WORLD OF WARCRAFT: DRAGONFLIGHT REVIEW

World of warcraft: dragonflight review

What is it? 

It is the latest expansion to the most significant MMORPG of all time.

Expect to pay: $50

Developer: Blizzard

Publisher: Activision Blizzard

Reviewed on: Windows 10, Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Super, 16 GB RAM, Intel Core i7-9700

Multiplayer? You could say that, yes.

It is strange to play a version of World of Warcraft by which the laws of physics are actually obeyed. When my dragon swoops downwards through the snowy peaks of the Azure Span and slowly builds up momentum until Azeroth itself seems to be fading from my periphery. When I pull the reins up, the wyrm obeys, and suddenly we are soaring over the Isles at speeds that were once unheard of in this ancient MMO. 

For Dragonflight, Blizzard has been focusing much of its attention on reworking outmoded and atrophying systems, along with sprucing up some of the gameplay trappings that were left to rot back in 2004.

WORLD OF WARCRAFT
WORLD OF WARCRAFT

The Dragon Isles, serving as the setting for Dragonflight, are distinctly returning to bright high-fantasy. No, the established Warcraft 3-era precepts are not gratuitously being retconned by Blizzard for a cynical shot of nostalgia. Instead, the Alliance and Horde have settled into a truce to jointly explore ancestral land of the immortal dragonkin, after a sizable time skip within the overarching WoW chronology.

Clearly, recapturing the childlike Tolkein-ish sublimity of a blank map and buried treasure is being aimed by Blizzard. They are focusing on dragons and all of their hoards rather than the high-concept crucible of heaven and hell.

TO THE SKIES

“WoW is asking us to be dexterous with our mouse. I never thought I’d see the day.”

The first race/class combo of WoW is a marquee new feature. The Dracthy are pitched as an ancient race of humanoid dragonfolk that have been awakened alongside the rediscovery of the Dragon Isles. The Evoker is the only class they can play as. Depending on where you slot your talents, they can opt for a healing or a DPS build. As the name implies, Evokers call upon the primal energies of their brood for delivering massive payloads of damage, with abilities that are often borrowed from all the famous dragon battles we have endured in the history of Warcraft. WoW’s ageing combat system is not fundamentally required by The Evoker. The abilities popping up on your toolbar do empower player agency a bit more.

At last, some of the considerations once exclusive to the PvP modes of Warcraft such as positioning, hand-eye-coordination, are being emphasised in the levelling experience of the game. The bones of WoW are made of dice rolls and plodding auto-attacks, but in Dragonflight, it has been proved by Blizzard that they’ve found a bit more wiggle room in those staid parameters which is a way to keep us active during our daily quests’ latest slate.

You will also get your first dragon-riding mount very early into the campaign of expansion, which, from previous expansions, is a radical departure. The studio was allowed by this to be far more varied in the geographic layout of the Dragon Isles than it was during Shadowlands, Legion and Battle for Azeroth. This continent, that is studded with citadels, nestled in massive mountain chains; the linchpin fortress on the islands, Tyrhold, brings to mind the Solitude of Skyrim for its splendorous inaccessibility. You will have to master the skies for experiencing Dragonflight in the way it is intended. The best part of the game unlocking more dragon riding abilities via tokens that are hidden in hard-to-reach places around the map. It is a Banjo-Kazooie collect-a-thon in the middle of a WoW expansion. I have no other choice than adoring the audacity.

Rebirth

“If WoW’s trend toward idle-game automation has turned you off in the past, you won’t find what you’re looking for on the Dragon Isles.”

The other modernizations of Dragonflight are much more grounded. At long last, Blizzard has returned a traditional talent tree to WoW and has done away with the uber-simplified three-pronged scheme that was introduced back in Mists of Pandaria. It has also given us a revamped mini-map, and action frames which are fully customisable. All of these borrow heavily from the sort of mods people used to augment their WoW client since its very inception. However, Blizzard has your back, if you are the sort of gamer who is way more interested in staring at your damage integers and cooldown timers instead of the action on screen.

Blizzard has rebuilt its professions tab from the ground up completely, which might be the single most overdue revamp in the long history of the game. Now, if you’re skinning, or mining or brewing up potions, you will have to navigate a number of statistical gullies, like “multicraft,” or “inspiration” that affect your yields. The tableau also includes talent thresholds, distinct specialisation tracks, talent thresholds, and best of all, profession-specific gear, which allows for far more nuance and creativity.

The dichotomy is strange. Dragonflight is beautiful and all sorts of wild new ideas for the MMO are packed in it. Players don’t need to read the stats on their gear anymore. Everything on the Isles has an item level that is listed right below its name. If it’s higher than whatever the players are currently wearing, they can right click it, and their damage level increases by an imperceptible degree.

I’ve made peace with the fact that modern WoW will never be able to replicate the thrills of Azeroth. But if you still play this MMO after two decades, an expansion like Dragonflight can only be a tad bittersweet.

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