The fourth and final faction zone in the initial tour of the Shadowlands expansion is Ravendreth. Saving the best for last? I think so.
Here’s the thing. While I am far too lazy, cheap, and self-conscious to try and pull off the sort of overwrought goth vampire look myself… also, I live where it is warm and sunny most of the year… I am way into it as a voyeur of sorts. I read a bunch of Anne Rice in the 90s and had a girlfriend or two who wore black lipstick and liked to hang out in graveyards. That probably cements my poser status, but whatever. I’m into it in my way.
So if you put me in an overcast zone with Gothic architecture, and a host of crazily coifed pale NPCs in high boots, tight breeches, and flowing gowns and I am ready for adventure.
Yeah, I stand out in my green armor and engineer’s goggles, but I’d fix that if Blizz would let me transmog into any of the outfits around me.
Granted, I was a little worried when I got in and the first thing I heard was another bad British accent. But the hired help speaks their with their own low dialect and accent and, if nothing else, class based accents are a thing in Britain. The main cast has the effete and cultured tones of a long run down aristocracy. Just the ticket.
The story starts out with an introduction and then a carriage ride. I was a bit disappointed that, unlike such vehicles in past zones, I did not get to hop onto the back and ride along on the outside.
That said, I did end up outside the thing soon enough.
This sets up a bit of exploration and exposition in the zone before getting into the meat of the tale and the range of exotic characters that make up the cast, like Sire Denathrius.
My problem with this post is that, like my previous zone posts, I don’t want to give away the story, but I am tempted to post too many screen shots of various aspects of the zone. I took a lot of screen shots.
Suffice to say that in such a baroque group of characters there is strife, intrigue, and not everybody is telling you the truth at the start. Also, everybody is very tall.
Like every place else in the Shadowlands, Ravendreth is short of anima, though the Venthyr can extract it directly from the souls sent to their realm, souls tainted by greed, pride, and like sins that are there to have their flaws corrected. But the Venthyr themselves seem to reflect much of what they are there to address. Also, did I mention the architecture?
Their infighting ends up sending you back to the Maw once more… by this point everybody is calling you “The Maw-walker” because the place seems to have a revolving door the way you can come and go.
You also get a peek into Torghast, the tower in which the captured heroes… Jaina, Andiun, Thrall, and Baine, who helped you out then were captured and faced torment while you explored four zones of content… are being held. You don’t actually see them, much less make any move to help them, but it introduces you to the mechanics of amina powers you can get there. It is the dungeon where the expansion will no doubt focus for now. And then you’re out again, though you go through a ritual to exit rather than just taking the usual door out in the Maw.
And then there is the return fall… you do a lot of falling in Ravendreth.
Somewhere around then I hit level 60.
It is clear to me at this point that all of this, the journey into the Maw, the visit to Oribos, the runs through Bastion, Maldraxxus, Ardenweald, and Ravendreth, and the climb to the level cap, are all part of one coordinated intro to the expansion.
I’ve seen a few people throwing stones at those rushing to level cap, but in the case of Shadowlands it is more like you’ve finished the tutorial. It is something of a bold strategy for Blizzard, and we’ll have to see if it pays off. Lots of people will make it to 60 easily. That can be heady. I enjoyed something similar last year with the EverQuest II expansion. But will people stick around or will it be only the hardcore and late comers in two months?
Anyway, I finished up the main story and got the achievement.
I liked the story, the twists, and the characters in Ravendreth. And, of course, the scenery. Even the cut scenes have some great locations.
And in looking around I found that I could actually ride the carriages that seem to follow a regular route. You just jump on and go.
On the other hand, this zone felt a tougher than the previous three, though I will admit that things seemed to start ramping up towards the end of Ardenweald. My pet theory is that we’re encountering a bit of the BFA scaling problem again, where difficulty is boosted with both your character level and your equipped item level, such that equipping new gear rather perversely made you less powerful and the trick was to never upgrade until you were at level cap.
Normally I would just say I am bad, but I was an unstoppable killing machine in Bastion and Maldraxxus, felt a bit of slowing in Ardenwealed, and had to work to keep up in Ravendreth. Either the zones got harder, the scaling is still broken, or I got worse as I played through, take your pick.
Anyway, done there it was time to go back to Oribos and make the decision about which covenant to join.