It’s World of Warcraft: Shadowlands week and while some players have already reached max level, most of us are still puttering around Bastion taking in all the sights and sounds of Blue Man Group: The Zone. Though myself--intrepid Shadowlands correspondent Ash Parrish—and seasoned WoW veteran Mike Fahey are still firmly in camp “Puttering Around,” we’ve got some initial impressions about Shadowlands and what else we hope to see as we continue on our quest to attack and dethrone god.
Ashley Parrish (Human Warlock): So, how long did you play?
Michael Fahey (Human Rogue): I was there, sitting in Stormwind, waiting for the portal to Icecrown to open. Played until about 11 p.m. I’m not one for all-nighters anymore.
Ash: That’s about as long as I had in me too. I thought, rather I had hoped, I’d be able to make it to the covenants part, but that must not be for some time.
How are you liking it so far? Thoughts? Feelings? Gut reactions? Personally, I’m thinking about how Tyrande is an idiot who’s probably going to die or become a dungeon boss.
Mike: Yeah, the covenants are sort of the end-game for this? I didn’t play much in the beta to avoid spoilers. Right now I am hip-deep in Bastion, the place on the white Magic: The Gathering mana cards. So far, it’s more World of Warcraft, only with the art direction dialed way, way up. Battle for Azeroth had some cool visuals. This expansion so far is cool-visual central.
Ash: I really like Bastion a lot, it might replace Outlands’ Nagrand as my new favorite zone. That said, I’m endlessly obsessed with the concept of “dying in the Land of Death,” and Bastion in particular bothers me a bit. So here’s the prevailing thought I had: Noble souls get judged by the Arbiter and go Bastion to train to become a kyrian ascendant right? All noble souls, not just humans, or even the souls of Azeroth, but everybody
So why do all kyrian look the same? Is there something about the kyrianization process that strips you of your mortal form, remaking you into blue white people? Because if so hard nope.
And the thing is, you can see the souls of fellow Bastion aspirants as they were in life. I’ve seen more than one tauren spirit running around, so where are the tauren kyrian?
Mike: I don’t know, I just do what the exclamation points tell me to do. You see, Ash, in the afterlife we’re all exactly the same. Unless we grow tired of being exactly the same. Then we tear some heavenly shit up.
Ash: So maybe then, The Jailer is the real good guy? He’s tired of the so called “good guys” corrupting the forms of noble souls upon their death and is like “Fuck this, I gotta do something.”
Mike: They’ve ascended to a higher form of existence. In Azerothian terms, that means giant members of the Blue Man Group. Along those same lines, why are there male and female Ascendents? The Ascendents have no race, but they do have gender?
Ash: I mean they definitely bone, did you do the quest to give the gift?
Mike: Yeah, they have same sex boning, even.
Ash: Yup, which was a nice touch but still, Bastion in my pet theory is actually the Bad Place.
Mike: So my thing with the expansion thus far is this. We’re sent to the Maw. Which is completely inescapable. Except for all of us. And we have to gather anima, right? Every time an NPC says “Maw” I hear “Mall” and “Anima” is “Enema.”
Ash: So you’re running around terrified of a Mall Enema?
Mike: Not terrified, but intrigued. I guess we gotta go to the mall and get an enema.
Ash: What zone are you looking forward to the most?
Mike: It’s gotta be Ardenweald for me, doesn’t it? I mean, look at this place.
Ash: Ha! I was gonna say Ardenweald too actually, their covenant was the one I was most seriously considering pledging. I dig the whole “protector of nature” vibe (and it doesn’t look like they body-snatch you à la Get Out.)
Mike: Oh dammit, and I said I was going to pledge to one of the covenants you weren’t picking. Oh well, maybe I will go kyrian, then. I think I’d make a good large blue person. Well, or normal-sized blue person. I have so many questions about the blue people. How far did you get, level-wise?
Ash: 52. Seems like getting to 50 is fast as hell then 50+ is slow as fuck. Which I guess is fair.
Two things: I am currently trying to break an alt out of new-character jail so I can go to the Maw and die on purpose so I can see what happens. I am endlessly curious about how they handle a mortal’s death in the dead place. Second thing: What are your tin-foil-hat pet conspiracy theories about the end-game?
Mike: Well, it’s all the dead place. I’ve died a couple of times in Bastion, mainly pulling too many things in a brilliant burst of “I’m a rogue I can do anything oh wait no I can’t!”
As for end-game, the whole afterlife thing gives Blizzard a chance to bring back anyone who has ever died. In terms of World of Warcraft lore, that’s like two or three people. Maybe we’ll get Varian Wrynn back so Anduin can fulfill his destiny to become the human version of Thrall. A human Jesus to his orc Jesus, as it were.
Characters need to die more in WoW. Poor Banshee Queen had to forcibly extract people into the afterlife, and even that didn’t work.
Ash: I mean didn’t a lot of the Horde leaders die? We’ve had like one die every expansion since Warlords of Draenor.
Mike: Yeah, but they were all placeholders. No one cares about Trolly McTrollface and the really angry one.
Ash (indignantly): I cared about Trolly McTrollface!
Mike: Oh man, now I miss Trolly McTrollface. BLIZZARD BRING BACK WHAT’S HIS NAME!
Ash: It’s Vol’jin.
Mike: You had to Google that.
Ash: I did not, I’ve only ever played Alliance but I respected Vol’jin once trolls were developed to be a little more than very poor stereotypical Bob Marley pastiches.
Mike: Stay away from the voodoo, mon. Here’s the most important question about the expansion. Now that you’ve played several hours, are you still excited to play more?
Ash: I don’t know, yet. WoW was always a very slow burn kind of game. It was only after a significant amount of time invested that I could finally say “OK, this is fun.”
Playing in Bastion was alright, I enjoyed the area I was in and I want to see more but I don’t think I’m having fun yet. I was actually a little miffed because I played so much last night I was too tired to play the game I would have enjoyed my time with more: Destiny 2.
That said, I’m willing to invest the time it takes to get to the fun parts, I’m just gonna bitch about it the whole time. What about you?
Mike: Not a big Destiny 2 fan, but I appreciate it being in the same game launcher on my PC.
I am in my shit right now. This new stuff always gets me riled, and since I didn’t spoil myself in the beta, everything is new. I’m running back and forth between quests and objectives like a puppy. My rogue is running serpentine because her tail is wagging so hard it pulls her off course. Note she does not have a tail, but I am imagining a tail.
I don’t even mind when the giant angels palm my head.
Ash: You take such great pics Fahey.
Mike: I am the Azeroth equivalent of an excited tourist.