For the Horde!

by | Apr 22, 2021 | Games | 0 comments

I played World of Warcraft waaaaaay back in the day, back when there didn’t need to be suffixed qualifiers to explain what type of World of Warcraft you were playing. Before that, I’d enjoyed Blizzard’s real-time strategy (RTS) games dating all the way back to Warcraft: Orcs vs. Humans.

While I stopped playing before the first expansion to the game (The Burning Crusade) was released, I still kept vague track of the storyline and lore. Reviews were up and down throughout the history of the series, and the steep catch-up curve helped dampen any thoughts I had of rejoining that most epic of time sinks.

Then Blizzard, publisher and developer of World of Warcraft, did two things. First, they re-released the original game as WoW Classic (a la Coke Classic in the mid-80s). Then, given the rousing success of Classic, they learned from some of the mistakes they’d been making and incorporated some welcome changes into their newest expansion World of Warcraft: Shadowlands.

I’d roped my wife into trying WoW Classic, and she enjoyed it more than I expected, but it wasn’t her game. Given that it required the same account subscription, she gave the current version of the game a try and liked it better. Unencumbered by the rosy goggles of nostalgia for a game she never played, she appreciated the numerous quality of life improvements to gameplay that crept in over 15 years of updates, as well as the ease of playing solo (she’s not an MMO hardcore). So when the Shadowlands expansion was announced, she signed up. Once it was released, she convinced me to try it.

Here’s what I’ll say about Shadowlands: If you were even tempted by World of Warcraft but were daunted by being so far behind, this feels like the perfect time to give it a chance. The leveling system has been totally revamped with new characters in mind. You can level through any of the prior expansions’ content before getting into the current iteration as you approach max level. But that’s just the barrier of entry.

Stay because the story is good.

Shadowlands has a rich, interwoven storyline that explores the previously underdeveloped afterlife of the Warcraft universe. This gives the writers so much freedom to draw in and incorporate old characters, some of whom continued their own stories long after their demise in Azeroth (or Draenor, or Outland, etc.).

Aesthetics are amazing as expected for any Blizzard game. But there’s a lot of depth beneath the surface. NPCs and places feel like they existed long before the player arrived, and forces are at play well beyond your understanding (at least insofar as it’s been revealed in the plotline). The game mechanics mesh well with what you’re supposed to be doing. The decisions you make and the alliances you forge will affect the story as you see it told.

I’ve only scratched the surface of the game, and who knows how long it’ll hold my attention, but if you’re a gaming tourist who’s always been curious what the fuss around World of Warcraft has been about, Shadowlands is the perfect opportunity to see for yourself.

And like any good entertainment provider, they offer “try before you buy” options. The free trial allows you to play a new character until you reach level 20.

See what all the fuss is about on the World of Warcraft “getting started” website

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