The upcoming Shadowlands expansion for World of Warcraft will include tons of new features, far more than can be discussed in one panel —but that didn’t stop Blizzard from trying. They recently held a panel that explains almost everything you need to know about the expansion.
The most important aspect of World of Warcraft: Shadowlands is the Covenants. Players will be able to pick from one of four organizations once they reach level 60, each with its own flavor. Moreover, each Covenant features unique rewards for loyal players, which means the choice won’t boil down to aesthetically picking between fairies, vampires, liches, and angels.
Each Covenant will give players two unique abilities: a utility and a class ability. For example, the vampiric Venthyr will grant all Covenant members the ability teleport a short distance away —not unlike Reaper from Overwatch. Additionally, mage players who pledge their loyal to the Venthyr will also gain the power to summon mirrors that punish enemies for using spells and abilities. Other classes will receive their own unique class skills if they join the Venthyr, but we don’t know what these are just yet.
Also, once a player joins a Covenant, they can bind themselves to a prominent member and gain powerful new skills. Players can become better at parrying, deal more damage to enemies with low health, and so on.
The longer a player is bound to an NPC , the more abilities they gain. But, if players change their mind and want to bind to another Covenant member, they can swap binds as easily as swapping talents.
Moreover, each Covenant will provide unique armor, weapons, cloaks, campaigns, mounts, and more. If you ever wanted your own pet Abomination, you might consider joining the Necrolords.
World of Warcraft: Shadowlands will also introduce The Maw, a region of the Shadowlands that used to imprison only the worst of souls. However, The Maw recently started consuming all the dead and departed, regardless of their morality.
The more players explore and fight in The Maw, the more will they attract the attention (and ire) of the mysterious creature known as The Jailer. If, for instance, players kill too many elite enemies while in The Maw, The Jailer will increase the aggro radius of other enemies and summon harder creatures to try and kill that player.
The most important landmark in The Maw is Torghast, the Tower of the Damned. Unlike most dungeons, players will be able to challenge Torghast with any number of players —or go at it solo— and the tower’s difficulty will scale accordingly. And, each time players explore Torghast, its layouts subsequently become more complex and its mobs more challenging.
While players will obviously find loot in Torghast, including runes and legendary items, they will also discover the new resource Anima. As players climb Torghast, they will equip more Anima and essentially create Anima builds that give them crazy advantages and crazier abilities for their run.
Want to turn Torghast’s resident rodents, Mawrats, into potential landmines? There’s an Anima for that.
World of Warcraft: Shadowlands will also provide plenty quality of life changes. One of the most important changes is the revamped leveling system that will streamline the process.
While Shadowlands will reduce the level cap of 120 down to 60, the change is designed to produce a better leveling pace. Moreover, Shadowlands will revamp the game so players can experience any World of Warcraft expansion they want and level through its story.
Whenever a character increases in level, they will receive something new to keep them going. Maybe they’ll receive a spell, access to a dungeon, or permission to ride a mount. Each new level will bring a new reason to keep going.
On a side note, players who are currently level 120 will be bumped down to level 50 instead of 60 once Shadowlands launches. The titular Shadowlands will serve as the level 50-60 experience.
Shadowlands will also revamp how World of Warcraft treats newcomers. All new players will start in the mysterious island known as Exile’s Reach, which will culminate in a mini dungeon. After Exile’s Reach, players can pick whatever expansion they want and level up until they’re ready to venture into the Shadowlands.
Of course, Exile’s Reach is designed for new players. Gamers who already have a World of Warcraft character and want to create a new one can either start in Exile’s Reach or the classic starter zones.
The exception to the Exile’s Reach rule, however, is allied races. Apparently, allied races get to skip starting zones and dive straight into the meat of World of Warcraft at level 10.
As with other expansions, World of Warcraft: Shadowlands will also tweak class mechanics to give them more presence. For instance, all Rogues will have access to poisons, and Shaman totems will persist longer.
Moreover, Shadowlands will resurrect spells and talents that disappeared or were changed throughout World of Warcraft’s life. The Death Knight’s Raise Dead spell, for example, will be made available for all Death Knight specializations instead of being restricted to Unholy Death Knights. Players can expect to see resurgences in abilities such as Shiv, Challenging Shout, and more.
World of Warcraft: Shadowlands is scheduled to release sometime in 2020.