Leveling and Torghast so far have a thumbs up. They have their quirks, but all told, positives. Now for the Maw.
I clearly remember the Timeless Isle in MoP, targeted as a daily activity to hunt down rares and frankly, gear the crap out of any alt you may have had. It was an interesting zone, and really quite innovative at the time. Each expansion has brought their own version to bear since then, with varying levels of success. Legion is still a high water mark for me. Nazjatar I have a crazy dislike due to zone design, and Mechagon seems like it could have used the space better. The less we talk about Tanaan, the better. None of them allowed for flying at the start, but all of them allowed mounting.
The biggest point about all of these is that they came after the main expansion, and were mechanically bound to catch-up mechanics and new storylines.
The Maw is this weird space where it takes a lot of pieces of those zones and puts them at the start of an expansion. It has plenty of rares and it’s own faction. Travel is improved over time. It has an interesting (-ish) time gate mechanic so that you can’t just grind it for hours. On the surface, it’s an interesting proposition.
The challenge is in WoW’s risk vs reward mindset, caked in through nearly 15 years of training. The rewards from the Maw are
- Faction & currency to improve travel (which is character bound)
- Faction & currency to improve RNG in Torghast (which is account bound)
- Faction and currency to randomly improve a low level conduit (character bound)
- Faction and currency to add a gem slot to a legendary (character bound)
- A weekly i183 gear drop chance
- A potential mount (3 days out of 14), but from a quest broken since launch
- Access to 2 more “hard mode” zones in the Maw
You can optimize and get ~1500 faction a day. 42,000 total to max, so you’re looking at a month of daily play to get there (weekly quests are there too).
As a time gating mechanic, this sort of makes sense. Level 1 is meaningless. Level 2 is easy to manage, if you’re not in an massive AE battle (e.g. Jailer event). Level 3 is a new level of annoyance, spawning an NPC that keeps you in battle for the entire map. Level 4 can’t be avoided, you just get scooped up and need to kill the target before they kill you, and survive the fall damage. Level 5 is just like level 3, but if they touch you, you die.
It’s entirely possible to run around with level 5, it is not possible to enter combat and survive at level 5. Completing both daily quests will get you to level 2. Hunt rares to go higher.
As a fresh 60, you’re dropped into the Maw to run some basic quests. Horrendously undergeared, and a map that makes little sense, it’s not a good first run. You’ll see some rares, and promptly get wiped out. Most players are going to have a rough time at the 150-ish gear level. That the mobs are so tightly spaced, you’re going to aggro tons of stuff just getting around. And thematically, the zone is supposed to be punishing, right?
I should mention it’s the first open world zone in which you cannot mount, and the game does nothing to explain why that is, or how to change it. If you’re a DK, be ready for a bad time.
Finally, its near impossible to navigate the Maw without an add-on. HandyNotes is practically required,
The Mid Game
Frankly, the only reason to even bother with the Maw is if you like Torghast. Aside from a potential renown quest from your faction, there are zero reasons to go into the Maw. There are no transmogs, the achievements are gated behind harder content, there are no gear drops.
This is further examined as you open up the other areas in the Maw and see that there’s no one there. All the players are in the “starter” area of the map.
The End Game
Is a month end game? I dunno. Is 1 gem slot worth a month’s faction grind? By the time you find value in the Maw rewards, you’ve so dramatically overleveled the zone that you’ll be killing everything in there in 5 GCD. And after you’ve done it once, it’s a near guarantee you’ll never want to see that zone again.
The Maw feels like an undercooked mechanic. It’s nowhere near as bad as the Isles in BfA, and that’s primarily because it can be done solo. But that’s also the Achilles heel here, if you don’t like Torghast, then there’s no reason to go in the Maw aside from the random renown quest. Every other system in the game offers a better reward for your time, even just walking around.
Credit to Blizz here in that no alts are required (or even suggested) to do the Maw. There’s zero in here for them, aside from a potential weekly quest for renown. It does make you question why they would have designed an ENTIRE zone that no one wants to go through. I have to hold out some hope that there are long terms plans for the Maw. The concepts here are well worth exploring.
I quite like the Maw so far! But then I’m hardly WoW’s typical audience, haha.
I haven’t even looked at the item rewards from there as I don’t really care about those at this point. But I like the theme of saving souls, and Ve’nari is amazing. Every conversation with her is a delight and I want to know more about her.
The combination of mob density, no mounting and the eye makes for an interesting experience that encourages you to optimise getting in and out so to speak. The husband and I like to grab and kill an outrider and then steal their temporary mount to barrel across the map to where we need to be. Admittedly probably not as fun solo though.
There’s a LOT about Shadowlands that’s awesome at the conceptual layer. The implementation… that’s where stuff starts going off the rails. The Maw is a great example of that. Thematically, Ve’nari is ripe for exploration into the ideas behind the Maw. There should be plenty of damned souls in there to find, there’s 20 years of lore after all. Kael’thas is in Revendreth, which really has to make you wonder how bad you have to be to end up in the the Maw in the first place.
When (maybe you have) you unlock the Beastwarrens part of the Maw, let me know your thoughts.