Review: World of Warcraft: Shadowlands
Although Blizzard won't reinvent the wheel with the umpteenth World of Warcraft expansion, Shadowlands finally seems to be a promising expansion. But, is this really so? We took our time, so read it in our review!
Yes, Shadowlands had a lot of server problems just like any MMORPG launch. Because of this, for example, I could hardly play for the first week. However, I can't seem to find any MMORPG launches in my memories that didn't have any absurd bugs or server issues. Shadowlands won't bring back World of Warcraft's highest peak, but once again promises to mix the power of WoW with some new ideas for the game. Does this work out well?
To the afterlife!
We've all seen the famed cinematic, where Sylvanas easily breaks the Lich King's crown into pieces. Shadowlands is therefore a direct sequel to Battle for Azeroth. Breaking open this crown opens a way for both Sylvanas and the heroes to enter the Afterlife. While Sylvanas goes looking for the Jailer, we go looking for what the hell happened. We do this in a number of zones, where we can dive into new stories, unique areas and quite a bit of new endgame content!
What players weren't happy about was that the Battle for Azeroth storyline had a lot of holes, as well as some issues with the storyline. Writers for the game who let characters make choices that are completely out of character broke the big storyline a bit for me. Besides that it was another farm party, where you could play the entire expansion with one skill, which wasn't even tied to your class. The expansion also did a lot of good, including music, graphics upgrades, base gameplay and so on. The storylines that you play in Shadowlands, are in any case a lot better written. Blizzard has looked back at a lot of elements to older expansions, as well as other MMORPGs, which is obviously fine.
Heaven and Hell are crashing down on you in Shadowlands, so you could use quite a few people coming to help you. Yes, you will encounter acquaintances like Thrall and Jaina on your journey, with some surprises here and there. But, Covenants is what you want to work towards. There are 4 story zones, each with its own covenant. Those Covenants give you some nice and less nice things. This way you get some exclusive abilities and your own skill tree. And yes, there is also a kind of order hall, this time themed after your Covenant. However, everything is much better worked out this time, besides that the choices you make have a little more impact on your own story. Not necessarily on the world itself, but on how your character will walk through the story. This is also much better developed than Battle for Azeroth.
The four unique zones where you will level up from level 50 to level 60 are all really fantastic. Oh yes, almost forgot! Numbers have been pushed down again, finally! I didn't see myself leveling from 120 to 130 immediately. No, thank you. Either way, the game looks much better than ever before. Although I am convinced that it could be even better. However, the cool thing about WoW is that the game can be played on a potato, if you adjust some graphic settings.
In the 10-15 hours that you spend in the new leveling zones, you will go through many themes. Bastion really gave me those heavenly vibes. Ardenweald gave a bit of that elfin mythical forest feel. Revendreth is an area with a lot of layers, which immediately gave me that vampire feeling that I was looking for in the new expansion. I can totally lose myself in this zone, literally too, because my god what a maze this is. Maldraxus was the least cool zone, and even here I could lose myself in the details and unique textures. But, this zone gave me an Underworld feeling. It's like being back in the Undercity for a moment.
The Maw is the area where the Jailer takes charge. Here you will also find the tower of Torghast. This is also where the Assassin's Creed: Odyssey vibes come to the fore. Because, if you do too many quests here, you'll get hitmen sent to you by this same Jailer. This zone will not let you mount either. You can shapeshift though, go Druids! Doing too much in this zone for too long will also give you a debuff that literally does one thing, kill you slowly. So it is a zone with a lot of snags and where you really have to pay attention.
Torghast, however, is one of the endgame features. This is the tower where you have to clear several floors to get higher and higher. Here you will find important materials and other rewards. You will have to play this for certain Legendary materials. You work towards a Legendary item of your choice, take notes BFA. Torghast is entertaining and reminds me of games like Dead Cells, where you move towards the Roguelike/Roguelite style of play.
The classes have been brought back to the basics a bit more. Which I personally really like. I get a lot of pleasure from playing my Druid in almost all specs again. It also makes it easier to level up alternate characters faster and in more fun ways. This is partly due to the level squish and the freedom to switch to and from older expansions. This also makes for a nicer level experience with more transmogs and a higher chance of old mounts by making farming a bit more fun, for example.
Although this review mainly focuses on PvE, not much else will change for the PvPers. Leaving that aside, Shadowlands is one of the best expansions in years. All areas are super cool put together, with all the details that entails. Besides that, the hole cheese of a storyline is a lot better worked out this time. Finally, I just want to say that I hope this expansion will bring back the fondness for many veterans. Still, I personally think it's time for WoW to look beyond the standard expansions and do some major overhauls. Other than that, Shadowlands is a fantastic expansion that hasn't reinvented the wheel, but it does make it roll better.
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