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World of Warcraft: Shadowlands Review: A Breath of Fresh Air Despite Some Flaws

World of Warcraft: Shadowlands Review: A Breath of Fresh Air Despite Some Flaws

After two long years of World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth, World of Warcraft offers itself a long-awaited new expansion with unrecognizable tunes. In Shadowlands, players leave Azeroth to travel not to another planet as they once did, but to the realm of the dead: the Shadowlands! In this place where the dead live a second life, death is final but new allies, the Congregations, help the heroes to achieve their ends: to stop the madness in which Sylvanas has launched. New allies, new enemies but above all some new game mechanics: Yes, it still there, and it doesn't seem to be ready to join the Shadowlands of video games. The story of Shadowlands is a direct continuation of the events that took place during Battle for Azeroth. Sylvanas, who fled after wiping out Saurfang at the gates of Orgrimmar, ended the Lich King's reign by destroying the Helm of Domination. In doing so, she unleashed the Scourge but also broke the boundaries between the world of the living and of the dead. The heroes then propel themselves into this new, unusual world and discover therewith terror that souls have all been redirected for a long time to the Den, a desolate place where originally only the soul of the most dreadful characters goes for an eternity of torments. The Shadowlands and Azeroth also need you to survive, and Sylvanas must be stopped.

World of Warcraft: Shadowlands gameplay

ALLIES OF CHOICE

During their first steps in Shadowlands, players discover in each of the four zones that a Congregation governs it. During the progression from level 50 to 60, each player must complete the campaign of each territory and thus temporarily rally to the surrounding Congregation to discover the skills it confers. At level 60, they choose the one to which they wish to swear allegiance permanently (or almost), thus permanently earning the bonuses conferred by it. Because yes, the Congregations offer a wide range of exclusive rewards to players who swear to pledge their allegiance. The most important is undoubtedly the access to two new skills, one dedicated to all players of the same Congregation without distinction of class, the other to a particular class for this Congregation only. But it goes way beyond that, as there are plenty of mounts, cosmetic armor, and other diverse and varied appearances awaiting heroes! Very badly received at first, because the players did not have faith in Blizzard's ability to balance each technique conferred by these factions, this system largely unbalanced in Beta version, was able to be recalculated by Blizzard which knew how to take into account counts player feedback. For the moment. Even if some Congregations remain too weak for certain classes or specializations, the whole thing is largely acceptable and I only regret that the players not aiming for the top of the world rankings did not leave aside the pleasure of the figures in favor of that of the eyes.

World of Warcraft: Shadowlands another gameplay

I AM A MAGE, AND WHAT ARE YOU PLAYING?

Since the Warlords of Draenor expansion, the developers have chosen to favor the choice of specialization rather than that of a whole class. In this way, a Fire Mage had almost only Fire magic spells and forgot most of his iconic Mage spells, where he previously had the Cone of Cold or Arcane Blast for example. In Shadowlands, the tide has turned in favor of the identity of each class. If a player chooses to play as a Fire Mage, he remains above all a Mage. In addition to techniques specifically dedicated to his specialization, he retains a range of skills from specializations he did not choose, Frostbolt and Arcane Explosion for example. An excellent choice eagerly awaited by the community, unfortunately, it remains very anecdotal in many cases since these "new" spells are often of little use, if at all (the Shaman's Tongue of Fire Weapon is has for example no interest in Elementary and Restoration specialization). In addition to the return to this very marked identity of the classes, old techniques are making a comeback to the delight of players. This is the case for example with the Shattering Throw of the Warrior or Altering the time for the Mage. Here again, these are very anecdotal skills, nevertheless, a player who knows how to use them at the right time will always find a certain advantage, something to favor those who control their character at their fingertips, and we do not can only welcome them this choice.

