Blizzard sent out a trial for their new Dragonflight expansion, so I decided to give it a try. I’ve played World of Warcraft on and off since vanilla, and I played a lot of Shadowlands. I played Shadowlands until Nvidia no longer supported my graphics card which was right around the time Blizzard was in the middle of their big scandals.
I have since moved on to other MMOs and haven’t resubbed because I don’t have time. I made time so that I could no-life the limited experience Blizzard had gifted me, but I wasn’t very impressed. They should have allowed me to get a lot farther into the story because there wasn’t enough to grab my attention in what little I played. I felt like I was barely scratching the surface of what the expansion had to offer. A few extra levels would have left a better impression.
I love the look of this expansion. I love how vibrant the Dragon Isle looks and the aesthetics of the armor and creatures that fill it. I played as the new Dracthyr race introduced in this expansion and was a bit underwhelmed. The visage (human) form had some nice customizations, but I wasn’t a fan of the dragon form. This is a personal issue. If you like the dragon aesthetic then it should be fine. I didn’t think it was as cool as it could be. The new race comes with new mechanics that make travel in the new zone very fun. You can fly around either with the Dracthy’s natural abilities or with a dragon mount you unlock by doing the story.
Flight in this zone is limited by a stamina bar that fills automatically over time. From my understanding, you can obtain more stamina and flying abilities the deeper you get into the game, but I didn’t feel limited by what I started with. Flying makes Dragonflight a better expansion than Shadowlands because travel in Shadowlands was annoying and cumbersome. Unfortunately, these flying mechanics are reminiscent of those introduced in Guild Wars 2 a while ago, and I would rather be playing GW2.
I thought leveling at this time was more fun than in Shadowlands, but that isn’t saying much. I was eventually bored and underwhelmed by the experience. I get a lot of joy from the grind of leveling and not from dungeons, although I will dabble in PVP from time to time, the leveling grind is what makes an MMO for me. While this expansion doesn’t feel as big of a grind as others have, I had trouble convincing myself to keep playing. I appreciate the attempt to make this game fresh with the introduction of a new class, race, and mechanics, but it grew stale as the novelty wore off. Maybe I have outgrown this World of Warcraft, or have become accustomed to a more active experience like those of games like Guild Wars 2 or Phantasy Star Online 2. I just can’t justify subscribing to something that won’t get fun until I am deep into the end game.
The worst bit of this game is that it isn’t stable. With a worse graphics card on a worse setup, I was able to play Shadowlands on the highest settings without issue. I encountered performance issues in Dragonflight that affected my gameplay. Spells would take moments to register if they registered at all, and frames would drop. I wasn’t alone in my experience; global chat would flood with people complaining about the sudden spikes in lag and instability. I expect these types of performance issues from launch or an MMO made by a smaller company, but this is World of Warcraft. This is an established title from an established company, and we are far into the launch. Performance did get a little better the deeper I got into the story, but I had to die more than usual to get there.
I tried out the Evoker class that comes with the Drachyr race. I thought it was an interesting change in pace that introduces some interesting mechanics, but I will probably switch back to my shadow priest if I ever upgrade to this expansion. I loved the mobility of this class and the lore behind it, but combat kind of grew stale for me. Maybe this class is better the deeper you get into it, but I will never know.
One of my favorite additions to this expansion is the new UI. It is so pretty, and it offers more customization than previous expansions. I remember having to load my game with all these add-ons like Bartender and Bagon to make the game more efficient. These features are now all baked into the game. I spent a lot of time rearranging my UI, setting up my skill bars, and reading through all the settings before playing this game. It is a much-welcomed experience, but I can’t believe it took this long for it to happen.
So is this game worth the purchase and the subscription? It isn’t for me. I wasn’t hooked by the story, which is one of the reasons I play World of Warcraft, leveling is boring, and the game is buggy. A lot of the new mechanics that are introduced in this game are mechanics that Guild Wars 2 has had for a while now, and I would much rather play Guild Wars 2. I had a lot more fun with Guild Wars 2 End of Dragons expansion than I did with this game. The story is better, and the gameplay is a lot more fun.
I always end up buying back into World of Warcraft, but this time I am glad I got to try it first. I think this expansion is a neat concept, and it does bring in much-needed improvements, but it isn’t for me.
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