Writing a review for a World of Warcraft add-on just a week after release is not an easy task. Blizzard is adding new content in a metered fashion: levels are limited in Torghast, there is no first raid and keys for epic dungeons yet, the plot is just beginning to twist, and the leveling of covenants is limited to three stages. However, you can get your first impression of the addon now. Why Shadowlands fit into the fan “pendulum theory”, why Darklands is better than BfA, and what Blizzard did with the plot – in the Cybersport.ru review.
I went through the starting storyline in the Maw while still in beta testing, so I was ready for the events of Shadowlands and had an approximate idea of how long it would take to complete the first location. However, even so, when I logged into the server at 1:45 am and saw several dozen players waiting for the adventure to begin, I felt a kind of tremor. You can read more about how the addon started in the article by Anastasia allestron Bismuth. Now we will talk directly about the plot events of the expansion.
Jumping into the portal, we found ourselves in Icecrown Citadel, where the remaining leaders of both factions have already gathered: the Knights of the Ebon Blade led by Darion Mograine and Bolvar, who, without the Helm of Dominance broken by Sylvanas, is no longer the Lich King. Our task is to go to the underworld, the Dark Lands, to save Anduin, Jaina, Thrall and Bane, and at the same time figure out what Sylvanas is up to there.
And here we are in the Womb – the worst place of the underworld, where only the most rotten souls who have no chance of correction go. More precisely, they did – now, after the insidious manipulations of Sylvanas and the Jailer, absolutely all souls are sent here. In the Womb, they are tortured until they completely lose their identity and become weak-willed servants of their captor. Probably, in order to explain to the players the general laws of the new world on their fingers, in the starting storyline we hardly fight, but rather communicate and watch cut-scenes. And at the same time we save the leaders of the factions, who then sing praises to us. And this is perhaps one of the few disadvantages of Shadowlands. The developers have further increased the level of significance of the protagonist in the events of the universe. Now our character is becoming a kind of Neo from the world of Warcraft. For example, a special portal located in the Womb reacts only to us, and all NPCs will subsequently treat us as a chosen pilgrim.
Escaping from the Maw and from the epic scenes, we find ourselves in the city of Oribos – the abode of the Arbiter, who must distribute souls to the covenants, but is temporarily in a lethargic sleep – again, due to the antagonist’s tricks. Oribos, which will be the center of our adventures for the next two years, turned out to be quite compact, but at the same time stylistically beautiful. In addition, it provides an excellent viewing platform from which an ominous view of the funnel of the Maw opens. Let’s take a couple of screenshots, and it’s time to move on to the plot: the first stop is Bastion.
Day one: dive into a linear plot
After sleeping a couple of hours after the release of Shadowlands, I was forced to forget about the Darklands for a while and go to work. However, the WoW icon on the desktop was inviting, and I started and stopped the game over and over again in anticipation of lunchtime. Despite the fact that I passed the Covenant campaigns on the alpha test, in the release version they looked a little different, as they were finally sealed by a common plot and cut-scenes explaining individual events. The main feature of leveling in Shadowlands, compared to Battle for Azeroth or Legion, is precisely the linear plot. The player does not have the opportunity to choose a sequence of locations, because they are all connected by a continuous story.
The Spiers of Rebirth in the Bastion, where the war between the Kyrians and the schismatics is unfolding, turned out to be incredibly beautiful. In addition to the views of the majestic columns, we are also given the opportunity to feel the conflict between the two sides, each of which quite reasonably defends its position. After flying in the skies, we fall and go to the foul-smelling swamp – the Plague Cascades dungeon in Maldraxus. Acidic surroundings, necromancers and skeletons are quite usual things, but the third boss of Domina Poisoned Blade was an unpleasant surprise for me and my “friends” from Spain. The description in the “Adventure Guide” was clearly not enough for the passage of the boss, which at the same time forces you not to move away from each other, to scatter at the right time, and then also look for his minions on the map (better, too, five). How all this can be done in one battle, we realized only on the seventh attempt. And if Domina Poisoned Blade forced her soldiers to look for, then the Mistcaller from the dungeon “Mists of Tyrn Skitt” hid herself, creating several illusions of her own, and at the same time playing with us in the hands and the bouncer.
