World of Warcraft: Shadowlands
Top Critic Average
A far-out new expansion and major levelling revamp see Blizzard's veteran online world riding a new wave of popularity.
Shadowlands offers some great new characters and stories, alongside the most compelling max level experience WoW has had in many years.
Ambitious but uneven, Shadowlands is an exciting evolution of World of Warcraft.
So far Shadowlands does not disappoint, with the question of which of the four covenants to soul-bind to being a particularly tricky one, as you get to grips with the endgame content of world quests and dailies. Shadowlands is reminiscent of aspects from earlier expansions, such as Wrath Of The Lich King (even including the grind), but it has a style all of its own and a good sense of momentum that, so far at least, makes it great fun to play.
Shadowlands adds some daring elements into the mix while also retaining many of the same hooks that have kept the MMO going over the years
Shadowlands doesn’t do everything perfectly. The questing experience doesn’t feel as fluid in as previous expansions, and the quests aren’t as diverse. And it’s still too early to see how good the endgame content and updates will be. But even with the limited time I’m willing to put into Shadowlands, I’ll actually be able to play that endgame content as it comes out. And as my real life just gets more complicated the older I get, I couldn’t ask for a better shift in philosophy from my favorite MMO.
World of Warcraft: Shadowlands hasn't quite wowed me in the way that Legion did, but it's an improvement upon many concepts from Battle for Azeroth. There's a clearer story that seems to have more embedded bones, with a more pronounced set of zones that stand on their own. As always long-term support remains to be seen, but for now, WoW is still one of the best MMOs out there.
Shadowlands is an appropriate expansion in many ways, but between merits and novelties stand out a masterful audio-visual system and a fun worthy of the golden days. It doesn't revolutionize anything, but it reshapes the progression system with intelligence to rejuvenate an evergreen like World of Warcraft.
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Post-launch support will ultimately determine Shadowlands' fate, but as it currently stands World of Warcraft: Shadowlands is a fantastic expansion that once again proves why Blizzard's 16 year old juggernaut remains the king of the MMORPG genre. While we may be touring Azeroth's afterlife ourselves, it's clear World of Warcraft won't be sauntered off into the great beyond any time soon.
Blizzard clearly learned from the mistakes from Battle for Azeroth's endgame launch state, injecting piles of content that actually contribute to player power in meaningful ways. On the one hand, the time gating on the story elements is irritating, but it's not like most players will find themselves short of things to do. Shadowlands has some of the most stunning art in the game's lengthy history, and the cinematic treatment represents a step up for the studio. Despite balance issues, Shadowlands may end up among the likes of Legion and The Burning Crusade as one of the game's best expansions to date.