The new chapter in the saga of World of Warcraft it’s finally here. Reviewing Dragonflight, a game that, we already know, will keep us nailed to the PC for months so close to its release is almost impossible, but let’s try anyway. We will do it, as usual, trying not to give you any spoilers; especially in regards to the story which, let’s face it, is one of the reasons many of us play it.
Dragonflight is a chapter in the World of Warcraft saga that it’s a bit of a watershed; especially if we start playing again now after a long absence. Beyond the technical aspects, this one it is the first expansion released after the Microsoft acquisition. Obviously, Dragonflight’s design started much earlier, so the effects of the Redmond influence are not felt. But we do not exclude that they could arrive along the way.
World of Warcraft, in breve
For those few who are approaching the game for the first time reading this review, World of Warcraft (or WoW, for short) is a game of category MMO (Massive Multiplayer Online). That is, a shared virtual world where a large number of players can interact or engage in battle.
Within WoW a player manages a character characterized by a race and a class. Races and classes draw heavily from the Breton fantasy genre, although more modern variants have been added over the years. In fact, among the races we can choose dwarf, elf and human but also werewolf (worgen), pandaren and draconian (dracthyr). The races are divided into two factions: Horde and Alliancewho are competing for territory.
During the game we have to carry out missions and fight enemies. This will give us new equipment and make us accumulate experience to level up. Obviously, by leveling up we will have access to a more powerful arsenal and new, more profitable missions.
Combat takes place with weapons or spells depending on the character’s class. The complexity of the game lies, in fact, in the combine the correct equipment and select the right skills (which are unlocked with level advancement) in such a way as to maximize character power.
The World of Warcraft Dragonflight review
The story proposed by Dragonflght is epic; talks about the desire for redemption and the courage needed to face an apparently unbeatable enemy who came practically from nowhere. If we stop here, the story doesn’t have much different than what we are faced with each expansion (with the exception of Mists of Pandaria, perhaps). To make the already seen script exciting, however, the dragons take care of it, which fall by force and the Aspects, who once again become the guardians of Azeroth. Already during the pre-patch, if we did the introductory quests, we got a taste of the new anti-hero: Raszageth. It is a great stormy dragon intending eliminate the titans from Azeroth. The fact that she has already been defined as “the youngest of four Primal Incarnates” gives us a pretty explicit hint of what we can expect in the future.
New territories to explore
The map of Azeroth extends once more. This time it’s about the dragon islands: the land of the dracthyrs. If we create a dracthyr race character we will already be in the new zone while for all the other existing characters there will be missions with a story to follow to get there.
Dragon Isles delivers extremely well-kept settings and suggestive environments. There will be various biomes, from snowy plains to mountains with lava. However, one is noticeable predominance of wooded environments and large open spaces. This, probably, to allow us to more easily maneuver the dragon that we have been promised to ride.
A completely renewed user interface
This is perhaps the biggest (and most anticipated) change from many expansions.
The interface has been completely redesigned to adapt it to high definition monitors and to take advantage of the latest generation graphics cards. The lines are thinner and more marked and the drawings much more detailed.
However, the change is not limited to the look and feel. In practice, the new user interface incorporates a series of functions that up to the previous version users could only obtain by adding even very sophisticated add-ons.
Let’s do right some examples. It has been revised the options menu, which is now easier to use. All the HUD elements can now be moved and scaled individually. The composition of the interface can be saved separately for each character and also shared online. Inventory can be grouped into one large container and finally, the waste material is clearly marked in the inventory, saving time when we need to empty it.
The interface redesign was also discussed in a Blizzard blog post.
The skill tree returns and is renewed
Those who have already played for a long time know this. The tree where we spend skill points has undergone profound changes over the years. Sometimes, in our opinion, it has been simplified a bit too much. With Dragonflight, come back to being a rather complex network and is divided into two: one part for the class and one for the specialization currently in use.
We didn’t think the new approach radically changed what you can achieve because in the end the skills are more or less the same. What change is their addiction and the fact that it will have to make precise choices about how to grow the character. For obvious reasons we haven’t been able to verify this yet, but it doesn’t seem that the skill points will be enough to activate all the boxes.
Audio e Video
It’s pretty hard to make that assessment, if only because WoW is a huge game where the various areas are renewed in successive cycles. Furthermore, it is clear that the latest zones added always receive more attention for graphics and sound than the previous ones.
Having said that, in all honesty, writing that the graphics and sound on the dragon islands are top notch would not be very informative.
Wanting to make one incremental evaluationour impression is that some three-dimensional models have actually been revised and improved, to offer better performance on recent graphics cards. Also there ambient music seems to have improved quality. This, obviously, by sampling the densest areas of users, such as Stormwind and Ogrimmar, where it is conceivable that Blizzard pays more attention to detail.
The old add-ons
As we have already said, the new version of the user interface allows you to do without many “historical” add-ons. However, there are other very useful ones as welllike the ones for damage stats or cooldown count, which now no longer work because the way of interfacing with video libraries has changed heavily.
These add-ons will be back, we’re sure the developers are already at work, but it is difficult to predict how long we will have to wait.
That burr on the edge
We have been waiting for Dragonflight for a long time and we realize that it is about an extremely complex project to manage. Therefore, we do not feel like criticizing the details. However, there are a couple of usability aspects of which we were a little perplexed.
The minimap in the upper right has become more readable. Remove the icons stacking along the edges it wasn’t a bad idea, actually. However, they are Blizzard has also removed the controls to decide what to make appear and what not on the minimap. So, especially if you have a hunter, there will be times when the mini-map is very crowded and difficult to navigate. From what we have been able to verify, the functions are still there but, simply, they have no match in the interface or they have been relegated to some corner that is really hard to find.
The other perplexity concerns the hotkey assignment. Fundamental operation to quickly have all the icons in the various bars at your fingertips. The assignment is done from the settings panel which, let’s be honest, it is much more comfortable than the previous version. Unfortunately, however, from the panel it is a lot inconvenient to trace which box we are going to modify. We would have expected a point-to-click system with which to assign a key to a slot by acting directly on the interface.
In all honesty, we don’t feel like saying that these two characteristics detract from the gaming experience. It’s just a matter of getting used to it and then, anyway, could be fixed quickly with one of the updates arriving.
The World of Warcraft Dragonflight review at a glance
We have been waiting for it for a long time and playing Dragonflight can only be it a great emotion. The work done with the new expansion is by high quality and there are a number of innovations, first of all the user interface, which make the most interesting game even in its entirety.
Reviewing a product like Dragonflight is complex, also because World of Warcraft is continuos changing. We like to define it a journey rather than a story. Surely, we really liked what we saw and did in these first few hours.
There’s no need to…