Dragonflight, the newest World of Warcraft expansion, has been out three months now. Here are some initial opinions.
Let’s get the negatives out of the way first:
- The world quest cycle seems too slow. Way too slow!
- The climbing-related world quests seem to have inordinately many glitches. (I stopped doing them for quite a while, in fact.)
- Playing Horde and Alliance together outside of dungeons as well seems to have been enabled (at least for world quests) even before Dragonflight launched properly. Yay!
- It’s so nice that the Horde don’t continue to embody only awful-looking designs. In the earlier expansions—speaking very roughly, of course—Alliance areas and characters looked normal and nice, whereas Horde ones were full of spikes and angst. In the past Blizzard has introduced nods in the direction of changing it (Blood Elves, Pandaren, Vulpera), but then they eventually slide back to the dark/awful-pretty/shiny divide (e.g. Maldraxxus and Revendreth vs. Bastion and Ardenweald in Shadowlands).
- Dragonriding (which I’ve started to call gliding as opposed to flying with regular flying mounts) is fun!
- The druid pink paw buff is back—hooray! I’ve so missed having Mark of the Wild.
- Among the background sounds, there are chickadees! While they’re nothing I grew up with, they’re nevertheless similar enough to some childhood favorite birds that I appreciate having them. (As a rule, I also appreciate including actual northern biomes into any story. There’s little enough of the real north in mainstream media that isn’t ridiculously exaggerated—seriously, it sounds like people think we live on the planet Hoth from the Star Wars universe.)
- I’d like to retain player choice with regard to dungeons: that, like Torghast, you can choose to faceroll or challenge yourself. However, I’d also like to get actual loot reliably, like a normal dungeon. (Haven’t been in one yet due to life getting in the way.)
- Taking into account the story, environment and sound design, talents and professions plus the mechanics thereof, and the personal gaming experience (as nebulous as that can be), I’d say Dragonflight is the best WoW expansion so far.
I really only have one negative, so I’ll get it out of the way up front.
- I didn’t like dragonriding at first. I really didn’t like dragonriding. I was physically cringing every time I had to do it. Figuring out how to turn off the screen-distorting effects at high speed made a big difference, though, and now I can use it just fine. I still don’t enjoy it, though. It’s useful if you’re starting somewhere high up and want to go somewhere far away and lower down (and you don’t care very much about where exactly you land) but otherwise I miss the reliability, pausability, and accuracy of regular flying. If we get regular flying later in the expansion, which I hope we do, I’m just going back to my old flying mounts and won’t touch dragonriding again.
Now, on to the positives.
- What beautiful environments! I have a hard time picking out a favorite zone, but Azure Span delights me every time I go there. Unlike Maldraxxus and Revendreth in Shadowlands or Drustvar in Battle for Azeroth, there’s nowhere in Dragonflight that I don’t enjoy spending time in.
- I’m really enjoying the new talent system. It probably still needs some tweaking, but I like being able to make choices that really affect how I play my characters.
- I hope that Blizzard continues on the path laid out in Dragonflight for Alliance-Horde relations. It is a relief to finally have an expansion where it just doesn’t feel like it matters what faction you play. Now if they would continue this to let Horde and Alliance characters communicate, group up, and play every part of the game together, that would be great.
- This one is a little harder to define, but quests feels more meaningful this expansion. It feels as though we are addressing real problems, not cleaning up after someone else’s emotional tantrum, which describes too much of Shadowlands. I rarely get to the end of a questline in Dragonflight and think to myself: “This could all have been avoided if some people had just gotten around a table and talked to each other.”
- I still don’t quite feel like I have a handle on the new crafting systems, and there are aspects that I don’t like (like having to be near a designated crafting table to make a lot of recipes), but I enjoy the fact that crafting is now more complicated, and I can specialize different characters in different aspects of the same profession.
Anything else come to mind that we didn’t think of? Please share in the comments!
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