Should I play WoW Dragonflight in 2023?
Many WoW players, such as myself, were quite disappointed with the state of the game during the Shadowlands expansion and switched their focus to other games, or the Classic version of WoW itself. It’s been over half the year since the launch of the Dragonflight expansion and I will share my experience as a returning player who renewed the sub a few weeks prior to the Patch 10.1, caught up with my main character, and leveled up a brand new toon.
Leveling and Gearing – Alt Friendly
It’s best to level up your main character and complete the main campaign at the same time – you will unlock crucial Dragonflight features, such as World Quests and Dragonriding, as well as gain access to the latest chapters of the campaign and the relevant zone. You may choose to level your alt with any method that is most convenient for you – you can even pay some gold and get from 1 to 70 in a matter of hours sitting AFK and doing nothing (or, in my case, taking a nap). Your alt will have the World Quests unlocked right away, and all the Dragonriding progress is account-wide too, so you will be able to jump on the back of your Dragon, choose the talents, and ride into the sky!
Crafting Revamp – Gear Up Fast
With the changes to the crafting system, you can put a request for other players with professions so they could craft the item you need – there are no more profession exclusives to worry about, and even the basic level 340 blue gear can be crafted at 408 item level (Rank 5), which corresponds to the Mythic +5 drops, all without stepping into the dungeons – you can buy the mats on the auction house and gather new upgrade currency for the Enchanted Whelpling’s Shadowflame Crest from World Quests, Treasures, and Rares in the Zaralek Cavern zone. After hitting level 70, my character was equipped with 408 gear in all slots in a matter of a few hours and went over 410+ with just a few dungeon drops.
Once in two weeks, you can craft a nice piece of gear up to 437 or 447, depending on what Crests you can get your hands on. Getting the important pieces of crafted gear is a huge power-up and should be done as fast as possible. I’ll get to the Crests part in a moment.
Gear Upgrades – Awesome!
Items of various tiers in Season 2 can be upgraded with the Shadowflame Crests, and the gap between them is less than ever. For example, a fully upgraded Normal item will have a 437 item level, while the max upgrade for a Heroic item is sitting only 4 item levels above, at 441! That makes the lower-tier items so much more viable and helps your character progression significantly – I’m still clearing Normal Raid every week trying to get some best-in-slot Trinkets, giving me another chance if they don’t drop on Heroic. With some items, even a fully upgraded LFR version can be a good option to have.
There are four tiers of Crests required to upgrade Outdoor, LFR, Normal and Heroic levels of gear. I’ll skip the lower ones that you will have plenty from all the World Activities and LFR and get straight to the Wyrm Crests which can get you up and running to 437 Item Level and can be obtained from Heroic Raid or M+11 to M+15 keystones. Once you start pushing M+16 and higher, you will get the Aspect Crests that allow you to craft 447 Gear and upgrade Hero tier items to 441 max level.
Most importantly, you don’t have to worry about wasting your Currency on the wrong item – essentially, you are upgrading the item slot, and if you change to another piece of gear in that slot, you won’t have to spend Crests again to upgrade it to the same item level. No extra grinding is required!
Mythic+ and Raids – Guaranteed Character Progress
I have done a few M+ runs before starting my first week of the Aberrus raid progression with a 415+ item level and I noticed right away the relatively low difficulty of the keystone dungeons compared to earlier seasons, being able to safely complete +10 to +15 Keystones and securing some nice weekly 430+ item level rewards from the Vault.
It is also much easier to get higher M+ ratings now – I have reached the 2000 score before I even finished all the dungeons on +15 difficulty. If you wanted to get the seasonal achievement and mount but were held back by the necessity to push higher keys, make sure to give it a try now. I see that as a good change for the casual players diving into the Keys, while the more experienced M+ player base can still find the challenge and best rewards at 20+ Keystones. And there is another very important goal to reach the 2000 points that I will talk about in the following section.
Other than targeting the score, this relative drop in keystone difficulty allows more players to farm higher keys, gear up with dungeon items and later upgrade them with the very same Crests they’ve collected in the process.
My brand new Alt was over 420 item level after the first week of progression with a few raid drops, and more rewards awaiting in the Vault. And, of course, a bunch of Crests that are guaranteed drops from both M+ and Raid – that way, even if you are awfully unlucky with the item drops, you are still getting a meaningful degree of progression, being able to upgrade your current items to a higher level.
