On to the announced gameplay features and my opinion about them.
Leveling 50-60 in Shadowlands and Covenants
Apparently Blizzard is back to linear leveling, opposed to Legion and BfA routines. On our main, we will get to see the stories of all the Covenants, and make a calculated choice of one of them which we like most.
Covenant choices will be based on lore, cosmetic and minor gameplay awards – again, which we like most. You cannot use the others once you choose a Covenant, as well as you will have to say farewell to the current perks if you decide to change it. An extra campaign is thrown in the fold too, so naturally I’m going to all four on my alts. This new lore option is a nerf from 12 Legion’s class storylines (which no one complained about) but a tweak up from 2 BfA’s faction storylines (which everyone did not like for reasons unknown).
For a Covenant, you’ll get an extra button much like we have now with necklaces. Of course some of the players will set off to calculating “BiS” buttons, but in my case the choice will be tied to a character fantasy. For example, my paladin Anibell will go for Bastion, druid Jammu will be playing with Night Fae, warrior Gorgul goes for Maldraxxus, and demon hunter Melaris will explore the darkness of Revendreth.
It is uncertain how the announced “alt-friendliness” works. Once we walk through the story once, alts may immediately choose a Covenant, but they will have to level 50-60 nevertheless? We shall see.
This is huge, because we will have new and unique starting leveling experience, tied to current expansion. If you’ve never played WoW before, it’s only Exile’s Reach island, but on alts it’s either a classic starting zone or Exile’s Reach as well.
This is also huge, because leveling experience will be cut to 60-70% faster from what it is now, and an leveling expansion of choice will be available via Chromie. It’s a long-awaited leveling nerf, good for current alt-players and new players both. I wonder how dungeon leveling will work? Anyways, they’re keeping all the content for revisiting, and also make it fast to catch-up, be it a brand-new vulpera, an 11th shaman, or a friend which finally wants to join you for the journey.
One restriction here: a completely new player will have to level 10-50 in BfA to get a link to the current expansion.
Legendaries are back, and random is not. There will be a full system of creating and customizing gear according to your needs. If only they learned from the crafting mistakes! What I need is:
- Getting enough mats for crafting without insane grind of top-difficulty content (see crafting in BfA) – by just playing the game.
- In any case, entry ilvl for at least LFR should be achieved without them.
Not much, but these are important wishes.
Tower of Torghast
Blizzard is quite bold by introducing this feature, and as a central one, for expansion end gameplay. The system is a scenario based for groups 1 to 5, much like Horrific Visions. Granted that we did not see it yet, they must be pretty sure that it will fly high upon release. Or maybe they will have time to implement vital changes considering how players will play the said 8.3. Visions.
Anyways, it’s the place where we go for the endgame upgrades, and it’s good that they try to offer someting completely new – hopefully nothing like the infamous island expeditions which went into trash bin for me after a couple of tries.
Anima Instead of Artifact Grind
Looks like a mild cap for now. Announced as easy to catch up if you just play the game, and extra anima will be converted to utility or cosmetic awards. Also, required only as a perk for Torghast the Tower.
Blizzard finally address all the changes they’ve made after Pandaria and bring forward class over spec. I can’t say whether it is good or bad. I like that when I’m playing my frost mage, I don’t have any fire spells, and imo classes and specs in general are in a good spot now (mostly – hunters and shadow priests, I hear and feel you!). My only wish is that adding a shadow spell on my holy priest or a fire spell on my mage will not feel like an obligatory addition to the rotation. If arcane blast will be my old-raid trash option, or fire blast as just an aggro spell, we’re good.
Now that’s one of the most desired things that is devastatingly back in time now! New haircuts, tattoos, faces, skin colors and what not is most welcome – say, Mag’har hair options can’t be compared to green Orcs! Bring it on – in shovels, the more the better.
All in all the new expansion looks like a work on mistakes – and ignored issues too. I only wish it plays out in favor of everybody, like Legion solved many Draenor’s problems. We shall see about that, but I have very high hopes.