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WoWApr 18, 2016 2:00 pm CT

Legion: Our first look at World Quests

Until this past week, we had little idea what questing at max level might look like in Legion. Sure, the World Quests system was described back at BlizzCon, but it hasn’t been playable — until now. The Diablo 3-style questing has finally been implemented in the Legion alpha and I ran out to take a look as soon as I could grind a new character to level 110. Let’s take our first look at the system together, shall we?


The very moment I hit level 110, I opened my map to check out what was going on — and boy, is there a lot happening. The screenshot above is only one zone of four zones currently available. Each and every zone map was just as jam packed with activities as this one. There are PVP quests, profession quests, soloable objectives, pet battles, group bosses, and even raid bosses. Each quest offered different rewards, and to add another layer of complication to deciding what I’d like to do first, two of Legion‘s factions are asking me to do a handful of specific objectives.

Obviously, there were choices to be made. Instantly, I knew trying to do every single available world quest would be madness unless I didn’t want to do anything except play WoW all day long. I needed to set my priorities. Given the other major focuses of Legion — class halls and artifacts — I decided to focus on my artifact. Over the course of leveling to 110, I’d only earned a grand total of 6 points to invest in my traits (out of a total of 34 for Affliction Warlocks). I’d barely gotten anywhere with it. I examined my map, looking for each and every active quest which would grant me Artifact Power, and I set off.


Solo objectives

The simplest world quests are solo objectives — they’re no different than your standard questing experience. Sometimes you’ll be given a specific request such as (and I’m simplifying things here) kill 10 demon rats. Sometimes you’ll be given one of the sandbox objectives introduced in Warlords of Draenor where you can blend killing mobs or interacting with the environment to fill up a progress bar. Other times, you might only need to kill a single named mob. If you’ve been playing WoW at any point prior to Legion, you’ll know how these work. I want to make special note of that variety, however. Which quests are available rotates (randomly?) on a daily basis. On my first day of world questing, I saw all those types of quests available. You aren’t going to be doing the same thing every day and you won’t be doing the same thing in every quest.

The payout for these objectives seemed to scale with the complexity and diffulty of the quest. For a quest in Bradensbrook, a Gilnean settlement in Azsuna, I was tasked with a remix of the questing I’d done there while leveling — repeating some of the same elements of the initial questing there with a few new objectives thrown in. The quest was quick and easy and rewarded me with Dried Worldtree Seeds, an item worth 20 Artifact Power. A multi-stage quest in Highmountain which only revealed the next objective after I’d completed the one before it rewarded me with a Highmountain Mystic’s Totem worth 40 Artifact Power.

After completing all available solo PVE quests which granted Artifact Power, this was my haul:

The solo objective rewards alone yielded 200 Artifact Power. Whether that’s too much or not enough for a day’s efforts, it’s too early to make a determination. Given I’ve only done these quests for one day, I can’t judge. However, with only 6 points unlocked on my artifact thus far, 200 Artifact Power is less than half of the 450 Artifact Power I need for my next trait — and the cost of traits rises the more of them you already have.

Though I mentioned singular bosses as potential world quest objectives, I’d like to note there weren’t any on this particular day which granted Artifact Power as their reward. There was one which rewarded gold, but I skipped it — gold wasn’t the goal. For the sake of experience, though, I checked my world quests the day after and found a solo boss which did reward Artifact Power, so I ventured out to tackle it. Many of these bosses are quest mobs or rares which you may or may not have already killed while questing to level 110. However, much like when I revisited Bradensbrook, there are new elements: the bosses might use new abilities and, in every case, they’ve been directly buffed to be more difficult. The solo bosses have the Enhanced buff, increasing their health by 100% and their damage by 30%.


I’ll try to simplify what that means: Let’s assume you’re questing in Highmountain for the very first time at level 110. You meet the rare Shara Felbreath. Shara Felbreath is not a World Quest objective that day, so she’s as strong as your standard rare mob. You kill her, you get her loot, you move on. A week later, you see you have a World Quest objective to kill Shara Felbreath. You go back to where you first found her, pick a fight, and you discover she’s stronger than she used to be. She’s using abilities she didn’t have before and she has the Enhanced buff, increasing her health and damage. You’re fighting the same mob, but it isn’t exactly the same experience.

