Review: World of Warcraft: Shadowlands – Two years ago, Blizzard brought us Battle for Azeroth, the seventh expansion for World of Warcraft. The expansion had its problems at the time, things that lingered and that caused the necessary irritation (hello, Azerite armor). In this expansion, Shadowlands, we can just focus on the story and of course the end game.
For most of us the ending of Battle for Azeroth is well known, but below you have the short summary, so skip the paragraph if you don’t want spoilers: Sylvanas Windrunner paid a visit to the Lich King. She beat him and managed to steal his helmet. She destroyed the helmet, creating a gap between Azeroth and the afterlife. This brings you, together with some heroes, into the Shadowlands and that is the start of this expansion.
Shadowlands consists of five new zones: Bastion, Ardenweald, Maldraxxus, Revendreth and finally the MAW, as well as a new player hub called Oribos. New souls enter the latter and there the Arbiter decides what their final resting place will be. With the campaign you will travel through the five different zones, where Bastion, Ardenweald, Maldraxxus and Revendreth have their own unique campaign. The story is told per zone on the basis of various small quests (with Ardenweald as the highlight for us). We were still a bit hungry at the end of the current campaign, so hopefully the new patches will bring a bit more to digest.
After you complete the campaign, you have to make an important choice. You must join a covenant.You get a choice of Kyrian, Venthyr, Night Fae and Necrolord. Each covenant comes with unique extras that benefit your class. Of course you can choose any covenant, but the best thing is to choose one that best suits your class. That’s how we joined the Night Fae as a beast mastery hunter. If you are not satisfied with your choice, you can change it. The Night Fae is located in Ardenweald and at the home base you will get access to a new hub. Besides some extras, including unique covenant abilities, you also get the opportunity to start with the covenant campaign. Every time you complete a quest of this campaign, you will get renown, which gives you access to new things. For example, think of better loot in world quests, but also new paths for your soul tie.
The soulbind connects you with one of the covenant’s characters who share some of their skills with you. On the one hand you have the soulbind traits that are determined by the choice of your teammate, but you also have those that you can fill in yourself with conduits. Conduits are mainly obtained by doing world quests or running dungeons. Each conduit falls under one of three categories, namely potency, endurance, or finess. When a slot becomes available for finess, you must also place a conduit from the finess category here.
A much used currency in Shadowlands is Anima. This will come up a few times throughout the story, because there is a great shortage of it. Sending followers on a mission or upgrading things in your covenant all costs anima. Fortunately, you can achieve this relatively easily by completing daily activities. Here we are not talking about the world quests, something that was necessary with Battle for Azeroth, because you can also get it just by doing dungeon runs or exploring the different zones, something we do a lot more now. The progression of some things at your covenant is stopped by a weekly unlock, which on the one hand is a bit unfortunate, because your progression is blocked, but on the other hand it also ensures that not everyone can rush to the end immediately.
Legendary items are a fairly common feature in every expansion, but in the previous expansion this was quite a fickle thing, as you could grind endlessly to get that one piece of armor with the correct Azorite. To take this away, Blizzard comes up with something new, namely the ability to craft your piece of legendary armor yourself. Legendary armor is something that you can make yourself based on items dropped or items that you can buy through the Auction House. There are items that are linked to your class and you have to get them through drops. Once you have the supplies, you can give a piece of armor legendary status and this is possible with the Runecarver. The Runecarver is located in Torghast, a location within the MAW.
Torghast is one of the novelties of Shadowlands and Blizzard presents it as an infinite dungeon. You have different levels that each consist of six floors. Of course, each level gets a bit more difficult, but the reward also gets better. Each run is a bit different due to the shuffling of the floors or the mobs that are there. Throughout your run, you will also find orbs that give you power. You can see this as a bonus on an ability or a better cooldown. When you kill mobs you get phantasma. This is a currency that you can spend in the level to buy extras.
On the last floor you will find a final boss that you have to defeat. This is certainly not too small and we cursed it well, because we have the impression that certain classes are not equally well balanced to be able to accomplish them. For example, we tried a floor 3 and we picked up nice powers through our run and it went well until the last 30%, then it got tough. We did this again five times in order to die in the last 30% each time, even though we didn’t make any mistakes. We just couldn’t do anymore, because we were just a little stuck by our class. Afterwards we tried again in duo with a tank and you immediately notice that it is easier with the final boss because he can catch it. So there is still some balancing work needed in our eyes,
There are also some bugs in this feature. For example, level-specific extras that trigger too quickly and therefore just work against you. When you do, you not only get some drops, but also soul ash. Soul ash is the currency you also need to craft legendary items. There is a maximum that you can collect every week, so you cannot quickly craft all legendary items. Here, too, a new level is added every week that you can complete.
The way you level up as a new player has changed. For this you had to go through the different expansions as a new player to level up and you had to work through the story to finally be able to start with the new expansion. This held back new players a bit, because World of Warcraft does have some expansions. To counter this, Blizzard comes with a new starter zone. Here you will be taught everything and you will also be introduced to a first dungeon. Once you reach level 10, you will be given the choice to play the penultimate expansion or one of the older ones. Here you play until you reach level 50, after which you can continue to the new expansion. People with different alts now also have the choice to go through the campaign again or simply start the end game right away. You may also notice that we are talking about level 50, because with Shadowlands the level cap has also been lowered. People who were max level in the previous expansion now start at level 50. The new level cap with this expansion is 60.
Of course, with the new expansion there will also be a number of new dungeons. There are eight in total of which there are four that you can actually play immediately while you level and four that only become available when you reach level 60. The dungeons are different from each other and this in terms of mechanics, but also bosses and environment. A new raid has also taken place since last week, but we haven’t had the chance to go through it yet.
Graphically, Blizzard is again doing something strong. The different zones look very unique and are finished to perfection. The atmosphere radiates from the different zones and you notice and feel the direction that people wanted to go with a certain zone. The audio team has also done a great job with this expansion. Unfortunately, we cannot say this about the servers. Since the release of Shadowlands, you have suffered from immense lag at busy times. Several actions take a while to be triggered and this hasn’t really improved in the three to four weeks after release.
With World of Warcraft: Shadowlands, Blizzard brings in our eyes a solid expansion, where it solves some discussion points / pain points of the previous expansion. However, the new features still need to get some balance, although the basis is already good. We enjoy playing the daily quests, a run within Torghast or the necessary things to obtain legendary armor. Hopefully the next expansion can continue this momentum.
Positives of World of Warcraft: Shadowlands
- Unique zones, each with their own story
- Legendary crafting
Negatives of World of Warcraft: Shadowlands
- Balance with some features
World of Warcraft: Shadowlands BIO
|Release date||October 27, 2020|
|Genre||Massively multiplayer online role-playing game|
|Platforms||Microsoft Windows, Macintosh operating systems|