It’s no secret that World of Warcraft has had a rough few years. Shadowlands initially showed a lot of promise: Torghast looked interesting, the new area was colorful and fresh, and the afterlife of Azeroth had plenty of opportunities to meet old heroes and villains.
But Shadowlands’ light faded quickly, perhaps more so than any previous expansion. That’s got a lot of attention from Blizzard as it prepares to officially announce World of Warcraft’s next expansion on April 19. And now, more than ever, Blizzard needs to learn from past mistakes and address some of the bigger problems plaguing Shadowlands.
Except for the inevitable direction Sylvanas Windrunner’s Storyline, the pandemic took its toll, and the Activision Blizzard lawsuit came at its worst. But there are other significant factors that have compromised the latest expansion, which are largely in the hands of current developers.
this contract system From the moment it was added when Shadowlands was released in 2020, it was a major sticking point. Once you reach level 60, it gives you the option to join one of four factions that grant you specific abilities related to your class. Conduit is another way to customize your class and specialization in the covenant of your choice. Sounds good, it’s just that it’s nearly impossible to change your mind without falling behind.
The Covenant is complemented by Legendary gear, again giving each player a variety of options, and offering passive effects. But the currency needed to make them is initially limited behind Torghast, which is easy to clear for some classes but an absolutely miserable experience for others.
Then Dominion Temple Raid introduced Domination Fragments in patch 9.1 as a weird alternative to set items.Actually getting the studded Domination gear gives players a headache potential conflict Armor slot with your equipped legendary gear. Then the shard drops required for your class are too RNG-based, causing a lot of players to feel less powerful than their lucky peers.
All of these systems sound exciting on paper, and I can understand the desire to let players make meaningful choices about how to play their characters. But as has always been the case – and not just in World of Warcraft – players will always choose what is considered the best talent and gear by imitating top players, whether they’re doing LFR, raiding on Mythic difficulty , or the occasional myth + dungeon.
So even though our best intentions are for us to decide how we want to play, it’s no longer an option – at least for most players – once someone figures out the metadata. It’s hard to switch between these systems to optimize for different content, or if there’s a balance change in your class, it doesn’t respect the player’s time.
Thankfully, most of the problematic power systems have been fixed in recent patches, but this change feels too late. They still exist in the game, but you can now freely switch between Covenants and Pipes without penalty, refund currency from unwanted Legendaries, and Domination Shards are no longer relevant in 9.2.
Even so, most of the friction in Shadowlands was avoidable when players started questioning the limitations of choosing a Covenant in beta and PTR, even before the expansion.
Not everything about Shadowlands is bad, though. The Great Vault is an inspired evolution of the Weekly Chest in Battle for Azeroth, offering up to 9 gear options if you complete the required activities each week. Raids are also great, with interesting bosses and mechanics – even if they’ve been heavily tuned.
this The magic tower returns forever is another high point, and the Eternal Ending update finally sees the return of tier sets, which we’ve been wanting for so long. Granted, the current loot trading rules make it harder to get the full set of four items initially, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.
Therefore, I have cautious hopes for the upcoming expansion announcement. Even better if the leak is real. We need a break in the afterlife, and it’s good to have a firm footing on Azeroth.The Legendary Legion expansion is the perfect response to Warlords of Draenor’s unpopular alternate historical setting, so At last Accessing Dragon Isles in 10.0 works much the same way. I just hope the team can fix what went wrong in Shadowlands and make our next adventure the best one yet, as World of Warcraft may not be able to fully recover from another major misstep.
If anything, the next expansion won’t have to break the pattern as hard. At its core, World of Warcraft is already a great game — it’s approaching its 18th anniversary, and there’s a reason it’s fighting the clock at a time when many other MMOs have come and gone. It may not always get things right, but when it does, there’s no place I’d love to do it more than Azeroth.