World of Warcraft: Dragonflight Review: The majority of recent World of Warcraft expansions got off to a planned, heavy narrative, and slightly annoying on-rails start. Dragonflight appears to have recalled that I should be choosing the kinds of adventures I wish to have because this is an MMORPG.
There is very little handholding when you first arrive on the vast, magnificent Dragon Isles and there are four enormous, thrilling zones to explore.
Dragonflight, however, feels like a creative step away from the innovative, albeit occasionally unsuccessful, the spirit of Shadowlands.
World of Warcraft: Dragonflight Review
The new zones are undeniably breathtaking, there is no doubt about it. A breathtaking beginning to the expansion may be found in The Waking Shores, which contrasts volcanic wastelands with lush river valleys. And the side quest writing in these areas is some of the greatest I’ve seen in WoW in a long time.
One of my favorite tasks involves listening to a crimson dragon, who had transformed into a meek dwarf, lament his mistakes and the agony of having been exiled from his home country for a 10,000-year period.
Another that I adored had a centaur clan slowly walking to their sacred gathering place, stopping along the way for a hunting contest. World of Warcraft is at its most moving and unforgettable when it has moments like these. They appear to be here to gently tap you on the head and remind you to take your time and temporarily exist in this lovely planet.
It’s difficult to give these handcrafted experiences too much credit, though, because after a week or two you’ll be stuck repeating the same, formulaic daily quests while you wait for the next patch to launch. In general, WoW has done a great job of making the path to max level memorable and interesting in the majority of expansions.
And if that were all that was required, Dragonflight would be a complete success. However, as a live MMO, WoW routinely fails to keep my interest in the coming weeks and months, and Dragonflight is truly no exception.
To The Skies
Dragonflight really tries to stretch its wings in the new Dracthyr Evoker class, both figuratively and practically. And I must say, they’re really, really cool. With a racial soar ability and a signature attack like a Deep Breath with a dragon theme, you can scream out of the sky and engulf your adversaries in the fire before they even realize what hit them. It is simply amazing.
Although it can feel highly chaotic and bewildering to play, both the healing-focused Preservation and damage-dealing Devastation specs suffer from having an excessive number of specialized combat skills. Evokers are slightly overdesigned, especially in comparison to WoW’s previous hero class, the delightfully simple Demon Hunter.
The new dragon riding feature, however, enables all of your characters to soar where the Dracthyr can glide. I feel as though I will never be able to return to the previous system as I soar over the environment at speeds up to three times faster than WoW’s conventional “flying” mounts.
When you’re flying, banking, and diving around with a tangible sense of velocity and physicality that WoW typically lacks, it feels amazing. Several of this expansion’s dragon-riding challenge courses with cosmetic rewards for the top times have quickly become some of my favorites. Although I discovered that getting gold on all of them was a little too simple, so I had no motivation to return.
However, I don’t particularly like how these dragons are controlled with a mouse and keyboard. They appear to be pleading for the controller assistance that has long been predicted but never materialized.
A Dance Of Dragons
I haven’t been as wowed by the main tale as I have been by the side quests so far. If you weren’t familiar with all of the pre-game mythology building up to Dragonflight, you might be wondering why you’re even here. Although there is some conflict among the main good folks, it seems quite hollow.
The primordial dragons and their humanoid henchmen, the Primalists, are the new bad guys, although they haven’t yet made an impact as particularly sophisticated or intriguing antagonists. There does at least appear to be a succession problem developing within the Black Dragonflight, which has the potential to produce engaging storylines in the future.
The standout of the eight new dungeons is The Nokhud Offensive, where you utilize your dragon riding abilities to fly around and intervene in a conflict that occupies a sizable, instanced chunk of the Ohn’ahran Plains zone. The other dungeons are rather easy and forgettable.
They appear to have been created to prevent the issue, which was a large problem in Shadowlands, of pick-up groups insisting on bizarre routes that skip the majority of the trash fights. But as a whole, these dungeons are just… eh. On the plus side, four Mists of Pandaria legacy dungeons are returning for the new Mythic+ season.
It’s such a no-brainer to keep things interesting by allowing us to revisit some of the best content from World of Warcraft’s 18-year existence, and I hope they continue it.
My breath hasn’t exactly been snatched away by the first raid, Vault of the Incarnates, either. There are some interesting and satisfyingly challenging mechanics to learn, such as the need to trick a giant rock elemental into destroying his own damaging towers with a smash attack and the need to kill a council of elemental sorcerers almost simultaneously in a nod to Molten Core’s classic Core Hounds fight.
I didn’t think the vault itself was very intriguing in terms of its art or overall theme, especially when you compare it to something like Shadowlands’ debut raid, Castle Nathria. The complexity of the fights is about right for normal mode, and the visual design of the bosses is pretty great.
I don’t even know who most of these idiots are, and none of the individual arenas are really noteworthy! It’s important to note that, as of the time of writing, I haven’t yet witnessed the decisive battle with Razageth.
Harder, Better And Faster
Depending on your skill level and progression choices, the new crafting system is perhaps the greatest it has ever been in the history of World of Warcraft, offering a variety of resources of variable quality and producing various completed goods.
Because of my superior Leatherworking skill compared to what the recipe calls for, my specialization in leather pants, and my decision to use only the best bear asses, I can construct myself a pair of Tier 5 leather trousers with complete confidence that every stat on those bad boys is as high as it can be. Although I believe that this specialness will wane the longer the expansion lasts because you can eventually max out everything.
The issue is that it’s still really grindy. Dragonflight has made an effort to respect our time more by reducing the amount of daily work we must complete. Even regular “daily” tasks now refresh once or twice a week rather than every 24 hours.
To manufacture one piece of epic gear, however, you must still spend dozens of hours farming the same overworld monsters, in addition to the fact that the new Spark of Ingenuity item only allows you to make one per week. The Maw zone in Shadowlands or randomly generated solo dungeons in the style of Torghast would be ideal additions here.
Or give them out as a prize for completing recurring dragon riding challenges! Anything skill-based, as opposed to farming the same easy mobs forever and a day like I’m in Purgatory I beseech you, Blizzard, please. This is not good gameplay, and 2004 is no longer the year.
For approximately the first 30 or 40 hours, Dragonflight brings back the spirit of adventure and exploration that first hooked me to World of Warcraft. It definitely feels a little worn out after that. Dragon riding is awesome, and I really like how the new zones are laid up. But the return to the fundamentals strategy of this expansion has significant drawbacks.
Because there aren’t as many things to do every day to feel like I’m keeping up as there were in Shadowlands, I probably won’t burn out as quickly. Once I’ve completed all the extremely well-written side tasks, I don’t feel like there is enough to do that is genuinely engaging. It feels like a double-edged sword that an amazing new crafting system is locked behind mind-numbing quantities of pointless resource grinding in addition to weekly caps.
Although I like Dragonflight, I quickly lost interest in it after reaching the maximum level. I sincerely hope Blizzard views 2018 as a rebuilding year for World of Warcraft and doesn’t hold back on improving any of the innovative ideas from Shadowlands that may have been just a little bit good.