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World of Warcraft: Shadowlands – compelling, but it leaves you wishing there was more to it

World of Warcraft: Shadowlands is role-playing, massively multiplayer (MMORPG) online game developed and published by Blizzard Entertainment in 2020. The game is the eighth expansion pack in the franchise and the successor of the Battle for Azeroth. The game takes place in an afterlife universe, starting after Sylvannas Windrunner kills High Overlord Saurfang with the power she sourced from the Shadowlands.

Even though World of Warcraft: Shadowlands was supposed to be released on October 27, 2020, as initially announced, this entry finally saw the light of the day on November 23. Since its early days, it was clear that this will be one of the most ambitious undertakings of Blizzard Entertainment.

In a way, World of Warcraft: Shadowlands is a reboot of the series, although fans can still follow the storyline without confusion. Its narrative is profound and complex but maintains a straightforward approach that makes it easy to cut to the point. However, the characters and factions are new, adding a thrill element to the game.

Despite the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic threw at developers, Shadowlands quickly reached the hearts of players and received favorable critics. Hence, this entry instantly sold 3.7 million units. It is a sales milestone that surpasses the records of Legion and Cataclysm.

Shadowlands takes place in the realm of the dead. It introduces groundbreaking novelties, such as level squish and level system evolution. Moreover, this expansion allows previously forbidden races to access the Death Knight class while also adding new zones, covenants, raids, and dungeons.

However, the fact that Shadowlands feel highly different from previous entries fails to make this expansion the deciding one concerning the future of WoW. Indeed, nothing points to this game indicating how the franchise could unfold in the future.

The latest entry reduces the number of levels, making level 60 the cap. That is a part of what Blizzard Entertainment called a new game+ experience, which provides new characters with an upgraded starter experience on Exile’s Reach island. There, they get an introduction to the game and overall system.

Newbies continue with Battle for Azeroth after completing the starting experience on this island. However, veterans with new characters are free to choose where they want to play until they reach level 50. After that, they move on to the Shadowlands.

The afterlife universe consists of five zones: Ardenweald, Bastion, Maldraxxus, Revendreth, and The Maw. The Oribos city lies at the center, making it the player hub metropolis. However, Shadowlands introduced more novelties, such as the roguelike Torghast dungeon, also known as the Tower of the Damned. These features are available in solo and multiplayer modes.

Thus, each playable race, except for the allied, now has novel customization features. Thanks to that, humans can edit their ethnicity while trolls and dwarfs can get tattoos. But Shadowlands also opens the Death Knight Class to the humanoid race Pandaren and the allied races.

Covenants are the rulers of the four Shadowlands areas, resembling the Legion’s Class Orders. That’s where it gets interesting. Each of these Covenants includes its own campaign, with class and factions being the deciding factor regarding gear and abilities. The Kyrian of Bastion, the Night Fae of Ardenweald, the Venthyr of Revendreth, and the Necrolords of Maldraxxus are the names of the four Covenants in this universe.

But there is more to the World of Warcraft: Shadowlands than new characters and features. Here are our thoughts on the eighth entry in this cult franchise.

Variety and engaging activities

After you dive into the world of Shadowlands, you have to uncover why the souls ended up in a place that misaligns with the life they lived. That is when you get to meet the four Covenants, each in charge of a different type of soul. However, if you’re a newbie, you have to reach level 60 to choose which Covenant you will pledge your loyalty to and, eventually, borrow their powers.

Whatever the Covenant, you will receive various tasks that you’ll have to finish each week. That will include different missions, stories, and activities that keep you engaged as you explore a particular zone.

Meanwhile, Covenant members will test whether they can trust you. Once you show your commitment and complete enough tasks, they will reward you with powers you can borrow. That is likely the essential part of Shadowlands, and you’ll have to dedicate up to four hours per week to complete your missions.

However, once you fulfill weekly requirements and principal character development needs, there’s not much more you can do that week until it resets. But that leaves you more time for other aspects that make the game entertaining, such as side characters. That way, you can engage in various stories and play different personalities.

If you want to keep yourself profoundly interested in the game, avoid focusing only on your Covenant and main character. That allows you to expand the experience and reach level 60 multiple times, playing different individuals. Whatever you choose to do – meet the afterlife through various characters or spend time on customization and bonuses, be sure that there’s plenty of activities to keep you entertained for hours.

Although you’re not in any obligation to invest that much time into Shadowlands, this entry is similar to the other ones when it comes to taking over your life. Hence, if you let yourself, you could shift to no socializing mode due to Shadowlands without noticing it.

You will often have to think well about your time in the game as there are various activities that you might have to neglect to enjoy the others, such as leveraging the sanctum feature. But no worries, all of these are optional, and you don’t have to engage in all available activities to enjoy the game’s full potential.

It almost lives up to expectations

World of Warcraft: Shadowlands is a perplexing, unique, and ambitious project that almost overhauls the system WoW fans know. That creates a lot of expectations concerning the final product and its possibilities.

Shadowlands introduces various features and novelties. But it gets repetitive at times, and it desperately tried to keep players in the game as long as possible. That tends to make you think whether there could be more to this entry, which is possible since it’s still young.

However, the graphics, soundtrack, and design undoubtedly deliver, placing Shadowlands right next to Wrath of the Linch King and Legion regarding quality.

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