Not good company to be in

I’ve been dwelling on the Shadowlands announcement trying to work out what was bothering me about it.

Is is the lack of clarity regarding levelling and the future of the game? Because as I said in my previous post if it’s Classic-BfA choose your poison, then Shadowlands, that’s cool with Shadowlands being the new thing BUT what about when the ninth expansion comes? Will it be Classic-BfA choice, then Shadowlands, then new thing? Isn’t that just restarting the cycle? Also people will be sick of Shadowlands and the levelling curve will be weird.

Is it the lack of clarity regarding levels and what they will do to the ability to solo old content and also what about flying? Because yes they have confirmed we should still be able to do everything we can currently re: farming old raids etc. BUT how exactly will that work? Also I currently can fly everywhere. So if I want to quest in Kul Tiras/Zandalar and level an alt flying around then I can. In Shadowlands when the BfA level range becomes 10-50, what about then? Are they going to take away what I can already do? I see the backlash riots from here.

Is it the lack of concrete information and conflicting statements on levelling? Because I did some quick and dirty math and Ion said that “getting a level every 15 minutes doesn’t feel epic” so I’m assuming they don’t want that BUT they have said levelling will be 60-70% faster and that 10-50 will allow completion of an expansion. The two don’t mesh together very well as using Mists as an example, when that was current it was approx a level per zone, which splitting 40 levels makes for 6.6 levels a zone. It did not take anywhere near 7 hours to do a zone, more like 2-3 which makes for a level every 25 minutes or so? Now I’m not bothered by this I like the whoosh sound, I just want confirmation it will be faster because it takes so long now I’m completely demotivated by it. (also I will not be levelling until Shadowlands).

Or is it simply the feeling of dread about lack of a real key feature?

Because I just pulled up the announcement trailers for Mists, Warlords, Legion and BfA. They all had new zones, new level cap, new dungeons and raids etc. as standard.

  • Mists added: New race (Pandaren), new class (monk), challenge mode dungeons, PvE scenarios, Pet Battle system, new talent system.
  • Warlords added: Garrisons, character model update, new world PvP zone and a level boost to 90 as standard.
  • Legion added: New honor system, artifact weapons, class order halls, new hero class Demon Hunter and a level 100 boost as standard.
  • BfA added: Island expeditions, Warfronts and Allied Races and a level boost as standard.

Now I know that all the expansions added more than those things but I’m talking about at launch. From the Shadowlands announcement trailer:

  • Shadowlands adds: Covenants, Tower of the Damned.

We also know there will be soulbinds in Shadowlands which wasn’t on the announcement trailer (but then azerite armor wasn’t on BfA’s) and they are updating the character models again and offering more cosmetic choice BUT that’s not even on the website so those might not make it in for launch and might be dripped piece-meal (for instance updated character models began in warlords and we are only now getting Goblins and Worgen in 8.3 so still not even live). Also the levelling shake-up is on the website.

Comparing the details there is no new race in Shadowlands, though I can understand that because they have added 5 options per faction (10 in total) since 7.3. I think we’re fatigued with races to be honest. There is no new class which I think is a bummer because they were alternating between new race and class every other expansion so we are due. I understand that new classes are a balance nightmare but I don’t care about that to be honest, it’s refreshing and fun and while I want to play allied races having multiple class duplicates is unnecessary. A new class would have been a very welcome addition even if it would have been lucky number 13.

Covenants builds on the phasing of class halls and garrisons so honestly I’m not impressed. Plus I remember from the panel they said “covenants are what we call a build-around-feature” in that it’s central to the expansion, which is what they said about garrisons and then we only got 2 weak patches. There’s a grave marker by the garrison marked something like “Ray d Tear” playing off the ‘joke’ that garrisons had cost the expansion the third patch. I find that awful to be honest because Warcraft is huge. Also THAT was the year they put the standard price up from $39.99 to $49.99. I know I wrote posts at the time because paying more for less felt very wrong, especially because it’s on top of the sub. Anyway I don’t want to rant again, it’s an old grievance which I have moved past but I’m sort of building my point here.

Tower of the Damned is the only really new feature on the list. We’re not getting a level boost with the standard edition anymore as that’s moving up to one of the ‘deluxe’ options. I was tempted by the “quest for a transmog set” deluxe option (I haven’t bought deluxe since Mists) but the quest is just one single quest to gather 40 items. I was hoping for some kind of story questline so I’m going to pass. I will miss having the boost although with the requirement to ‘manually level’ all the allied races in order to get the heritage armor, a boost would have been of limited value anyway.

I really can’t help but feel like Shadowlands is in the company of Warlords of Draenor in terms of what it is offering. Don’t forget that Warlords was when they did the first big ilevel squish, so that’s somewhat akin to a big level squish. The parallels just keep growing in my mind and that’s not a good feeling as Warlords wasn’t good.

I said above about how flying during levelling 10-50 is still a question mark but as I can fly in those zones now on alts, I will be seriously unhappy if I can’t do it anymore. However this is a gripe about flying at max level.

I’m not keen on the increasing number of hoops we have to jump through with pathfinder 1 and 2 but as I do everything on my main anyway, I’m doing that stuff no matter what, so it’s not a huge deal.

It’s the alts thing that gets me. I like playing alts, I really do, but I found myself purposefully not playing my 110’s because “I’ll wait for flying”. So my beloved druid, my rogue etc. I didn’t get to play. I know that’s stupid because I could have played them and enjoyed them grounded just like my main but as I said I do everything on my main. So loremaster etc. is all done. This expansion I took a Horde to max level for the first time and I treated that like a second main.

It’s awesome seeing stuff for the first time. I have zero issue being grounded at first but I feel like a more relaxed go through when I do it repeatedly. I’ve already seen everything, so I’m darting in and repeating my favourite parts, or my druid is my gatherer so I’ll quest for a bit and see some nodes and then dart around – it makes for a varied relaxed levelling experience.

Like I said I know I can play whatever I want but it’s how it feels, it’s that subconscious pushback, that face I pull when I think about playing alts without flying. It makes me opt to do something else. So I’m sad that they think BfA model worked well for flying. By all means stick with some kind of pathfinder but have flying unlocked in 9.1. That is long enough to wait imo BUT with them saying how “satisfied” they are with how it works, they are likely to stick with 9.2 and that SUCKS.

I’m complaining and it’s only just been announced whaaat?
Yeah I know. Also a lot of concerns will probably be eased over time with more information. The whole levelling squish is just ??? right now so I should be patient. Plus expansions do add more than what is on the announcement trailer. It’s just I suppose I feel a little bit like I did back with Warlords, in that they are doing an “expansion by the numbers”, it’s just the sense I get because obviously I haven’t played Shadowlands (it might be awesome!).

I suppose the faint feeling of disquiet is just that I feel like they are just laughing all the way to the bank again. Now I say that as someone that did just pay them £35 for a virtual ticket so I’m not immune to paying them money, and I don’t regret the ticket there was 20+ panels I’m going to watch, plus I get to try out Warcraft 3: Reforged as I almost certainly won’t actually buy it.

I guess maybe I was just hoping for something more. Like I said in my last post, it feels like blizzard have played it very safe with Shadowlands and so it’s hard to get excited? There’s no “oooh I want to play a monk, or a demon hunter, or a dino druid”. The expansion of death knights to all races does not equal that. I have a death knight and it is not a playstyle I enjoy. Where’s my Tinker class? (we have mechagnomes now!) or player housing? or just something I can really sink my teeth into which is new and fresh? Wait and see what else is announced over the next year I guess.

Also I’m blogging because I have something to say. Wary or not, rambling on here can’t be a bad thing 🙂