Well it’s finally fricken here and it’s so brilliant that I’m going to have to restrain myself from gushing about it for the next few hundred words. I’d hoped to reach level 110 before writing this blog post but as I type these words, I’m currently sitting in The Dreamgrove at a very disappointing level 109 and a half, with only half of Stormheim left to do.
The class order halls were probably one of my personally most anticipated features of the expansion, and I’m still yet to explore any of the classes outside of my main, my druid. But as far as the druid class order hall goes, it’s beautiful. We always had a bit of a private druid dance party club in the form of Moonglade, but one of the first class quests you’ll get pretty much sends you there to open a portal to your order hall, which is greener, druidier, and substantially HDer. The class specific quests have been good so far and whilst the mission table is an initially alarming reminder of Warlords of Draenor (and everything it did wrong), there’s actually far less to do on it. It’s more of a side project than a base of operations.
Profession quests are in, and they tie in very well with the open world gameplay – provided you pick them up at the right time. I’ve had some quests that go hand-in-hand with the zone’s quests and can be completed side-by-side, but there’s others that have sent me off to kill dudes that I’d already killed a few hours prior, and the drop rates on those quest items kinda need an accompanying quest tied into the same mobs to stop you from going crazy. This is an inevitability of non-linear zone levelling, though, and might be something that they fix in the future.
I can’t speak for the majority of Artifact weapons, but my Scythe of Elune is sitting comfortably on my back and I’m a big fan of the systems that come along with it. Of course, putting points into arbitrary power increases could have been baked into simply levelling up your character or acquiring new gear, and the same can be said for the abilities that you unlock through them too. But a new method of progression and power acquisition is hardly something to be faulted. As far as the common criticism about sharing a room with 50 people that all have that one legendary Scythe of Elune (or Doomhammer, or Ashbringer)… well, the criticism has merit, but I don’t feel like I’m wielding some legendary weapon as much as I’m simply in possession of a staff that everyone else has. And whilst it is jarring to run into so many Ashbringer-wielding paladins in the world, this effect will lessen as time goes on and players unlock more customisation options… or simply get sick of looking at it and transmog out of it.
As for the core gameplay… well, that comes in two parts. The first part is the questing, and whilst storytelling is at an all-time high (especially in Val’Sharah and Azsuna), it’s still the same old combination of kill these, collect that, interact with these 6 objects and return to me, with a few vehicle quests thrown in there for crazy hijinks. That’s not to say that the expansion isn’t littered with more unique quests, but there’s certainly a fair share of your copy / paste kobold adventures from level 1.
Balance Druid, as a specialisation, is wonderful. In Warlords of Draenor, it was an ugly mess of watching the UI and having your DPS mess up the second you break out of casting to avoid something. Now, I’m in control of what I cast, when I cast it. And the main artifact ability lets you drop freakin’ moons on people, so that’s cool.
I’ve not dedicated much time to discussing dungeons, but that’s because I’ve only done three of them so far – Darkheart Thicket, Eye of Azshara and Neltharion’s Lair, in that order. What I can say is that they’ve all upheld a unique theme, enjoyable boss mechanics and so far, I have no qualms with the prospect of revisiting them several times over the course of the expansion.
There’s plenty left to do. I may have to dedicate an entire blog post to post 110 content, such as world quests, raids (when they come out), the continuation of order hall related activities and more. Whether this will be a regular or a bonus blog post rests purely on whether I play anything other than WoW in the meantime!