World of Warcraft: Shadowlands game character

AN OVERFLOWING INSPIRATION

Among the new features as expected as they are predictable, this eighth expansion is an opportunity to introduce a panel of eight new exclusive 5-player instances scattered among the four base zones of the Shadowlands, each dealing with a very distinct theme from other. A fifth unusual and unwelcoming territory is reserved for level 60 players: the Den, in which players are free to do whatever they want once a day for a very limited time. Mounts are almost completely prohibited there making the progression very oppressive and unpleasant for most of the heroes, nevertheless, it is the goal desired by the developers. The fact is that for some players the oppressive aspect of the game design (no mounts, a lot of monsters ...) is a more effective brake than the fear inspired by the place, even if they are a little constrained in spite of it. This dark area also hosts within it a ninth instance as astonishing as the territory where it is located. It is Torment, the tower of the Damned, an infernal tower whose layout varies with each visit of the players. Bordering the RogueLike style, Tourment is a real success, especially when setting foot in a group. Nevertheless, its redundancy, in the long run, makes this cursed tower a real ordeal to go after several weeks for some. Fortunately, it is only a short stay of an hour or two at most per week that are required to progress! Both crucial and anecdotal, this very special dungeon is the focal point in the creation of the legendary objects that are making a big comeback in Shadowlands, without requiring an endless investment. These powerful Relics differ widely from Legion Relics, as the way they are obtained is largely controllable by players, so goodbye to the random factor.

Coming back to more classic instances, a total of four new affixes are entering Mythic Mode +, including one seasonal (Proud), while two are retiring a priori definitive: the Febrile and the Swarming! This little new thing here is intended to remove the affixes less appreciated by the players of this game mode to replace them with new potentially more interesting ones. The reality is they are even worse, with a special mention in Brawler for our friends who play in melee. I would almost come to regret the two who were left out of the rotation ...  Set in Revendreth, it puts an end to the intrigue of the area and the dark history of its master, Sire Denathrius, in his own estate: Castle Nathria. Offering a total of ten encounters as diverse as they are varied, this new raid artistically recalls what had been done in Karazhan, while it brings new and very interesting mechanics. For example, you will have the opportunity to dance during a fight (if you fail your dance steps, you die, of course) or even fight against a huge blind bat locating itself with the help of ultrasound ( Atramedes way to the Descent of the Black Wing, and better).

World of Warcraft: Shadowlands third gameplay scene snapshot

A COUNTER-CURRENT GAME MODE

Very subject to debates as heated as they are futile, PvP has long suffered its long, very long decline since the end of the Mists of Pandaria era. Players of this game mode were since that time (and even rather after Warlords of Draenor actually) forced to equip themselves in raids and instances, which they do not like in order to be effective in the game mode they like. Absolute nonsense, the seriousness of which Blizzard seems to have understood since PvP equipment vendors are making a comeback in Shadowlands. A PvP player now has the possibility to equip pieces only from the game mode he likes and be perfectly optimal in it without having (too much) need to browse the instances and raids in search of loot bags. controlled by the computer. In addition to this novelty welcomed with great fanfare by this community, a new bonus is coming into play and largely promotes the use of two PvP jewels to greatly increase efficiency in this game mode. This should be the hunt once and for all too powerful jewels from PvE! Yes but here it is, despite these new features and even if overall the PvP community seems very satisfied with the changes made to its favorite game mode, things stop here for this one. A new arena located in Bastion, one of the areas of the Shadowlands, has been added to the game, and nothing more. No battlefield, no new game mode, no major rewards exclusively dedicated to PvP ... Nothing.

