Let’s face it, the first couple of days for the World of Warcraft: Shadowlands expansion launch were a bit of a mess. Many of us spent hours trying to log on to a game that, despite its many years in the public domain, still struggled with the millions of people trying to log onto its servers. Frustrating but, when you look at the numbers, understandable.
Sylvanas Windrunner is our primary antagonist here, as she rips apart the veil separating the living world from that of the deceased. She’s not the only major enemy you’ll be going up against however, as mysterious new characters are introduced in unique and refreshing lands you’ll traverse whilst battling your way across the campaign.
Your journey kicks off in The Maw; where only the most disgusting of souls are supposed to be sent. It soon becomes clear however that not all is working as it should be. In fact, every soul sent to the Shadowlands is being redirected to The Maw, no matter how heroic a life they lived in the mortal realm.
It’s up to your champion and their allies to find out exactly why this is happening, in a bid to bring a sense of normality back to the Shadowlands.
As far as expansions go, Shadowlands is undoubtedly one of the most ambitious that Blizzard have ever put out. I would go as far to say that it’s my favourite experience I’ve had with the game since Wrath of the Lich King dropped, all the way back in 2008 (and this is before the raids have even been released). There’s just so much to do!
New players may find the whole thing overwhelming and even some seasoned professionals could find themselves struggling to keep up with the ever-changing mechanics of gameplay. Whilst quests feel familiar throughout (collect X amount of one thing whilst slaying Y of another), the addition of features such as the Covenants you’re told to choose an allegiance with at the end (of the beginning) of the campaign could leave you a little frazzled.
Fortunately, there are plenty of guides online that will advise you on which paths are best to go down dependant on your class and speciality; don’t be afraid to get some reading done if you’re looking to make the most out of your Shadowlands experience and prepare yourself to become a raiding master. Whilst you may want to choose one Covenant because of their cute mount availabilities, is that really what’s most important for your character’s future?
The system to claim armour specific to your class has also been revamped after the much-maligned system that was introduced in Battle For Azeroth. Instead of crossing your fingers and hoping that a piece you may be able to put to use will fall into your hands, you’ll now grind materials to create the exact items you need to bump up that all-important item level.
One of the things I feel like I’m in the minority with is that I actually love reading all of the quest text and watching every cinematic that comes my way. They’re stronger than ever in Shadowlands, despite many of the quests being as dry as you can imagine if you’ve played WoW expansions in the past. The writers who have worked on this expansion deserve major props.
It’s really time however for Blizzard to start putting some efforts into creating more inventive objectives; they’ve done it with their new limitless dungeon Torghast, so let’s see that creativity spread out amongst the rest of future releases.
Torghast itself is a marvel. You’ll be introduced to the experience through a couple of campaign missions, but it really shines when you take on the tower either by yourself, or with a group of friends after reaching endgame. The enemies you face inside the tower will of course scale depending on who enters, making it a challenge no matter how many of you venture inside.
Upon entering, you are granted a set amount of lives that you must stick to if you wish to come out of Torghast victorious. As you progress through the tower and defeat enemies on multiple floors, you’ll also come across different abilities to choose from, specific to your class and, for the most-part, specification. It feels more like a self-contained roguelike than anything else we’ve seen in WoW’s colourful history.
My absolute favourite thing to do however, is build up Anima for my Covenant: the Night Fae. Their home of Ardenweald is the best-looking of all five of the new zones, so when I saw they were a solid choice for my hero, I couldn’t have been happier. When my initiation quest as part of the Covenant saw me performing a play in a bid to impress the ruling Winter Queen, I knew I had made the right choice.
The characters you’ll meet in Ardenweald are camp and colourful, dedicating their lives to defending the spirits of nature. They’re not quite hippies, but they’re as close as you’re going to get in this strange new world. Having them as close allies is surely going to keep me smiling as I progress through the endgame content.
Overall, I’m very impressed. I would like to see some quest innovation as previously mentioned, but appreciate that the major work in this expansion has gone towards a number of other places; namely the addition of Covenants and the endless dungeon of Torghast.
Shadowlands is a solid expansion that has surpassed the majority of my expectations. I can’t wait to see where Blizzard take the story from here; hopefully they’ll remain on this upwards trajectory.
World of Warcraft: Shadowlands is available now. A code for the game was given to Female First in exchange for a fair and honest review.