Table of Contents1. A story for all2. History explained well and understandably3. Four pacts - one decision4. Everything half as bad5. Boring features and new adventurers6. Mission table meets autobattler7. Merge your souls!8. the maw, home of the dungeon master9. Torghast, the not endless dungeon after all10. Craft (have crafted) Legendaryitems11. Less loot for everyone12. Less grind and more beginner friendly13. Threads of fate14. Big clean out15. Lack of explanations16. Class fantasy instead of gameplay17. Raids and dungeons - good as ever18. Visual progress19. Blizzard listens to the players....20. conclusion: Back to the Roots - at least in parts
In the past WoW expansion, at the beginning everything was about the conflict between the Horde and the Alliance. The war between the factions was even carried to lands of Kul Tiran and Zandalar, where we found new allies. As usual in World of Warcraft, the open war didn't last very long, and the two actually hostile factions made a truce to face a bigger threat together. In the case of BfA, this was Sylvanas Windrunner, who apparently wanted to harness the power of the Old Gods and was playing a shady game. This threat did not end with the finale of BfA, but continues in the current expansion Shadowlands. At the start of the expansion, Sylvanas paid a visit to the Lich King, destroyed the Crown of Dominance, and thus tore down the border between our reality and the Shadowlands.02:16WoW
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The Shadowlands are, in a sense, the afterlife of Azeroth, where our souls enter after death. There, Sylvanas has gained a strong ally in the form of the Dungeon Master, although at the beginning of the expansion it is still unclear who is actually exploiting whom and what the two are up to. Since Sylvanas has also kidnapped and taken away some of the leaders of our races, including the king of the Alliance, Anduin Wrynn, during her escape to the Shadowlands, our heroes now set off to the mysterious Shadowlands to confront the war criminal there, free the leaders of the races, and at the same time uncover the dark machinations of the Dungeon Master. Moreover, since the Shadowlands are the afterlife, we see some familiar faces again.
One story for all
With the storytelling in BfA, Blizzard made some mistakes that should not be repeated now with Shadowlands, because the storytelling was a big point of criticism, and not only for us.
For example, the Horde and Alliance in BfA had very different main stories in places, which had only a few points of contact. Important facts were sometimes withheld from one faction, which often gave the impression that the story somehow didn't make sense. In the Shadowlands, on the other hand, we're back on the same page - whether Horde or Alliance. We all experience the same story. This is also told in a much more linear way again and has fewer confusing twists. On the one hand, this makes it a bit more predictable, but on the other hand, it also makes it easier to understand. At the same time, the developers have drastically increased the amount of dialogues and short cutscenes, so that even players who don't read any quest texts are in the majority of cases well in the picture and always know what's happening around them and how the story is progressing. Blizzard has clearly learned from the past here and taken player criticism to heart. The main story keeps taking us to Oribos, the new capital in the Shadowlands. Source: buffed
Well and understandably explained story
While in past expansions we explored new continents or visited foreign planets, this time we travel to a completely new plane of existence.
On the one hand, this gives Blizzard a lot of freedom, but it also ensures that players encounter various novelties that have to be explained well and understandably. The developers have managed the latter excellently. This is partly due to the fact that they didn't overwhelm us with information and make the Shadowlands unnecessarily complicated.
Thus, we quickly learn that everything in Shadowlands revolves around the Anima, the mysterious energy that keeps the Shadowlands alive and that is gained via the souls of the deceased moving in. Or rather should be gained. For Sylvanas, together with the dungeon master, has diverted the flow of souls, and thus Anima. Instead of arriving in the capital of Oribos, from where it is distributed to the individual territories, the souls of the deceased travel directly to the Maw, the realm of the jailer. What exactly they want to do with the power they've gained with it remains in the dark for the time being. And so we begin our journey through the four previously known areas of the Shadowlands, and in the first instance help the inhabitants with their problems caused by the anima drought, while at the same time we try to uncover the secret plans of the dungeon master and look for allies for this.
Four Pacts - One Decision
During our adventures in the four visually extremely good-looking areas of Shadowlands, we quickly get to know the inhabitants and their attitudes towards life in the Shadowlands.
