Day one of any World of Warcraft expansion is all about one thing: getting to the end of the campaign as fast as humanely possible. In WoW, the story is just something that happens before you hit max level and can start farming dungeons and collecting gear. Every second you spend reading a text boss or listening to a quest NPC talk about the monster that’s been terrorizing his herd of clefthoofs is a second you’re not just killing that monster and earning your precious XP. People like to call the WoW’s story content “RP” for roleplaying and act like it’s something they don’t participate in, even after spending 20+ hours in each campaign.
WoW: Shadowlands breaks the mold of WoW expansions, and for many reasons, makes it practically impossible to ignore the story. It does this by telling a single story stretched across the five regions, as opposed to five separate-but-interconnected stories — the format we’ve come to expect from new expansions. Shadowlands places the story front and center by putting every player on the same identical path from beginning to end in order to tell a richer, fuller story. What’s more, Shadowlands really beefs up the story-telling tools in WoW, including cutscenes, voice acting, and new ways to help players stay engaged with the plot.
Shadowlands makes the story incredibly digestible. You never feel like you have to choose between questing as fast as possible and stopping to engage with the story because the vast majority of NPC characters are voice acted. In fact, quick voice lines will trigger at almost every quest start and turn in that quickly summarize what just happened or what you’ll be asked to do next. Reading the quest text will give you a richer understanding of your objectives, but you’ll have a pretty good understanding of what’s happening just by listening to that dialogue. It’s legitimately very hard to not pay attention to the story. You’d have to turn off subtitles and mute the game to avoid being part of the story.
Paying attention to the story in Shadowlands is incredibly rewarding, and Blizzard has made it so easy. There’s a new tab on the campaign banner that opens a “Story so far” page. This page constantly updates with short paragraphs that explain exactly what just happened in the story. If you tune out while a character is talking or forget what’s going on, you can get caught up in mere moments. Because Shadowlands tells one continuous story instead of small vignettes in each region, it’s really beneficial to have this narrative catch up feature.
Plenty of players will still blaze through the campaign or grind dungeons to reach max-level, skipping it completely. Unlike previous expansions, Shadowlands has a campaign that really is worth your time. At the end of the story, you’ll need to pick one of the Covenants to align with. This is a permanent decision for your character and will have a big impact on your progression. You can look up a guide and pick the best one for your class and spec, but if you let yourself engage with the story, that decision will have all the more impact. The Shadowlands story is so easy to get into, and it’s a better expansion for it.
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Eric Switzer is the Livestream News Editor for TheGamer as well as the lead for VR and Tech. He has written about comics and film for Bloody Disgusting and VFXwire. He is a graduate of University of Missouri – Columbia and Vancouver Film School. Eric loves board games, fan conventions, new technology, and his sweet sweet kitties Bruce and Babs. Favorite games include Destiny 2, Kingdom Hearts, Super Metroid, and Prey…but mostly Prey. His favorite Pokémon is Umbreon.
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