Shadowlands System Review: Anima

Anima: the lifeblood (hahaha) of the Shadowlands. It is the fuel for nearly every activity conducted by both native inhabitants and Azerothian Maw Walkers. There is currently a major anima drought in the Shadowlands, caused by the senescent Arbiter and the treachery of Sire Denathrius. Anima makes a compelling plot device, but does it contribute to compelling gameplay? Let’s take a look.

Anima is used by the player for many things:

  • Covenant Renown
  • Cosmetic items (pets, mounts, transmog appearances)
  • Adventure Table missions
  • Covenant Sanctum upgrades
  • Gear upgrades (boosting Covenant gear up to item level 197)
  • Anima Conductor channeling

This makes anima a bit more interesting than its predecessors Artifact Power and Azerite Power, both of which merely contributed to the power level of a single piece of gear. Unfortunately, the anima drought affecting the Shadowlands inhabitants seems to have encroached on actual gameplay: it’s a PAIN to get enough to do anything. World Quests drop between 35 and 140 anima (if any at all), rares drop between 5 and 30, raid bosses drop 35, and Mythic + dungeons drop 35 at the very end of the run. World bosses drop a whopping 250 anima once a week, and there are rare World Quests that also drop that amount. I’ll go ahead and say this right now: 35 anima for raid bosses and M+ runs feels extremely insulting, given the amount of effort involved. When the reward for killing a Heroic Castle Nathria boss is the same as a World Quest to fall through ten floating rings in Bastion, or as little as 25% of the reward from saving a handful of Lost Souls in Revendreth, the feeling of demotivation is real.

How do these numbers play out? Well, at a bare minimum most players will want to complete their weekly Renown quest, which requires collecting 1,000 anima. Assuming a world boss kill, you’d need to complete between 6 and 22 World Quests, 22 raid boss kills, or 22 Mythic + runs. That’s a lot of work for players with limited play time, or those that just don’t feel like grinding World Quests, or don’t run high-end PvE content. And that’s just for the weekly Covenant Renown quest. What if you want to buy a Covenant transmog set? A full Covenant Renown set costs a total of 24,500 anima, not counting weapons, shields, or special cosmetics like the themed cloaks. Mounts and pets cost 1.5-5,000 anima each. Sanctum upgrades vary, but the upper tiers can cost between 5,000 and 10,000 anima. Bottom line: if you only spend the time to do the weekly Renown anima quest (which is fairly significant), it’ll take over a year to get one transmog set and the currently available mounts and pets. If you want to actually upgrade your Sanctum? Double that time investment. Anima has replaced the AP-type grind (fast, but with puny rewards) with another (very slow, with better rewards, some of which could be considered essential). In this case, the rewards may not be enough motivation for the time-consuming grind; I suspect many players aren’t going to stick around for 6 months to get a couple of mounts and an axe transmog. As an expansion-wide currency, grinding is to be expected, but the anima treadmill feels particularly slow and unrewarding, and not very respectful of the player’s time.

The Verdict: as a currency, anima is more interesting than those from previous expansions, but the combination of scarcity, time-intensive grinding, and high cost of associated items and perks make collecting it feel like a tedious slog of a chore, and that’s not fun.

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