Of course, in Shadowlands there are also familiar bosses, to defeat which you just need to right-click and not stand in the entrance zones, however, the Darklands dungeons look much more interesting, colorful and diverse compared to BfA. And boss battles will surprise you more than once, even if you read the tactics, and will make your group wipe. Regardless, by the end of the day, my paladin had closed all dungeons and raised his equipment level to 176. The Castle of Nafria is almost ready for the raid.
Day four: visiting the Jailer
The main feature of Shadowlands, according to the developers, is the Torgast tower, which is a kind of roguelike. It was shown by Blizzard during alpha testing, and even then it became the most interesting place for players, bloggers and journalists. Endless floors with changing corridors and countless hordes of enemies in the most eerie place in the universe, according to the developers, will be able to captivate gamers for a long time. Torghast will not please with an abundance of loot: there the player will be able to get only the ashes of souls – a resource necessary to create and improve items. However, the tower mechanics themselves are definitely something new to World of Warcraft. With each floor the difficulty level increases, we get new debuffs, and the voice of the Rune Carver utters a frightening phrase: “The hunt has begun for you.” To advance as far as possible, you will need to thoroughly search each floor of the tower in search of souls that increase characteristics, and random additional talents designed specifically for your class. In addition, Torgast has a lot of little chips that can diversify each trip and make users adapt to the circumstances.
However, Torgast is not so formidable yet. The main advantage of this mode will probably be its complexity – when players will compete and try to find the best combination of talents, items, strategies to advance as far as possible. Now in Torgast only two tiers are open with three difficulty levels and several floors. You can complete them without death, much effort and cool equipment. Torgast on release looks less epic than during the alpha test, when Asmongold, with over a hundred additional talents, fought an army of elite NPCs on the 70th floors and died from the boss over and over again.
As is the case with most of the content in Shadowlands, the developers decided not to rush with Torgast and are opening parts of it. However, you shouldn’t hesitate too long with this, because in its current state the tower can only captivate for an hour or two, while the Torghast, which awaits us in the future, can become the main entertainment of the entire Shadowlands, attracting players not with awards, but with hardcore versatility of tests.
After leaving Torgast, we return to the Maw, where several daily tasks are already scattered. And here, perhaps, the most hardcore part of Shadowlands begins. The Womb has its own rules: you cannot use mounts here, and upon death, you lose part of the earned resources. But the main thing is the Eye of the Jailer, which resembles the “police stars” in GTA: the more elite monsters you kill or complete tasks, the more noticeable you become for the main antagonist. And now, after 20 minutes of the game, the towers are already shelling you, and the Jailer’s servants are following on the heels. The idea of making the world react to the player’s actions is curious in itself, but in the dark setting of the prison of souls it looks even more interesting. Thanks to this, the Womb becomes not just “another new location”, but really the antagonist’s refuge, into which it is worthwhile to descend prudently and in short raids. By the way, the movement to the zone itself is also designed accordingly: there are no teleports that you just need to click on – instead, the player needs to jump into the stream of souls located in Oribos.
Day five: what to do, or “Threads of fate”
On the fifth day of the Dark Lands Marathon, I had an obsessive feeling that the adventure was starting to slip. All the dungeons have been completed, the anima are already several thousand and there is nowhere to spend it, the professions are finished, Torgast is mastered. Of course, there are still side quests in Revendreth and constantly updated world quests, but this seems to be not enough. In Battle for Azeroth, the game was often criticized for the overblown need for a monotonous Azerite grind. And now Blizzard is releasing an addon where at an early stage players do not have this unattainable goal in the form of pumping the Heart of Azeroth. When you’re used to constant grinding, this state of affairs causes a kind of confusion and confusion: “Blizzard, damn it, give me a reason to do these locals non-stop, come on, make me grind again.”
