The after-life and soul of the party?
Little over two years since the last expansion Battle For Azeroth released (with differing reviews). Blizzard has sought to rectify issues with the open-world MMORPG and propel the game back towards the upper echelons of the gaming industry. I could think of much worse ways to spend a lockdown through a global pandemic, then by losing yourself in a fantasy environment whilst interacting with millions of like-minded gamers from across the globe
With Blizzard recently announcing that the latest expansion Shadowlands (the eighth retail release) has smashed sales globally of over 3.7million units sold (best selling PC game of all time). Servers feel much more active, meaning now would seem as good a time as any to jump back into the fantasy world of dwarfs and goblins to escape the harsher realities of life in the real world, right?
World Of Warcraft Shadowlands begins with Sylvanas successfully conquering Northrend and with it the demise of the lord of the scourge (The Lich King Bolvar) who loses the magic-wielding helm of domination. With Bolvar’s powers no-more and the scourge army leaderless, Bolvar’s scourge army end up controlled by the brutal mawsworn and proceed to cause chaos by invading Azeroth. Bolvar is rescued by the four horsemen and is appointed Highlord Of The Ebon Blade. He then leads the fightback for Azeroth in the Shadowlands.
The destruction of the Helm Of Domination causes a huge rupture/split between Azeroth and the world above (the shadowlands). With all souls of the living effectively becoming corrupted and no longer going down a righteous path. A dark, disturbing place known as The Maw is now capitalizing on the chaos caused by Sylvanas by absorbing all souls. Players then set forth to the Maw to recruit allies and to plot and convey strategies at the Oribos (the central hub/capital city) and begin this kickass journey into the Shadowlands.
The Shadowlands is made up of four new regions to quest in. Revendreth, Maldraxxus, Bastion, and Ardenweald. Questing in all four zones feels like it has a legitimate purpose and isn’t in-game for filler content. This is because the main story arc is (whilst linear) tied into each region accordingly, making it feel all linked. (Resulting in a far less dis-connected/ scrambled experience of the story content then that of Battle For Azeroth).
Blizzard has added a few neat changes tying into the launch of Shadowlands, such as the level squish. Gone are the days of a grind to level 120 as characters now max out at level 60, making the process quicker and leaning towards a more casual gamer.
Questing will never be as fresh as what it was when World Of Warcraft first released over a decade ago. Yet, It’s clear to see that Blizzard has put in thought and effort to offer a variety of ways to complete missions, numerous examples of these include tasks that see you make potions with Plague Deviser Marileth, to par-taking in a gladiator-like coliseum against beasts and ghouls. Not exactly groundbreaking stuff, but not once have I found it a grind or bore fest.
It’s as you reach level 60 where the shift in-game content really stands out. Choose your convenant and enjoy access to two new abilities. Some players will favor one convenant more so than the other, as the abilities on the table do favor their class. Also, your convenant choice will unlock doors to daily activities that see you tackle select dungeons, world quests, and more. For those of you looking to be well geared and competitive at the end-game, then completing these are a must-do as the earnt renown is vital to progress through the latter stages of content.
Arguably one of the most awesome features of Shadowlands is the Tower Of the Damned. As legendary items return and Blizzard does away with the somewhat grinding Heart of Azeroth item. This feels like a last man standing, survival mode. Tower Of The Damned will see players test all their PvE skills up against traps, enemies, and challenges that culminate in a major boss fight to earn materials/soul ash, which can then be used to craft legendary armor/weapons. It can be pretty daunting at first, especially for those of us who have relatively low survival numbers (don’t play as tanks). As you advance through each floor perks and upgraded abilities are unlocked to help assist players through this very challenging but equally enjoyably feature of Shadowlands.
The legendary resources are what make scaling the tower of damned so rewarding. As far as I’m aware, the only way to acquire these is by soul ash, materials earned from professions, and a blueprint. Blizzard will not dish out legendaries via drops, meaning conquering the Tower Of The Damned is a necessity to craft those all-powerful legendaries.
In terms of visuals, World Of Warcraft Shadowlands looks very eye-pleasing. From the lush blue skies and golden fields of Bastion (looking every inch as heavenly as one would imagine) to the uninviting, toxic, and somewhat sinister-looking environment of Maldraxxus. Blizzard has done a fantastic job in capturing the vibes of the expansion by creating zones that fit the tone of the story almost flawlessly.
Just when you question if World Of Warcraft had seen it’s better days and was on a downward projectory. Blizzard has finally listened to its player base, by releasing an expansion that addresses issues of previous years and makes the game far more accessible to the casual fanbase of the franchise. Shadowlands is rich in lore, offering level designs up there with some of the very best in the history of the game. If it’s end game content/raids are as enjoyable as the rest of the package then Shadowlands surely has to be a contender for the greatest expansion release of all time in World Of Warcrafts history.
Many thanks to Indigo Pearl who provided a PC code for WOW Shadowlands. World of Warcraft Shadowlands is out now on PC. Don’t forget to drop GameHype a comment in the box below with your thoughts on the latest release in the Wow universe.