I’m glad World of Warcraft found some restraint, but I hope it doesn’t give up the best parts of Shadowlands

World of Warcraft’s next expansion, Dragonflight, was announced this week, promising a return to land on Azeroth, restoring the pre-Mists of Pandaria talent system, and ending the expansion-specific “borrowed power” mechanic, Such as artifact weapons or Azerite gear. As someone who’s been playing World of Warcraft since its closed beta in 2004, I was a little surprised by how streamlined the announcement was. There are some flashy features like physics-based dragon riders and playable dragons, but in many ways, Blizzard seems to be trying to sell what it’s not, rather than what it is.

I hope Dragonflight doesn’t give up on everything Blizzard is trying to do in Shadowlands, but its restraint may be just what World of Warcraft needs right now, as previous expansions tried to make a bigger splash but ended up falling flat.

For the first time, we ran two extensions in a row that were widely seen as failures.

It’s no big secret that World of Warcraft has been navigating choppy waters lately. 2018’s Battle for Azeroth was one of the least popular expansions in the MMO’s 18-year history. While 2020’s Shadowlands got off to a good start, issues with the story and post-launch support caused opinion to quickly turn against it. Zerith Mortis, the apex area to explore in recent patch 9.2, feels rushed, dull and visually uninteresting – which is odd for Blizzard, which is generally good at creating memorable new areas to explore even as it struggles in other areas .