|Game||World Of Warcraft: Dragonflight|
|Platforms||Microsoft Windows, macOS|
Even though in the latest add-ons to the immortal World of Warcraft there were bright ideas and sometimes interesting story arcs, in general, it must be recognized that Blizzard has driven itself step by step into a dead end, gradually distorting and rewriting the game lore for the sake of epic events. Long-known villains resurrected, returned from the past, and parallel universes, the Legion came again, and another leader of the Horde lost his mind and started a bloody war. The story went in a circle, which the screenwriters couldn’t break, until Shadowlands. The story told in this supplement can be treated differently, but hardly anyone will argue with the fact that in terms of epicness, there was simply no chance to raise the stakes. Well, unless there is some reason to go blow up the entire Pantheon of Titans, after which World of Warcraft can simply be closed. The screenwriters obviously understand this as well, so they decided to take a break and go back to the roots, which makes Dragonflight seem very leisurely and somehow a little chamber at the start. Again we see the usual high fantasy with a rather banal new race, fabulous scenery, and understandable and even shallow threats.
The place of action this time is the Dragon Islands, where, you won’t believe it, dragons live. Dragons are everywhere: merchants and waiters, bankers and cultists, former Aspects in the dragon tower of the dragon capital, dragons, drakonids and dracthyrs (a new subspecies once created and then forgotten for twenty thousand years, by Neltharion the Deathwing) run, fly, and leisurely walk the streets. Even the main villains are dragons, even primitive ones. The first threat will be Raszageth the Storm-Eater, who has long had a grudge against the Aspects, particularly Alexstrasza. The former Aspects, of course, with their entire dragon council, are no match for one hapless proto-dragon woman who looks like my old Wrath of the Lich King transport on steroids, so heroes of Azeroth, your star time has come. Again. And who would have thought that after defeating Raszageth other Primal Incarnates (read the proto-dragons of Fire, Earth, and Ice) would be released, who you also have to fight.
If it seemed to you that I was skeptical about the plot of the new addition, then you were not wrong, at best it’s the level of location tasks somewhere around level 30 in the vanilla World of Warcraft – unexpectedly, some crazy dragon without a clear backstory jumped out, and now you need it to kill it, and among other things to help the Aspects regain their strength. Only with the latter you will not succeed immediately, because otherwise the story arc will end before it begins, and we need to stretch this content for at least another year. In terms of plot, Dragonflight is not the worst thing that could have happened to World of Warcraft, but it is far from the best, so far everything looks like a prologue to some new story and it is not at all clear whether anything interesting will come of it.
However, where the main plot is stalling, the side quests flourish. There are great quests related to the pilgrimage of the centaur clans to their sacred lands, you will have to bring to their senses a druid mourning the death of Ysera, help an artist paint a picture, save a spa complex, or just sit next to an old dragon who spent ten thousand years outside of the home and now does not recognize anything around. The latter, by the way, is one of the most emotional quests in World of Warcraft, even though you do not have to do anything at all, except contemplate the valley below and listen. Unfortunately, even the side quests are exhausted quite quickly, and we go to the usual routine of daily activities and quests – fishing, hunting with centaurs, world bosses, helping the black dragon clan, and so on. Moreover, after the release of the add-on, players noticed that there were no “daily” tasks in the game, instead, we had quests that had to be completed twice a week. A great innovation actually, because you weren’t forced to go into the game every day and grind until you lost your pulse, turning it into a second job. Players liked this approach so much that when Blizzard tried to bring back daily quests, the community rebelled and things stayed as they were, at least for now.
But let’s talk about the usual things, you already know what to do with these tasks, dungeons, raids, and everything else, let’s move on to something new. The first thing that will catch your eye is the redesigned user interface, which has been slightly unloaded and modernized, thus bringing it closer to the look that players used to get with the help of modifications. Not bad, but the main innovations are the third heroic class of Evoker and the already mentioned new race of dracthyrs, who, like the Pandaren, can choose their faction. Moreover, so far only dractyrs can be evokers, and this is also the only class available to them.
