World of Warcraft’s new expansion, WoW Dragonflight, ushers in a new age of Azeroth for both its virtual heroes and the real-life community alike, making it just the breath of fresh air we needed following the failure of Shadowlands.
It’s no secret that World of Warcraft’s eighth expansion, Shadowlands, didn’t live up to expectations. In fact, it was pretty damn awful.
Plagued by a turbulent narrative that read like a ripoff of Marvel’s Avengers and filled to bursting with grindy systems that just weren’t in any way fun, as the curtain falls on Shadowlands most players won’t be crying out for an encore.
But as one door closes another opens, and on April 19 Blizzard gave us a glimpse of what the next chapter of the Warcraft saga will entail. Entitled WoW Dragonflight, fan-favorite dragon queen, Alexstrasza reprises her role as the main character in a story framed by an idyllic new world bursting with foliage and fauna.
In comparison to the bitter taste Shadowlands left in my mouth, Dragonflight is literally the sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows that WoW needs to lure me back in; and that’s why I believe WoW Dragonflight has come at the perfect time.
Let there be light!
The first WoW expansion I ever played was Mists of Pandaria, and it left me absolutely lost for words. Set amid the jade forests of an Eastern-inspired universe, MoP resonated with me because the world was just so beautiful. I wanted to hop on my trusty steed and explore every nook and cranny of Pandaria’s lush jungles, and my PC has the one billion screenshots to prove it.
Since Mists, we’ve largely been focused on wartorn battlegrounds; with Shadowlands’ Ardenwealde being the closest we’ve gotten to the serene sanctuary of Pandaria. Just as soldiers on the battlefield bow under the oppressive nature of the dark and dreary, so do WoW fans, with these abandoned landscapes all blurring into one murky shade of brown.
While Eternity’s End‘s Zerith Mortis certainly was a step in the right direction, Dragonflight is the expansion that I’ve been waiting for. Championing the vibrance that made WoW great, I want to explore again.
Grinding through the MSQ and waiting for dungeons and raids is a much easier task when you want to interact with the sprawling visats around you. Injecting a much-needed splash of color back into Azeroth, Dragonflight is exactly the light at the end of the tunnel we needed.
Alexstrasza: That’s it, that’s the header
Feel free to judge me, but my first encounter with WoW’s Life-Giver came in the form of Heroes of the Storm; that’s a name you’ve not heard in a while, huh?
As a support main in League of Legends, Alexstraza’s healing abilities immediately stuck out to me as somewhat familiar, and I mained her from the get-go. Her aesthetic, charm, and raw power enchanted me, prodding me to dive back into WoW to try out Cataclysm; her virtual debut.
Seeing the character that inspired me to pick up WoW again return with such majesty in Dragonflight’s cinematic trailer lit a fire (pun entirely intended) within me. I want to become embroiled in a world where Alexstrasza reigns supreme – a world where there finally feels like there’s hope; the precise opposite of Battle for Azeroth and the desolate afterlives of the Shadowlands.
Dragonriding is set to be my new favorite pasttime
Of course, what are the Dragon Isles without their scaly inhabitants; the dragons themselves. Coming into Dragonflight, players will be gifted their own customizable fearsome companion to tour the skies with. With four different drakes on offer, you’ll be able to tailor their aesthetics to suit your own; a first in the Warcraft universe.
And who doesn’t want to build their own dragon?
With your new comrade comes Dragonriding, a specialization that will help you tame your dragon (Toothless would be proud). Allowing you to reach high speeds (signified by a new UI that shows the wind whistling around you) and explore the skies, we’ve never been given this much freedom before; and as a Scot I love a good bit of “freedddooommm.”
When I grow up I want to be a Dracthyr
If you had told 10-year-old Lauren she’d get to play as a dragon lady in WoW, she’d probably have fainted there and then. The new Dracthyr class allows you to do just that. You can switch between a more humanoid form and a reptilian one, as well as customize how your character performs in battle.
While Dracthyr can only be Enforcers, an all-new Mage spec, that suits this spell-slinger just fine. World of Warcraft has needed a new race for a long time, and I’m impressed to see them implement it with a delicate touch – who knows, maybe we’ll see a tankier spec further down the line.
What makes them even cooler is the ability to choose whether you play a damage dealer or healer, whether you’re Alliance or Horde. For the first time in Azeroth’s history, it feels like you can truly tailor your character to suit your own playstyle.
Not only that, the level of customization is absolutely exquisite – chef’s kiss, if you will. One thing that always concerns me about a new race is the range of appearance options for them. The Draeni still remain slightly neglected, but it looks like Blizzard have knocked the Dracthyr out of the park.
But is all of this just hopium? After all, WoW has a habit of not living up to expectations upon release. Either way, I’m beyond excited to try the new expansion out.
The perfect mashup of all the things I loved about WoW, Dragonflight represents a new dawn for my Warcraft journey; and hopefully for WoW itself.
While past sins can’t be forgotten and will likely never be redeemed, with the return of Alexstraza comes new life; let’s just hope Dragonflight survives better than Shadowlands.