In about 6 hours under a shiny new +84 agility belt, World of Warcraft: Shadowlands not only straddles the line between life and death, but Blizzard’s 16-1 year old MMO. Familiar characters such as Thrall, Jaina Proudmoore, and Darion Mograine will attack us at the opening fanfare, while willing to kick the door to a new corner of the Warcraft world and introduce you to an intimidating prison officer. As the first major villain in WoW’s history, not somehow inspired by RTS games, his arrival is the beginning of a whole new chapter that hasn’t received much attention to rehashing past glory. It seems that.
This is not the first time WoW has moved outside of Azeroth. We’ve already seen the terrifying depths of the destroyed Orc’s hometown of Outland and the Burning Legion Base in Argus. However, Shadowland’s various life expectancy lies on the plane of a completely different entity, proving that Blizzard’s zone designers can still surprise us. The towering angular spire of the city of Orivos and the calm and dreamy fields of Bastion effectively market the idea that we are no longer in Elwin with different-world architecture and diverse inhabitants. The sky is filled with a mysterious gate and an impossible light show of twisted energy. The colors are much less saturated than we are accustomed to seeing in Azeroth on earth, and the creatures that live here are strange, clear and wonderful.But our introduction to this new world is a bit light on a whim, as we were abandoned by Maw almost immediately-basically the hell of a version of Warcraft where the most evil souls suffer forever. From premonition music to the sickly orange color palette, everything is as oppressive as an ice crown, while at the same time completely away from its icy blue and black appearance. Evil enemies and buildings are still in line with the sense of Rich King’s style, but remind us that we are looking at the realm where his power was born.
The first trek through this nightmare will introduce you to a fast-paced, action-packed, menacing prison officer in a reasonably impressive way. There’s all the drama, momentum, and excitement you’d expect from the opening of a blockbuster fantasy movie. But I think sending us here through the magic portal was a bit of a missed opportunity. Had the Azeroth champion actually died to reach Shadowlands, it would have been a shocking yet highly effective step in our hero’s journey.
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Moe may be properly scary, but the launch itself was almost shockingly comfortable. I didn’t have to wait for a long server queue. So far, there have been few or no lag or serious quest bugs. WoW has launched some very rough extensions in the past, which seems to be by far the best from a technical point of view. And it took only eight attempts to pull it off!
Same old song and dance
After leaving The Maw, the pace slows down considerably. There are many standard quests to kill random wildlife in the spleen, similar to what we’ve done over the last 16 years. Collect materials to repair soul-trained structures. You will find a hidden tablet that reveals more of the story. Ferry MacGuffin from one important NPC to the next. There is an interesting boss battle in the first dungeon, where you can see some promises in terms of encounter design as you have to trick the necromancer into hitting with a flesh hook to get the necromancer off the platform. It’s always where WoW has given more room for innovation than open-world quest content.
But the larger stories woven into these familiar tasks are certainly intriguing – the defenders of Bastion’s angels do not seem to be as good as their heavenly presentation suggests. Speaking of enough. There’s already a lot of moral ambiguity, with a cameo from a very very old friend who basically pleased me as a lifelong Warcraft fan.At this point, we still don’t know why Shadowland is broken. All mortal souls are sent to Moe rather than being judged and transferred to a place that is not as scary as intended. There are many mysterious references to some ancient beings called First Ones and to other corners of the universe that we have never glimpsed. These core mysteries are very motivated to continue the story, even if some of the small pieces along the way are less attractive.
Mechanically, the profession doesn’t seem to have changed much since the last expansion. The archeology I really enjoyed since my debut in the catastrophe seems to be forgotten and abandoned. This is especially disappointing, as Shadowlands has a lot of cooler and more ancient stuff. As a leather craftsman, you can make your own armor with semi-randomized stats that compete with or better than quest rewards, and a disposable armor kit that gives your health pool a two-hour buff. I will. Quite standard. Hopefully, at maximum levels, these skills will have a little more to do with it.
Cast a shadow
There is still a long way to go. I’m still at level 53, over the new cap of 60, and will be rewarded for joining the other 3 main zones, 7 other new dungeons, covenants, or the highest level of experience. I’m particularly excited to finally unlock Togast, a damn renewable roguelike tower that represents the most exciting new idea for this expansion of Blizzard. I’ll be back early next week to share more impressions (a little break for Thanksgiving breaks), and I’ve seen better all the fun that death has to offer With a complete review that sometimes follows.
Leana Hafer is a contributor to IGN. Talk to her on Twitter about RPGs, strategy games, and / or history. @AsaTJ..