Ranking the World of Warcraft: Legion class halls

With Legion coming out next week, I’ve been looking over the class halls and realizing that — personal investment in certain classes aside — some were more appealing than others. A LOT more appealing. And when that happens internally, it’s time to make a list! Here is my opinion on them, based solely on previews, and ranked from worst to best.

(Worst) Demon Hunter: Filled with 100% Elves. ‘Nuff said.

Warrior: Gah, could this hall have more gold to it? It’s like Thor’s Asgard or something. Too shiny, too garish, too impersonal. No thanks.

Warlock: Incredibly detailed and internally divisive for me. I like how some of it looks and feels very Halloweeny, but I’m definitely not crazy about the overabundance of glowy green everything. It’s almost a little too oppressive and dour, the opposite of relaxing and inviting to me.

Paladin: A cross between a cathedral and a superhero fortress. It fits the class well, don’t get me wrong, but it feels a little too sterile. Like a generic medieval castle, if Disney didn’t put in as much work. The main hall is pretty neat looking, though.

Shaman: If the Druid hall is calm, organized nature, then the Shaman one is chaotic elements all over the place. I get the theme quite clearly, but I can’t say that it appeals greatly. Storms are nice to watch for a bit, but I wouldn’t want to work all of the time in the middle of one.

Death Knight: Ebon Hold is cool and all that, but reusing it for the class hall feels… lazy. Rehashed leftovers. I never really liked Ebon Hold to begin with — it’s like a haunted house with all of the charm and fun stripped out of it.

Monk: Sure, it’s pretty enough, but it also looks like Mini-Mists of Pandaria. I’m just not that into the Chinese aesthetic from that expansion. I don’t hate it but I’m not crazy about it either.

Priest: Instead of a chapel redux, they took a page out of the Draenei architecture and created something quite beautiful. The room with the thousands of tiny candles is breathtaking and the whole of this place would be wonderful to explore.

Rogue: This hall definitely exudes personality, doing a great job getting across the rakish nature of these combat scoundrels. Got a strong pirate vibe here, and the underground environment communicates an underdog attitude (all the other classes see the sun, after all). I really, really like it.

Druid: You’re getting an extra spoonful of nature with this hall, but what did you expect? It’s very cosy and pretty, with lots of trees and organic weaves. Thumbs up for the tree forts and secret caves, and thumbs down for being a mite too similar to the early Elf zones in the game.

Mage: It’s a World of Warcraft Hogwarts! Or a nicer version of Kharazan. Either way, it makes me a little jealous that I don’t have a Mage at all. Great details, an inviting atmosphere, and plenty of magical sparkle everywhere you go.

(Best) Hunter: Trueshot Lodge is absolutely perfect for me. It’s got a down-to-earth outdoorsy feeling on the outside, and inside it’s rustic and comfortable. Very pleasing on the eyes and I can see wanting to come back here time and again.

World of Warcraft: Frequent flyer perks

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One of the things that the current World of Warcraft invasion events communicate very well is an almost cinematic sense of scope. It may be pretty choreographed, but it’s well-done even so. Just flying into a region and seeing the skies darken, the Legion spaceships firing down, and then approaching an invasion area — dropping down into it from flight to see the onrush of demons and the clash of noise is pretty intense stuff.

I also love the sight of dozens of players simultaneously taking off and heading in the same direction for battle. Reminds me of some of the movies of D-Day where you see all of those planes heading to the fight. That may not be scripted (just directed), but it’s pretty incredible to witness.

I really could do without the cheesy boss one-shot kills, though. Especially since you lose your chance for XP on that boss if you’re dead when he or she dies.

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Other than losing out on boss XP, Blizzard finally seemed to get the XP tuning right with a series of hotfixes this past week. Once you were properly getting experience for tagging mobs, then it made fighting once again a lot more compelling (at least for us pre-100s). I started actively participating as much as I could, chasing down bosses as much as I could for their sweet, sweet XP bounty.

I didn’t even fight, but rather healed my way through most of this. AoE healing enabled me to “tag” most of the mobs in the area that others were fighting — and I got to help people out as a bonus. I guess the helping thing should’ve been primary, but here we are.

I also got really good at zipping around the world to these six invasions. Four were right off flight paths while two required a bit of zone traversal. I was never so happy to be a Druid, since I could teleport across the world with the Moonglade port. No waiting for boats for me!