Not every mob you fight will be a mob recycled from the leveling process, though many are. Some of them appear to be brand new specifically for these world quests. That, or I failed to encounter them while working my way up to 110.

I had a moment where I felt a grand total of 7 solo quests wasn’t nearly enough to do in a day. Once you know where to find these quests and how to complete them, you can probably knock them all out in around an hour. Then I remembered I’d restricted myself to completing Artifact Power quests only and there were only 7 of them to do because I’d chosen to only do 7 of the available quests. If you’re the kind of person that only wants to solo and aren’t picky about your rewards, there’s a whole lot more to do. At the end of the day, if you’ve done everything there is to solo, you’ll walk away with some Artifact Power, some gold, some ilevel 810 gear (on par with normal dungeons), some reputation, and other odds and ends. You won’t get a lot of anything, but a little of everything.


Group and raid quests

Yes, there are not only World Quests which require grouping, but World Quests which require a raid, too. Group quests are denoted by a blue icon on your map, while raid quests have a purple icon. Group quests are fewer in number than solo quests and raid quests are even fewer. While every zone had at least one group quest active in my first day with world quests, with some zones having up to three active at once, I have only seen one active raid quest at all. Whether there will only be one active at a time or there’s only been one implemented so far, I don’t know.

Group and raid quests, from what I’ve seen, are entirely based around killing elites and/or bosses. Much like solo quests revisited old rares empowered with the Enhanced buff, group quests revisit old rares empowered with the Amplified buff. Whereas Enhanced increases health by 100% and damage by 30%, Amplified increases health by 300% and damage by 40%. Given I was playing an Affliction Warlock, which proved to be quite tanky and durable in the latest build of the Legion alpha, I decided to try soloing one of these group quests to see just how tough these guys really are — and I got my butt kicked. From what I’ve seen, actual tank classes can solo some of these if they have the patience of a saint, but otherwise, soloing them is not advisable. These are actual group quests… at least until everyone is better geared. They will, I assume, inevitably become soloable when dungeon and/or raid gear becomes commonplace. In the meantime, the goblin pictured below had 38 million health and hit like a truck.


This being an alpha test, the one active group quest which offered Artifact Power was bugged and failed to give credit once the boss was slain. However, if it hadn’t been broken, I would’ve been rewarded with an Ancient Druidic Carving worth 80 Artifact Power — twice as much as the most valuable item I received from solo quests. (It’s worth noting you can still do solo quests while in a group, it simply isn’t a requirement.)

A standard blue dot means you’ll need a group — not necessarily a 5-man group, not necessarily a group with a tank and a healer, but a group. A blue dot with a gold dragon around it means you might need a full group or that tank and healer. A blue dot with the golden dragon outline and a skull in the middle means you’ll be running a dungeon, my friend.

The only raid quest I’ve seen thus far in the alpha requires players to kill Levantus, a sea monster, in Azsuna. I couldn’t find any other players in the area willing to try to take it down, so I can’t say I’ve killed Levantus, but I did try to solo him and his 413,000,000 health. Why not, right?


PVP quests

From what I’ve seen, the PVP world quests in Legion are a blend of PVE and PVP. This isn’t a situation where you need to travel to X location and kill Y number of Horde/Alliance players. Instead, you travel to a location and must kill X number of PVP-flagged NPCs and a boss while under PVP duress. For example, one such objective asked me (as a Horde character) to kill 12 non-elite worgen and then an elite worgen boss. Once again, the lack of interested level 110 players thwarted my attempts to complete this objective — there was simply no one else in the area, whether it be on my faction or the other one. This is alpha with a limited playerbase, so it’s bound to happen. Still, I tried to complete it, but I failed.


On my own, I had no problem getting the 12 non-elite kills I needed. The mobs were tough, but doable. However, when it came time to kill the boss, I realized I was in way over my head. To reach the boss, I had to ascend a tower absolutely thrumming with elite worgen — I couldn’t manage to solo my way through them, let alone reach the boss which I suspected would be yet another order of magnitude more difficult, likely requiring a tank or healers. Soloing it would’ve defeated the whole point, anyway. These quests are a means to an end and that end isn’t necessarily the reward for beating the boss; the quest exists to get people to flag up and fight each other. Once Legion is live and there are more players, I think these objectives will serve their purpose well. You cannot fight these NPCs without flagging, even on a PVE realm. If you want your reward, you’ll need to fight for it — not only through the NPCs, but through the players of the opposing faction sticking their noses in.

