Blizzard recently released its eighth expansion pack for World of Warcraft. Its called Shadowlands and after being delayed by a month finally came out on the games 16th anniversary.
The expansion takes place in the Shadowlands, the realm of the dead in Warcraft. Shadowlands features the game’s first “level squish” and changes the levelling system, gives access to the Death Knight class for new races, adds Covenants in the new zones, new customisation options and the usual assortment of new dungeons, raids, and much more.
All characters levels are reduced from 120 to 50 with the maximum being 60. New characters have an all-new starting experience on an island called “Exile’s Reach”, which is a tutorial. New players’ characters who finish Exile’s Reach move onto the Battle for Azeroth expansion. Old players who create new characters can choose the expansion they wish to play through to level 50. Once a character gets to level 50 they move onto the Shadowlands expansion.
What Blizzard has done is both good and bad. If you are new you can get into the game easier, quicker, and save a lot of money. However, it also means that all the old expansions are now worthless. The game now feels less like playing an epic journey and more like you are playing The Sims 4.
I enjoyed playing a lot of Battle of Azeroth but press around Shadowlands hasn’t excited me enough to want to return to the game. The main reason is that it is still a subscription-based game and the expansion is the price of a full game. The decision to reduce everyone levels to 50 from 120 while a sensible decision will likely make people who have spent years and hundreds feel like they have wasted their life.
Making the game more accessible to new players is good but World of Warcraft was never about that. It as a game that you had to grind through content to get to the good stuff or the content you wanted to do. Millions of people have left Warcraft and this expansion doesn’t fix that if anything it raises the question why even bother?
I won’t be back anything soon. It just isn’t worth the time and money investment. Maybe if the game went free-to-play I would but then I would resent it like when Team Fortress 2 did the same. In other words, I think MMORPGs like adventure games have had their day and even Grim Fandango isn’t going to be enough to save it.