendary, and if a legendary didn’t drop you get an increased chance for the next time you do such an activity. The moment a legendary drops for you the system resets and starts counting again. This system ensures all players will get legendaries at some point and at a reasonable pace.
While the bad luck protection system certainly helps fix some of the problems innate with RNG drops, it doesn’t fix them completely. As I mentioned before some legenedaries are strictly better than others. One can even argue that some classes simply do not function at all without a specific legendary. This fact is the major problem with Legion legendaries. You have no way to aim for a specific legendary and simply have to rely on luck that the one you want will drop.
This problem was especially prevalent at the start of Legion. During the first raid, Emerald Nightmare, it was highly unlikely that you had all the legendaries and so you were stuck to use the ones that dropped for you. Because some legendaries are strictly better this caused a major problem for hardcore raiders that couldn’t get the most out of their character. For example I remember that for me the best DH legendary, Anger of the Half-Giants, was the very last legendary that dropped. This led to luckier Demon Hunters to outperform me by 20-40% dps output consistently. To combat this problem, some hardcore raiders leveled several same class alts to see which one of them gets the best legendary.
Now it’s important to note that this problem fixes itself after a few months of play. Eventually, if you keep playing the character, you will obtain all of your legendaries. Moreover, Blizzard has increased the chance for legendaries to drop and introduced a vendor which sells a random legendary for a special currency. This currency can be acquired at a rate of about 60-80% of the cost of a legendary each week. While these changes certainly help alleviate the problem they do not solve it completely, at least not for alts. Opening an alt in Legion can be a slow long process of farming for 2-3 months for the right legendaries before it is ready for high end content. To be fair, you can also be ready in a week or two depending on your luck.
Having said all that, I actually like the legendary system. Having a legendary drop for you is always exciting even after all this time. It gives you something to look for and a reason to keep playing. Also, having this toolbox in your arsenal is a nice system. For example if you play a Marksman Hunter you have a set of legendaries for single target and a different set for AOE. And if you are pushing high end content you most likely have a defensive set utilising Prydaz, Xavaric’s Magnum Opus. Having these legendaries allows a player to min-max their character according to the encounter. Overall I liked Legion legendaries despite their problems and I hate to see them go away with BFA.
Legion raids were a blast to play through with each raid offering a different setting and unique, interesting boss mechanics. The first raid we got in Legion was The Emerald Nightmare.
The Emerald Nightmare
Legions first raid The Emerald Nightmare is a corrupted area within the Emerald Dream. The best way to describe it simply is a dark red forest area. Inside The Emerald Nightmare you will find seven bosses. Nythendra, Ursoc, The Dragons of Nightmare, Il’gynoth, Elerethe Renferal, Cenarius and finally Xavius. Each boss offering different mechanics and dangers.
Nythendra is a giant corrupted dragon swarming the battlefield with disease and mind controlling raid members. Ursoc is a big bear that picks and charges a raid member. The Dragons of Nightmare are a set of 3 rotating dragons each with its own abilities. Il’gynoth is a giant eye invulnerable to damage until you kill all the adds it spawns. Elerthe is a druid which transforms to a giant spider and a bird in different phases in the fight. Cenarius is a corrupted druid you are trying to save from the corruption. Xavius, the final boss is a monstrous satyr trying to corrupt your raid and make you insane.
Trial of Valor
Trial of Valor is Legions second raid with only three bosses, some consider this to be a mini raid. It is home to three bosses. Inspired by norse mythology, we have Odyn, Guarm, and Helya. Odyn, the first boss, tasks you with vanquishing helya in order to free him from the Halls of Valor. Before sending you to fight Helya, Odyn tests your worth in combat.
During the encounter Odyn summons Hyrja and Heimdall, throws giant lightning spears at the tanks, and activates runes on the floor. Guarm is Helya’s personal three-headed guard dog. Guarm will spit different colored fire which must be soaked, apply debuffs to raid members, and run back and forth across the battlefield trampling everyone who stands in his way. Helya is the final boss of Trial of Valor. She will breath different kinds of breathes with different effects, summon deadly adds and tentacles which must be dealt with, and try to wash you away with massive tidal waves. Considered by some as the hardest encounter in Legion, Helya is ruthless and a struggle to kill.
Nighthold is Legion’s third raid. Home to the Nightborne, a race of ancient elves changed by a magical source of power called the nightwell. Nighthold contains ten boss encounters for you to battle through. My favourite encounters in Nighthold are Krosus, Star Augur Etraeus and Elisande.
