Reviews - Updated on April 6, 2022

The release of World of Warcraft: Shadowlands is definitely a big event in 2020. The new addition promises to be a reason for the return of veterans and significantly lower the entry threshold for newcomers. And we, at the suggestion of SoftClub, personally tested it thanks to an open beta test. And now we are ready to tell you what the extension is and how it copes with the tasks.

Pre-orders for Shadowlands are now open!

What’s up with WoW?

Last year, World of Warcraft celebrated its 15th birthday – quite an impressive number for a video game. She survived many clones, and dozens of competitors, and a bunch of her own “killers”. Gamers saw their beloved world from a new angle (instead of a strategic view from above in WoW, familiar objects became available up close), fought Illidan in Outland, and destroyed the plans of the Lich King Arthas Menethil, who had awakened from a five-year sleep.

For the first six years, the game received useful features, such as automatic search for dungeons, acquired new continents, and increased the number of subscribers. And then came Cataclysm. It was he who changed World of Warcraft forever. Blizzard has updated locations on the two starting continents and allowed flying everywhere, not just in Outland and Northrend, as it was before. No one else had to embark on many hours of marathons around the world on their own two feet. And besides, mounts have become more accessible, and over time, their presence in the hero has ceased to be something elite.

The approach to presenting the story has also changed. Taking the epic cutscenes of Wrath of the Lich King to the next level, Cataclysm takes the staging to the next level, and then more.

World of Warcraft: Shadowlands - a new beginning?

Финал Wrath of the Lich King.

The history of “Military Craft” for seven full-fledged additions has more than once managed to make a circle and move far ahead of the events of the cult series of strategies. Level 60 Greymane Masters, who were the elite in 2004, in 2020, from a level 120 height, look like children who have barely tasted life. The threat of the Scourge from the north has become only a chapter in the historical chronicles, and the current version of the game has undergone so many changes in graphics and gameplay mechanics that the current World of Warcraft and Classic are almost two different projects in similar scenery. So different that last year’s launch of WoW Classic was a showcase event. Thousands of people and orcs rushed to the servers, millions watched the launch on Twitch. The players recalled how difficult it is to collect groups with a simple shout in the general chat, how painfully the mobs hit, and that even the Crusher cannot be defeated without the right party.

After such a phenomenal launch of the classic, many wondered: what impact will Classic have on the current version? It didn’t take long for an answer.

dark lands

The history of Shadowlands begins with an announcement CGI video. In it, Sylvanas – the former leader of the Horde – overthrows the current Lich King and opens a passage to the Dark Lands over Icecrown Citadel. In short, to the underworld. The victory went to Sylvanas without much effort – she received her strength from a villain completely new to the Warcraft universe called the Jailer. Who is he and what are his motives? This is what the heroes of Azeroth have to learn.

The situation is complicated by the fact that the Jailer’s minions have kidnapped several faction leaders. Therefore, there is no time to wait and be at enmity – we immediately rush into a real hell. Literally right! His role is played by the Womb – the land, the ruler of which is the Jailer. Here he keeps in fear the most sinful souls of all worlds, doomed to eternal suffering. But lately – not only them. It quickly becomes clear that the lord of hell, the Womb, has conceived evil and is under threat not only of the Dark Lands, but of all that exists.

For the first time in the Womb, we will not stay long, but we will have to visit it often. However, more on that later.

Although we find ourselves in the Dark Lands together with old acquaintances, very soon we will be left alone with changes and new heroes in a strange world.

Picture, training and flattening

The first significant rework awaits players already in the character creation editor. Its capabilities have been significantly expanded – they have added many new models and options for customizing the appearance, allowing you to sculpt the hero to your taste. Ever wanted to play as a bald warrior with multicolored eyes? Yes please!World of Warcraft: Shadowlands - a new beginning?

Well, isn’t she a beauty?

At the same time, Blizzard did not forget to patch up the visual part again. Of course, WoW remains friendly to configurations of any level, and ray-traced shadows have been introduced for owners of powerful video cards.

We all also remember that with each addition, Blizzard increased the maximum level of the character. But not at this time. Now beginners won’t have to go through outdated content to recruit level 120 – those who have already reached it will receive level 50, and another 10 will have to be pumped up in the Dark Lands.

Also, we are waiting for a completely new starting location, a common Alliance and Horde. Those who have already started a good hundred times by beating kobolds can breathe out – now this is a separate story chapter, during which the player learns about the features of his class, kills an elite bear boss, and at the end gets into a solo dungeon where he defeats a dragon.

World of Warcraft: Shadowlands - a new beginning?

In the NPC group, if anything.

The character leaves the starting location at level 10, acquires a mount, and is invited to an audience with the faction leader. From now on, Blizzard offers to immediately plunge into the addition of Battle for Azeroth, which closed and, in a sense, restarted the history of WoW. Fortunately, experience, the level of mobs in locations and entry requirements are adjusted to you.

The customization system applies to the locations of all expansions at once, not just Battle for Azeroth. If you really want to, you can go to Chromie and ask her to take you back in time to the beginning of any of the additions and swing there. Did you miss Arthas? Two clicks and forward to Northrend.

Enemies same became as if angrier. In Shadowlands, more than once I was left alone against an entire army and had only to rely on the help of other players performing the same quest. Standing up against two opponents at once is not easy, and after the battle you have to regularly heal and recuperate. What is not the influence of Classic?

