*the author of this blog starts Shadowlands with 22 characters (11 Alliance / 11 Horde) and intends to guide them throughout expansion on the same level.
The path that Blizzard went with alts and session, less time consuming gameplay is really, really amazing.
I logged in with Micromantica (already ready for raid) on the first reset day, and I’ve completed all weekly duties in about 3-4 hours, including Covenant and major campaign lore updates, Torghast, weekly quests and all. Now she can be just parked for 3 days without any worries! During the very same day I was able to do the same for another alt – Schlitzchen the Maldraxxus Shaman. She’s not off the grid for the week with her feeble 158 ilvl (more dungeon grind for raid), but imagine when we have reputations maxed, and ilvl is sufficient for the raid? You will not even need to clear emissaries, because their reward is frankly gold and reputation, period.
There are plenty of options too if you have spare time. There is a vast number of transmogs, mounts, and everything that comes from Covenants – but there is absolutely no rush, and it’s designed to be lengthy. We see the end of the tunnel, we see the means to get there, but you are not allowed – and cannot – grind it in one sit.
Pay daily attention to your Anima Conductor. Completing the new perks in the enhanced locations (like rares, treasures, events) gives you currency that you will need to purchase your cosmetic Covenant goods – and in big amounts. If you use the conductor every day, in 10 days you will be able to permanently enhance the current to one of the spots. For example, now I have a permanent Ardenweald theater, so I can come there every day to kill a boss and receive my currency, but also invest daily in the second spot – which unlocks a treasure flower pod with currency and anima reward. In 10 days, both spots will be permanent, and I will get access to both of them daily without investing anima or attention. It does not matter where you direct the current daily – you will pick the permanent spot once you have 10 points. Upgrading conductor gives access to extra spots, so eventually the flow will provide significant currency income.
Right, so back to alts. One of the great things that also encourages playing alts is vital things unlocked per account. For example, all Torghast/Maw perks you buy from Ven’ari are unlocked for every alt, so latecomers will have an easier time in the Maw and Torghast! You will not have to grind reputation and stygia with her on alts, so basically Maw gameplay on alts will be reduced to a quick renown/story quest, and probably (if you wish so) completing a cross-swords event for a nice gear chance.
The other thing that struck me was when I got a non-class-specific legendary power Echo of Eonar.
Long story short, these powers unlock for account, not character. I don’t even remember which alt got this one, but all three cap-level alts are now able to use it for legendary! Well, it makes sense lorewise, as it is Runecarver that “remembers” these perks and actually crafts the orange thingies.
Of course the best powers are designed for class and specs. But think about this: I have class doubles almost for every class. And once your first alt got all the drops, it renders grind for the second one unnecessary! My Micromantica, albeit Frost, has now earned perks for Frost, Fire, Arcane, a general mage meta perk and an all-class perk options. Whenever I level a second mage – Fire or Arcane gal, this new character will already have everything she needs to cobble up a legendary.
I wonder how many discoveries like this await us further? I wonder if Blizzard listened to players and/or analyzed its core subscribers age/IRL responsibilities, but the current game design is really drastically reducing the daily/weekly gameplay time, allowing us to get busy with an army of alts, other games, or IRL duties without feeling that you’re falling behind, while at the same time providing content for main character for a very long period with very transparent goals and means to keep us subscribed and not burned out. 3-10 hours per week on your main is definitely not a lot – and yet it takes you a long way in the long run.
Now I see that I would definitely forgive the lengthier world quests, initial dungeon grinds and much hated Torghast.