World of Warcraft is still one of the most popular MMORPGs in the world. Few have managed to repeat such a success, and it is even more difficult to stay afloat than to rise. The Battle for Azeroth expansion turned out to be unfortunate in terms of both plot and content. But does Blizzard have the ability to exonerate itself in the eyes of players with the latest Shadowlands expansion? In this review, we will try to find the answer and at the same time share our opinion about the new product.
I want to start with the plot, since this is one of the main problems of the previous expansion, due to which its maximum score on Metacritic was only 3 points. Shadowlands has fewer problems in this regard. The lack of logic is observed only in a couple of moments, and they are quickly forgotten.
This is all because after entering the afterlife, the Dark Lands, during the storyline, notes of nostalgia constantly arise. You can see familiar, once beloved characters once again fight iconic enemies and reveal the details of their appearance in the Dark Lands.
The heroes are well enough spelled out, and gradually we learn the true causes of the disaster that happened on Azeroth. Quests are interesting to read and skip them right away, starting with the execution, as in BfA, I don’t want to. In this regard, the addition turned out to be a cut above the previous one.
There are five new locations in the underworld: Maldraxus, Revendreth, Bastion, Ardenveld, and the Womb. The first four of them can be moved calmly and without tension, and only the Womb is extremely hostile. Also, each territory has a unique atmosphere, backstory, and even setting. For example, Revendreth is made in a Gothic style and dark colors, and there are mainly creatures that look like vampires, while the Bastion is decorated in an ancient Greek style, and so on.
Such an abrupt change of scenery does not allow you to get bored, and the passage of the campaign helps determine your favorite covenant and a zone for further pumping of twinks. By the way, the Covenants are new factions. For Maldraxus, Necrolorda, Revendreth, Ventira, Bastion, Kiria, and Ardenweald, the Night Folk.
All offer a separate campaign, exclusive mounts, equipment, unique skills that fit the current specialization, and activities like collecting anima to improve the pact further. At first, it is quite interesting to deal with everyone, but there is no need to rush because, in the end, even progress in the plot comes down to the banal farming of new types of currencies and the implementation of local quests. This was done apparently to “delay” players before the next content update is released.
“Lokalki” has become much more difficult. If earlier the requirements were more often simple – kill and fetch, now in daily missions, it is necessary to exercise caution and even ingenuity. Many consist of several phases, and it will not be possible to complete them in 2-3 minutes. This change is clearly beneficial to the game. The feeling that players are couriers and are forced to move from point A to point B has disappeared, and more motives have been added to unite in groups.
Difficulty in comparison with BfA has slightly increased not only when completing World Quests but also during normal leveling, in instances, and raids. Before going into a dungeon or against a powerful enemy, sometimes you have to think over tactics and even periodically change talents. The thoughtless use of skills continues to return to the past, which is good news slowly.
Separately, I would like to highlight a completely new activity for the 60th level – the Tower of Torgast. This is a dungeon belonging to the main antagonist of the expansion, the Jailer. After entering it, you can choose two instances with different difficulty types (up to 8), several stages with bosses (about 7), and harmful modifiers. For example, the latter can include dealing damage over time as a percentage of maximum health, slowing movement speed, attacking, and so on.
The location of the corridors in the instances, in the Tower, changes randomly with a new passage. This means that memorizing the levels is not possible. Sometimes they come across short missions to free prisoners and find their memorabilia, and as a reward, you can get the opportunity to choose a character enhancement.
Buffs are valid only in Torghast and differ when passing alone or in a group. For example, playing as a rogue often comes across a talent of + 50% to maximum health, but you will not see it in a group visit. All such talents are summed up, and before the fight with the final monster, you can create a solid assembly. After the end of the instance, the gains are reset to zero.
As a reward for completing the Tower levels, a special currency is issued, for which endgame items are subsequently improved, which serves as an excellent motivation for attending the activity. The Tower itself looks interesting and exciting at first. I want to experiment with assemblies, try to go through solo dungeons and with a group, help prisoners, but soon get bored.
So far, the developers have implemented only a small variety of enhancement talents, side missions, and enemies. Also, the design looks very monotonous, and even changing the types of instances once a week does not help the situation. It is clear that the authors are still only getting their hands on, but I would like to hope for the soonest correction of this situation.
The other dungeons and the Nafriya Castle raid look interesting and have new mobs and debuffs. Still, a World of Warcraft fan will immediately notice an abundance of old mechanics from previous add-ons. But what is does not look like a hack. There are individual timings, secrets, and in many dungeons, even opportunities unique to the covenants. For example, in the Mists of Tyrn Skitt, a sworn allegiance to the Night Folk can open an additional road, access to buff mushrooms, and set secondary points at which resurrection occurs in the event of a wipe. Beginners and even seasoned players can still die as a whole group: without calculating the time for the enemy’s ability to trigger, collecting an extra mob or debuff.
An additional point that I liked was the study. To get most of the treasures or summon rare mobs, you sometimes have to think a lot. Here, the authors showed a flight of imagination and introduced many interesting mechanics: collecting fruits and their offering, mushrooms for jumping, feeding monsters, reading tablets and then solving riddles, and much more. Looking for some solutions, you even unwittingly open Google.
PvP has undergone a lot of changes too. We can finally purchase the right, not random goods for the honor. Thus, it is possible to quickly collect the first set for subsequent trips to the dungeons with friends or the guild. However, the balance on the battlegrounds or arena is still lame, and all because of the covenants’ abilities available for use.
The number of newcomers has also significantly increased in the game. Blizzard was helped in this by a new training system, thanks to which only players who created an account get to the special Isle of Exiles, complete missions, and master class skills. Such users are advised not to develop further alone but immediately join guilds that will help with the in-depth study of mechanics. Otherwise, they cannot avoid “toxicity” when going through dungeons or quests in a group. Also, newcomers can take advantage of the fresh mentoring system and find a teacher.
After Battle for Azeroth, the developers seem to have realized that the chicken will only lay golden eggs after a tasty meal, and the Shadowlands expansion can definitely be called “tasty.” Traveling through the Lands of Shadows for a week left me with many positive impressions. Blizzard has managed to combine the most exciting of the previous expansions in one and bring new activities.
An interesting plot and locations, covenants and their development, the Tower of Torghast, the search for treasure chests, a decrease in randomness in PvP rewards – all this attracts and makes you stay longer in the game. It also pleases the abundance of “fresh blood” in the form of newcomers who have decided to get acquainted with the world of Warcraft for the first time. It remains to be hoped that the developers will not step on the rake of BfA and continue to move in a new direction.