These could hardly be more different. In Bastion live the noble Kyrians, who only accept the purest souls and leave everything from their mortal lives behind. In Maldraxxus we meet the Necrolords, who train as fighters for battle for all eternity. Afterwards, we go to the Arden Forest, where the Nachtfae are nature-loving creatures who maintain the cycle of rebirth, and to Revendreth, where the Venthyr enslave and torture arrogant souls. Before the endgame, we have to join one of the four pacts. Source: buffedAt the end of the level phase, we are faced with an important decision. We have to join one of the pacts and fight in its name from now on. This decision has great significance for our further adventures in the endgame of Shadowlands. Because the pacts offer us different advantages and disadvantages. Each pact provides our hero with a pact ability and a signature ability. The former is adapted to our class and has a significant impact on our gameplay, while the latter is the same for all players. We also have the pact campaign at our disposal, where we learn more about the concerns and internal problems of each area. Besides, a lot of contents are linked to the fame level in your pact, which you'll raise through weekly quests and the campaign, and with which you'll unlock various things. But don't worry, with a little effort you can change your choice of new home at any time. So you don't have to decide for eternity. 05:23WoW
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Everything's not so bad
Even before the release, many players feared that these new abilities could shake up the balancing and, in the worst case, completely destroy it.
A few weeks after the release, it can be stated that the pact abilities have different strengths, but their influence on the balancing is not as dramatic as assumed. Instead, you can further individualize your play style by choosing them.
The assumption that the different pact campaigns would once again create chaos in the storytelling has also not been confirmed. For the most part, the campaigns run alongside the main story and have many points of contact with each other. You'll always get important news, no matter which pact you belong to. Even those who completely ignore the pact campaign will understand what the story of Shadowlands is about and can follow it well.
Boring features and new adventurers
Hidden behind the pacts are some of the new features of Shadowlands. Similar to our garrison from Warlords of Draenor, we are allowed to expand our new sanctuary by collecting and using Anima, and thus gradually gain access to various things. For example, we unlock more world quests or Rare opponents and are allowed to use the pact's own promotion system. In addition, each pact has a special event available.
With all of this, the developers really let off steam and let their creativity run wild. Instead of being forced to make the same thing available to all players, the various features have been thematically adapted to the respective pact. For example, in the Arden Forest we travel across a network of mushrooms and cultivate our own magical garden, while Venthyr host curious tea parties and Kyrians undergo sacred trials in the Path of Ascension. In all of this, Blizzard has done a good job without shining. The events and features are fun, but don't necessarily offer much long-term motivation. At the same time, the rewards are mostly cosmetic, so no one feels compelled to host weekly tea parties. After all, the gameplay of the events is so unusual that it is not necessarily fun for every player.
Mission table meets Autobattler
The new adventurer system is more complex than the old mission tables. Source: buffedAnd of course, the developers have also taken the mission table feature, which was already introduced with Warlords of Draenor, to the Shadowlands and expanded it further. Instead of simply assigning three champions or auxiliary troops, we now have to strategically place up to five units. Similar to Autobattler, the position of each champion on the field is crucial. At first glance, this adds a bit more game depth to the system, but it can quickly become annoying. So it's no wonder that after just a few weeks, many players are already using an addon for optimal positioning. Once again, however, Blizzard has set the rewards so low that you won't get a guilty conscience if you completely ignore the new adventurer system.
Merge your souls!
With Shadowlands, the classes were overhauled, but aside from the Pact ability, not much new came into the spellbooks of the game modes. So that we don't get bored after the elimination of essences and azerite perks, the developers have brought a small additional talent tree into the game for each player. We unlock it by connecting our soul to one of three possible soul bond NPCs. These are important characters of our pact. Each of them has their own talent tree, which can also be customized with collectible media, which are mini-talents that can be socketed.
Our soul band is not much more than a small talent tree. Source: buffedBlizzard has left a bit of potential here. The talents are quite nice, fit thematically to the pact and at the same time do not have so much influence that you are annoyed to have chosen the wrong pact, but there is not much more behind the soul bands. The soul mate as a permanent companion or an active ability per soul band were already frequently expressed wishes of the players in the beta. In addition, there is no complete overview of the media in the game and where you can get them. The developers are welcome to improve this in an upcoming patch.
