Whenever a World of Warcraft expansion launches, it kind of feels like everyone around you is sprinting as fast as they can and guzzling down all of the new content like a starving nomad. I’ve really never seen the appeal of the rush, unless you hate the leveling process and want to get into the routine of the new endgame. For me, that will come soon enough.
Instead, my mental state when I sat down on Monday with Shadowlands (about three hours after it launched, mind you) was of someone who wanted to taste every bite and relish every drop of the newness of it. It’s the first expansion that any of my characters from this account are experiencing from the start, and so this is very much a day that’s been months in the planning for me. This feels like the “real” start to my journey — and I don’t want to scramble through.
Instead, I slowed down to listen to all of the scripted NPC lines and read the full quest text, even when it was for mundane quests. I’m taking my Druid through this and anticipate at least a month, maybe more, of gradually getting to 60 and through all of the zone stories while pursuing whatever side objectives that I desire.
The introduction to Shadowlands is — let’s be frank here — kind of underwhelming for the subject matter. I mean, we’re heading into the deeply mysterious afterlife of this fantasy world… and the first hour is spent in a rocky and dreary hellscape that might be any number of other zones from the game. The Maw shouldn’t have been our first stop, is what I’m saying. It’s fine, it’s adequate, but the prologue here fails to impress the power of the Jailor or the stakes at hand.
In fact, it only started to get interesting for me when I got to the new city hub of Oribos. It’s a weirdly stark place, especially after the life and bustle of Dalaran and Boralus, but at least it’s laid out in a helpful fashion. The shape of this afterlife system started to take form for me here, and it’s certainly interesting what Blizzard is trying to do with it while trying hard not to touch on the sides of real-world religions.
After a tour of the city, it was off to Bastion and the proper start of the expansion. Real quests, real rewards, side objectives, pet battles, the works. It’s a good idea to lead with a “pretty” zone here, washing out the taste of the Maw, and Bastion certainly is a looker — especially if you like pastels and dreamy, vaguely Greco-Roman designs.
For a launch night experience, I can’t recall a better one in terms of game performance. There was no queue, no bugs, no lag, and no issues that I encountered. That’s not to say that these all didn’t exist, just not for me. Our guild was uncharacteristically quiet, but I figured that everyone had their head down as they leveled and didn’t want to stop to chat too much.
Anyway, while everyone is running, I be strolling along. Here’s hoping that Shadowlands ends up being a better place to spend two years at the cap than BFA! Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.