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Why Warlords of Draenor needs a legendary chain

Mists of Pandaria was unique in a variety of different ways, but none quite so unique as its approach to legendary items. While prior expansions offered legendaries in the form of random drops from bosses or craftable items that required -- you guessed it -- random drops from bosses, Mists paved the way for a new type of legendary. It was a legendary that anyone could get, provided they put in the time and effort required to obtain it.

Coming from a long line of raiding going all the way back to vanilla, I have to say that Mists' approach was the best I've ever seen. No more arguing over which class deserved the legendary more, no more officer headaches as they tried to decide who got the legendary first. No more accusations of favoritism, no more guild explosions. Just you, the character you play, and a decision to make: do you go for the legendary chain, or do you ignore it? You choose.

We need this in Warlords.

Cataclysm was an expansion on rails -- players had to complete quests in order, one after the next, in order to progress through an area. Mists tried to deviate from that by eliminating the need to finish one area to move on to the next, and offering several different paths to level up. Quests were located in hubs scattered around zones, and while the story gently led you from one path to the next, you could skip an area and head to the next if the content didn't particularly interest you at the time. You can complete Jade Forest without heading to the monastery at the top of the mountains, or the orange groves terrorized by mogu in the south.

But once you hit level 90, that gentle, somewhat open-ended approach to content changed. Your choice was limited to daily quests -- it was simply a matter of deciding which dailies you wanted to complete first. Each daily system differed in approach, but the baseline method was the same for all -- you want the reputation, you complete the dailies. Add a giant list of tantalizing armor, not to mention rare crafting patterns, at the end of each chain, and you had a giant swamp of dailies that players felt absolutely compelled to finish as quickly as possible -- an impossible task, when you're limited by the very nature of the daily quest.

Yet the legendary chain didn't work in that fashion. It was a storyline all on its own, one that worked alongside what players were already doing. Collect pieces from raids you're already completing, kill mobs for reputation that just happen to be mobs you were going to be killing anyway. It was effortlessly entwined with content that was current at the time -- and as the expansion progressed, catch up methods were set into place so that players just starting out on the chain didn't feel like they were falling behind.

So here we have Warlords of Draenor, a brand new expansion, and the notification that we'll be seeing a minimal at best amount of daily quests. Instead, we'll have far more open-ended content based on exploration and interactive events. Will we see a legendary in Warlords? Given Blizzard's track record, I'd honestly be really surprised if we didn't -- we've seen at least two in every expansion to date. It's not just something fun on the side, it's something that players have grown to expect out of any expansion.

But I'm sincerely hoping we'll see something along the lines of the Mists style of legendary, rather than the legendaries of old. Why? Because it goes hand in hand with that approach of open-ended exploration. It isn't a random drop off of a single boss in a raid that you'll need a guild to get to. It isn't a lone drop that you'll have to hopefully earn the right to wield as judged by your peers. It isn't something that you obtain at the end of an expansion and then quickly replace when the next expansion emerges.

It's a legendary that is about you, the player, the character. You get to choose whether or not to complete it. You get to choose whether or not to put the effort in. Yes, you have to farm for drops in raids, but you are no longer limited to joining a raid guild in order to accomplish it. It's not about your guild, it's not about your social standing among your peers, it's about you and that choice. And in a game and expansion that is steadily trying to embrace the idea of you, the player, the character, being out and about exploring the world and getting things done, nothing seems to fit that picture more than a legendary you seek out all on your own.

Maybe we don't really need to have some kind of uber-weapon or ultra amazing cloak in Warlords. Maybe players won't need to be ridiculously armed to the teeth to achieve whatever it is we're after in the new expansion. But the trek to getting a legendary in Mists was so unique, so brilliantly designed that I would hate to see it as a one-shot thing, left to sit in the annals of Warcraft history as that really cool thing that should've happened again, but didn't.


Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

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