The Maw, Home of the Dungeon Master
Already during leveling, we enter not only the four areas and the central capital Oribos, but also the Maw, the home of the Dungeon Master. This is figuratively a kind of hell, where the darkest souls continue to exist in eternal damnation. When Shadowlands was announced, the Maw was presented as the most dangerous area in the history of WoW (buy now 14,99 € )and the developers kept their word. Surrounded by sinister Rare and Elite opponents, we complete daily and weekly quests there or complete special events - without being allowed to swing onto a mount. They don't listen to our calls in the maw. And to make matters worse, the dungeon master is always on our heels. The more activities we complete in the maw, the closer he keeps an eye on us. This manifests itself in negative effects that we then have to deal with, such as additional enemies appearing, and increases to complete immunity to healing. At the latest then we have to leave the maw and wait for the daily reset from the Eye of the Dungeon Master. 01:47WoW
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Since you can easily complete all the daily tasks before the eye gets too intense, the Maw is nothing more than a daily area with a high annoyance factor for many. Hardcore players, on the other hand, are slowed down when farming the rares, the associated reputation, and a special maw currency. So, frequent players can't gain a significant advantage over normal players, which some might consider a positive.
Torghast, the Not Endless
Dungeon After All
What would a dungeon master be without a prison? This is called Torghast and is located in the middle of the maw. In it, the jailer imprisons dark souls, and apparently he has dragged Anduin Wrynn, among others, there, which gives us a first reason to pay a visit to the prison. In several corridors and difficulty levels we fight our way up the levels and face increasingly nasty henchmen, against whom we actually wouldn't stand a chance. However, from time to time we collect so-called animaboni from the defeated enemies, which we use to strengthen our character. The developers were able to give free rein to their creativity, since balancing only plays a subordinate role in this case. Skills no longer have a cooldown, we can explode enemies or run through the area with several talents per row at the same time. By the end of a corridor, this has increased our damage and healing by a factor of ninety, and the gameplay no longer has much in common with what is normal outside of Torghast.
Inside Torghast we get access to extremely powerful Animaboni. Source: buffedIt's hard to deny the fun factor of the whole thing. Shredding your way through the masses of elite opponents alone or with a group like a hot-tempered fighting machine on steroids is quite something, and thanks to the amount of animaboni there is at least a bit of variety. However, the long-term motivation is rather poor. The only reward is a resource to create legendary items, which you will eventually have collected, and in the more difficult mode, the winding corridors, you will have collected all cosmetic rewards after a complete run on the highest level. The developers are welcome to add more content or rewards in upcoming patches. By the way, there used to be an endless mode in Torghast in the beta, in which you could play up the levels as long as you managed. However, this was cancelled because it wasn't convincing from a gameplay point of view. Maybe we'll see it on the live servers in one of the upcoming patches.
Create (let) Legendary Items
Instead of capturing them, we now have Legendarys made for us.
Resource for legendary items? Yes, you read that right. After we were inundated with Legendarys in Legion and there were no Legendary items to capture in BfA to compensate for that, the developers are going in a completely different direction in Shadowlands. Within Torghast, you can unlock a runemason who will then craft Legendarys for you. While the basic item is produced by craftsmen and you have to collect a special resource from Torghast, you'll find the different recipes for the Legendarys scattered all over the world and have to capture them first. However, since each recipe has a well-defined source, luck plays only a minor role this time.
This change was welcomed by the vast majority of players. You decide beforehand which Legendarys you want to have, earn the necessary recipes and then farm the necessary resources in Torghast. However, these are limited on a weekly basis. This way, the Legendarys retain their charm as special items that can only be obtained with a lot of effort, while at the same time the annoying random factor is eliminated and hardcore players cannot gain a significant advantage.
Less Loot for EveryoneThere
is another reason why Legendarys with their special effects are especially important for your character in Shadowlands.
With the start of the current expansion, the developers have really tightened the loot screw. In the Shadowlands, there is significantly less loot than WoW players are used to in previous years. Raid bosses leave behind fewer items, and in Mythic Plus dungeons there are usually only two pieces of loot per group. So it takes much longer to equip your character with really good gear.
