Why Legion Drove One Player Away from World of Warcraft

One of the editors over at Paste Magazine has editorialized about why Blizzard's Legion expansion pack for World of Warcraft has introduced significant enough class changes that he no longer feels comfortable playing a years-old character, and therefore feels "driven away" from the long-running MMORPG.  I can't speak for the changes myself, so it's hard for me to grasp how substantial the learning curve would be:

It’s undeniable that Legion has done some excellent reworking of WoW’s general systems. The expansion has brought significant changes to narrative systems and the delivery of story content—what I played had much more scripting, much more continual “in-quest” narrative chaining, and generally a heavier hand when it came to making sure that quests are connected to each other along a consistent thread.

There has also been a significant reworking of the game’s classes (by which I mean the jobs, like Mage or Priest). Many have been streamlined to make them simpler to play, and subclasses (like a damage-dealing Shaman versus a healing Shaman) have been stretched out in order to make those play styles more distinct. For example, I have played an Enhancement Shaman for a silly number of years. The basic idea behind that class is that it likes to punch things. You stand in front of enemies, hit your buttons, and just generally try to avoid being damaged while you summon ghost wolves and throw down the occasional healing circle. This is in contrast to the Elemental Shaman, which is a way of playing that is all about shooting your enemies with blasts of elemental energy from as far away as possible.

Before Legion’s class changes, the Enhancement Shaman and the Elemental Shaman had some weird overlap. While the latter was all about chucking rad blasts at enemies from far away, the former stood right in the middle of battle while building up “stacks” of elemental energy that it would eventually expend in the form of a close-range lightning bolt…an Elemental Shaman spell. The Enhancement Shaman was effectively tied to the Elemental Shaman in a weird way, and they both took radically different routes to a similar damage-dealing end point.

Logging into Legion to play a character class that I’ve been playing since Cataclysm is a nightmare. The abilities that used to impact each other no longer do. I build stacks of energy, but I don’t know how to expend them. The beauty of coming into WoW and dropping out of it again was the knowledge that I could always return. The situations were different, the conditions on the ground were altered, but I never had to re-learn the game. Yet here I am, at one of the busiest times in my life, and the game that I have always depended on to be the background radiation, the smooth meditation experience, has functionally abandoned me by asking me to learn it all over again.

So I have a choice. I can scrounge up the knowledge necessary to enjoy this fine #content in the age of ever-proliferating things that I can spend my time with. I can break through the clouds of innovation that seek to please newcomers and old hats of WoW in one fell swoop; it seems like a symptom that can’t be treated with one medication, but what do I know?