I’ve completed the full campaigns for all covenants now, and have some specific and general thoughts on them. At a higher level, these campaigns are a close 2nd to Legion’s class hall storylines. I’m quite hopeful as the expansion continues there’s more to this, and that would give players some reason to bother with increasing renown.
A particular note is that of all the covenants, ONLY Kyrian requires you to do any group content (a normal dungeon run). Every other one can be done solo.
First the mechanics of the campaigns. You need specific renown levels, and the catchup mechanics + Threads of Fate leveling mean you can reach lvl 22 in 2 weeks. Completing all the quests gives you a full set of gear (no jewellery or trinkets) and an LFR weapon. You’ll be tasked with completing a wide range of quests that bring you across the various zones, and give you a concept as to what’s going on in the other covenants. Each individual set of quests is straightforward enough to complete, with the Night Fae going into non-SL zones for some busy work steps.
In terms of ranking of personal enjoyment of the campaings, I would go Necrolord, Venthyr, Night Fae, Bloodsail Buccaneers, Kyrian.
This storyline focuses on the power stolen from the Primus, the dirty deal made with the Jailers and the cleanup of traitors within Maldraxxus. You build power over time, steal a Ziggurat, and then end with a big fight against Kel’thuzad. It does a great job of explaining why the faction exists, the various sub roles, and who’s who in the zoo. It ties in very neatly to the Venthyr campaign at the end, and does a superb job of providing ‘shades of grey’ to Kyrian. Each step builds on ther former and is sufficiently different. By the end you gain a customizable costume for a KoS zone in Maldraxxus, allowing for safe harvesting. It ties in to the WoW storyline all the way back to W3.
The abomination crafting mini-game is really underused and not terribly enjoyable.
This storyline concentrates on building a resistance coalition of the various sub factions to regain control of the zone, through the collection of medallions. You close out with Kael’thas Sunstrider’s redemption arc, which never really comes to closure. It explores the entire zone and the principles behind cool looking vampires. You eventually come to terms that this faction is what everyone assumed Kyrian would be – the ability for evil characters to find redemption by accepting their sins. The final bit goes into Maldraxxus (time-wise same as Necrolord) to battle Kel’thuzad. This storyline only loses points for lack of orginality, as the middle part is just the same thing for 3 sub-factions.
I tried the dinner party mini game once and never went back. It just takes too long to see any progress, feeling more like a dating sim that takes days to see random results.
This is a really weird faction that I simply do not understand. Every other faction the souls land, go through a trial of sorts, and then just exist. Night Fae, you enter as a seed and with Anima are reborn… or not if the Winter Queen deems your energy is best used elsewhere. The Arbiter has nothing on this lady. The story itself is bound to the Drust somehow invading the zone, and Bwonsamdi’s mentor causing havoc. That particular storyline is really confusing and not interesting. The cool bit is the laying of the conditions to cure Tyrande of the Night Warrior status. The final battle clears out all the bad guys and ends on a sort of cliffhanger that to cure Tyrande, the Night Warrior will need to be spread across multiple characters.
The garden tending process is weird and simple. Reminds me more of the garden in MoP I guess.
This faction is convinced that your memories prevent your true self to be good. At nearly every point, you’re fighting against the concept of free will or the fact that you are the sum of your experiences. This is explored through the Mawsworn (Lysonia) trying to break the process of Kyrian, and using Uther as a pawn to accomplish the goals. Uther turns face at the end, for no real good reason that I could figure, and by the end the order of Bastion is restored. At no point do the Kyrian accept that their methods are flawed, and I cannot see any purpose to the Kyrian in the larger scale of the afterlife – aside from guiding the dead to the Arbiter. They are mindless husks, and by the end of the campaign you really are rooting for the Jailer. It has no tie ins to the Night Fae, next to none with Maldraxxus, and only a few bits with the Venthyr.
These guys have the coolest mini-game, which is a sort of Brawler’s guild in itself. The downside here is the tokens required to take part are hard to find, and the anima costs to open all options are insane. It’s the best content that no one is playing.
In all honesty, the campaigns themselves are really quite good, I’d argue even better than the main questline from 50-60. I may not like Bastion as a faction, but it’s consistent and mostly character driven rather than plot. The storylines in one faction don’t conflict with another, and in the case of the Necrolord/Venthyr, they actually merge for a time. This isn’t Shakespeare. Blizz continues to use the same techniques for creating interesting characters – primarily by putting them through insane trauma. There are other methods to get a monomyth to deliver.
I realize people don’t play online games only for the story, but it’s fair to say that in a themepark MMO, the story is foundational to the larger enjoyment. Given the ‘blank page’ of Shadowlands lore, Blizz has done a really good job here.