At the end of the World of Warcraft expansion Wrath of the Lich King, Alliance soldier Bolvar Fordragon replaced Arthas Menethil as the avatar of the Lich King, ruler of the undead Scourge on Azeroth. Pledging to keep the ravenous dead at bay, Bolvar was sealed into the Frozen Throne, entombed in the haunted armor of the Lich King. Now that sacrifice has been undone, setting up the events of the next expansion: World of Warcraft: Shadowlands.
What is World of Warcraft: Shadowlands?
The Shadowlands has long been referenced in World of Warcraft lore, spoken of by characters like the Loa of Death Bwonsamdi, ex-Forsaken Queen Sylvanas Windrunner, and corrupted titan watcher Helya. But this is the first time that players will be able to see the realm of the dead and learn about how it works.
In the opening cinematic, Sylvanas shatters the Helm of Dominion, breaching the veil between the mortal realm and the Shadowlands. Sylvanas' actions have upset the natural balance between life and death, and it's up to players to enter the Shadowlands itself and repair the cycle before it is too late.
What new features will World of Warcraft: Shadowlands add?
Some of the features unveiled for World of Warcraft: Shadowlands are as follows:
- All races will be able to become Death Knights, including allied races.
- Blizzard is adding tons of new character customization features, including different ethnicities for humans, Wildhammer dwarf skins, and various troll races skins, including Sandfury.
- Maximum level 120 players will be squished down to level 50.
- There will be a new leveling system for 1-60 to try and make each level up feel more meaningful.
- Level 1-10 players will experience an updated starting zone, concurrent with Battle for Azeroth. Players can then choose to go to a previous expansion time traveling with Chromie to level between 10 and 50, or go into Battle for Azeroth and then Shadowlands for a more chronological timeline.
What new dungeons and zones are in World of Warcraft: Shadowlands?
Naturally, Shadowlands will have a heap of new areas to explore, including five new zones, a new central player hub, and several new dungeons and raids.
- The Ardenweald is a naturalistic realm said to be a mirror of the Emerald Dream, where death and rebirth are made manifest.
- Revendredth is a desolate land inhabited by the vampiric Venthyr and their gargoyle soldiers.
- Maldraxxus has been described as Eastern Plaguelands dialed up to 11. It's populated by necromancers and their horrible creations.
- Bastion is a Light-infused land where noble warriors seek an honorable afterlife.
- Oribos is the new player hub city and serves as an undying crossroads where the dead are judged.
- The Maw is an endgame zone, and said to be where the evilest entities in the cosmos go after death.
Here are some of the new dungeons we know about so far.
- Torghast, Tower of the Damned is a dynamic, evolving end-game dungeon with roguelike elements, playable either solo or in a group of five. Each run of Torghast will have different enemies, traps, and rewards, and a separate progression system that helps you get further along.
- Leveling dungeons include The Necrotic Wake, Mists of Tirna Scithe, Theater of Pain, and the Halls of Atonement.
- Level 60 dungeons include Spires of Ascension, Plaguefall, The Other Side, and the Sanguine Depths. Naturally, all eight dungeons will have Heroic, Mythic, and Mythic+ difficulties for endgame players.
- Castle Nathria is a 10-boss dungeon in Revendreth presided over by an evil Venthyr lord.
What are Covenants in World of Warcraft: Shadowlands?
Covenants are this expansion's headline feature, and function similarly to the class campaigns from Legion.
Covenants represent the major powers within the Shadowlands, and each of the four sports a different aesthetic and goal. Throughout the leveling experience from 50 to 60, you will aid each Covenant and get an idea of their motivations and benefits. At level 60, you will select one to join. While you'll be able to switch, it won't be easy.
Covenants grant two additional gameplay abilities, one class-specific and the other given to all members. They also allow you to purchase themed cosmetic items like pets and transmogs, unlock fast travel within the Covenant's zone, and provide recipes that can be used in Torghast. Each Covenant has a unique campaign similar to those found in Battle for Azeroth and Legion.
There are four to choose from, each representing different aspects of the cycle of death and rebirth within the Shadowlands.
- The Venthyr hail from Revendreth and are vampiric beings that feed on the souls of the wicked.
- The Necrolords are a faction of necromancers from Maldraxxus and they're tasked with defending all of the Shadowlands with their armies.
- The Kyrian of Bastion welcome souls to the Shadowlands and bring them for judgment. They are dedicated to cleansing themselves of mortal flaws and becoming higher beings.
- The Night Fae of the Ardenweald preside over the rebirth of ancient souls assisted by druids, hunters, and others strongly tied to nature.
When will World of Warcraft: Shadowlands launch?
Shadowlands will release sometime in fall 2020, though the exact date hasn't been announced yet. You can pre-purchase it now via Blizzard right here.
Still the best MMO
Still the best MMO out there
Despite loot RNG, under-tuned skills, and a broken leveling experience, Battle for Azeroth's end-game raids and dungeons remain a ton of fun to experience with friends, especially if you're not new to the game.
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