Jumpstarting your character is even easier now with all LFR Wings of Aberrus being open, and dropping items of 402 to 418 item level, upgradable to the max of 424 (and 437 in case of rare drop items).
Tier Sets Catch-Up and Revival Catalyst
Gathering the 4 pieces of the class Tier set to gain the set bonus is one of the most important milestones for gearing up your character, providing you with huge, and in some cases build-defining upgrades. Depending if you are lucky with drops and rolls, or not so much, getting a full set may take some time, but two catch-up systems help you get what you desire.
The first option is one of the most welcomed innovations in my perspective – you can get ANY piece of Heroic Tier Set by completing a full raid on Heroic difficulty or achieving a 2000 M+ score. The ability to target specific tier slot and get it RNG-free allowed me to get a crucial 2-set bonus as soon as Week 1. We can only hope that the Season Master achievement will stay as a permanent addition to the progression system.
And the second is the Revival Catalyst which gives you one charge per week, allowing you to convert a piece of gear into the tier set of the same item slot. It had not launched until later in the patch, so by that time I already had a 4 set, but was able to turn my non-tier heroic piece into one with better stats. Enabling the Catalyst earlier in the season would be a welcome change in the future, but it is non the less a very useful and important tool.
With the Catch-Up mechanics in place, it is rather easy to get the set bonus on your alts and focus on simply upgrading the pieces to higher levels than expect a lucky drop from the raid.
The Problem of Borrowed Power – Solved?
Compared to Shadowlands, I was late into the expansion when I started playing Dragonflight, and with the faction epics being out of the picture with their item level I’ve noticed that I have pretty much no reason to farm out the renown other than for certain cosmetic rewards. There are no daily obligations to complete world quests in a specific zone, fearing to miss out on character progress (the Maw flashbacks intensify). For me, that felt like one of the most welcomed changes, being able to play the content I want to at a comfortable pace, instead of choosing the one I have to. No Soulbonds, no Anima, no Azerite anymore, and hopefully – never again.
Quality of Life Changes
Some of the changes made during the lifespan of the expansion can greatly improve your gameplay experience and even unlock new horizons, allowing you to play and interact with more people than ever before. In my opinion, the fewer restrictions you have, the better it feels for the majority of players out there.
Cross-Faction and Cross-Realm Improvements
The Cross-Faction Guilds arrived with the 10.1 update, right when I returned to WoW. Now it does not matter if you play Horde or Alliance, you can get together with your friends in one guild and complete Raids and Dungeons together. Yet the restriction for the outdoor content remains.
Recently it has been announced that Patch 10.1.5 will lift another huge restriction and allow us to Trade Cross-Realm within your respective region, allowing players to trade gold and items to all characters in other realms, marking the beginning of a new era of WoW Economy.
New Talent Trees
The new Talents system introduced in the Dragonflight pre-patch feels much better than its previous incarnation, with more options to customize your builds and with separated Class abilities and Specialization trees. Of course, there are still some restrictions, but the new version is a big improvement.
The game offers Starter Builds for each spec, which will suffice for returning players unfamiliar with the new tree until they learn what talents to pick for the maximum potential. You can save different talent loadouts for specific scenarios, such as M+, Raid, PvP, or anything you need – use all 10 available slots as you like.
And most importantly, you can Import and Export loadouts without any extra add-ons – copy a loadout from your friends or top players and go for the test drive!
While personally running a fully modified ElvUI interface, feels like I should mention this big overhaul and new modern features of the default UI, allowing players to customize, move, resize all available elements, and so much more:
- Option to Combine Bags
- Edit mode – Save, Share, or Import UI Layouts.
More Control Options
The most useful options I’ve adopted in my gameplay are the Macro Conditional for the Known Talent and the Press and Hold Casting accessibility feature.
The conditional Macro allows me to switch the talents as I please, and the macro will adapt, depending on what I pick for my build. Here’s an example of such a Macro:
/cast [known:Fire Nova] Fire Nova; [known:Ice Strike] Ice Strike
The Press and Hold Casting speaks for itself, allowing you to hold the button and continue casting for as long as you hold it, instead of constantly spamming it. While it won’t seem to work for melee, it can make the life of a caster a bit easier.
There is plenty of content for returning players to enjoy – explore the outdoors of the Dragon Isles, find all the collectibles and mounts, complete the campaign, and try out the Dragonriding system.