If I had been able to complete this quest, I would have received Soldier’s Glory worth 30 Artifact Power. How long these quests will take to complete will depend entirely upon your opposition. Little opposition? You’ll be done in no time. Heavy opposition? You might be there awhile. And if you’re looking for some PVP action, maybe being there awhile is exactly what you want.


Profession quests

While I haven’t seen any profession quests which grant Artifact Power, I checked them out anyway — it’d be silly to avoid an entire quest type when taking my first look at world questing. In my experience, profession quests are the least developed at the moment. That, or they’re largely useless. Profession quests which require some effort on your part have the worst rewards. Profession quests which you can complete with one click hand you free loot in exchange for the time spent traveling there. Sometimes they’ll ask you to gather something, sometimes they’ll ask you to craft something, but in almost all cases, there’s simply no point to them right now.

Some profession quests are work orders which ask you to turn in something you’ve gathered or crafted. For example, a Work Order in Stormheim asked me to turn in 40 Stormrays, which you can catch in Stormheim. If I turn in those 40 Stormrays, they’ll give me 20 Highmountain Salmon. Why would I catch 40 fish in exchange for 20 fish if I can just go catch those 20 fish instead? I suppose this would be useful if you have a stockpile of Stormrays laying around and really want to trade them for Salmon, but it just doesn’t seem worth it. Yes, you also get some reputation with the faction requesting the Work Order, but it still seems strange. This might come entirely down to how it feels to me: if they didn’t give me any fish in return and only listed the reputation bonus, I bet I’d think that was a good trade. Psychology is weird. However, I also saw a profession quest wherein you traded 40 Stormscales for 20 Stormscales, and even with the reputation bonus, that’s even weirder. You’re requesting 40 Stormscales so you can give half of them back? Why? Why don’t I keep all of them and never enter this trade to begin with? Why don’t you ask only for the 20 you’re going to keep?

I can only assume these are incomplete.

In the case of gathering quests which are not Work Orders, they typically involve you getting more resources with fewer clicks. For example, an Herbalism quest required me to venture out to Highmountain to find a Foxflower Bundle. I found the herb, boggled at the foxes participating in some sinister ritual around the herb, clicked the herb, and was immediately given 30 Foxflowers. Quest complete. For a Fishing quest, I had to fish up 10 Lively Highmountain Salmon (not to be confused with the standard Highmountain Salmon) and, upon completion, received 20 Stormrays. From what little I’ve seen, there isn’t much variety or engaging gameplay here — but this is an alpha test and sometimes that’s to be expected. These might still be in early development. Or maybe these quests aren’t intended to have much depth. A quick, easy source of materials might be precisely what the developers intend.

The rewards from these missions all remain firmly within their own wheelhouse. Gathering missions give you materials you’d acquire from gathering. You aren’t going to be picking herbs for epics or fishing for Artifact Power — although that would be sweet.


Pet Battle quests

There are pet battle quests. You battle pets. Sometimes you get training stones. Sometimes you get battle stones. You don’t get anything else.


If you don’t like making your own decisions and want someone else to tell you which quests you should do today, have no fear: Emissaries are here. Each day, one of Legion‘s factions will task you with completing a specific set of quests. For example, your emissary of the day might be the Valarjar, the vrykul and val’kyr who serve Odyn. The quests which emissaries ask you to do typically correspond to their respective zones. In the case of Valarjar, they’ll be asking you to perform activities in Stormheim. An element of choice still remains, however: Emissaries ask you to complete 4 tasks related to their faction. Assuming you have all of your professions and you know how to pet battle, there might be 6-8 available options.


In the screenshot above, all of the quest icons with a yellow glow around them are quests which would contribute to fulfilling the 4 quests required to satisfy the Valarjar emissary. There are six choices in this region including a Fishing and a Pet Battles quest. Ignoring the numbered quests on the left, which are from standard Stormheim quests and not world questing, the only world quests in this region which do not qualify for the Valarjar is the Herbalism quest donated with a leaf and the Halls of Valor dungeon quest denoted with a skull. All of the other quests are basic brown circles with yellow exclamation points, meaning they can all be completed solo. Currently, the rewards for completing a set of emissary quests has not been implemented, so we don’t know yet how worthwhile this will be.