Evoker is a medium and long-range combat mage or healer wearing chain mail armor. It feels a little unusual for WoW because here you can’t just squeeze the rotation until you lose your pulse: some spells need to be charged by holding the key and releasing it only at the right moment to inflict maximum damage. At the same time, the opponent can easily lose concentration and everything will have to be started from the beginning, and therefore you have to choose – to take risks for the sake of maximum efficiency, or to play more carefully. In battle, evokers look quite spectacular – they hover over opponents, burning them with fiery breath, spew fireballs or beams of pure energy from their mouths, can fly from place to place, grab one of the group members, throw enemies into the air with a blow of their tail, push them away flapping their wings and generally behave as befits dragons. For PvE, the class is quite interesting and not too difficult to master, and also useful for the group: it can give bloodlust, resurrect, heal others even in DPS specialization, and restore a little mana to a friendly healer with each use of a boosted spell. But in PvP, you will have to practice: the evoker does enough damage, is very mobile, heals well, and can also remove favorable magical effects from enemies, but the radius of its spells is not pleasing and it remains vulnerable to enemy magical attacks from a safe distance, and so he often found himself much closer to enemy melee fighters than I would have liked.
In almost every expansion, Blizzard reworks outdated mechanics to make players’ lives easier and more interesting. This time it’s the turn of the professions, and the changes here are quite large-scale: in addition to the updated interface and fresh recipes and ingredients, seriously revised mechanics await us. For example, crafts now have secondary stats: Inspiration, Resourcefulness, Multicraft, Finesse, Perception, and others, and they are responsible for the quality, speed, and efficiency of crafting new items and gathering ingredients. You can now both make more items with fewer ingredients and simply create a higher quality item than what is currently available to you. In addition, specializations appeared that not only increase secondary stats, but also open access to certain recipes. For example, to start producing high-level chainmail breastplates, a tanner must first specialize in the creation of chainmail, and then separately also in breastplates. At the same time, the specializations are not mutually exclusive, you can develop several in parallel, and over time master all of them, but it will take a lot of time.
By the way, about the level of items created by players: this is also an innovation, items are now divided into 5 levels by quality, and the result depends not only on how well your character has mastered a particular craft but also on the quality of components, final reagents (a new type of reagents, which strengthen the secondary stats of the profession at the time of item creation), the presence of professional equipment with bonuses to skills and specialization of the character. In theory, this was done so that low-level items would not lose relevance for longer, but in practice, it did not help much, most items, as before, depreciate almost instantly, after reaching the maximum level 70 and opening raid content, and only high-level epic craft and spenders remain relevant. The game also has an order system, a kind of auction for craftsmen, where other players can leave orders for the manufacture or improvement of items – a good alternative to spam in the trade chat, which, although it does not save from the same spam, allows you to automate the process of finding a blacksmith to create the shield you want.
In general, there are so many changes to the crafting system that they can be presented in a separate article, but let’s leave it for profile resources and limit ourselves to the fact that this is not a revolution, but a good fresh look at frankly outdated mechanics. Also, I would like to express my gratitude for the changes that have taken place with skinning – from now on, several characters can independently whiten prey if they participated in the kill, and you can also do it before the loot is collected from it.
Another big innovation is, of course, flying on dragons. Dear developers, is it possible to do this everywhere now, and not only on the Dragon Islands? Add a bit of physics and some specialized skills, and you have a completely new experience. Your mount now has an energy bar, and when it gets tired you’ll have to move around the ground for a while, and collisions with trees and terrain elements work a bit wonky, but it feels like you’re flying. Even dragon racing was added to the game and, I must admit, it turned out to be more interesting than it seemed at first glance. You can also customize your transport, recipes for new horns, and, muzzles, tails, saddles, and scales are given for reputation in factions, completion of quests, or they can simply be found. The number of combinations is not unlimited, of course, but it is nice.
Also, in the latest update, the Trading Post, a free analog of the battle pass, was added. It works in the same way as any battle pass – complete tasks, get various goodies, such as a rare riding animal, as well as in-game currency to buy additional cosmetics, transport, and other goodies. Of the fascinating stuff, they promise that there will be rare loot from the past in the shop from time to time. The assortment changes every month, but if you didn’t have enough currency to buy something that interested you, you can freeze the item and it will remain available until you replace it with another one.
Overall, World Of Warcraft: Dragonflight in its current state leaves a mixed feeling. On the one hand, I was glad when the horror of the Shadowlands story campaign was over because I couldn’t bear to put up with the bullying of the canon storyline anymore, and a vacation to the Dragon Isles provided a nice change of pace and setting. Beautiful locations, a more down-to-earth essence of the threat, a new class, an original way of moving around the islands, updated talent trees that have become more similar to what was in the vanilla days – all this is not bad, but on the other hand, after passing the currently available part I didn’t really have a motivation to immediately start upgrading the main characters for the plot for the twink-draughter. We’ll see, maybe with the development of the storyline and the introduction of new raids, the situation will change.