World of Warcraft's Legion Breaks Free on August 30

Blizzard has announced that World of Warcraft's sixth expansion, Legion, will be coming on August 30, 2016. Players who pre-order Legion can get an instant level-100 character boost and access to the Demon Hunter class before the expansion launches. The exact timing of the Demon Hunter early access period is still being worked out by Blizzard.

"Legion opens a dark and thrilling new chapter in one of the Warcraft series' greatest conflicts, and things will never be the same for some of Azeroth's most iconic heroes and villains," said Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime. "This expansion is loaded with features and content that give players whole new ways to explore the world and customize their heroes. We're looking forward to sending everyone into battle against the Burning Legion this August."

As I said before, WoW: Legion definitely looks like Blizzard's "Baby, Come Back" expansion, aimed primarily at getting lapsed players to return and retaining the existing fanbase. When Blizzard last gave us subscriber numbers, World of Warcraft was down to 5.5 million players, which is high for any other MMO, but down from WoW's peak of 12 million. Legion returns WoW's overall story to the Burning Crusade era, pitting players against the Burning Legion.

Everything fans have asked for - outside of rolling the game's mechanical systems back to a prior expansion - seems to be here. Illidan is back as a major character for the expansion and the Burning Legion is once again the main antagonist. The Emerald Nightmare, a zone long speculated as an expansion region, finally makes its appearance.

Players get to take on Queen Azshara for control of a forgotten Night Elf civilization, another expansion focus many have guessed over the years. Class Orders continue WoW's current thrust of making each player feel important in the world, building upon Draenor's Garrison concept. So far, Blizzard has announced nine dungeons and two raids for the expansion, including the Emerald Nightmare and Suramar Place.

Blizzard seems to be throwing everything at this expansion, even if it doesn't seem to have any answer for the age-old MMO question: How do you create content faster than players can consume it? Even with the studio's effort to make more content, Legion is still coming on the usual two-year expansion schedule and the playerbase has been content-starved since patch 6.2's release back in June 2015.

World of Warcraft: Legion will cost $49.99 for the Standard Edition, while the Digital Deluxe Edition will retail for $69.99. The Digital Deluxe Edition includes the Illidari Felstalker mount, a Nibbles in-game pet, a Felstalker mount for Heroes of the Storm, Starcraft II Portraits, and demon wings for Diablo III. Blizzard is also offering the physical Collector's Edition for $89.99, including all of the Digital Deluxe stuff, a hardcover art book, a Behind-the-Scenes Blu-Ray/DVD ser, a CD Soundtrack, and a mouse pad. The previous expansion, Warlords of Draenor, is now $9.99, meaning the entire game up until now is $29.98.

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