I meant to write this post a few days ago but, well, I was too busy playing the game. I’ve been having a blast playing Shadowlands so far and while it isn’t the perfect expansion and I have some gripes, I already love many things about it.
The launch was relatively smooth in that I can’t really remember a better one save for the Legion launch – and even then lots of players on the EU servers did not have a smooth launch. For me, the transition to Shadowlands was pretty painless, except for the fact that the world server was down and players couldn’t teleport from Boralus to Stormwind (or from anywhere else) to start the beginning quest for about 30 minutes. Even so I was among the lucky ones as I had been logged into the game about 2 hours prior to the release, Guildies who were attempting to log in right at launch were having the familiar “character list not found” problem.
Some players were able to log in after an hour, while some continued to have login issues days after launch. It wasn’t pretty, but I’m almost positive I can recall worse launches (I’m looking at you WoD). One of the reasons this launch had minimal issues is due to Blizzard’s use of sharding, a relatively new instancing technology that allows them to break up realms into smaller groups of players to lessen the load. This was very apparent during the introductory quest in the Maw, where I only noticed a few other players in the zone with me at a time. A couple days after the launch, they relaxed the use of sharding which has helped make the world feel real again.
The leveling and zones
I planned on writing separate posts that analyzed each zone and the story found therein, but I was surprised to find how quickly I reached level 60. I may have rushed a little, since I need to be ready to raid in a week, but leveling is just really fast this time around. A nice touch is that the main story quests are highlighted both on the map and over the questgiver’s head, but that leads to some interesting results. Several people in my Guild reported running out of main story quests around level 57 and needed to level up before continuing the story. I’m not sure if this is a result of plainly marking the story quests so that’s all most people will go for, or if the leveling experience is unbalanced. Something about it felt awkward, but I still enjoyed each zone.
Bastion is a beautiful depiction of Blizzard’s version of the ideal heaven, with rolling golden fields and inhabited by actual angels – the Ascended Kyrian. My favorite thing about Bastion is its nod to Greek mythology and how each Kyrian NPC has an ancient Greece-inspired name. The adorable Stewards are a very close second; delightful owl servants who work as helpers to the Kyrian – every single one of them is just the best. The story was focused on the trials and sacrifices new souls must overcome when sent to Bastion, as well as the doubt rapidly spreading among the aspirants. It was a great story but even so my least favorite of all the zones, but did a great job of introducing players to this new world.
Maldraxxus had the most memorable opening quest for me, as I was thrown into the Theater of Pain arena and fought my way to victory. I felt like a gladiator fighting for my freedom, it was just awesome. While the landscape is barren and kind of gross, the Maldraxxi are a vibrant and kooky bunch. The story here is centered around the different Houses, and their fall into civil war. The quests ended with learning some very interesting information about the Jailer and his origins, definitely a good setup for plotlines in the future.
Next I was sent to Ardenweald, the wondrous moonlit forest of my dreams. I love everything about this place – the lovely trees and glimmering waters, the mischievous fairies, the music. The whole place seems to be inspired by a Midsummer Night’s Dream, and also Ori and the Blind Forest somewhat. The quests involving the Drust are fascinating and the last questline with Ysera made me cry. Ardenweald is my favorite Shadowlands zones and perhaps one of my all-time favorites, and I couldn’t be happier by choosing it for Aurashot’s covenant.
Lastly was Revendreth, yet another fantastic zone. Revendreth and the sinful Venthyr differ from Ardenweald in pretty much every way, yet I loved exploring this zone as well. The vampiric architecture, music, and personalities of the NPCs remind me of Castlevania and Dracula – another fun theme. The dredgers with their accents are among my favorite new things, and I actually had a hard time picking between Revendreth and Ardenweald for my covenant. The story went into detail on the process Venthyr use to punish the worst souls, serving as a last chance before spending eternity in the Maw. Revendreth is also home to the expansion’s first raid, and thus had one of the stronger campaign stories. I look forward to returning to Revendreth for world quests and exploring, and I can’t wait until one of my alts joins this covenant.
I had high hopes for this major Shadowlands feature and so far I am not disappointed. Ardenweald feels like my home, and it gives a similar sense of belonging as the Legion Order Halls. While this is still week 1 and many things such as renown levels and covenant story quests are being time-gated, I enjoy what I’ve played so far.
Torghast and the maw
I’m enjoying the Maw and how it truly feels like a dangerous place. You do your dailies, get in and get out. The story unfolding with Ve’nari is intriguing and I look forward to finding out why she’s been in the Maw and how she has eluded the Jailer for so long. The place is huge, even more so because we can’t use mounts, and only half the zone is explorable right now.
Torghast has also been super fun, even if I don’t fully understand its purpose yet. I mean, I get that we need to clear floors in order to collect Soul Ash to give to the Runecarver to use to craft our legendary armor with. Other than that, it just seems like a blast killing bad buys and seeing how far you can make it. I hope they add more incentives to it – like mounts, pets, and possibly gear to collect. For now, I’m enjoying the unfolding story of the Runecarver.
Besides everything else, I’m excited to raid Castle Nathria. I’ve only done a couple normal dungeons so far, but I like what I see, and I’m very eager to get back into the routine of raiding.