As a result, my levels started skyrocketing. I think when invasions first started, I was around 59 or so. When Blizzard finally got the XP adjustment right, I had risen to 82 (and a bulk of that doing AFK). The last 18 levels or so came over the weekend, since I made a game out of seeing if I could ding 100 by Sunday night. As it is written, so it was done. Now I have five 100s on Dalaran, although my Shammy is definitely in mothballs and I’m probably going to stuff the Druid to the back of the Legion queue. At least she’s there for healing, which is what I wanted with her in the first place.

On top of leveling a character to 100, the invasions were lucrative in other areas. I got a full set of armor and weapons for my Druid, with any leftover pieces sold for a good chunk of gold. A couple of thousand Nethershards later, and I was able to buy anything I desired from the event vendor.

So now what? Now we have a week or so to go before Legion and I’m plumb out of immediate goals for the game. I could farm more gold, especially now that WoW token prices are dropping (they’ve gone down on our server from 44K to 36K since the garrison nerf). Or push a little harder to get my Warlock’s herbalism skill maxed out if I want to speed up the garrison-farming process. But I think it might be best if I backed off for a week, played some other games, and recharged for the Legion release.

6 things I love about my World of Warcraft Druid

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With little else to do in this pre-Legion period other than run a nauseating amount of invasions, my attention has drifted over to giving some love to my Druid. As usual, I’ve been primarily playing her as a dungeon-only healer, crawling up through the Burning Crusade instances and now breaching the Wrath of the Lich King era. It’s weirdly relaxing, healing all of these dungeon runs, and as I’ve been doing it, I’ve compiled a short list of things that I have always — and still do — love about this class.

1. Moonfire

Yeah it’s a basic spell, but I think it’s one of the best in the game in terms of animation. I love seeing that silver-white beam shoot down and then erupt into a fat column. I love more how it’s instant cast and tosses a nice DoT on the bad guy.

2. Instant travel form

Taking away the relatively quick mount cast and making it instant for Druids (at least for their travel forms) is so immensely freeing and fun that I feel confined when I have to switch back to other classes. It’s just so cool when you’re running and then slam on the key for your bird form and take off on the go. Even more cool when you fly up, shift to your humanoid form, plummet, and then shift back into bird before you hit the ground.

3. HoTs and DoTs

As you well know, I love both heal-over-time and damage-over-time spells and skills — and the Druid has a ton of these. Tossing a blanket of HoTs onto the tank and watching enemy blows bounce back is a joy in and of itself.

4. Every role in one

No other class in World of Warcraft has four viable specs like the Druid: tank, melee DPS, ranged DPS, and healing. You can literally fill any role you want or feel like playing that night.

5. Moonkin

It still cracks me up how Blizzard took something as bizarre as an owlbear and made this fat, feathery creature pretty cool. I used to rock a Moonkin hard back in the day, and nothing could beat the spell pain they brought to the battlefield — nothing except their sexy dance, that is.

6. Leather armor

If I had to pick one category of armor that I generally like in MMOs, it’s leather. It just looks cooler, and here is no exception. We don’t have to share it too much with other classes — just Rogues and now the plague of Demon Hunters. Oh well.

World of Warcraft: I’m not giving up on Beast Mastery

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Where can I tame a flower to attack on command?

Ever since 7.0 — Classocalypse — came out, there has been a dire sorting. Players have been lumping classes into the naughty and nice piles, mourning over some that have been ruined, RUINED for life and rejoicing over others that are now shining brighter than the noonday sun.

One spec that seems to be widely derided since 7.0 is the Beast Mastery Hunter, a spec that has been my go-to since I first created this character in Lich King. I love me some strong pets, and the Hunter’s ability to tame and choose pets adds to that bond. Plus, while there are other pet classes in the game, this one is paired with a ranged weapon-using class, which has always made me feel powerful and mobile.

But I’ll admit it: 7.0 was not kind to BM Hunters. I felt like the spec was in a great place in Warlords and had a terrific flow to it. Now, post-7.0, it’s like something’s been amputated. It’s still pumping out damage and presumably enough to stay competitive, but it’s clumsy. The rotation isn’t smooth, but instead awkward, like dancing with two left feet. There’s been much moaning about waiting for cooldowns to finish, and really, that’s the truth of the situation.

I know a lot of people are saying, “Just wait until Legion. Wait until the artifacts. Right now you’re not playing the full, completed class as it’s been (re)designed.”

And I get that… but that also doesn’t strike me as true.

For one thing, does this mean that from now on all of the classes of the game aren’t supposed to feel “complete” until players hit 100 and gain access to artifact weapons? What about the 1-100 experience? Is it OK if a level 99 class comes across as only half-baked?

