World of Warcraft- Dragonflight: Game Review
World of Warcraft: Dragonflight, the ninth edition of the World of Warcraft expansion, has been revealed, after many leaks and much speculation. The Dragonflight expansion marks a high-stakes gamble for World of Warcraft (WoW).
However, the player base has dwindled in recent years after facing stiff competition from the likes of Final Fantasy XIV and Lost Ark. Having said that, Blizzard not only needs to rebuild trust with lapsed WoW players who have grown tired of the current systems but also needs to build a game that might appeal to new players who have yet to step into Azeroth.
The new expansion, the ninth one so far, takes place on a large new continent called the Dragon Isles. The Isles actually existed in the game’s code and lore for almost two decades, as half-finished landmasses without textures. Some players were even able to glitch into the unused areas back in the day, but it now seems as though they’ll be able to fully set up shop in this new expansion.
Beyond the new continent with five new zones, Blizzard is also revamping some core features of the game, while also introducing a new playable race and a new playable class. Here’s everything we’ve discovered so far about the new expansion.
World of Warcraft: Dragonflight focuses on the franchise’s legendary dragon aspects, as they seek to regain their lost power and reclaim their place as the stewards of Azeroth.
The Dragon Aspects are the leaders of the five dragonflights in World of Warcraft. The Dragon Aspects were originally empowered by the Titans, guardians of the Order who helped shape and defend the world of Azeroth, after a massive battle against the progenitor of Dragonkind, Galakrond.
The Aspects would remain stewards of Azeroth for the next 10,000 years — mostly, as players did have to fight Aspects Malygos and Deathwing as raid bosses in the Wrath of the Lich King and Cataclysm expansions. At the end of Cataclysm, the four Dragonflight Aspects gave up their immense powers in order to stop their mad brother Deathwing.
The Titanic Watchers remained on the Dragon Isles to watch over the beacon tower, and after a few expansions of unmitigated chaos and destruction, it looks like the world is finally healing and the dragons are coming home.
In World of Warcraft: Dragonflight, there are five major Dragonflights, each of which is headed by an Aspect. Alexstrasza is the Aspect of the Red Dragonflight and the Life-binder, and their fire has restorative properties.
Meanwhile, there’s the arcane-inclined Blue Dragonflight, the dreamy Green Dragonflight who are linked with the Emerald Dream, the time-manipulating Bronze Dragonflight, and the Black Dragonflight, led by fan-favourite Wrathion.
The Dragon Aisles
The expansion takes place in the new landmass called, ‘The Dragon Isles’, which will comprise four new zones for players, and an additional new zone for players starting out as Dracthyr Evoker.
The Waking Shores: The Waking Shores are the first zone players enter upon starting the expansion. This untamed badland is the primordial home of the black Dragonflight, which clings to the brink of extinction following the actions of Deathwing and his progeny.
Players will get a chance to join the archaeological factions of The Explorer’s League and The Reliquary to examine the Shores’ lost history, alongside Queen Alexstrasza of the red flight, and Wrathion of the black. It’s here that players will encounter the hostile half-giant Djaradin for the first time.
Ohn’ahran Plains: The second zone players will encounter is the Ohn’ahran Plains, named after the wild god, Ohn’ahra of the wind, who led ancient centaur tribes to these lands thousands of years ago. These centaurs seem less primitive than the ones we encountered in Kalimdor, having made peace with the green Dragonflight eons ago, advancing their civilization alongside the magical drakes.
Players will be able to learn the traditions and culture of the local tribes while aiding them against demented proto-dragons that only seek to devour and destroy their settlements.
The Azure Span: Blizzard has described the Azure Span to be one of the “biggest zones” ever created for the game. It is the ancestral home of the blue flight. The Azure Span cites Grizzly Hills from Wrath of the Lich King as its central inspiration, with coastal fogs and gigantic redwood trees across dense forests.
Here, players will meet up with a revamped Tuskarr race, featuring female Tuskarr alongside child Tuskarr for the first time, complete with otter mounts. With the Tuskarr, you’ll aid the blue Dragonflight with Kalecgos, exploring Sindragosa’s magical archives and libraries.
