World of Warcraft: Shadowlands – Review
Follow Genre: MMORPG
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
Platform: PC
Tested on: PC

World of Warcraft: Shadowlands – Review

Site Score
9.0
Good: Loads of content, Covenant zones and graphics, music
Bad: Lag spikes still persist
User Score
10.0
(1 votes)
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Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)

Gamers who like to play MMORPGs certainly have heard of World of Warcraft or are even playing it themselves. This franchise has been around for 16 years, filled with great storylines and amazing plot twists. Players from all over the world have seen the game grow to where it is now thanks to several expansions. Shadowlands is the 8th one in the row, taking you to the land of death. Say your prayers and turn to the Light one last time before diving into the darkness of the Maw.

Story

These events transpired before or at the start of this expansion, so keep this in mind if you want to be surprised, even though there won’t be any major spoilers mentioned.

N’Zoth has been defeated during Battle for Azeroth, together with the deposition of Sylvanas Windrunner as Warchief of the Horde. The time for victory is cut short as the Banshee Queen travels to Northrend. There, she visits the current Lich King, Bolvar Fordragon, in Icecrown Citadel for a not so friendly chat. After a fight, she is able to snatch the Helm of Domination from him but does the unthinkable. Instead of claiming the Throne, she decides to break the bonds and tears it in two. This is the beginning of the end, as the veil between Azeroth and the Shadowlands is ripped open. The latter is the afterlife, a world that takes care of all the souls that leave Azeroth.

Sylvanas is not done just yet. Her newly acquired forces from the Maw, a place reserved for the darkest souls, enter the land of the living to abduct some of the Alliance and Horde leaders. Where Battle of Azeroth was again a fight between the two factions, they both have a new threat to face. It is your task to dive into this new world and try to get the leaders out while restoring the balance between life and death as well as the stability in Shadowlands itself, because there aren’t only bad souls in the Maw.

The story has so much more to offer, but that’s for you to discover while venturing into this new world. World of Warcraft has a rich lore and with this expansion, it feels like it is all coming together. You will recognize certain long-lost characters while certain events from older expansions will have a big impact here as well.

Compared to the previous expansion, one of the biggest changes story-wise is that the current storyline is linear while it was more open before. You have to visit the four Covenants in a fixed order as the main quests lead you through them. Of course, the side quests can be picked up afterward in whichever order you like, but for the main storyline, you’ll have to stick to the plan.

Graphics

Over the years, the particular style has stayed but has received some overhauls. With this expansion, the designers really went all-out to give every area a really distinctive feel and characters that truly ‘pop out’. The details are just amazing, like the different sparkles and twinkles that give Ardenweald that fairy-like glow while the surroundings in Revendreth are clad in red to emphasize the whole vampire-like theme. Every Covenant has its own armor sets that surely fit with the particular theme they have. Oribos, the main ‘hub’ of the area, is maybe the most neutral of them all and it really suits this zone, being the spill of the whole Shadowlands world.

If anything else can be said, it all boils down to the fact that the whole new world looks absolutely stunning and detailed. Yes, some of the visuals of enemies might have similar textures as before, but the beauty of the world around it surely makes up for it. The same can be said for the cutscenes that grace your screen now and then.

Sound

With a new expansion comes some fresh music and the choices certainly are amazing. The tracks are always on point and it isn’t any different with this installment. The songs change, depending on the area and situation you’re in. For example, during certain quests where emotions run high, the softer tunes certainly help to convey the emotional moment that is happening right in front of your eyes.

The sound effects surely help with the immersion, as a lot of the spells and attacks have their own particular ambiance. Some of the enemies will throw some random lines at you, some funnier than others, but the light mostly shines on the voice acting. The main quests are fully voiced, together with the several cutscenes that pop up now and then while venturing through the new world. The voices fit their respective characters and the feelings they convey help to dive deeper into the story.

Gameplay

World of Warcraft is an MMORPG with Shadowlands being the 8th expansion. As the core of the game didn’t change, this isn’t going to be mentioned so the focus lies on the new elements that this expansion has to offer.

The biggest addition of Shadowlands is the Covenants system, which is something you have to unlock after completing a big part of the main questline. First, you’ll be able to have a taste of what each zone has to offer. This is important as there are two special skills, one Covenant ability which is available for everyone who joins that faction, and a special class ability. This means that, for the latter, you have to pick the Covenant that suits your playstyle with that class the best. Or, you can just pick the zone that you like the most. Whatever floats your boat.

Once you’ve chosen your favorite Covenant, you have to help them get back on their feet after the stunts Sylvanas and the Jailor have pulled. This means you need to farm Anima to unlock specific parts of the Covenant or do specific quests to get Renown and progress in the story, get cosmetics, or other valuable upgrades. Don’t worry, as your Covenant won’t leave you stranded. You will be able to Souldbind yourself to their champions, giving you extra skills and powers thanks to the Conduit system. If you were hoping to rush through the whole story, think again, as the Renown levels are locked and are only gradually released over time.

If that isn’t enough, you have to go into the Maw to get back lost souls and do several quests, as long as the Jailor allows it. While you’re there, be sure to obtain Soul Ash and other goodies from Torghast. This special dungeon is always changing, so it makes it highly replayable. You’ll definitely make some trips to this dungeon as it’s a key part of the game and getting further both for the main questline as for upgrading your character. It sounds like much and overwhelming, but you get eased into it (for the bigger part). If you get lost, you can always have a quick look online or look for a social guild that is happy to help and explain.

Some things do stay the same, like the Command table that did its entry a few expansions ago. The same can be said about the world quests too. These extra temporary quests make it possible to stay engaged and get some sweet loot, which is especially important at the beginning of the expansion. Right now, there are 8 dungeons available and the first raid still needs to unlock, so the higher the gear you have by then, the better. Dungeon runs certainly will help on this matter too, together with PvP. With this expansion, the Honor vendors are back, meaning that people who mostly focus on PvPing can get some items with higher item levels too.

Some other elements that are worth mentioning are the level squish to 60, the whole additional area for new players, and the new profession tiers, suitable for all the goodies to come with this expansion. Of course, there might be more to come with the content that will gradually be released, but there is already a lot to delve into. Overall, the first few days into the new zone look promising and there is less pressure compared to the previous expansion. Back then, you were practically obliged to do certain quests or activities daily or weekly, which is less the case in this title. The only downside is that there certainly are lag spikes happening, even a week after the release, so hopefully, this issue gets resolved soon.

Conclusion

With this last expansion, World of Warcraft is exploring the land of death. With the whole Covenant system, the endless dungeon Torghast and the new raids and dungeons, there is a lot to discover and learn. The story certainly is a strong point in this installment, tying together pieces from the past few expansions, even though it might be a tad too linear for some. With the graphics and sound both being top-notch, it’s a mixture for success. Hopefully, the next patches and gradual release of new content will keep it fresh and interesting for a long time.

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World of Warcraft: Shadowlands - Review, 10.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
AnneMieke


Faster than lightning

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