For another, from my experience, some of these new specs do work quite well as they are, even before Legion. My Unholy Death Knight is an absolute treat as is and I can’t wait to flesh her out a little more. It’s a good thing that’s going to get better.

The best I can be hoping for my Beast Master, on the other hand, is that a somewhat broken, incomplete spec might be made whole through Legion. And this irritates me, as if the devs stabbed my character in the belly and then crowed, “Just wait until the expansion when we give you the bandages that will finally make you whole!” All I can think is, I was doing pretty well for myself before your interference.

This might make me sound like I’m giving up on the BM. Trust me, there have been moments. I’ve even looked at the other specs, but Marks seems so blah and I am NOT going melee with a Hunter. And even though I’m not quite buying this call for patience, that all will be made well come September, I am sticking it out.

Even as is, I love the look of my Hunter charging in with her rifle, firing off a barrage and attacking creatures half a football field away. I am quite attached to Oz, my ghost wolf, and have a devotion to seeing this character continue her journey that she started so long ago. I’m excited that she can explore Engineering and maybe build herself a little robot companion come Legion.

And yes, I’ve looked at Titanstrike and seen a few things that might make an uneven situation a little more smooth. Getting a second pet is darn fine compensation to yanking out some of the gears that made my BM work in the past, so I guess we truly will see. I just don’t want to get so disheartened now that I shy away from playing her at all.

World of Warcraft: Legion fires its starter pistol

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Featured: Demon High Class of ’16

For all of its sweeping changes to World of Warcraft, Patch 7.0 didn’t so much feel like the beginning of Legion as it did a nice content patch delivered to starving players. No, for the true start of the expansion, I think we can safely put our finger on yesterday’s update as the moment when the starter pistol fired, Warlords of Draenor ended, and everyone turned full tilt to Legion.

While I have zero interest in playing a Demon Hunter, I will gladly take something new to do in the game — such as the demonic invasions. I had just gotten my Death Knight to 700 with her archaeology skill, so it was a great time to drop Draenor like a sack of potatoes and head back to Stormwind for the start of the expansion.

When I got there, I was tempted by the announcement of an invasion up in Hillsbrad, but first I took the time to go through the first questline of the Broken Shores event. And I’m quite glad I did.

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Spoiler: The Light can be defeated by… more light, I guess? I’m fuzzy on how the Light works in this game.

So after (seriously) polishing my armor and eating a last meal, I boarded a ship bound for the Broken Shores and enjoyed the bit of foreboding that the cutscene provided. Once there, it was a lot of attacking demons and running in a mount parade with everyone else (showing their best and sparkliest of ponies) to the next destination. None of the fights were difficult in the least, probably because a bazillion people were raiding it, so I kind of got the feeling that if the game didn’t cheat, we could stop the invasion right then and there.

Instead, we got The Cutscene. And if you’ve played it, you know what I mean. The Cutscene is the one which spawned a thousand dropped jaws and a million spoilers all over Twitter, despite the fact that Blizzard had already spoiled The Cutscene weeks before. It wasn’t a big secret, is what I’m saying, but the execution of it was top notch. Well done. I don’t even know most of these characters and even I got pretty into it. It certainly did a great job showing the Burning Legion as the big bad and putting our heroes in a dark place from the get-go.

I was pretty upset to find out that the screen capture didn’t work on The Cutscene. I had so many good ones, too!

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Spoiler: A statue died and was laid to rest in state

To kick the heroes while they were down, the demons were even shown to be infiltrating Stormwind itself, which I guess was the justification for calling on the Demon Hunters to come saaaaavvve uuuuuuusss. Pardon me, but figs to that. I don’t need blindfolded elves coming to my rescue. I have a bloated zombie, a snarky skeleton, and a blade that unleashes an unstoppable plague. I think I’m good.

Story-wise, this was all good, but there weren’t any decent rewards to speak of when you got done with the quest line.

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Finally, off to the demon invasions! I flew up to Hillsbrad to join in the fun — and fun it was. Just a swarm of people running all willy-nilly across the zone, beating up paperweight demons, and rushing to the next quest objective. Nothing deep, but it was visually impressive with giant demons and lots of spell effects going off, as well as invasion ships and green holes in the sky.

I got a few chests in those first couple of hours, mostly with level 700 gear (and some nethershards). Good to get everyone up to i700 at least. I wouldn’t mind getting a few of the cosmetics, and I know that I’m going to want to run through this stuff on my Warlock and Hunter, so I’m going to pace myself during the coming week. I heard that there will be a new quest line every week, so that could keep the whole month interesting before Legion unlocks for good.