World of Warcraft is free-to-play for the remainder of this weekend as Blizzard gives fans a chance to explore what’s new in the world of Azeroth.
Any players interested in returning to Azeroth will want to do so right now – World of Warcraft is free-to-play for the weekend, and gives players full access up to its most current expansion on top of the ability to play as their full roster of pre-existing characters. World of Warcraft is in the midst of one of its biggest changes ever, as the Shadowlands pre-patch has implemented the level squish, shrinking max level from 120 to 50 (up to 60 once the expansion releases) and dramatically improving the leveling experience as a whole.
In a perfect world, fans would already be playing through the bulk of World of Warcraft: Shadowlands content, as the expansion was originally scheduled to release just before Halloween. However, a Shadowlands delay was announced due to fan feedback indicating that The Maw – and a few other elements of the upcoming expansion – was lackluster and needed some refining to help make the content last. While it’s been a year full of delays, this was one that was generally well-received, as it was indicative that Blizzard was listening to invested World of Warcraft players to make sure an extremely important expansion was delivering on its promise, something that has been hit-or-miss for past expansions like Legion and Warlords of Draenor.
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Right now, however, it’s not about Shadowlands – it’s about a free-to-play World of Warcraft weekend that will give lapsed fans a chance to see if the game’s changes make it more palatable to them. Blizzard announced that players can enjoy World of Warcraft free-to-play until November 8 at 11:59pm PST, and the weekend will grant players access to all of their pre-existing characters across every current expansion. Given that the leveling experience generally takes between 12-24 hours based on zone in Chromie Time, that’s plenty of opportunity to get a character to 50 in advance of Shadowlands.
World of Warcraft free-to-play is also a great move from Blizzard since the game has recently instituted so many changes that it’s a very different experience from the one many lapsed fans grew disinterested in. Its leveling experience has been so refined that it plays almost like an RPG up until end-game, and the ability to enjoy one narrative all the way through will appeal to compeletionists who felt the scattershot leveling experience that saw players outgrow stories too fast to see their end was frustrating.
There’s a lot to like about World of Warcraft: Shadowlands based on its expansion design alone, but the implementation of the pre-patch level squish has given fans a reason to play well before it launches. It will be interesting to see how many fans are tempted back by the World of Warcraft free-to-play offer this weekend, and whether or not that’s reflected in the game’s sales performance. It’s a no-loss proposition for Blizzard, however, and a great way to spend a weekend for those who fancy another go at Azeroth.
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World of Warcraft: Shadowlands releases on November 23, 2020.
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