All of an emissary’s quests being soloable is not a guarantee, but you’ll always have more than 4 options. My first day of World Quests, my emissary of the day was for the Court of Farondus, a faction based in Azsuna. One of my available choices to earn Farondus’s satisfaction was to kill Levantus — the raid boss. That wasn’t happening. Even with Levantus an impossibility, I still had enough quests to complete the emissary set.


The problems

Generally speaking, I love this questing system. The sheer variety of activities available every day is awesome. I always found it bizarre we only saw the vast majority of an expansion’s game world once, while we saw our max level hubs every single day for an entire expansion’s lifetime. This questing system, combined with level-scaling zones, means the entire game world is useful. There are a couple of issues, though.

For those players who are in it for the narrative, this system currently provides very little. Daily quest hubs provided you with your motivation beyond the rewards — they told you what was happening and why you were there. Currently, this system has little in the way of narrative direction. When you go to kill a boss, you get pop-up dialogue from the Wardens informing you their job is to kill bad stuff, so you should help them kill the bad stuff. It’s possible any narrative elements haven’t been implemented yet. It’s also possible there will be endgame, max level narrative quests and stories which are separate from this system — and if so, maybe that’s for the best. These repeating activities aren’t exactly the best way to deliver a compelling story. However, I feel there does need to be story at max level. Many people play this game specifically for its world and lore. An endgame with none would be disappointing. All of this said, Suramar has not yet been implemented, but it’s been indicated Suramar will be a level 110 questing zone. There seems to be a plan for max level narrative elements, but they are not yet available in the alpha.

The simplistic map system in World of Warcraft is the mechanical hurdle to this system, though. When I became frustrated while exploring this system, it was always because I couldn’t find something. I don’t expect to be handheld through all of my adventures, but a map isn’t much good if it isn’t providing me with necessary information. When a quest marker is dropped on top of a mountain on my map, that doesn’t necessarily mean the quest is on the mountain. These mountains are swiss cheese there are so many caves in them. The quest might be on top of the mountain, but it might also be at the base of the mountain. It might be in a cave at the bottom of the mountain, a cave in the middle of the mountain, or tucked away in a crag somewhere. Due to a lack of elevation indicators, you really have no idea where the quest wants you to be. Sometimes it should be clear a quest is in a cave because the quest marker is atop the cave entrance on your map — but because the quest marker is atop the cave entrance on your map, you don’t see there’s a cave there.

I’m unapologetically anti-flying in WoW, but going up and down the same mountain (in a zone called Highmountain) to find a quest objective over and over again seriously made me miss my gryphon. I didn’t actually complete the quest in question; I couldn’t find it. I gave up. And then it happened again with a second quest in Highmountain. In that screenshot above — see the quest marker above Skyhorn? I have no idea where in the mountains that quest actually is, and judging by General chat in-game at the time, nobody else in the zone could find it, either. Maybe it’s bugged and doesn’t exist. Or maybe nobody can find it because World of Warcraft‘s map is useless when it comes to elevation. These world quests have little to no text associated with them — there’s no dialogue box, no quest text to read. With World of Warcraft‘s map as simple as it is, this is a huge detriment. If there were text which said Travel to the caves beneath… then I would at least know I’m looking for a cave.

Sometimes the quests are so close together, the quest markers are stacked on top one another and you can only see one of two or three available quests in that area. I ignored an objective in Azsuna because it appeared the only thing there was a pet battle quest, which didn’t interest me. Little did I know, until I physically blundered into the area, there was another quest there which most certainly did interest me. You can actually see an example in the map at the very top of this post. Dead center, there are two quest markers, one of them only slightly offset from the other. If you weren’t looking for it, you could miss it.

As Legion is still in alpha testing stages, it’s expected for there to be some issues, whether they be mechanical or balance issues. Some mobs are too strong, some are too weak, but none of that really matters. With only the above exceptions, I’ve already fallen in love with this questing system.

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