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News Opinions 19 October 2022, 14:37

WoW is Back to Roots with Dragonflight, And I Appreciate the Hell out of Blizzard

18 years on the market and still attracting hundreds of thousands of players. An unmatched game that still remains the king of the MMORPG genre for many. Let's examine World of Warcraft's past and future.

World of Warcraft turns 18 this year. During almost two decades, it has attracted millions of people, undergone huge changes, and received as many as nine additions. Therefore, I am taking you today on a journey back in time. We'll leave Shadowlands and Outland behind and return to Azeroth. We shall visit both the classic one, Northrend, and then we'll venture into the future, to the Dragon Isles. This will be a nice summary of the road Blizzard's game has come so far.

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Do you prefer frosty Northrend, or the mysterious Dragon Isles?

Ice-covered Wrath of the Lich King awaits!

We'll begin in the past – with the second expansion pack. The WoW Classic initiative allows us to appreciate in 2022 what the king of the MMORPG genre looked like 14 years ago. In fact, it was a breakthrough for this production in many respects. On the one hand, it reached the highest number of players in history, on the other, a significant decline in popularity coincided with the release of this expansion. Nevertheless, this remains the best addition to World of Warcraft for many, oftentimes connected with some great childhood memories.

Let's not get caught up in the deceptive power of nostalgia, though, and remember that Wrath of the Lich King was not a flawless expansion. However, it didn't stop players from enjoying a completely new land called Northrend, allowing them to play in two different realms. You probably remember that the expansion also introduced the first heroic class – the death knight, and added a lot of tasks requiring the use of vehicles, also turning the mechanics of dungeons upside down. The Random Dungeon Finder was implemented here, allowing us to gather the team with a single click before setting off.

The number of improvements big and small within Wrath of the Lich King is really large, and the expansion itself paved the way for a future DLC. For many people, however, it meant the beginning of the fall of the MMORPG king, although – as you can see – it is still at the top, and has even reached maturity! The modern version of the old expansion has undergone some changes, but if you want the classic World of Warcraft, you will definitely find yourself at home in the icy Northrend, which has lost none of its original vibe.

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The introduction to the death knight class doesn't disappoint, but the one for the evoker is also hellishly atmospheric.

Dragonflight lets you... fly dragons

Now let's take a leap forward, because I want to show you the future of World of Warcraft, which looks pretty mighty indeed. At first glance, the latest expansion is not groundbreaking, and the announcement seemed to miss something spectacular. Imagine my surprise when I felt that this was what Blizzard's creation needed – artisanal changes to the basics, instead of flashy fireworks. However, I understood this only once I played it – otherwise, I had also not been convinced.

Dragonflight is an expansion pack that blazes a new path for World of Warcraft. However – I am not yet ready to judge whether it will be a path to destruction or to a better tomorrow. Can you believe that ideas from previous expansions have been abandoned? Say goodbye to the mission table, there will be no borrowed powers, and the more classic talent tree will return. That alone is cause for celebration!

For people who have been with this MMORPG since relatively recently, it will be a real revolution and almost a new game. A veteran should feel as if World of Warcraft has returned to the roots, but with a modern twist and more up-to-date ideas. You can count on new continent – apart from Dragon Isles, there will also be a third heroic class – evoker, inextricably linked with the dracthyr race. By the way, this is an unusual case, because it's more precisely a "race-class." You can't play a dragon descendant without being an evoker, and vice versa. A strange idea!

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The dragons look good, but do they fit WoW?

Get used to new-old talents

I've already shown you the past and the future of World of Warcraft, but have you noticed how much they have in common? I have already mentioned that Dragonflight will offer a new talent system that takes advantage of the benefits of classic solutions with a touch of modernity. We will get a separate tree for class and specialization, which will allow for many different combinations. More experienced players will surely create the best and most optimized combinations, but no one's going to stop you from experimenting! You can also see that the whole thing was designed in such a way as to have more longevity, which makes me extra happy.

