There will come a time for everyone - whether you are a Traveller, an Archdruid of the Cenarion Circle, a Death Lord of the Ebony Blade, or simply a Champion of Azeroth - sooner or later, in a more or less twisted way, you will visit the afterlife. This time the real afterlife - the Land of Shadows, starting with its first area - Kyrian Bastion.
Before you set out into the netherworld, check your spellbook
Before we go to help Death fix the flow of souls, it's worth taking a look at the major changes to our character's stats and abilities.
Previous additions accustomed us to reducing our stats and our equipment, all in order to avoid absurdly large numbers. This time Blizzard went a step further and reduced the levels of players.
We start our journey in the new patch at level 50, while the Item Level of the test character is 75, which according to the new itemization puts our equipment between the normal and heroic dungeons of the Battle for Azeroth. Loot from Ny'alotha is 85-100-115-130, so it should be enough for the first few levels.
The spellbook has also undergone some changes. For the first time in a long time it was significantly enlarged. Many abilities removed by purges in previous supplements have been restored, and the number of spells available for all specializations of a given class has been increased (they are now a separate tab in the book).
Once we've familiarized ourselves with what our class can do again, it's time to cross the torn heavens and enter the Land of Shadows.
Bastion - a land flowing with milk and anima
Upon arriving in Bastion, none of the Kyrians know why we are here (nor do we, as the initial scenario is not yet available).
The Kyrians are a race of tall, blue-skinned humanoids with Greek-sounding names, dressed in robes reminiscent of antiquity.
To the Bastion go the righteous and just souls, worthy of guiding souls to the afterlife. Once purged of their memories, they begin their journey in the Kyrian hierarchy - from mere aspirants overseeing the land, to winged exalted champions guarding order and the laws of the Shadowlands.
A helping hand in the upkeep of Bastion are the owl stewards who perform basic tasks such as cleaning, repairs, and plant care. This relentlessly Kyrian race becomes depressed if there is nothing for them to do.
The landscape of Bastion is very idyllic. Filled with fairy-tale vegetation, crystalline skies, and a multitude of vantage points, enriched by the anima shimmering everywhere. It's been a long time since WoW has featured such a relaxing land. Kyrian's angelic architecture is very reminiscent of Diablo's High Heavens, while at the same time perfectly fitting into Bastion's mythological and fairy-tale setting.
Our first adventures in this land are not particularly great either. Since Kyrians don't know what to do with a mortal, they decide to send us on the standard path of an aspirant, and maybe we'll discover what it's all about.
So we start with the standard "fetch, carry, sweep" tasks, but this time they make sense - they show that no matter what we did during our lives, how many Titans and Old Gods we defeated, after death it doesn't matter...
Unless, of course, we are us, and pretty soon it turns out that years of our combat experience can come in handy against the "Renounced" - fallen Kyrians whose self-doubt and attachment to their previous lives has led them to turn to the "dark side".
In a word of summary
Bastion is a solidly executed "starter land" for the new addition - it looks phenomenal, manages to fairly introduce the player to the rules of the afterworld while interestingly challenging a few concepts that have been assumed by the "mortals" so far.
The only thing that raises a slight doubt is the pace of leveling. Blizzard said that reaching level 60 should take us as much time as in previous additions - about 15-20 hours. In fact, a new level is gained on average every 1.5-2 hours /played, but I managed to reach the current maximum alpha level - level 53 - being on 4/6 of Bastion's storyline.
The lands in the new addon don't scale when you first play through them - Bastion is designed for characters of level 50-52, which means that you'll spend 1/3 of the locations on green quests, if not more (as we have to add the starter scenario and the dungeon quest introducing us to Maldraxxus).
We'll see how it's going to be - for now, we're waiting for the opening of the aforementioned land of the true undead.