Darklands Covenants

In the Dark Lands, players will visit the new capital, Oribos, as well as five locations. Recall that the Womb is a place of endless suffering for souls that cannot be corrected. They are floating like a real river here, and their number only strengthens the Jailer.

Revendreth is a slightly more pleasant place. This “circle of hell” is run by the Venthyr, vampire-like beings who rid the souls of their arrogance. However, it seems that the rulers of these lands themselves were imbued with what they were fighting with – they behave like aristocrats, prefer the Gothic style in everything and unleashed a struggle of great houses for power.

Maldraxus is the place where the filth appeared in the universe. It is dominated by the Necrolords, who live in the ruins among the rivers of blood and bones. They only respect strength, so the most ambitious and warlike get straight to them. And the Necrolords put experiments on the poor fellows and in gladiator fights they will find out who is the strongest.

And if the Maw, Revendreth and Maldraxus can still be called circles of hell, then Ardenweald and Bastion will no longer work. The first is ruled by the nightfolk, who live in dense thickets of forests and take care of the spirits of nature. In the second, everything is subordinate to the Kiriyas – the noblest reborn souls who faithfully served the Light during their lifetime. Their duty is to ferry the dead from their home worlds to the Arbiter’s judgment in Oribos. It was they who always resurrected our fallen heroes, waiting for them in the cemeteries.

And finally, Oribos is the most ordinary capital, with the usual bank, tavern, artisans and flight manager.

In all these worlds, there are problems with the anima – the life force languishing in everything that exists. Without it, mechanisms and magic do not work, and rulers go crazy.

After completing a dozen quest chains in all locations and getting to know their population, the player will be able to join one of the covenants – and this choice is very important. Each has its own story chapters, key characters, as well as unique skills that open up to the user. Once a choice is made, it cannot be changed.

All covenants must accumulate strength to resist the Jailer, so after joining the Kyrians, Venthyrs, Necrolords or the Night Fae, you will be given the leadership of the monastery. In fact, this is the reincarnation of the garrison micromanagement mechanic that appeared in Warlords of Draenor. Players will have to collect anima in storage, improve the abode, and send recruits on adventures for money and other rewards.

In addition, it is necessary to establish a connection of souls with a medium – a representative of the covenant, and then he will definitely share part of his strength. And the more famous you are, the more you will strengthen this connection, receiving more bonuses to defense, movement speed or other characteristics. In total, three of these characters are available for each covenant, but they open only after passing certain chapters.

World of Warcraft: Shadowlands - a new beginning?

Tree of characteristics of the medium.

The afterlife worlds look very familiar. Despite the fact that we have left our native Azeroth, it is unlikely that anyone in the Dark Lands will feel like a stranger. Yes, no one here cares what and whom you have been saving for the last 15 years – you are known only for having entered the Womb in the flesh, and even managed to get out. But in fact, this is still the same world – with the usual architecture, quests and creatures with a familiar psychology.

Womb and Torgast

The Womb looks much fresher than all other locations and monasteries – a bizarre area for the endgame. After choosing a covenant, players will have to return here for the innocent souls imprisoned by the Jailer.

The villain in his possessions leaves nothing without control. Therefore, your actions attract his attention. The situation is aggravated by the fact that you can only move around the Womb on your own two feet, and there is only one way out of here. Therefore, the further you wandered, the more difficult it is to get out. The jailer, on the other hand, will interfere in every possible way with your progress, collecting resources and hunting for evil demons, quests for killing which are issued automatically.

There are five “wanted” levels, and the higher, the more difficult it is to survive. First, previously neutral creatures can take up arms against you, then the villain will send a squad of killers and start hitting with painful spells. At the last level of danger, the hero begins to lose life points at all and you can only escape from the Womb in order to return in a day. Fortunately, the Jailer has enough worries to forget about the next violator of the order.

By completing quests and killing mobs, players will collect stygia, a type of currency. It can be exchanged directly in the Maw with a single friendly NPC for useful effects or pets. When you die, you will lose part of the accumulated Stygia and you can only take it back if you return to the place of death.

Blizzard did not stop experimenting with wanted levels and the loss of stygia and introduced the Torghast roguelike dungeon.

World of Warcraft: Shadowlands - a new beginning?

“And cracked the world in half…”

Torghast is a tower whose floors change each time you visit. The higher you climbed, the more powerful the opponents and the more cunning the traps, the more intricate the layout and the more valuable the rewards. However, with each stage passed, the player can also become stronger, receiving anima abilities that are collected in combinations. “Spells” can be found, knocked out of enemies and bought for Torghast’s exclusive currency – phantasm. When they die, the heroes will attract the attention of the monster Tarragra. This invincible defender of the tower will go from the beginning of the level to the transition to the next one until the players leave it or until Tarragr kills everyone. In case of death at his hands, the run will end and the tower will have to be abandoned.

Going there with strangers, it seems to me, is quite a risky business – in constantly changing conditions it would be nice to have a well-coordinated team. Yes, and Torghast is not in the group search menu.

***

With the new expansion, Blizzard has done a great job of lowering the barrier to entry into live WoW for newbies and Classic players alike. In the two versions, uniformity is clearly observed, despite the gap of 15 years. At the same time, innovations should be to the taste of veterans. Shadowlands adds complexity to the game, but at the same time it once again modernizes and makes it friendlier. However, final conclusions should be made only after the release. In the meantime, you can pre-order via our link.

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