Despite this, I don’t want to leave the Dark Lands, but there is a strong desire to get more, even more content: at least a couple of reputation levels in the covenant or a few more levels of Torgast, but at least story quests with dialogues. Blizzard deliberately planned a metered dive into Shadowlands so that players can feel free to fall behind in the race to progress and get to know the new world in peace. Однако большинство геймеров уже привыкли к бешеному темпу гринда, необходимого для того, чтобы оставаться в топе, поэтому попросту за пару дней съели весь контент, рассчитанный на одну-две недели.
Кому-то новая система понравилась. Например, я поспрашивал об этом согильдийцев из «Армии Альянса», и некоторые, наоборот, поддержали идею поступательного развития событий и причислили ее к плюсам Shadowlands. Однако я останусь при своем — в MMORPG не должно быть ситуации, когда на пятый день приключения ты задаешься вопросом: «Что делать дальше?».
С другой стороны, один ответ Blizzard на подобную претензию предусмотрительно подготовила: «Качай альтов!». Поскольку на первых этапах Shadowlands практически не зависит от постоянного гринда, всем хватит времени прокачать еще нескольких персонажей, чтобы иметь по представителю в каждом ковенанте. В Темных Землях разработчики пошли навстречу альтоводам и дали им возможность пропустить сюжетную кампанию с помощью функции «Нити судьбы», если она пройдена основным персонажем. Вместо этого сразу после прибытия из Утробы (первые 30 минут сюжета пройти все-таки придется) игрок может выбрать ковенант и прокачиваться в любой зоне, выполняя дополнительные задания, локалки и ходя в подземелья. Благодаря этому появилась возможность поддерживать сразу несколько персонажей в конкурентоспособной форме, познакомиться со всеми ковенантами и вдоволь поэкспериментировать.
День шестой, седьмой, восьмой: я все еще здесь
После немного опустошающего пятого дня, когда я понял, что весь стартовый контент освоен и вроде бы не к чему стремиться, наступило утро воскресенья… и первое, что я сделал, проснувшись, — вновь запустил World of Warcraft. Такой тяги к игре я не испытывал со времен Wrath of the Lich King, когда в WoW было просто приятно находиться. Тогда я мог час за часом наворачивать круги по локации и копать руду. В этот же раз мне захотелось остаться не просто в WoW, а именно в Темных Землях. Поэтому даже редкие вылазки в Штормград ради аукциона воспринимались как нежелательная, но необходимая повинность. Это полное погружение в новую историю и новый мир — главное преимущество Shadowlands. Даже Mists of Pandaria с ее азиатскими мотивами была хоть и столь же красивой, но более привычной и обыденной, что ли. Темные Земли хочется исследовать даже при отсутствии видимой цели, просто потому, что раньше ничего подобного в World of Warcraft не было. И поэтому я уже точно знаю, как проведу девятый, десятый и еще сотни последующих дней после релиза Shadowlands.
действительно новый уникальный мир;
невероятной красоты локации;
новые сюжетные персонажи;
увлекательные истории в каждой зоне;
разнообразие механик боссов в подземельях;
удобная система прокачки альтов.
слишком дозированный контент;
зашкаливающий уровень пафоса;
наш герой снова избранный.
Загробный мир ей к лицу
Shadowlands — логичный шаг в развитии World of Warcraft. Разработчики не стали в очередной раз мусолить одни и те же сюжеты, а создали абсолютно новый мир со своей историей, правилами, героями и злодеями. При этом в Темных Землях чувствуется связь со всем прежним опытом WoW: от небольших пасхалок с душой Псаря Локси в Ревендрете до органичного вплетения в сюжет забытых Утера и Болвара. На старте Shadowlands выглядит практически идеальным аддоном, который с ходу интригует, затягивает и задает очень высокую планку ожиданий. Вопрос только в том, сможет ли Blizzard оправдать эти ожидания и как дальше развернется судьба Темных Земель.