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Game preview 27 July 2020, 18:24

author: Patrick Manelski

A fanatic of MMO-games, who's lost in the fantasy world. He won't say no to a good book or TV series.

Blizzard Doesn't Stop World of Warcraft Shadowlands Hands-on Preview

The eighth addition to the king of MMORPG is on the horizon and promises to be quite successful. Provided, however, that Blizzard is not stubborn and will listen to the players this time. Can a single element of WoW Shadowlands spoil the entire expansion?

Slated for release: December 2020.

Getting Renown, or a prettier way of saying "grind"

Renown will appear in weekly challenges and it has already been announced that catch-up systems will also be introduced. Players shouldn't feel that a short break from World of Warcraft prevents them from joining the real fun. Nevertheless, this system raises some doubts, as many elements of Shadowlands will depend on it. For example, the mentioned Souldbinds will be developed with it, and even the quality of equipment from World Quests will be associated with this element.

The same goes for special quests, recipes, and even flying in Shadowlands! We already know that the Pathfinder achievement will require an appropriate level of Renown. At the 60th level, we will not finish our World of Warcraft adventure, but rather begin it. Renown will be hugely significant, and Soulbinds will significantly enhance the character, so get ready for more exping, only under different name.

Renown will be conquered by completing our Covenant campaign, delivering the anima raw material and saving souls in The Maw. It will also affect the base of our party, the Sanctrum. It will be something like a Class Hall from Legion, which is our safe haven. It will provide access to a large number of features, but first, you will need to rebuild the whole thing.

The Scouting Table will also return, allowing us to send NPCs on excursions. In Shadowlands, however, the mechanics have been changed, which will no longer involve choosing a character and waiting for them to return. Instead, the whole thing will resemble auto-battlers, where units have their stats, and they will need to be properly deployed and then watched during a turn-based skirmish.

Torghast roguelike elements in World of Warcraft

A major attraction of the upcoming addition will be the Torghast, the Tower of the Damned. It's a form of "infinite" dungeon, divided into floors. With each successive floor, the difficulty level will increase, and we will never quite know what awaits us around the next corner. Stages will be procedurally generated, so each trip to the tower will be a new adventure.

Plus, we'll be able to go it completely alone! Interestingly, we will acquire special modifiers from opponents, strengthening our character and abilities, or changing the way they work. Of course we'll be limited by the number of lives we have, and a complete failure means starting the climb from scratch. So the whole thing can be broadly compared to roguelikes and to be honest, it's one of the nicer things about Shadowlands, at least for me.

It's not even about the fact that we'll be getting materials required for legendary items for Torghast. The modifiers available in the tower are something wonderful and totally unbalanced. What's more, Blizzard has no intent of spoiling the fun by nerfing some of the combinations. Being able to play a magician who teleports all the time and leaves behind his fireball-tossing reflections is definitely something I needed in World of Warcraft!

Shadowlands promises to be good, but it may still fail

On the up side, we have returning classic character class skills in Shadowlands. The shamans get totems at every specialization, the hunters get Hunter's Marks, and The Warlocks can curse to their hearts' content. I mean, use curses. This is followed by a number of other minor changes, such as a new character wizard with additional appearance customization, as well as modifiers of profession. We should also mention tagging quests in the story campaign, or the Jailer watching us in The Maw! This zone resembles Suramar from Legion, and our actions will increase the attention of the Great Evil, who will in time begin to make life difficult for us in this location.

That's definitely not all that Shadowlands offers. Admittedly, this expansion doesn't introduce any new character class or race. At first glance, it doesn't even seem that revolutionary you might even call it conservative. However, after spending time in alpha and now beta, I can say that this is an extension that World of Warcraft simply needed. In a way, it's a reset of everything we got in recent expansions and an attempt to pick out the best solutions while returning to the roots. Will it be successful?

It's hard to tell at this point. I'd like to believe it will. Nevertheless, the skepticism after the Battle for Azeroth and the uncertainty about Soulbinds seem to prevent any sort of unambiguous assessment. Shadowlands may turn out to be a great expansion, but poorly implemented and misguided new systems could as well be the final nail in the coffin of this DLC. Exactly as was the case with the previous addition. Let's hope Blizzard has learned the lesson and doesn't repeat the mistake. If they can avoid it then well I'll be playing like hell in autumn!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

I've spent more than 25 hours in Shadowlands so far, and the meter keeps on growing. I spent most of that time in the alpha version, but I've recently switched to the beta. The product is, of course, not final, it still has its issues and some elements need fixing, but it promises to be good. I can't count all the hours I've spent in WoW, and I probably don't want to know. It's definitely too much and I definitely don't regret it.

Patrick Manelski | Gamepressure.com

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