Krosus is a giant demon partly submerged in water. In the encounter you are fighting him on a bridge which krosus periodically slams and breaks making your room to maneuver smaller and smaller until you either kill him or he breaks the bridge entirely and wipes you. Star Augur is a stationary boss inside a small circular room. As you battle Star Augur Etraeus the room walls open up to reveal a beautiful cosmic landscape. This reveal is my personal favorite view in all of Legion and is truly outstanding. Elisande’s encounter is time themed with slow and fast time bubbles you can use throughout the fight. Elisande rewinds time a few times before she dies and replenishes herself to full HP. These encounters are only three of the ten available in Nighthold, with each encounter offering unique mechanics and themes.
Tomb of Sargeras
Tomb of Sargeras, Legions fourth raid, consists of nine bosses. It is a varied raid in terms of themes, with some of the bosses contained in temple like rooms while some of them are in underground caves. Your objective in Tomb of Sargeras is to use the pillars of creation to seal the portal which transports the burning legion into azeroth. My least favorite raid in Legion, ToS has you fighting nine bosses with some of them having interesting mechanics while the rest are just decent.
The first three bosses are pretty straight forward requiring you to dodge, kill adds, and kill the boss. After those bosses you have more interesting encounters. Mistress Sassz’ine is the best encounter in this raid, she summons tornadoes that sweep across the battlefield and are unavoidable. In order to dodge these tornadoes you need to position correctly the adds she spawns and kill them in the correct time. When the adds die they leave behind a pool which slows the tornadoes, creating a gap between them allowing you to pass safely. This mechanic creates short high pressure situations where the raid leader goes “go go go kill them now now now!”.
The Desolate Host is also an interesting encounter, forcing your raid to essentially split into two raids. One group stays in the physical realm and the other goes in the spirit realm. Throughout the fight the boss will spawn adds that transfer between the realms and several other mechanics which require cooperation between the two raid groups.
Antorus, the Burning Throne
Antorus is the fifth and final raid in Legion. It is the burning legion’s stronghold and as such you will find eleven powerful bosses which are mostly demons. Among those bosses you will encounter: Garothi World breaker, The Felhounds of Sargeras, The Antoran High Command, Portal Keeper Hasabel, Eonar the Life-Binder, Imonar the Soulhunter, Kin’garoth, Varimathras, The Coven of Shivarra, Aggramar, and finally Argus the Unmaker.
Me and my guild are currently progressing Argus and we got him down to 20%. Probably the best and hardest encounter in this raid. Argus is a challenging encounter requiring team coordination and precise movements. The encounter is split into three phases.
In phase I, Argus picks random players and places a circle or a spiky circle around them. Players with the normal circles need to stack with another player while spiky circle players need to stay away from other players. While that sounds simple on paper, coordinating 20 people to move around together is somewhat difficult and requires some practice to nail down. To make things more difficult, Argus also sends out a cone targeting a random player in the raid, leaving behind a a death fog. In this phase argus also targets random players with a blight DOT that when expires leaves behind a pool of death fog.
Phase II is pretty simple. The circle and spiky circle are still present but instead of death fog cones and blight DOTs, Argus targets random players with soulburst and soulbomb. Soulbursts explode upon expiring dealing low damage to the raid the closer they are. Soulbombs on the other hand deal raid wiping damage to the group if not handled correctly. Overall this phase is the easiest in the fight and I think it serves to give the players a slightly more relaxed part before the real pain begins, phase III.
In this phase the circle and spiky circle are still present. Soulbursts and bombs are replaced with several other mechanics. Firstly, the giant scythes, Argus spawns huge scythes all over the room leaving a small safe zone to stand in. The second thing you need to deal with are the orbs, Argus spawns an orb which gradually expands an area of death around it until killed. Leaving behind an area of death after the orb dies makes the room smaller and smaller as the fight progresses.
For the third major mechanic, Argus targets two random players with chains inflicting heavy damage on them. These players continue to take damage until they run far away and break the chain, upon breaking the chain the entire raid gets hit with a massive stacking DOT. Also present through the fight are orbs which move towards a player and the offtanks must soak.
Overall raids in Legion are great. Each raid offering a unique theme and story. While it is true that some bosses are more fun to fight than others, I would say that even the least fun bosses are still enjoyable. And the good bosses are absolutely a joy to fight. From the simple Nythendra all the way to Argus the Unmaker, each boss feels different and fun to fight. I had a blast raiding in Legion and I sincerely hope and believe Blizzard can keep up this level of polish in BFA.