World of Warcraft: Shadowlands available on Steam for PC

DIDACTIC TEACHING

One of the major flaws of World of Warcraft has always been its ability to accompany new players in their first steps in the game. While they had until then been propelled unattached into a world difficult to understand, in Shadowlands the new kids are entitled to an exclusive zone allowing them to calmly discover the bases of the game but also of its history. The Borders of Exile thus allow neophytes to discover the basics of the class they play using multiple concrete scenarios for most of the techniques available to them up to level 10. This first zone culminates in a mini-dungeon, Nightmare Citadel, introducing the raison d'être of any MMORPG player: loots and group play! A real success, although we regret its lack of interest for a player more accustomed to the game, it is a tutorial after all! Of course, the most seasoned players are not left out because the leveling system has been completely redesigned. During their first ten levels, they have the opportunity to gain experience in the base area of ​​the race they embody (Teldrassil, Elwynn Forest, Tirisfal Glades ...), or to browse they too the Borders of Exile! Beyond this first set of levels, veterans can progress as they wish in the areas of one of the 7 expansions prior to Shadowlands, and even switch between them at will thanks to the Timeline system. More freedom, more fluidity, this is a new point that is marked by this eighth expansion. The idea is effective and reconciles those who had thrown in the towel with leveling, and the bet was far from won as there was to be done. But that's not all, since Blizzard also chose to change the way to approach the leveling of the current expansion which was until then limited to redo over and over again all the quests that the players had already completed on the previous characters. Farewell to the endlessly long and boring leveling up thanks to the Thread of Destiny! Its operation is very simple: as soon as a player has reached level 60, he has access to two possibilities for the leveling of his next characters in Shadowlands:

  • Replay all quests in each zone, the usual basic method
  • Do side quests, expeditions, dungeons or even go to dungeons and battlefields

If he chooses the second option, then he has direct access to the "final" choice of the Congregation, to his exclusive Congregation spells and can now gain levels by carrying out additional objectives to the mainframe of each zone since this one is automatically validated in its entirety!

World of Warcraft: Shadowlands new game installment from the franchise

ALL BEAUTIFUL, OR ALMOST

To align itself more with recent graphics developments, Blizzard has chosen to offer two major new features to players of its flagship MMORPG. In addition to the aesthetics far removed from what the player was used to until now, Ray Tracing is introduced in the game. Unfortunately, its integration is so anecdotal in a game with a graphics engine as old as World of Warcraft that its real effects are not very visible and one almost wonders if the developers put their money into it when it is activated for the first time ... Especially since even if the impact of this technology is almost not visible, the loss of IPS is! But Blizzard has been able to focus its communication around the second feature much more appreciated and visible by players: the addition of many customization options. The possibilities are so numerous that one would almost forget the rather disappointing addition of Ray Tracing. With these new options, players have access to a vast array of new faces, skin tones, and other cosmetics for their favorite characters, including even the integration of ornamental jewelry!

The Shadowlands expansion makes World Of Warcraft interesting again

SHAPED FOR FREEDOM

Finally, if I had to retain a single quality of this eighth extension of WoW, it would undoubtedly be its return to basics in terms of farming. In Legion and Battle for Azeroth, even the most casual of players were forced, if not forced, to harvest prodigious power all the time, every patch, in order to keep some semblance of optimization. Worse yet, this difference was not felt from day to day, so there was no sense of ramping up. On the other hand, if a champion of Azeroth decided to ignore this farm, then the difference with his colleagues was felt. With Shadowlands, the developers have chosen to listen to both positive and negative feedback from players. Thus, any notion of the farm is to be excluded in this extension. I connect, and I am free to do what I want. Micro-optimization still exists, but it is no longer forced since it remains very anecdotal, especially for a casual player. This way, players not only have access to a game that allows them to play as they see fit but also creates side characters galore. Because yes, the "rerolls" also benefit from this major change in particular thanks to the addition of a system allowing to catch up the delay accumulated over the weeks in the blink of an eye (a few days at most). A very "alt friendly" extension, as they say, a real pleasure after two extensions where players struggled to keep even their main character up to date.

World of Warcraft: Shadowlands eases the Covenant choice with free samples

World of Warcraft: Shadowlands Review: Conclusion

World of Warcraft: Shadowlands is in many respects a clear success, and the total elimination of the concept of infinite farming is not for nothing. Although I can deplore certain black points, they remain very anecdotal in comparison with the real change which is proposed to the players in their way of progressing and displaying the game, in PvE in particular but not only. Note that even if PvP lacks new features, the major changes made make Shadowlands an extension largely raising the level for a game mode that was thought to be extinct since the end of Mists of Pandaria. The developers have listened to the players, and it is now up to them to continue this momentum. This eighth expansion is a real breath of fresh air for anyone who enjoys World of Warcraft, even the very casual player. For more information, I invite you to visit the World of Warcraft: Shadowlands official website for more details about the game, also you can leave your comment below so you could tell us about your own experience about the game as well.

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