Tuesday, 8 September 2020



The release of World of Warcraft: Shadowlands is by far the big event of 2020. The new addition promises to be a reason for the return of veterans and significantly lower the entry threshold for newcomers. At the suggestion of SoftClub, we personally tested it thanks to the open beta test. And now we are ready to tell you what the extension is and how it copes with the tasks.

The collection of pre-orders for Shadowlands is now open!

What's up with WoW?

Last year, World of Warcraft celebrated its 15th birthday, an impressive number for a video game. She survived many clones, and dozens of competitors, and a heap of her own "killers". Gamers saw their beloved world from a new perspective (instead of a strategic top view in WoW, familiar objects became available close up), fought Illidan in Outland, and ruined the plans of Arthas Menethil, who woke up from a five-year dream of the Lich King.

For the first six years, the game received useful functions, such as automatic dungeon search, acquired new continents, and increased the number of subscribers. And then Cataclysm hit. It was he who changed World of Warcraft forever. Blizzard updated locations on two starting continents and allowed to fly everywhere, not just in Outland and Northrend, as it was before. No one else had to run long hours of marathons around the world on foot. Besides, mounts became more accessible, and over time, their presence in the hero ceased to be something elite.

The approach to presenting history has also changed. Taking a course for epic cut-scenes in Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm took the production to the next level, and then only more.

The history of "Military Craft" for seven full-fledged additions has more than once managed to make a circle and move far ahead of the events of the cult series of strategies. Greymaned masters of the 60th level, who were the elite in 2004, in 2020 from the height of the 120th level look like children who have barely tasted life. The threat of the Scourge from the North has become only a chapter in historical chronicles, and the current version of the game has undergone so many changes in graphics and gameplay mechanics that the current World of Warcraft and Classic are almost two different projects in similar scenery. So different than last year's launch of WoW Classicbecame a showcase event. Thousands of humans and orcs rushed to the servers, millions watched the launch on Twitch. The players recalled how difficult it was to gather groups with a simple shout in the general chat, how painful the mobs were to beat, and that even the Shatter could not be defeated without the right party.

After such a phenomenal launch of the classic, many wondered: what impact will the Classic have on the current version? It didn't take long for an answer.

Dark lands

The story of Shadowlands begins with a CGI preview video. In it, Sylvanas - the former leader of the Horde - defeats the current Lich King and opens a passage to the Dark Lands over Icecrown Citadel. In short, to the afterlife. The victory went to Sylvanas without significant efforts - she received her strength from a completely new villain in the Warcraft universe named Jailer. Who is he and what are his motives? This is what the heroes of Azeroth will find out.


To complicate matters, the Jailer's minions have kidnapped several faction leaders. Therefore, there is no time to wait and be at enmity - we rush straight into hell. Literally! His role is played by the Maw - the land, the ruler of which is the Jailer. Here he holds in fear the most sinful souls of all worlds, doomed to eternal suffering. But lately - not only them. It quickly becomes clear that the lord of hell, the Maw, has something unkind in mind and that not only the Dark Lands but all things are under threat.

For the first time in the Womb, we will not stay long, but we will have to visit it often. However, more on that later.

Although we find ourselves in the Dark Lands together with old acquaintances, very soon we will be left alone with the changes and new heroes in an alien world.

Picture, training, and flattening

The first significant overhaul awaits players already in the character creation editor. Its capabilities have significantly expanded - we have added many new models and options for customizing the appearance, allowing you to sculpt a hero to your taste. Ever wanted to play as a bald warrior with colorful eyes? Yes, please!

At the same time, Blizzard did not forget to tweak the visual part again. Of course, WoW remains friendly to configurations of any level, and ray-traced shadows have been introduced for owners of powerful video cards.

We all also remember that with each expansion Blizzard has increased the maximum level of the character. But not at this time. Now beginners will not have to go through irrelevant content for a set of 120th level - those who have already reached it will receive 50th, and 10 more have to be pumped up in the Dark Lands.

Also, we are waiting for a completely new starting location, common for the Alliance and the Horde. Those who have already started a good hundred times by beating kobolds can breathe out - now this is a separate plot chapter, during which the player learns about the features of his class, kills the elite boss-bear, and at the end will find himself in a solo dungeon, where he will defeat the dragon.

The character leaves the starting location at level 10, acquires a mount, and receives an invitation to an audience with the faction leader. From this point on, Blizzard offers to immediately plunge into the Battle for Azeroth expansion, which closed and, in a sense, relaunched the history of WoW. Fortunately, the experience, the level of mobs in the locations, and the requirements for entering are adjusted to suit you.

The adjustment system applies to the locations of all add-ons at once, not just the Battle for Azeroth . If you really want to, you can go to Chromie and ask her to take you back in time to the beginning of any of the add-ons and swing there. Did you miss Arthas? Two clicks and off to Northrend.

