There’s no doubt in my mind that World of Warcraft players are beyond ready to pull the eject lever on Battle of Azeroth. Pent-up frustration and a general sense of “this all didn’t work out as intended” has created a migratory mindset in the community that is desperate to move on to new and — hopefully — better lands.
The problem is that Shadowlands doesn’t look like a stable landing zone for the community. At least, not yet. Oh, I see some genuine potential here. The afterlife theme and zones seem really interesting and something I would like to explore. The new leveling scheme and introductory zone is getting some praise. I’ve read some positive reports of how fun the Torghast infinite dungeon is. And at the very least, it’ll be not-Battle for Azeroth, which is the very low bar that is now set.
But even coming at the expansion from the perspective of a casual player who’s like, “Yeah, I’ll have some fun there,” even I can’t ignore that there are some large red flags being thrown up. At this point, less than two months to launch, Blizzard should be refining content and testing it to get every last bug out. Instead, it’s scrambling to rework systems and address the great community unrest over the central covenant system. That’s… not a good sign.
And I don’t really feel bad for Blizzard, because this is a mess of its own making. It can’t stop trying to rework classes and progression with every expansion, yanking out old systems and tossing in new ones. People are tired of the switcharoos and look back at previous eras where the talent trees only got slightly reworked between expansions. If Blizz would create and then stick to a progression system that could be built up with each new expansion, I think it’d have a lot better reception with the community than to do artifact weapons and then heart of Azeroth and then essences and now covenants and soulbindings.
Have a vision, have a plan, and stick to it. That’s what Blizzard needs. Instead, it’s slamming around all over the place trying to make everyone happy and succeeding nowhere. For those of us softly parachuting down into Shadowlands, it’s disconcerting to see this mess happening underneath our hanging feet.
Yeah… I do hope the devs’ll get it together soon, but it’s not looking that likely. And that’s going to suck some — but not all — of the joy out of unwrapping a brand-new expansion.