World of Warcraft: Shadowlands

Shadowlands, the newest expansion for World of Warcraft, released on November 23 at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. On November 24, at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, I finally put it down for the first time.

To be fair, I was raising money for my personal Extra Life stream, but that was only supposed to last for 24 hours; I kept playing after the stream had finished. Don’t worry; I was responsible and hit the hay when it became clear I 100% needed to sleep. Once I was well rested, though? It was time to play more.

Does that mean Shadowlands is just that good? Not necessarily; it’s impossible to judge the quality of any MMORPG expansion this soon after launch, even with 26 hours of playtime. What it does mean is that I’m willing to keep playing until I practically pass out at my desk.

It’s important to note that the initial moments after a WoW expansion launch are usually some of its best. Everyone is excited about new content, new experiences, and a bright, new future. Therefore, it’s important to judge the opening week of Shadowlands not by the adrenaline and serotonin high of the first 24 hours after launch, but how it’s been for the entire week afterwards.

That said, how has Shadowlands been in the expansion’s first week? Well, for starters, I’m playing as I’m typing this article.

World of Warcraft: Shadowlands

World of Warcraft: Shadowlands isn’t going to re-invent any wheels for the genre, but it never needed to. At minimum, goal number one for the expansion was to right the ship after the poor reception of Battle for Azeroth. So far, mission accomplished.

Now, this seems silly to say, especially since it’s way too early to determine how Shadowlands will be remembered down the road. However, we already have one viable metric that can be used to compare Shadowlands against Battle for Azeroth: There’s currently no sense of dread and despair from an overwhelming amount of “required” content, as there was in Battle for Azeroth. Sure, there’s a decent amount of daily quests, world quests, missions, dungeons, campaign missions, Torghast tower runs, and more. Yet none of it feels overbearing; there’s an end in sight for all of these things, and many friends of mine hit that end very quickly. In fact, they’re already working on leveling alts!

The lack of an overbearing progress grind is a complete breath of fresh air. There’s no obligation to do X, Y, and Z at the cost of our enjoyment of the game anymore. Instead, we can have fun doing what we’d like instead of crossing off chores from a list. I’m actually sitting down to type this article right now because I’ve completed my tasks for the week. I have time to enjoy myself outside the game without the fear of feeling left behind when I decide to log back in.

Yet I also want to keep playing simply because I’m enjoying things that much.

World of Warcraft: Shadowlands

There’s a lot to talk about in terms of what Shadowlands has to offer currently: questing storylines, Torghast, dungeons and Mythics, progression systems, and so on — and that’s all before the Castle Nathria raid launches in December. Expect my thoughts on all those, and possibly more, within the next week.

For now, I can say that after playing Shadowlands for 26 hours straight, I wanted to come back and play some more. If nothing else, that’s a testament to the expansion’s early-game playability, which means things are once again looking bright for the future of World of Warcraft.

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