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Opinion

World of Warcraft : Shadowlands – a first look at the new World of Warcraft expansion

Ahoy Geeks, Jimmie here!

2020 has been one hell of a year with things going on the way that they have. While it really is a shame that the cons, by and large, have been canceled one thing that has kept going strong is the gaming industry. For that I am forever grateful as this means work on my favorite titles continues to plow ahead despite all the covid shenanigans.

During the time of lock downs I have been waiting patiently for a beta invite to my favorite game, and long running MMORPG series, World of Warcraft. This awesome game has been running since 2004, and thankfully has been plowing full steam ahead since then. As soon as the first round of invites went out I waited…and waited some more, but did not see anything. Then, out of nowhere, it just appears on my Battle.Net launcher!

And we all know what that means!? Time to show off the Blizzard goods, and see if the game still stand the test of time against the newer titles that are vying for your gaming dollar.

WARNING! Everything from this point forward should be considered spoiler territory as the game has not been released. If you are adverse to spoilers (you know who you are!), then turn away now!

So, after starting up the game I dove into the beta after a lengthy install period, and created a new character. There really was not a whole lot of new stuff from what I saw with the current beta build, but should that change I will post an update showing off the goods.

After playing with the new character creation I thought it might be fun to copy over a current character, and jump into the new content,so I copied my frost mage right away. This was the right thing to do for me as I was able to start playing with a more familiar arrangement of my action bars. And with that I opened up a portal, and off to Stormwind I went to start up the new story line with my character.

It’s a meeting of the minds here in Stormwind.

After a short little intro sequence we find our way off to Icecrown Citadel, where the current Lich King is chilling (quite literally), and this is where we start to get an idea of what is going on. It seems that our friend, Bolvar Fordragon (the current Lich King), has lost his crown as Sylvanas Windrunner removed it from him after a battle. Not only did she remove the crown, it was the torn about which caused the sky to shatter thus opening a way into the Shadowlands. However shall we, the living, cross over to the realm of the deceased?

Alrighty, lets open the door, Bolvar! Time to break on through to the other side!

Okay, so we made our way out of Azeroth, and are now on the other side of the proverbial veil, staring down into what is referred to as “The Maw”. This is the World of Warcraft version of Hell, where all the baddest of the bad go when they kick the bucket. The Maw is not the pretty Dante’s Inferno image you may conjure in your mind as this is truly a frightening vision to behold as far as this game goes.

Well, this is unsettling. Time to fight the damned!

After running some of the pre-requisite quests (just the usual kill this, or gather that type of run) you get to pull off a “rescue” of King Anduin Wrynn. Looks like he got himself captured by the banshee queen Sylvanas Windrunner. In order to get to him you have to port up to the top of a rather ominous looking tower with spikes, chains, and death all over it.

Uh, guys. Are you sure we have to go across this crap to rescue the king?

So, the trip across the bridge o’ death was not too long, which is a good thing considering there is a lot of walking at this point in the beta. Right after you get across the bride you come across ol’ Sylvanas giving Anduin all sorts of hell. That kid has been through enough already, and Sylvanas needs to knock it off.

Okay, Sylvanas. Yes, we know you are evil….blah, blah, blah.

When playing through the remainder of the quests in The Maw you do have the help of a few recognizable NPC’s (say hi to Thrall and Jaina!) when wrapping up the starting area. It is an awesome sequence that, even though I mentioned the spoiler warning earlier in the article, I do not want to give a whole lot more away. The story is just too good, and I want my fellow geeks to enjoy it!

It was really cool seeing this beginning portion of the new content, but to be honest I was tired of being stuck in their version of hell. I wanted to see the other areas that were talked about in the early articles from Blizzard on the expansion. Just when I thought all was lost I got out of there in short order! So, I bid the denizens of this part of the underworld a fond farewell and made my way to Oribos!

It’s been fun Helya, but I am outta hurrrrrr!

After a short sequence (yet to be added to the game at this point in the beta) we are introduced to a more pleasant area of the Shadowlands. The city of Oribos will be our true starting point in the realm of the dead as we make our way back into the Maw, where the endgame content is along (along with the leaders of the Alliance and possibly the Horde).

Why does this remind me of Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey just a bit?

During this rather short sequence you are introduced to the areas of the city where you can do the basics like buy crap, repair your gear, and visit the bank to drop off some loot. One thing I did find interesting is the main vault was linked to raids, pvp and mythic dungeons. It allows you to select a reward once per week, and I am curious to see what kind of gear you can get from meeting the goals for the achievements on each tab.

This looks interesting. What kind of crap can I get for my toon, Blizzard?

Now that we have made friends with this area of the Shadowlands it’s off to the Blizzard version of heaven. Bastion, here I come!

Sweet! I get to ride on a what-ever-the-hell this is.

While en route to my destination I was curious to see what the new map looks like now with the addition of the Shadowlands, and it looks pretty basic. No real surprises there, but you can take a gander at it below.

Yup, it’s a map.

It does show the other areas that you get to visit: Bastion (where all the good souls go), Ardenweald (think heaven for all the magical creatures), Maldraxus (full of undead stuff) and Revendreth (full of vampiric people). Not sure when you get to visit the other areas, but I am sure it will be fun to explore each realm once you get there.

Once landed you are now in the Vestibule of Eternity in Bastion, and it looks like they were not expecting any new arrivals (not to mention mortals) at all. That’s fine though as it makes for fun interactions with all the “leaders” of this area.

They seemed a little scared when I arrived.

I do not want to spoil much more, but needless to say Bastion has its own troubles as a cross-section of their “angels” have fallen to ideals not in line with their “purpose”. You will see some familiar faces from past expansions, and while the reason for them being there has not been revealed just yet, I am confident there will be some juicy bits to tie into other story arcs in the near future.

That dude up there is one of the fallen. Where have I heard this story before?

And there we have it! My first little foray into Shadowlands! What did you guys think? Will Blizzard be able to keep the cash cow going or should they look at hanging it up to put this game to rest? Le us know in the comments below!

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