Preamble: I’ve jumped back into WoW over the last couple of months. I’ve had an on-mostly-off relationship with the game over the last few years (since the end of Wrath of the Liche King, really), but the early promise of Legion brought me back.
I spent the time up until the launch 2 weeks ago getting acclimated to the game and all the changes I’d missed. I powered through Warlords of Draenor (WoD) in a few sessions, just through quest content (the massive amounts of rested XP helped a tonne!) then set about getting my professions up to max-level.
Professions in WoD very, very easy to level-up. I had both primary professions, and all secondary professions except Fishing maxed-out within a weekend1. If anything, I felt a bit underwhelmed by how easy it was. Between the Garrison and Auction House, it took very little time and money to gather everything needed to craft enough stacks of whatever recipe gave the most skill-ups2. Gathering professions didn’t take much effort either.
Professions in Legion are almost nothing like in WoD. In some ways it’s welcome; recipes have different levels of proficiency (1-3), which adds more interest to them. I haven’t found any recipes yet awarding multiple skill levels. There’s profession-related quest content – often to unlock a better proficiency – and even some of the new World Quests are profession-specific.
It’s just a shame that there’s one fundamental flaw: most of the progression is locked behind Dungeons. Take Alchemy as the prime example: after unlocking Legion Alchemy, you get 3 recipes with 1 or 2 more available from a vendor. These will give you a handful of skill levels at most. Beyond that, you have quests which require you to run dungeons to unlock more recipes. You have to run all of the dungeons in Legion, enter a busy free-for-all PVP area, and even complete a WoD Raid to unlock everything in Legion Alchemy. Other professions are similar.
I absolutely don’t mind having to work for progressing in professions, but this is disappointing. Gating them behind Reputations would have made much more sense to me, or some other mechanic which didn’t force players into LFG/LFR… The new World Quests are another decent candidate. In my experience most players in dungeons are just looking to speed-run bosses for gear upgrades and if you’re not OK with that they’ll make your life hell until you quit, or just /kick you outright.
It’s always been the case that the most lucrative recipes were acquired through dungeons… but these were optional/rare recipes, and mainly of interest to people looking to make serious gold on the Auction House, or needed to get it to help their competetive raid team. Levelling up your professions never needed these “high-end” recipes.
I stopped regularly running dungeons years ago because I had too many bad experiences with groups who were rude/intolerant of players “not as skilled” as they were/just plain assholes3. Since then, I’ve dipped in with ever more reluctance. I have zero desire or patience – let alone time – to deal with that again, and have zero faith it’s improved any. I’m sure I’m not the only player who feels like this, judging by posts on the Battle.Net forums and elsewhere.
For players like me, who have long turned away from the group aspects of WoW, professions are the end-game content4. Locking the means to meaningfully progress professions behind dungeons basically locks them away from us, unless we’re prepared to hold our noses and deal with aspects of the game we don’t necessarily enjoy.
It’s still early days for Legion, and even though I’ve hit 110 on my main, there’s still a tonne of other content I can play, for now. And other characters. I’m just hoping Blizzard do something to make the professions a bit more accessible in a future patch. They’ve achieved their intent to make them more interesting, I’m just not convinced they achieved the “fun” bit.