So with the first week of Dragonflight coming towards an end, how did it all go?
Well, for me, the launch, for the most part was smooth. Sure there was a bit of a delay in getting underway, but that’s virtually a Blizzard tradition by this point.
So proceedings eventually got underway about 10-15 minutes later than planned, and instead of a boat, Alliance had to settle for a portal, which was a shame as on the Beta you got to see the approach to the Waking Shores which made for quite a sight.
Perhaps on an alt…
For me, I was able to get straight to the Waking Shores. In fact I was the first person on Tarren Mill to get there, while everyone else appeared to struggle with loading screens and disconnects!
Mind you, I got hit with those same problems about 30 minutes into the levelling journey as I was approaching level 61, and it took another 30 minutes or so before I was able to get back in again, so by that stage, those that persevered were caught up.
All in all the levelling process took a while for me, about 10 hours or so. Then again, levelling my main first time through usually takes a while, as I read more of the quest texts first time, then just blaze through stuff on subsequent runs.
Oddly, the campaign will not get you all the way to 70. Far from it. When I finished the campaign I was still level 68.35:
Unlike Shadowlands, where the opposite was true, and you hit level 60 and still had 2 hours of campaign to sludge through, in Dragonflight you’re left to your own devices, and have to go search out side quests and activities to do.
It’s a bit odd at first, because previously, main campaigns have always gotten you to the finish line.
If I hadn’t been doing side quests already, I probably would’ve been a full level lower again!
Overall Impressions at max level
So far at level 70, the expansion has been a LOT of fun.
In the main, Dragonriding is an amazingly fun addition to the game. I just wish that you could hover mid-air like you can with regular flying mounts, which would obviously have to generate zero Vigor, the “currency” used for Dragonriding abilities, which regenerate when you’re flying fast enough.
So the first couple of days I spent time learning my professions (Alchemy & Herbalism), whilst zooming about the Dragon Isles picking up all of the Dragonriding glyphs, to unlock the entirety of the Dragonriding talent tree.
Hopefully it’s a system they expand to the rest of the game world, as at the present moment you can’t even summon your Dragonriding drakes outside of the Dragon Isles.
You must gather your party before venturing forth…Narrator, Baldur’s Gate 1 & 2
They’re fun! 🙂
Well, aside from Brackenhide Hollow, and to a much lesser degree, Nokhud Offensive, the dungeons are actually a blast. I spent a full day blasting through random dungeons, starting in normal mode at iLevel 339, getting into Heroics at iLevel 343, then doing a near-complete m0 world tour with Guildies that night to bring my Hunter up to his current iLevel of 362.
Most of them are pleasingly short enough, with nothing, again with the exception of Brackenhide Hollow, being overly long or exceedingly filled with pointless tightly-packed trash.
Mythic+ in season one should be a lot of fun, especially with the returning older dungeons.
The one downer
Performance. With the increase in minimum system requirements the game can potentially run poorly for some people.
Particularly in Valdrakken, the hub city, where performance will definitely dip very low.
I’m on a reasonably powerful machine:
- Nvidia RTX 3080
- 3Tb of very fast NVME drives
- 64Gb of DDR4 Ram
- 32″ 1440p 170Hz VRR monitor
Despite this, the framerate in Valdrakken dips into the low 40s at times with max graphics (no RT on, ever).
Even dropping graphics to a minimum level (quality level 1 across the board), framerates are rarely in triple figures. Outside of the city, performance is however excellent, thankfully.
Hopefully Blizzard can optimise performance in Valdrakken a lot more, because as it stands it’s definitely the worst experience so far, which is painful as you need to be there to access your profession tables…
Exploration of the Dragon Isles
Such a fun experience!
Traversing the new, massive, zones is already fun due to Dragonriding, but the zones themselves are beautiful.
A lot of the zones in the Dragon Isles are aesthetically pleasing call-backs to previous zones:
- Oh’nara Plains harkens back to Nagrand
- Azure Span evokes thoughts of Northrend, particularly Grizzly Hills <3
- Waking Shores? Thousand Needles meets Jade Forest
- Thaldrazsus gives strong Suramar meets Ulduar vibes
So for the first week? A fantastic experience overall. Gameplay is strong, and the extra points in the talent trees for levelling from 60-70 open up a lot of potential builds, albeit with some obviously best for Single Target & AoE/M+ builds.
The impression I’ve gotten so far is a very strong one. Dragonflight looks to be making all the right moves, and doing things right.
Which is something we, the player base, have not felt to be true in a LONG time.
Even with the lack of borrowed power systems to grind yet another version of AP, nor any legendary items to farm and construct, there are still a LOT of things to do in this stage of the expansion at endgame.
- Levelling up various faction’s Renown (Reputation 2.0)
- Discovering secrets and fun little side activities (new secret Spirit Beast!)
- Faffing about on my Dragon
- Customising my Dragon
- Collecting customisations for my Dragon
- There’s quite a lot of things to do with Dragons here people
Overall though, I’m extremely happy with week one. It’s been fun, a lot of content to get through, with a lot more to come with the opening of Raids & Mythic+ in a week or two.
I might even push for Gladiator (if I can) this season, given we’ll have extra time on our hands without all the cruft to trudge through!
Now, which alt will I level next…