Darklands Covenant

In the Dark Lands, players will have to visit the new capital - Oribos, as well as five locations. Recall that a Womb is a place of endless suffering for souls that cannot be corrected. They float here like a real river, and their number only strengthens the Jailer.

Revendret is a slightly nicer place. This "circle of hell" is run by the vents - creatures similar to vampires who save the souls that fall to them from arrogance. However, it seems that the rulers of these lands themselves were imbued with what they fought with - they behave like aristocrats, prefer the Gothic style in everything, and unleashed the struggle of great houses for power.

Maldraxus is the place where the filth originated in the universe. It is ruled by necrolords who live in ruins among rivers of blood and bone. They hold only strength in esteem, so the most ambitious and warlike go straight to them. And the necrolords experiment with the poor fellows and find out who is the strongest in gladiatorial battles.

And if the Maw, Revendreth, and Maldraxus can still be called the circles of hell, then Ardenweald and Bastion will not work. In the first, the nocturnal people rule, living in dense thickets of forests and caring for the spirits of nature. In the second, everything obeys the Kyrians - the most reborn noble souls who faithfully served the light during their lifetime. Their duty is to ferry the dead from their homeworlds to the Arbiter's trial in Oribos. It was they who always resurrected our fallen heroes, waiting for them in the cemeteries.

And finally, Oribos is the most ordinary capital, with the usual bank, tavern, artisans, and flight master.

In all these worlds there are problems with the anima, the life force that languishes in everything. Mechanisms and magic do not work without it and rulers go crazy.

After completing a dozen quest chains in all locations and getting to know their population, the player will be able to join one of the covenants - and this choice is very important. Each has its own story chapters, key characters, as well as unique skills that open to the user. Having made a choice, it is no longer possible to change it.

All covenants must muster the strength to resist the Jailer, so once you join the Kiri, Vent, Necrolord, or Night Folk, you will be given the leadership of the abode. In fact, this is the reincarnation of the garrison micromanagement mechanic that appeared back in Warlords of Draenor. Players will have to collect anima in the storage, improve the abode, and also send recruits on adventures for money and other rewards.

In addition, it is necessary to establish a connection between souls with a medium - a representative of the covenant, and then he will definitely share part of his power. And the more famous you are, the more you will strengthen this bond, receiving more bonuses to defense, movement speed, or other characteristics. In total, there are three such characters available for each covenant, but they open only after passing certain chapters.

The worlds of the "afterlife" look very familiar. Despite the fact that we left our native Azeroth, in the Dark Lands, hardly anyone will feel like an outsider. Yes, everyone here does not care what and whom you have been saving for the last 15 years - you are known only for being in the Womb in the flesh, and you could even get out. But in fact, this is still the same world - with the usual architecture, quests, and creatures with familiar psychology.

Womb and Torgast

Much fresher than all other locations and abodes are the Womb - a bizarre endgame zone. After choosing a covenant, players will have to return here for the innocent souls imprisoned by the Jailer.

The villain leaves nothing uncontrollable in his domain. Therefore, your actions attract his attention. The situation is aggravated by the fact that you can move around the Womb only on foot, and there is only one way out of here. Therefore, the further you wander, the more difficult it is to get out. The jailer will in every possible way interfere with your progress, the collection of resources, and the hunt for evil demons, the quests to kill which are issued automatically.


There are five levels of "wanted", and the higher, the more difficult it is to survive. At first, previously neutral creatures can take up arms against you, then the villain will approach a squad of murderers and begin to beat with painful spells. At the last level of danger, the hero begins to lose life points at all and can only be saved by fleeing from the Womb in order to return in a day. Fortunately, the Jailer has enough worries to forget about the next troublemaker.

By completing quests and killing mobs, players will collect Stygia - one of the types of currency. It can be exchanged right in the Womb with the only friendly NPC for useful effects or pets. When you die, you will lose part of the accumulated stigia and can only take it back if you return to the place of death.

Experimenting with wanted levels and loss of Blizzard stigia did not stop and entered the roguelike dungeon Torgast.

Torgast is a tower whose floors change with each visit. The higher you climbed, the more powerful the opponents and the more cunning the traps, the more intricate the layout and the more valuable the rewards. However, with each passed stage, the player can also be strengthened, gaining anima abilities, which are collected in combination. "Spells" can be found, knocked out of enemies, and bought for a currency exclusive to Torgast - fantasy. Dying, the heroes will attract the attention of the monster Tarragra. This undefeated tower defender will move from the beginning of the level to the next level until the players leave it or until Tarragra kills everyone. In case of death at his hands, the race will end and the tower will have to be left.

It seems to me that going there with strangers is a rather risky business - in constantly changing conditions it would be good to have a well-coordinated team. Yes, and Torgast is not in the group search menu.

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