Blizzard Entertainment launched the newest expansion of their hit, MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) World of Warcraft entitled “Shadowlands” launched back in October and it’s been exciting to say the least. In this newest expansion, WoW players head to the Shadowlands, the afterlife of the Warcraft universe, to stop The Jailer from taking over the Shadowlands and using the power to bring about death to diminish all other powers in existence. In his command is Sylvanas Windrunner, a banshee from the world of Azeroth that players have gotten to know quite well over the last few expansions. She abducted a number of characters from the realm of the living and brought them to the Shadowlands, leaving the player with no other choice than to follow in pursuit.
This expansion has a little of something for everyone. Players from expansions past who dropped the game during the subpar expansions of Warlords of Draenor or Battle for Azeroth can now thoroughly immerse themselves into the new expansion, facing new characters as well as ones they have seen and loved from the last 15 years. Notably, Kael’thas Sunstrider makes his return as a raid boss after players killed him in Burning Crusade literally 13 years ago!
Casual players can immerse themselves in the world that is aesthetically incredible. Each of the four major zones in the Shadowlands is just oozing with personality, each encapsulating a different type of soul that would head to Shadowlands upon death. The golden hills of Bastion are for souls who lived their life in service, so that they might ascend and guide fellow souls to the afterlife. Maldraxxus is for the greatest warriors, so that they might live a warrior’s life eternally to protect the Shadowlands. The forests of Ardenweald are for those who lived close to nature, like druids or hunters. It is also a home for souls to be rejuvenated for their eventual reincarnation. Revendreth in all of its gothic aesthetics are where souls who have some major flaw go to rehabilitate themselves before moving on to better pastures.
Meanwhile, hardened raiders would appreciate a departure from the old, randomly generated style of loot acquisition from the last few expansions. The quality of gear you get is now directly in correlation with how hard the content is, rewarding lots of playtime and being the best at what they do.
However, this expansion caters the most towards new players of any other, which means it’s finally worth recommending to friends and even strangers. There’s countless improvements to the new player. At the most basic level, the game is now a lump sum of 40 dollars with the usual 15 dollar per month subscription, which is almost unfathomable, coming from a time where each expansion was 60 dollars apiece, which would total 640 dollars today.
Of course it goes deeper. The maximum level during the previous expansion was 120, but rather than keep climbing, Blizzard dropped it to 60. Not only does this make it a lot easier to get to the relevant content, it allows all the abilities you would get over 120 levels to fit in 60 levels, making it feel like you’re getting something useful every level or two. To further add on, you can now choose which expansion experience you want to level in, based on what you enjoyed. For new players, this means you could have several different characters before you’ve exhausted all of the content. Even beyond that, getting to choose your favorite leveling experience stops leveling from feeling like a grind.
“Shadowlands” is the best that World of Warcraft has been in a long time, probably since the lauded “Wrath of the Lich King” expansion. After years of fearing the game might die, it might be time to abandon that . Instead, I’m happy to see the game thriving like it is and I’m hopeful to play this game for many more years to come.