In Legion, Blizzard introduced a new system for five man dungeons, mythic plus. Up until now each dungeon had three levels of difficulty, normal, heroic, and mythic. For Legion there are essentially endless levels of difficulty. Normal, heroic, and mythic are still there but in addition to those we now have mythic plus. Mythic plus (m+) are infinitely scaling dungeons with the difficulty set by a number. Each level increases mobs HP and damage. Also additional affixes are added in level 4,7, and 10.
Affixes are modifiers which change and add dangers to the mobs and dungeon. Each week one affix from the level 4 pool is chosen, one from the level 7 pool, and one from the level 10 pool are chosen. So for example this week we have bursting, skittish, tyrannical. Bursting causes each mob to inflict a short DOT on the party when it dies. The DOT stacks and damages party members. This affix forces you to consider making smaller pulls or stopping dps to not stack the DOT too high. Skittish is a bit more straightforward and simply reduces all threat generated by tanks. The level 10 affix is always either tyrannical or fortified. Tyrannical increases bosses HP and damage, Fortified increases non-bosses HP and damage.
The fact that affixes rotate on a weekly basis keeps the dungeon experience fresh. While it’s true you are completing the same dungeon, affixes force you to go about it in a different way.
Completing a m+ dungeon will reward you with a few pieces of loot and AP at the end of the dungeon. Gear’s ilvl is determined by the level of the keystone you completed up to +15 which rewards you with 940 base ilvl. Completing a keystone higher than +15 still rewards you with 940 pieces. As you go higher you get more pieces at the end. Other than the loot at the end of the dungeon there is also a weekly chest containing one higher ilvl item. This weekly chest also scales depending on your highest keystone completed that week up to +15 which rewards a 960 ilvl piece. For comparison, heroic Antorus drops 945 pieces and mythic Antorus drops 960 pieces. As such you are highly incentivised to complete at least one +15 dungeon each week. Some raid leaders require you complete a +15 keystone each week.
No system is perfect and neither is the m+ system. There are several flaws and problems with the m+ system. First, rewards only scale up to +15. If you are only concerned with the rewards you practically have no reason to complete a keystone higher than +15 once a week. Gear drops do not scale higher and the AP is irrelevant this late in the expansion. There are no achievements, titles, or mounts to be earned from going higher than +15. If you complete a +15 in time you get the keystone master achievement but that’s where it ends.
Now having said that, there are reasons to push beyond +15 if you enjoy the content. The main reason is bragging rights. Currently there is no good in game way to judge a players skill in high m+. The best achievement you can get is keystone master for +15 in time which really tells you nothing about the player when you are trying to push for +25 and upwards. You can argue that raid achievements can be used to quickly determine a player’s skill level. But I have seen cutting edge players fail miserably in even low keystones. Being a good raider does not equal being a good m+ player.
Mythic Plus Score
To combat this problem, external sites like wowprogress and raider.io track each player’s dungeon completions and times and score them. The scores are then aggregated to one overall score which gives you an idea to that player’s skill level and experience. Raider.io even built an addon which shows you each player’s score by simply hovering over them in game. And just like that, a competitive player has all the reasons he will ever need to push high keys.
While m+ scores are not official they are widely used and accepted by the community. Any player that pursues completing high keys is aware of these scores and most likely uses the raider.io addon. These scores are the new epics in WoW, remember those days where you saw a player with all the best gear in the game and thought “damn that guy is sick”? Those days are back in the form of m+ scores. Your score even changes colors according to WoW’s traditional color scheme. Scores are colored from green to orange with blue and purple in the way. Randomly hovering over a player in Dalaran with an extremely orange score leaves you in awe in the same way seeing a player with epic gear did back in the day.
In this review I tried to give a comprehensive look at WoW in 2018. From the new Demon Hunter class, to artifact weapons and legion legendaries, legion raid, and finally the new mythic plus system. And while each one of those subjects has some problems. Overall I truly enjoyed Legion and WoW in 2018.
The new Demon Hunter class is a joy to play and was my main halfway through Legion. Artifact weapons and legendaries are great additions to the game giving you an additional progression system for the end game besides gear. Raiding in legion was a blast with each raid mixing it up in terms of theming and mechanics. Finally m+ dungeons were my favorite part in Legion. Pushing keys. Wiping and slowly learning and improving was a great process. I’m still learning new things even this late in the expansion.