About A Month Into Shadowlands

… and I would be lying if I said it had been smooth sailing. The first week was pretty great; everything since then has been a tug-of-war between frustration and fascination.

In that time, I’ve leveled three characters to 60, and even managed to get my main reasonably well geared, considering the current state of loot overall. I’ve been in 6 of the 8 release dungeons (which is a lot for me), and even done a very small number of very small Mythic+ keys.

While I’ll admit, I don’t love the decisions in regards to decreasing the amount of loot from various activities, I can say that I absolutely hate the reduction in the number of viable paths to getting geared. Despite not playing for much of BfA, when I was active, I was all in for world quests and emissaries as my primary path to not being a complete dead weight when I poked my head into the raids. In an effort to make world quests and callings (the Shadowlands version of emissary quests) feel less mandatory, they also made the rewards … well, let’s be real. The rewards suck.

As a result, I’m doing more instanced PvP this expansion than I have since Wrath of the Lich King. Honor gear got me over the hump to the minimum item level required for heroic dungeons, and then again over the next hump to where I could queue for LFR. The perk from your covenant that allows you to upgrade your honor gear further is nice, and I even went all out one week and did a few rated battleground in order to complete the weekly PvP quest and get a chance at a piece from the Great Vault. It’s still not my favorite way to spend my game time, but I actually find it less painful than using the LFD tool and doing dungeons.

All in all, at least for me, Shadowlands feels like it’s in a very strange place. There’s a lot to do, but there’s not a lot that’s worth doing, which sometimes can leave me feeling both overwhelmed and bored at the same time. It’s a weird dichotomy. From what I’m seeing around the internet, it seems that most people have found something to be grumpy about, but not grumpy enough to play something else, and I feel exactly the same way most days.

Probably the biggest thorn in my side so far has been the whole legendary acquisition system. While I understand that I don’t have to have a legendary, it is probably the single biggest goal to work towards independently right now. Unfortunately, as someone who mains an elemental shaman, my best memory comes from a boss that won’t be available until this coming Tuesday. I’ve had the Soul Ash for awhile, and figured I’d go an pick up my base piece, which is when I discovered the second really irritating thing about the system.

Tailoring makes armor for three classes, and everyone can loot cloth. Blacksmithing also makes armor for three classes, with necessary materials that are a little more difficult, requiring either a character with mining or purchasing the ores from other players. Leatherworking, however, makes armor for 6 classes, also requiring a second profession to farm up, and so far, seems to require far more (and more difficult to obtain) base materials. As a result, if you don’t make your own base pieces, expect to pay at least twice what a plate wearer pays, and at least four times more than if you needed cloth.

As a result, a good amount of my time this week was spent leveling up a fourth character so I had access to do my own skinning. Using the Threads of Fate system, and moving around to the quests and bonus objectives that require the murder of the most skinnable creatures, it took me until level 57 to obtain enough materials to make the base item for my main characters legendary. If I want my main alt (a druid) to have a legendary for each of her specs, I can expect to need to do that twice more, and that will only get me the lowest item level for each.

It’s not a great time to be a leather or mail wearer. But it’s probably worst for folks who are waiting for the last wing of LFR for their legendary memory! Sire Denathrius won’t be available until February 2.

All my gripes aside – and gripes, I have many – I am enjoying playing Shadowlands more often than not. When I don’t want to do something, I generally just skip it. I will be able to take my main to raid with my guild for the foreseeable future, and I still feel like I have plenty of time left for playing around on other characters, even if they never do anything more intensive than their covenant story campaigns.

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