Specializations in professions are also returning. Their trace was visible in Wrath of the Lich King, but later, World of Warcraft did not take much advantage of this idea. Now professions will become a more vital part of this MMORPG. I'm afraid, however, that there is still a lot of work ahead of Blizzard to make this particular aspect of the game more interesting and useful. Although it's undoubtedly going to be better than before and will allow you to literally own the profession.

For example, equipment produced by various craftsmen in Dragonflight is intended as an alternative to standard equipment acquisition, but it's still not enough to make crafting essential. I got the impression that the professions had been somewhat overdone, and left just as optional attraction. However, I admit that this is a step in the right direction, and I would like Blizzard to develop this idea further. Especially since in the new expansion, we will be able to commission other players to craft an item for us through a special system, and there will also be quality levels for these items!

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The old, simple talent tree versus the new, more thoughtful and complex one.

Fly earlier than usual

Maybe you remember that in the past, flying around Azeroth didn't require meeting specific criteria? All you had to do was pay the tuition fee, and soar into the heavens. This was the case in Wrath of the Lich King, where you could travel to Northrend from level 77 on the back of a dragon! Back then, no one had thought about waiting for a few months after the expansion's release for a handful of achievements to be finally unlocked.

In Dragonflight, we will also take to the skies sooner, but not with ordinary flying, but rather dragonriding. You will learn this skill relatively soon, and you will be able to keep developing it throughout the expansion. All this is meant to make your dragon companion navigate Dragon Isles more efficiently and allow it to get to previously inaccessible places. Honestly, this system works great and conquering the skies has never been more enjoyable. Just like the ability to change the appearance of our mount – this was definitely missing in the original!

I just hope all this dragonriding won't end up like the borrowed powers system from previous add-ons. I hope that this mechanic will stay with us for a long time and soon, we will fly not only in the Dragon Isles, but also in the rest of Azeroth and other corners of this universe. I have the same dreams for the rest of the mounts, of which there are already over 500, and which so far, have been deprived of this new option. Therefore, I have a slight (but well-based!) concern that dragonriding will be just a one-time gimmick in the upcoming expansion.

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How to train a dragon?

The past and the future have a lot in common

I tell you that, just as the death knight introduced a few new mechanics to World of Warcraft, Dragonflight also extends the possibilities of classes with the introduction of evoker. The Dragon Mage adds an option to keep abilities charged to increase their prowess. While testing the evoker, I imagined that other characters could successfully use this solution within the limits of their skills. This would diversify the dynamics of combat and give the game a new flavor, which I am hoping to get in the future, because it's definitely a good direction.

Let Blizzard make sure that other races have as rich appearance customization options as Dragon Dracthyrs. So far, it's the most complex race in terms of the number of sliders, colors or even possibilities – the other races of the Alliance and Horde simply pale in comparison. This also applies to the evoker, which has evidently been designed with a new approach, just like the demon hunter back in the day. The other character classes also deserve a thorough update, because so far, they clearly stand out and are much less showy. I'm sure you agree with me!

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So many years of waiting for the ability to change the interface without addons.

I mentioned that Wrath of the Lich King added a lot of fun little elements to the game, but such things will also be included in the new expansion! There will be a separate backpack for all the materials needed by the profession, and we will be able to combine the remaining bags into one, without using an external addon. The same applies to changing the appearance of the interface, which we can finally edit. It's a simple thing, but it turns out that WoW no longer needs a slew of community-created add-ons to not look so archaic.

It all sounds too good to be true, doesn't it? Be aware, however, that every World of Warcraft expansion pack is usually portrayed as groundbreaking. It always looks promising and in the case of Dragonflight, it's no different. This may be a great extension that the game indeed, even though it doesn't really bring any fireworks at first glance. We will find out about it at the end of November. Then, I will leave Northrend and travel to the Dragon Isles to bring you news of what's cracking in Azeroth. Or what roars there. Because dragons roar, right?

Patrick Manelski

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.


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