26 marca 2021
World of Warcraft: Shadowlands - first impressions from another part of alpha tests
Another Developer Update with World of Warcraft: Shadowlands is behind us. On the occasion of the latest presentation by John High and Ion Hazzikostas, we had a chance to talk to one of the developers about the details of the new expansion and play a previously unavailable part of Shadowlands.
In the evening, on July 8, the long-awaited by World of Warcraft fans livestream took place. During the 30-minute broadcast, Ion Hazzikostas talked about what the developers have achieved over the past three months of alpha, the upcoming beta open to more players and detailed plans for the future.
Although instead of a specific release date we only got an assurance that Shadowlands will come out this fall, Blizzard's active conversation with its community should be a good sign for most fans. Moments after the broadcast ended, we had a chance to speak with Patrick Dawson, Director of Production, who devoted nearly an hour of his time to the journalists gathered on the call, answering all their questions.
Beautiful times for new players
Until now, the experience for people who have never had much contact with World of Warcraft has not been the most pleasant. In Battle for Azeroth, the maximum character level was raised to 120, further extending the difficult and monotonous leveling phase. Even if you managed to hit the cap, the endgame opened you up to dozens of different questlines to do and grind for resources necessary to strengthen your character.
Shadowlands is going to make this whole process significantly easier. First of all, the maximum character level will be 60, each level reached will give more satisfaction and the process of reaching the endgame will take much less time.
However, this is not the end of changes for new and returning players. As Dawson himself stated in response to a question about newcomers, 15 years of story and game development sometimes overwhelms some people just starting out with World of Warcraft. The answer to this criticism is Exile's Reach, a new starter island.
All newcomers who create their first characters in the game will be automatically assigned to Exile's Reach. For the first 10 levels, they will learn the history of World of Warcraft and participate in a small group dungeon designed to introduce them to the basic mechanics of the game. Veterans, on the other hand, will be able to choose between going through Exile's Reach or skipping it altogether.
With Shadowlands, Blizzard is also making a big nod to returning players. No more Azerite Power farming blocking you from gaining a higher item level and joining your friends. The new expansion will introduce a number of so-called "catchup mechanics", or ways to catch up on lost progress. Of course, this doesn't mean that two months after the expansion's release you'll be able to get your Heroic Raid gear in a week. However, it will certainly encourage some players to try their hand at World of Warcraft and not worry about their limited experience.
You can plan your alts now
Dear Altoholics, this is the addition for you! All players who suffer from the urge to play several characters at once should read the next few paragraphs with a wide smile on their lips.
Until now, World of Warcraft has strongly discouraged the creation of additional characters. Although there are plenty of free spaces when choosing a server, repeating the same content and story missions was extremely cumbersome. Some raiders decided to create alts in the middle of the expansion as a result, but it was still a task for players with plenty of free time.
Starting with Shadowlands, the additional characters are meant to function more as "New Game+". Leveling will be faster thanks to a lowered maximum level, and in the process alts will also gain endgame useful items. Gameplay elements related to story campaigns and pact selection will also be accelerated. Dawson even mentioned during the interview that some professions like herbalism or mining could become common professions for the whole account, not just one character.
A lot of familiar, proven mechanics
For World of Warcraft veterans, Shadowlands will remind you of various previous additions. Right from the selection of Venthyr Pact, which we had the opportunity to test during the last alpha, you can see elements that are a slightly different version of what we've seen before in other add-ons.
The system of followers returns, which in Shadowlands are called adventurers. We start a short questline that guarantees us access to the map. There we can start sending our units on various missions, just like in the last few expansions. This time, however, the whole process is more like a simplified version of autobattlers. Gone is the percentage chance to complete the task, and in its place has jumped an automated turn-based combat. Our units have their own skills, cooldowns, and sending them out on different missions can be a bit more difficult than usual.
At first glance, the Soulbind system resembles Artifact Relic from Legion. In Shadowlands, the mechanics have been enriched with Conduits, which can be placed in appropriate places in the Soulbind tree.
Shadowlands a place to experiment
This doesn't mean, however, that the new addition will simply be a combination of some of Blizzard's previous ideas. Patrick Dawson admitted while talking to journalists after the last livestream that Shadowlands allowed the developers to experiment a lot. They decided to create a land separate from Azeroth, which is governed by its own rules.
This led to the creation of, among other things, The Maw and Torghast, some of the most interesting elements of Shadowlands. Inspired by visions from Battle for Azeroth, the activity is something of a roguelike inside World of Warcraft. A special dungeon will randomly generate enemies on subsequent levels and guarantee participants additional upgrades during each run. Blizzard has also decided to make Torghast an integral part of the Shadowlands progression, designating it as the main way to craft legendary items.
Shadowlands undoubtedly promises to be a groundbreaking addition to World of Warcraft. The drastic level squish will be remembered for years to come, and the refreshes to the alt system and new player experience should make it easier for newcomers to begin their adventure with the popular MMO. Now, a few months before the potential release, however, we can only wait for more details and refresh our email in the hope of opening the first beta. Already next week the opportunity to test Shadowlands will get a lot more players.
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