On the one hand, the developers are certainly going in the right direction, after the inflationary distribution of loot in BfA, where stragglers and twinks could be fully equipped within a week. On the other hand, it doesn't feel very satisfying when you've completed the entire raid and are left without a single new item. Also, doing multiple Mythic Plus dungeons in one evening without getting at least one upgrade can quickly become frustrating. Classic players still know the feeling, but those who started with WoW in the last ten years will have to adjust a lot. In the treasury, which replaces the weekly chest, you can choose from up to nine items. Source: buffed
Less grind and more beginner-friendly
With Shadowlands, the developers had two things in mind that they really wanted to implement. First, the grind factor, which was enormously high in the end game in BfA and Legion, should be drastically reduced. On the other hand, Blizzard wanted to make WoW much more beginner-friendly. The developers succeeded in both. The entry experience and the entire level path have been reworked - including item and level squish, which means that the current maximum level is now at level 60. New players will go through an extensive tutorial on the Isle of the Banished and then only play through the storyline of BfA before they are allowed to start in the Shadowlands. With Twinks you can even choose the one expansion, at the end of which you can switch to the new addon. In addition, the mentor program has been reworked and integrated into the game. In special chats, beginners can get their questions answered by volunteer mentors and get help with the many features WoW now offers. The areas in Shadowlands look fantastic despite the old graphics engine. Source: buffedThe lack of azerite or artifact power also puts an end to the grind at the maximum level. You can grind Anima until you drop, but that doesn't give you much of an advantage. The catch-up mechanics for twinks have also been significantly improved. Pact campaigns or fame levels, to which a lot of content is linked, can be trailed quickly. This is because the further back you hang, the more sources provide you with recognition in your pact. In addition, since there is no longer a weapon or necklace that needs to be permanently upgraded, playing Twinks is much more fun again, although of course there are still things that then need to be done twice - such as building Legendarys.
Threads of Fate
What you can save yourself with Twinks, however, is having to relive the entire main story of the Shadowlands.
Once you have a character in the Shadowlands endgame, the Threads of Fate will be open to you after the introductory quest. This is an alternate way to reach the Endgame. Instead of completing the entire main story, without which the Endgame would otherwise remain closed to you, you can now level up as you wish. While still leveling, you join one of the pacts and the world quests and special bonus events are unlocked. How you then get the necessary experience points is up to you. Whether it's purely through dungeons, world quests or the various side quests - the possibilities are diverse. Although you won't really reach the endgame any faster this way, quest sourpusses won't be forced to relive the already known story from beginning to end. The classic level path is still available for those who prefer it. With twinks, you are allowed to take the level path in an alternative way. Source: buffed
With all the new features, it's clear that some old ones have fallen by the wayside.
Blizzard has been unhesitant here in sorting out everything that players didn't seem to enjoy. War fronts are just as much a thing of the past as island expeditions or azerite armor. You will also search in vain for spoiling effects or titan forging in Shadowlands. Thus, the current endgame remains much more manageable and is not as bloated as before. In addition, a whole series of smaller things that were not very popular or became obsolete have been abolished: for example, ranks for crafting professions, access requirements for different dungeons or experience point bonuses for heirlooms or different potions.
Blizzard has done a good job with most of the new features.
Often, you are introduced to them over several quests and everything is explained in detail. Then again, you'll find some content where the developers either forgot to include an explanation or rely on players to get information elsewhere. This goes from minor things like the fact that auxiliaries can be used multiple times at the mission table or that pet combat world quests now scale with the level of your pets, to important things like Legendarys. It would have been great if the game had explained somewhere where to get the necessary vessels or scrolls. Especially newcomers without a guild quickly get problems here. Actually, it's a pity, because Blizzard wanted to make life easier for this group of players with many changes. Experienced players probably won't even notice the missing explanations.
Class fantasy instead of gameplay
With all the new features and content, the developers also had their sights set on WoW's twelve classes and made some major changes to them. The focus was clearly on weakening the separation of play styles within a class. Druids should feel like druids again and not so much like feral, balance, guardian, or restoration. To that end, some iconic abilities have come back into play, and many talents and attacks are also now available to all playstyles within a class. In some cases this has little effect, but in others it does. In general, it gives the classes a bit more gameplay depth without significantly changing or even making the actual rotation more difficult. Quite the opposite, in fact. The classic way of playing on an opponent has even been simplified in most cases. In return, however, the classes now have significantly more helpful abilities at their disposal, with which they can simplify life for themselves or their group in certain situations. You can like that or not. A negative side effect, however, is that the sheer amount of abilities is difficult to balance. This in turn makes certain classes significantly stronger than others, especially in PvP or Mythic-Plus dungeons, where such things often matter more than pure damage or healing. The plethora of Legendarys with their effects, Pact abilities, Mediums, and Soulband talents don't necessarily help.
