The leaks were right: Blizzard announced World of Warcraft: Shadowlands, the latest expansion for the hit MMORPG at Blizzcon 2019 on Friday.
Shadowlands will be released sometime next year, and will be the eighth expansion for World of Warcraft, continuing a trend of two-year expansion cycles set by Blizzard back in the Wrath of the Lich King days.
World of Warcraft: Shadowlands will follow on from every other major WoW expansion to come before it. Instead of a level cap increase, things are actually decreasing back to the original Level 60 cap. Blizzard is promising to tune the leveling experience so that a full 1-50 run can be done through any chosen expansion, giving players the freedom to make a new character, play through an expansion of their choice, and then jump straight into the Shadowlands zones for the last 10 levels.
Currently announced Shadowlands locations include Revendreth, Ardenweald, Maldraxxus, and Bastion, which you might recognize from the recent leaks. The new leveling experience is tailored to offer something new (like a skill or trait) with every level, while the new Covenant feature will dish out two abilities across the new content; one exclusive to the chosen Covenant, and one exclusive to each character class.
Covenants are similar to class halls from the past. Players are free to align themselves with one of four new Covenants, each with their own NPC species and motives for players to side with. For those focused on battle content, Torghast, the Tower of the Damned, is introduced as a “highly replayable ever-changing dungeon”.
Lore-wise, Shadowlands specifically carries on from Battle of Azeroth. In the game’s opening cinematic, Sylvanas reemerges in Icecrown, defeating the Lich King in a duel and breaking his iconic helmet in two, tearing open a gateway to the titular Shadowlands, the curtain between life and death. During the announcement, World of Warcraft Director Ion Hazzikostas described the Shadowlands as the veil every character treads along to retrieve their body after taking on too many mobs – a scenario every World of Warcraft player is no-doubt deeply familiar with. But it’s also the place the valkyrie hail, and where Death Knights draw their power. It’s Azeroth’s answer to the afterlife, making it a place that predates the world forged by the titans at the start of it all.
World of Warcraft: Shadowlands is currently up for pre-order on the Battle.net store, with three editions to choose from; Base, Heroic, and Epic. The stated release date of “on or before December 31, 2020” means most can hold off pre-purchasing the game for a while yet, but those who do will gain access to a few instant rewards like;
- Base Edition: Early access to Death Knights on Allied Race and Pandaren characters (starting with the Visions of N’Zoth update)
- Heroic Edition: Base edition bonuses plus Level 120 character boost, Ensorcelled Everwyrm mount, and access to Eternal Traveler transmog set (through a quest)
- Epic Edition: Everything from the Heroic Edition plus 30-days game time, Anima Wymrling pet, Eternal Traveler’s Heartstone effect, and Illusion: Wraithchill weapon effect
This is a breaking news story and will be updated.
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