World of Warcraft

WoW Column: Was I the only one who imagined the Shadowlands differently?

Even though we're at the beginning of the expansion, the general setting and vibe of the addon won't change much. And I'll tentatively ask: Was it just me who imagined the Shadowlands very differently?

Mystery of Death Degraded

In BfA, we met the Loa of Death and saw pacts being made with Death on Azeroth. The God of Death is unpredictable and always takes a toll in his Belzebub role. In exchange, we get to briefly snoop around the realm of death and make contact with the deceased. The world that the charismatic death troll showed us was very dark.

That was already a nice foretaste of what would await us in the Maw and Co. At least that's what I was hoping for. Instead, the Shadowlands look quite different. The Underworld isn't divided into Heaven and Hell, we only see the occasional fallen hero. Even in Torghast, the resident souls all look the same, hardly any characters tell a story. The only zone that reminds me of the afterlife is actually Bastion. But even in the afterlife, there seem to be the same problems as on Azeroth: As heroes, we must defeat ten pigs, and gather plants and other resources to solve the problems of this world

Azeroth unimpressed by the underworld

WoW Column: Was I the only one who imagined the Shadowlands differently? (3) Source: RemusIsBatman | Reddit Imagine that one day mankind would be made to see that there is life after death and what it is like. The heavens would crack open and allow a glimpse into the afterworld, some would be told of the sight of hell and the realms of the underworld, ancestors could be visited. The world would turn upside down, religions and the existence of all living things on Earth would be questioned. Not so in Azeroth. The people of Azeroth have only two reactions to world-changing events: the formation of a doomsday cult or pure disinterest. Even though time moves differently in the Shadowlands than it does on Azeroth, word about the Shadowlands apparently hasn't leaked out to the denizens of Orgrimmar, Stormwind, and the like, or they simply haven't written stories about it.

The Death Squad

The Apparatus of Death is sort of explained to me by the Judge's servants during the introductory quest in Oribos and the subsequent visit to the sleeping boss as a big bureaucratic trial of life and death. It seems more like I need to fix the underworld's stamping machine rather than cosmic realities. We move away from the heavens (Bastion) into the realms of faeries, vampires, and pointless permanent wars (Maldraxxus), effectively areas that could be so set in Azeroth, Draenor, or anywhere else. Characters like Draka, Kael'thas and Uther are brought to the fore, but I was looking forward to a reunion with so many other iconic WoW characters. Leaving out the much-mentioned Arthas, for example, I wonder: What about Saurfang and his son? Do we still see Cairne, Nathanos, Deathwing, or parts of the WoD roster? Where do creatures like Xavius go? You could learn so much about the underworld of WoW, instead these questions are answered by saying that they are probably bogged down in the infinite dimensions of Torghast.

Satan... isn't even Satan?!

WoW Column: Was I the only one who imagined the Shadowlands differently? (2) Source: Alshainkt And even the prince of the underworld, feared by all living, dead and astral, isn't even really the devil, but was - as I understand it - the steward of death, now turned evil. Death official gone rogue as it were. I honestly imagined the Ultimate Evil differently. Maybe it's because of his human form, the fact that we can escape from his maw at any time, his plans are as opaque as Sylvanas', or that his identity is clear from the start and he'll eventually be dead at our feet anyway as the final boss of the expansion.

The Shadowlands must be closed

The biggest problem with Shadowlands for me, though, is the pointlessness of the rest of the world. Would you still care about life on Earth if you could wander around in a much more fantastical underworld? What would be the point of defeating supervillain XY on Azeroth if you were going to send him to Azeroth 2.0 anyway - i.e. the Shadowlands - where you are also allowed to exist? To solve that, access to the Shadowlands would have to be closed again somehow.

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