I had no expectations when I started leveling, and while at first sight, the Dragonriding felt a little slow and hard to control, as soon as I collected a few crucial talent points, I was able to see the flying in a new light. So much, so that the old flying mounts seem slow and boring now, and I can’t wait for the Dragonriding to be implemented in the old world. Not only it’s a great movement feature, but also a great option for customizing your mount and your character, by association.
And those who like to try out new classes and specs will have a great time mastering the Dracthyr Evoker – a new hero class with the DPS and Healing specs, as well as the third DPS/Support spec on its way.
The Trading Post, while not exactly the expansion feature, but first introduced in Patch 10.0.5 is like a small version of a cosmetical season pass – complete in-game goals, like a certain number of Mythic+ dungeons or Quests, and get the Trader’s Tender Coins that you can later spend on Toys, Pets, Mounts, or Transmog items. Trading Post shop refreshes the stock monthly, encouraging you to come, play, and get new rewards. In my experience, I’ve never bothered to complete a single specific milestone and collected all available points in the pass each time by simply playing the endgame activities with the guild and LFG. The trading points will stay with you forever, so you can simply collect them and spend whenever you find something you want available in the shop. Essentially I see that as a bunch of free cosmetics every once in a while, for as long as you just play the game, which is a nice bonus.
Short Cuts to the Dragonflight Endgame
What general priorities should you follow if your only interest is the Endgame, and your goal is to skip to the endgame activities as fast as possible? There are a few decisions to consider if you want to use the shortcuts:
- Outsource non-essential activities, such as leveling. There are plenty of offers both in in-game trade chat and from verified service providers, and you can get it done in a matter of hours while you take care of your daily routine, work, or sleep. You know, all the important stuff!
- No time for the buildup – get the best pieces as fast as possible. While there is nothing wrong about the step-by-step approach, and you can start with crafting gear, slowly make your way from lower to higher keystone dungeons, and only then proceed to poke the raid, it’s much better if you have the option to complete the max-reward activities and push your Weekly Vault for the highest item levels and more slots to choose from. Asking the professionals to help with the Heroic raid run or a Mythic+ Dungeon would be the best investment in your character progression in terms of value over time ratio. If possible, check the BiS lists for your classes and try to choose the dungeons with the most wanted items, and with some luck, the value you get from a single dungeon + weekly Vault can skyrocket. Considering the upcoming option to upgrade 441 gear, you should aim to complete at least +16 Keys. That way, you can jump many item levels and gain lots of raw character strength in a matter of days.
If you consider trying the mentioned solutions, make sure to check reviews on Trustpilot and pick a verified service provider with excellent ratings, like Kingboost.net.
With all the available options of playing Classic, WotLK, the upcoming Classic Hardcore servers, or even an entirely different title such as Diablo 4, one should decide for themselves – what exactly do you want to get from the game?
One of the best parts about Dragonflight in its current iteration is that no matter if you are a casual player or a hardcore gamer, you will find the content to suffice your needs and play level. You can spend your time min-maxing the gear and progressing Mythic Raid or pushing 20+ Keystones, or you can complete your weekly activities for the Great Vault, play some Dungeons or PvP with your friends, and feel good about it.
The Dragonflight, unexpectedly for me, after the likes of BfA and the Shadowlands turned out to be a genuinely player-friendly expansion with exciting features and much less requirements to constantly log in and play the game like it’s your second job. You can spend adequate time and gear up your character to 440+ overall item levels that are just a few points below the Mythic gear level, and that will be more than enough for most of the players, myself included. The item upgrading introduced in Season 2 is a game-changer, and I urge you to give it a shot.
Unique achievements that reward you with desired gear, a goal that you’re excited to complete, are something good for the health of the game and ignite interest. And I like the balance between not making it a free-to-grab reward, but at the same time, not overcomplicated for the average player.
With more accessibility options added to the game, fewer mechanics forced upon the players, and the general player base limitations lifted, I feel that now is the best time to play retail WoW in recent years. And the online shows that statement to be true – while I did not check any statistics and go off my personal experience, I was able to find the Raid or M+ group even in the middle of the night, thanks to the Cross-Faction groups. And each time I log in to open my Vault right after the weekly reset, a whole audience of players share their loot results at the bank of Valdrakken.