It has now been 1 year of Legion. Happy birthday, demons!
I thought as a retrospective, it’d be fun to crunch the numbers and see how Legion (and all other WoW content) stack up to one another.
This was…surprisingly difficult to do well! What I decided to try my hand at was assigning points. An expansion/patch gets 1 point for each of the following:
-A World Boss
-A Major Gameplay System (Garrisons, Order Halls, the Artifacts, etc)
-A Quest Chain (for example, the Horde Dustwallow Marsh revamp in Burning Crusade)
Also, for the sake of simplicity, smaller, cyclical patches that did not increase the main patch version (for example – 3.2.2 in Wrath) are included with their base patch version, unless Blizzard have marketed them heavily as standalone, which they have done in Legion, so it is counted separately there. For the Legion 7.x.5 patches however, I have not counted the raid openings, as Blizzard has stated that they do not themselves consider those as part of the content of said patches. The notes I used for this scoring are sourced from Wowpedia!
So what I decided to do is to look at the state of every version of WoW, Vanilla to Legion, comparing a few factors:
-How much launch content?
-How much was in each patch?
-How many points, as described above, did the first year of patches and the overall first year bring to the game?
-How many total points did an expansion have, and how many of those points came from patched-in content?
-What was the average weight of a patch?
To start with, the raw data!
Launched 11/7/04, containing 41 zones, 18 dungeons/raids, 9 classes, and 8 races for a total of 74 points.
1.2 – 12/18/04, 3 points
1.3 – 3/7/05, 3 points
1.4 – 4/8/05, 3 points
1.5 – 6/7/05, 2 points
1.6 – 7/12/05, 2 points
1.7 – 9/13/05, 3 points
1.8, 10/10/05, 2 points
1.9 – 1/3/06, 4 points
1.10 – 3/28/06, 1 points
1.11 – 6/20/06, 1 points
1.12 – 8/22/06, 0 points
Patch total – 24 points
First year Patches – 18 points
First Year Total Content – 92 points
Total Content – 98 points
Average Patch – 2 points
The Burning Crusade
Launched 1/15/2007, containing 11 zones, 21 dungeons/raids, 2 races, 1 battleground, 2 arenas, and 1 world boss for a total of 38 points.
2.1 – 5/22/07, 7 points
2.2 – 9/25/07, 2 points (only if counting holiday events in 2.2.2)
2.3 – 11/13/07, 3 points (counting 20-60 revamp)
2.4 – 3/25/08, 3 points
Patch Total – 15 points
First Year Patches – 12 points
First Year Total – 50 points
Total Content – 53 points
Average Patch – 3.5 points
Wrath of the Lich King
Launched 11/13/2008, containing 10 zones, 16 Dungeons/Raids, 1 battleground, 2 arenas, and 1 new class for a total of 30 points.
3.1 – 4/14/09, 2 points
3.2 – 8/4/09, 5 points including Onyxia’s Lair revamp in 3.2.2
3.3 – 12/8/09, 5 points including Ruby Sanctum
Patch Total – 12 points
First Year Patches – 8 points
First Year Total Content – 38 points
Total Content – 42 points
Average Patch – 4 points
(To preface – I absolutely would include the zone revamps in the count. Having said that, I chose not to here, because it’s highly subjective as to how you would score them. Some zones aren’t touched much at all, but still have new quest chains, where some are completely redone. If I were to count that, I’d probably give Cataclysm 20 more points than what I’ll detail below!)
Launched 12/7/2010, containing 12 new zones, 13 dungeons including 2 revamped ones, 2 battlegrounds, and 2 new races for a total of 29 points.
4.1 – 4/26/11, 2 points
4.2 – 6/28/11, 3 points
4.3 – 11/29/11, 7 points (1 point for transmog)
Patch Total – 12 points
First Year Patches – 12 points
First Year Total Content – 41 points
Total Content – 41 points
Average Patch – 4 points
Mists of Pandaria
Launched 9/25/2012, containing 9 zones, 12 dungeons and raids (including 3 revamped dungeons), 2 battlegrounds, 1 arena, 1 race, 1 class, and 2 world bosses for a total of 28 points.
5.1 – 11/13/12, 3 points
5.2 – 3/5/13, 5 points
5.3 – 5/21/13, 9 points
5.4 – 9/10/13, 4 points
Patch Total – 21 points
First Year Patches – 21 points
First Year Total Content – 49 points
Total Content – 49 points
Average Patch – 5.25 points
Warlords of Draenor
Launching 11/13/2014, containing 7 zones, 1 scenario, 10 dungeons, the Garrison systems, and 3 world bosses for a total of 22 points.
6.1 – 2/24/15, 1 point
6.2 – 6/23/15, 6 points
Patch Total – 7 points
First Year Total – 7 points
First Year Total Content – 29 points
Total Content – 29 points
Average Patch – 3.5 points
Launching 8/30/2016, containing 7 zones, 12 dungeons/raids, the Dalaran revamp, Artifact Weapon systems, Class Order Halls, New PvP Systems, 11 World Bosses, and 1 Class for a total of 35 points.
Patches (so far):
7.1 – 10/25/16, 4 points
7.1.5 – 1/10/17, 2 points
7.2 – 3/28/17 – 7 points
7.2.5 – 6/13/17, 4 points (lumping micro-holidays/Trial of Style into 1 point)
7.3 – 8/29/17, 7 points
Patch Total to Date – 24 points
First Year Patches – 24 points
First Year Total Content – 59 points
Total Content To Date – 59 points
Average Patch – 4.8 points
Before editorializing a bit, here are some fun facts!