Raids and dungeons - good as everFor
most players, the most important content in WoW's endgame will probably be the dungeons and raids.
Blizzard has delivered its usual quality here. Since each of the four areas contains two thematically matching dungeons, variety is guaranteed and the quality of the boss fights is on the high level that Blizzard has been known for for years. The same goes for the first raid, Castle Nathria. After more than 15 years, the developers constantly pull new and mostly interesting mechanics out of the hat, which make the raid entertaining and exciting. The praise also goes to the design team. The visuals and the setting of Castle Nathria are certainly a matter of taste, but the technical implementation is definitely extremely well done. It's surprising every time what designers and developers get out of the over 20-year-old WoW engine. The new raid Castle Nathria looks fantastic and offers interesting new mechanics. Source: buffed
The dungeons of Shadowlands are a treat for the eye in every respect. Source: buffed In other places, too, it becomes clear how much work the developers have put into improving WoW's visuals. A single glance at areas like the Ardenwald or Bastion is enough to see how much attention to detail Blizzard has put into this. Or with all the new possibilities for character design, with which even more individuality is possible. The developers also think about players who might not own a powerful gaming PC. For example, the visual effects of the spells can now be turned down so that you can still recognize your own spells well, but the display of all foreign effects no longer causes massive drops in FpS in the raid. In short: Shadowlands raises WoW to a completely new level in terms of visuals and graphics, but still can't keep up with games like Black Desert Online or the like. Many players are particularly fond of the Ardenwald area. Source: buffedThe same applies to the sound, by the way. While effects in combat still seem quite generic, the soundtrack and music in the various environments are once again excellently done. Even if you just take a walk in one of the areas, you are immediately put in the right mood.
Blizzard listens to the players...
... or at least tries to.
Most of the major adjustments that came into the game with Shadowlands were previously loudly demanded by many players. No more grind in the endgame, twink friendliness, less complicated systems for loot, more class fantasy. In some places, however, the developers may have overdone it a bit - for example, with the amount of loot. Nevertheless, not only these changes, but also the postponement of the release date show that it was obviously important for the developers to release an expansion that does not stubbornly follow their opinions and ideas, but rather the wishes of the player community. At least in places, this has worked out well.
Conclusion: Back to the Roots - at least in places
With Shadowlands, the developers take a few steps back and say goodbye to many unloved systems that players have struggled with in the past years and that have been heavily criticized.
In most cases, this is very positive and the new features are also convincing, at least in the short term. Whether Torghast, the Maw and the pacts will still be fun after more than a year, however, remains to be seen. However, if Blizzard manages to continuously add more exciting content to the existing features, I'm not so worried. The new beginner-friendliness, the turning away from similar settings and a completely chaotic storytelling made many players return to WoW. Now it's time for the upcoming patches to catch up, so that players can continue to have the same fun as in the first few months. The developers should also keep an eye on balancing. At the beginning of the expansion, the situation was still catastrophic, but Blizzard has already greatly improved the situation with various hotfixes.
SattlerRedakteurphilipp.email@example.comWeniger Grind, more optional content and twink-friendliness - that's how I imagine an expansionThe departure from the permanent grind in the end game and the twink-friendliness gained with it doesn't please everyone - but it does me. At the same time, Shadowlands offers a lot of content that is often purely optional. Once you get used to the fact that not everything is a must, you'll have a lot of fun. A bit more loot should still drop, though, and besides, Blizzard needs to deliver content quickly so that features like Torghast or the Maw don't end up being a pipe-drop.
World of Warcraft: Shadowlands (PC)9/10
Pros & ConsLots of content for all types of playersBeautifully designed and very varied areasGood storytellingLots of cutscenes and good dubbingExcellent soundtrackShort-lived features and tons of optional contentGet away from the eternal grind in the endgameReturn to a more comprehensible equipment systemReduced random factor for equipmentBeginner- and Twinner-friendly
and Twink-friendlyCrafting system still boringAdvanced balancingNo new class or raceQuestionable long-term motivation with some of the new featuresToo little lootPvP brings PvE players the fastest good equipmentMany bugs due to level and item squish "Only" eight dungeons at launchOther pros & cons ....ConclusionShadowlandsirons out some mistakes of the past and focuses on twink-friendliness instead of grind .Partly at the expense of long-term motivation. Support buffed - it only takes a minute. Thank you!
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