Battle for Azeroth, the previous expansion for World of Warcraft, came out controversial. The tie with the conflict between the two factions turned into a battle with the mind of the ancient god NʼZoth, whose intrigues led Deathwing to madness and entailed the destruction of most of Azeroth… However, after defeating him, there was a feeling that the last of the ancient gods left too quickly and easily. Unhappy with this outcome, players were looking forward to the next chapter in the history of the world of Warcraft, anticipating new battles with even more dangerous enemies.
Shadowlands events start sometime after the defeat of NʼZoth. Not having time to recover from the battle with the ancient god, the inhabitants of Azeroth faced a more serious problem – although it would seem.
By breaking the Helm of Dominance, Sylvanas Windrunner opened the way to the afterlife, thereby upsetting the balance of the Shadow World. The arbiter, who distributes the souls of the dead in accordance with their deeds, is out of order, and now the deceased are sent directly to eternal torment in the Maw, the darkest place from which there is no way out.
Drought has begun in other areas of the Shadowlands. The souls, which the Arbiter had previously distributed among the zones, carried the Anima – a resource necessary for existence in the world of spirits. Now the whole Anima is in the hands of the Jailer – an angry prisoner of the Maw, who wants to turn Azeroth into a huge graveyard, because the more people die, the more power he and his army will acquire. Sylvanas herself fled to the underworld, taking with her characters important to the Alliance and Horde.
Fans of World of Warcraft will have to deal with these troubles in the near future.
Deciding that no one else is worth risking, the Horde Council and representatives of the Alliance nobility send the heroes of Azeroth to the afterlife to rescue the prisoners already imprisoned by the Jailer Anduin, Jaina, Thrall, and Bane. And at the same time – to restore the balance of the World of Shadows, and for this, it is necessary to stop the Jailer and bring Sylvanas back on trial.
In the Maw, it becomes clear that the leaders of Azeroth’s factions resist, but are unable to get out of it. Faced with the Jailer’s army, we still find a way to Oribos, the capital of the Shadowlands, but only we manage to escape there – our friends are stopped by the enemy’s army. This is where the journey through the world of the dead begins. The Pilgrim – that’s what the people of Shadowlands call us – will have to reunite the four covenants of the world of the dead, because the threat looms not only over Azeroth but also over the Shadowlands. In addition, without the help of its permanent residents, it is hardly possible to understand the laws of a new world unknown to us.
In general, the idea of entering the afterlife frees the Blizzard writers’ hands. Since many of the beloved characters who died a natural death or were killed in battle now live in the Shadowlands, players have a chance to meet their old idols. Uther, Draka, Ysera – these names are, I am sure, familiar to all WoW fans, and each of these characters will play a role in the development of the plot in Shadowlands and future WoW expansion sets.
The developers have not forgotten about old enemies either: for example, Lady Vashj, whom we defeated during The Burning Crusade, is now our ally, although she does not miss the chance to remind us who she was forced to be here for.
As for the gameplay, a lot has changed in it. Once again, the authors “flattened” the characteristics of the characters, now with levels: instead of the previous level 120, the characters at the start of the add-on are at the mark of 50, with the possibility of pumping the hero to lvl60. In addition, they added new customization options and brought back old mechanics like Paladin Auras and Curses of the Warlock. In short, a lot of what was once removed from World of Warcraft has been reworked in Shadowlands and reintroduced into the game – to the delight of seasoned players.
Those who started playing WoW recently were not left without innovations and changes. So, the Isle of Exiles – a location for new players – will allow a beginner to deal with all the mechanics in the training mode, as well as find out about the chosen class, class mechanics, and even go through their first dungeon – and after that set off to explore the cruel world of Azeroth and beyond.
In addition, Blizzard has leveled the zones of previous expansions, and now, starting at level 10, the player with the help of the NPC in the capital can go to any expansion, regardless of their level. Do you want to return to the days of Arthas? You jump into Wrath of the Lich King expansion. Want to enjoy the views of Pandaria again? You are welcome! Within the add-ons themselves, there is a slight gradation of the level by zones, but this cannot be called a limitation.
Each covenant has a unique style, campaigns, and abilities available to each player. The latter are two: common for all classes and unique for your class. As you travel through the Shadowlands, you will be able to test all the options for abilities, and sometimes you need to use them to achieve your goals.
In addition, class abilities make it easier to develop new lands and differ depending on the specialization. For example, the paladin is offered to choose Divine Annunciation (powerful area damage) or Blessing of the seasons (four different enhancements) – in other words, each player will be able to choose the desired ability. And when the character reaches the maximum level, you have to choose which covenant to join and which abilities to keep forever. The Covenant can be changed, but Blizzard argues that this is not easy, and asks to be responsible when choosing.
Shadowlands, especially after Battle for Azeroth, creates nothing but pleasant impressions. It’s like winning the jackpot in the most advantageous pokies online. Yes, there were queues on the pre-patch, the servers were falling, and the expansion itself was delayed, which clearly cannot be called pleasant. There are also small shoals in the release version – for example, cut-scenes that refuse to turn on at the right time, and virtual walls that limit the development of the plot so that players won’t be able to complete the game in the first 50 hours. But, despite all this, the overall impressions are extremely positive. New and updated mechanics, even more, exciting stories, the return of familiar characters, and vivid locations enhance these impressions. Shadowlands can be compared to a visit to a casino — everything is bright, interesting, and has free snacks, but it is not known whether you are lucky enough to win and leave as a winner.
The only question now is how long Blizzard will be able to maintain this high bar? Only time will tell…