Content totals from most to least:
Vanilla WoW – 98 points
Legion – 59 points (to date)
The Burning Crusade – 53 points
Mists of Pandaria – 49 points
Wrath of the Lich King – 42 points
Cataclysm – 41 points
Warlords of Draenor – 29 points
Heaviest Average Patches:
Mists of Pandaria – 5.25 points per patch (heavily weighted by 5.3 with new Scenarios and Heroic Scenarios, which I counted as 1 point for the difficulty option total)
Legion – 4.8 points per patch (not quite as large, but if Scenarios in MoP were not accounted, it would likely edge out MoP)
Cataclysm/Wrath of the Lich King – tied at 4 points per patch
So why draw these comparisons? First of all, I wanted to contextualize the amount of content that Legion has had – which is the second largest first year of a major release in the game’s history, and would be first if Vanilla didn’t, well, launch the game with as much. Secondly, I think it’s interesting to point out on a content basis rather than a patch basis – while Vanilla WoW had a very substantial number of patches total, each patch carried very little new content, as back then, they were balancing classes with major overhauls coming out at a pace of 1-2 classes per patch. Thirdly, I think that some of the flak Cataclysm gets is undeserved – yes, it felt like less endgame content, but when you compare it to Wrath of the Lich King, it holds up very favorably with only 1 point less of content. (I think flying through those new zones all the time made it feel lesser than Wrath zones, which required grounded gameplay until level 77, but that is a topic for its own piece!)
In terms of expansion content, we are on track in Legion to receive the largest amount of content we have ever received in an expansion – in fact, we have already met that bar, exceeded it, and have more to come. That’s even being conservative in terms of evaluating content (Artifacts as a whole got 1 point in my scoring, but could in theory be scored as up to 36 points – although I’d argue you only really earn 1 point for each of the zones utilized. Same goes for class halls – there are 12 unique quest chains there, but it’d be hard to state that they are long or super involved.) The only WoW release with more content, again, is Vanilla WoW, which will always win by virtue of launching the game.
Of course, this is a broad level view – I could have broken into scoring by individual numbers of quests, reputations and other such content that kind of gets shuffled into the mix with this method of evaluation, but what I wanted was the big picture – a birds-eye view of what an average player would broadly consider as content. On that front, Legion, even just 365 days down, has absolutely delivered, at a pace unlike anything else in the game’s almost 13-year history.
This is a positive trend for the game overall, one that I hope continues for as long as I play it. This is absolutely a new Blizzard and a new WoW team – one that has systematically focused on ensuring that we have something new to do nearly all the time, and new things on the horizon to gawk at.
1 year removed from Legion launch, and I think it’s probably my new favorite expansion. The amount of content, the playable content, the stuff that is still to come, and the consistent trickle of new things have just made it so great to play.
Now, for fun bits of trivia to close this analysis out!
Did you know?
While patch 6.1 (rightfully) gets a ton of shit from players for basically including Twitter integration as the big feature alongside Garrison changes, it’s not the first patch in WoW to do that – that mantle belongs to 2.2. Titled “Voice Chat!” with lovely patch art of a Blood Elf wearing a headset, this was the patch that introduced WoW’s short-lived built-in voice comms to the game. It didn’t work well, and didn’t last long – the saving grace of the patch was that it contained a lot of Holiday content.
The number of zones in a given expansion has trended downward overall, starting in double-digits with TBC and gradually declining to 7. This, however, has been somewhat offset by the fact that Blizzard has taken to adding brand new zones with nearly each large content patch starting in Mists of Pandaria.
Many features you would have lumped in as launch content in Vanilla weren’t there at launch at all. The honor system, battlegrounds and organized PvP in general were all patched in. Same goes for the Tier 2 armor set art (my original main, priest, had fucking ugly banana-yellow robes and a turban for Tier 2 until the art revamp brought us the gorgeous stained-glass Transcendence set!
Mists of Pandaria got the closest to Legion in terms of content releases, and did so by using a similar cadence but without the versioning of Big patch > Small patch that Legion has. 5.1 and 5.3 had no new raid content or zones, opting to revamp existing zones with new content, while 5.2 and 5.4 contained new raids, new zones, and an overall larger amount of content.
During TBC and Wrath, Blizzard used a more incremental patching structure than we’ve seen since, with patches having more of a cycle, rather than a release that had everything. 3.2 had 3.2.2, which included class balancing and the Onyxia’s Lair revamp and upscale. 3.3 had 3.3.2, which added weekly quests inside Icecrown Citadel, and 3.3.5, which included Ruby Sanctum. This led to a steady, but smaller trickle of content. Some of this practice has become prevalent in Legion, but tied to content availability rather than release. Argus has two more weeks of quests, including its third zone and the 5 player dungeon, waiting to open, despite being in the game files at present. Antorus, too, is in game, although I would not recommend trying to run to it – the bridge is covered in elites and a cannon that will fire rapidly at you until you die!
No expansion has ever touched, even in minor versioning patches, the amount of patches released during Vanilla WoW. However, patches were the smallest they’ve ever been in the game’s life, but at that point in time, each change was huge – adding honor in 1.4, for example, was a gameplay-altering event that drastically changed how players approached PvP. Similarly, releases like the Tier .5 dungeon gear sound small, but they also contained huge changes to how players ran level 60 dungeons, which were a bit of a mess before that – Stratholme was frequently run with 10 people, Upper Blackrock Spire with 15, and the timed run for Stratholme was further enhanced with that release. Admittedly, such small changes were perceived as being larger than they were due to the fact that the game had large elements that were not well designed – its endgame content chief among them!
Warlords of Draenor, patches and all, has less content than the following:
Legion at launch alone
Mists of Pandaria up to 5.1
Cataclysm at launch, not counting zone revamps
Wrath of the Lich King at launch
The Burning Crusade at launch
Just the zone revamps of Cataclysm
My blog to date (just kidding, that’s not true)