Thaldraszus: While the previous zones are relatively wild and untamed, Thaldraszus has more advanced architecture left behind by the Titans. Thaldraszus is the seat of power for all five dragonflights, which convene there after Tyrhold re-awakens the Dragon Isles. Thaldraszus is described as a very mountainous zone, with labyrinthine cave systems. Thaldraszus is home to the bronze flight, and as a result, the land is tinged with chronomancy magic, which weaves into the gameplay experience of the zone.
Main City: Valdrakken: In Thaldraszus is Valdrakken, the new expansion’s city hub. For the first time, the expansion’s central city will feature a public auction house, leaving players with little reason to travel back to the older continents. Valdrakken has enclaves for each Dragonflight, with the blue presiding over a grand library, with red and green flights having separate garden areas.
The Forbidden Reach: This is a new starting zone for level 58 dracthyr players. Formerly the home of Neltharion (who later became Deathwing), it was here that the Dracthyr were created and trained. The land has remained locked away and off-limits, until now.
The graphics zones of WoW: Dragonflight are artistic and pleasing to the eye. The contrast between volcanic wastelands and verdant river valleys in The Waking Shores provides a breathtaking introduction to the expansion.
There are some pleasing quotes where you have to just sit and listen to a red dragon, shapeshifting into a humble dwarf, talk about all his regrets and the pain of being banished from his homeland for 10,000 years.
You can also travel slowly, on foot, with the centaur clan to their sacred meeting grounds, complete with a pit stop for a hunting competition. They seem to be here lovingly, simply to exist in this beautiful world for a moment.
There are new raids and dungeons being executed for Dragonflight, which may expand considerably in the coming months. Blizzard is planning to add four new dungeons and four classic dungeons to PvE Mythic+ seasons moving forward, starting with Shadowlands Season 4 likely to start in the summer.
Uldaman: Classic titan dungeon Uldaman is making a return in Dragonflight, with a big ol’ revamp. Within the ancient structure, players will explore previously unknown tombs. Blizzard also plans to ship this dungeon early as part of the Dragonflight pre-patch event, which introduces players to the new systems and features before the expansion launches properly.
Neltharus: Known as the ancestral stronghold of the black Dragonflight, players will battle the Djaradin for control of the ancient bastion.
Life Pools: The Life Pools are a red Dragonflight-themed dungeon, of which little is known.
Primal Incarnates Raid: The first raid is described as a prison of the Primal Incarnates. Little is known about the Primal Incarnates, but they seem to be elementals of sorts, similar to the likes of Ragnaros. It’s entirely possible that this prison also houses Chromatus, interred in his arcane prison.
Battle Pass: Renown
Blizzard has said that the Battle Pass-like “Renown” feature will return in Dragonflight, although it will simply represent your activity across all factions, and won’t necessarily be tied to player power, as we saw with Covenants and soul binds in Shadowlands.
Blizzard also noted that Shadowlands’ and Legion’s legendary item systems will not be present in Dragonflight. Instead, the emphasis on customization will be more traditional, with an emphasis on tier sets and the new talent system, though they do note that special “one-off” legendaries aren’t out of the question if they fit the tier thematically.
Game director Ion Hazzikostas said that Season 1 of Dragonflight will feature four dungeons from Dragonflight and four classic dungeons from previous expansions. Each season’s itemization will feature re-balanced items from previous dungeons too, including trinkets.
Hazzikostas said he realises the potential balance issues that may arise, along with the disappointment of not having access to the full slate of new dungeons in season 1, but the goal is to create variety from season to season.
World of Warcraft has a new race with a dragon theme. The Dracthyr are humanoid drakes native to the Dragon Isles. Like Pandaren, they are a neutral race that can opt to support either the Horde or the Alliance, while also sporting Worgen-like transformative abilities, switching between a more elven human form and a draconian, scaled form.
The Dracthyr were artificially created by Deathwing and subsequently lost to time as the result of some unnamed battle. They were hidden away in an area known as the Forbidden Reach, but are now being unleashed, as part of the story.
One major revamp heading into Dragonflight is that of flying, which has remained unchanged since it was introduced nearly two decades ago. Your Dragonflight drakes will level up over time and throughout the expansion, and they will have unique flight controls that control their momentum, speed, and top elevation.
Indeed, some of the higher reaches of the game will be inaccessible until your dragon is strong enough to fly higher into the clouds. Blizzard has shown how gravity can help you build up momentum and speed, complete with flourishes like barrel rolls. Drakes will be customizable with a range of cosmetics, including their snout, horns, tails, armour, color, and more.