I’m glad WoW found some restraint, but I do not hope it leaves the best parts of Shadowlands

World of Warcraft’s next expansion, Dragonflight, was announced this week, promising a return to Earth-based Azeroth, restoration of something like the pre-Mists of Pandaria talent system, and the end of expansion-specific “borrowed power” mechanics like artifact weapons or Azerite gear. As someone who has been playing WoW since the closed beta back in 2004, I was a little surprised at how skinny the announcement was. There are some flashy features like physics-based kite riding and playable kite humans, but in many ways, it looks like Blizzard is trying to sell Dragonflight on what it’s not, rather than what it is.

I hope Dragonflight does not give up everything Blizzard tried to do in Shadowlands, but its restraint could be just what World of Warcraft needs right now, as previous expansions have tried to make a bigger splash, but fell flat in the end .

For the first time, we have had two extensions in a row that are largely seen as failures.

It’s no big secret that WoW has been navigating hard water lately. 2018’s Battle for Azeroth is one of the most disliked expansions in the MMO’s 18-year history. And while 2020’s Shadowlands got off to a strong start, problems with history and the post-launch have led to public opinion turning against it fairly quickly. Zerith Mortis, the topstone search area for the latest Patch 9.2, feels hurried, boring and visually unexciting – a peculiarity for Blizzard, which, even when fighting in other areas, usually excels at creating memorable new zones to explore.