Since the cursed expansion that was Warlord’s of Draenor, the World of Warcraft Community has watched the past two expansions slowly rise out of the wreckage of what is still considered the lowest point of World of Warcrafts history. At this years Blizzcon, the next step in that recovery was announced, World of Warcraft: Shadowlands. The Shadowlands is described as the place where all those who die go, if you’ve ever had to release spirit and travel from a graveyard to your body to resurrect, then you’ve seen a glimpse of the Shadowlands. But to truly understand why the hell anyone would want to go to the Shadowlands, we have to take a moment and revisit what’s happened during the Battle for Azeroth.
During the Legion expansion, Vol’jin the Horde Warchief at the time was struck down and in his dying breath named Lady Sylvanas Windrunner, Banshee Queen of the Undead Forsaken as the new Warchief. She led the Horde through Legion and through most of Battle for Azeroth. But not everyone in the Horde was happy with the way she led things. She was brutal, bloodthirsty and someone who had lived an undeath void of any real emotions, love or hope…she wanted to squash it out at any chance she got. As the expansion goes on there is a rising divide among the Horde and eventually Varok Saurfang challenges Sylvanas to a Mak’gora. An ancient ritual of combat where the winner becomes the new Warchief. Sylvanas bests the old orc with ease, but he tells her in his last breath that she will never kill hope. In her rage she uses shadow magic to kill him, which is forbidden by the rules of the Mak’gora. In the eyes of the Horde and the Alliance she flees telling them that they never meant anything to her and where just a tools in her quest for more power.
The opening announcement trailer for Shadowlands see’s Sylvanas journey to the Frozen Throne where Bolvar Fordragon, once High Lord of Stormwind sits as the Lich King, holding back the forces of the undead from washing over Azeroth. The Banshee Queen and the Lich King fight only for Sylvanas to win and take the crown…in the moment where everyone thought she was going to crown herself and become the Lich Queen, she instead rends the crown asunder and we see the veil that perpetrates the land of the living from the Shadowlands as Sylvanas proclaims, “This entire world is a prison.”
The journey into the Shadowlands will require both the Horde and the Alliance to explore and deal with the consequences of Sylvanas Winderunner’s actions. Blizzard describes the Shadowlands as…
World of Warcraft players entering the fabled Shadowlands will find the realms of the dead in upheaval. Under the normal order, departed souls were delivered to a realm appropriate to the lives they led, but now, all souls are being funneled into the Maw, where the most wicked are damned to suffer for eternity.
As players quest to fix what was shattered by Sylvanas and right her wrongs, players will have to form pacts with Convenants that rule over the different areas of the Shadowlands. Those covenants as outlined by Blizzard are…
The steadfast Kyrian of Bastion, whose discipline and duty compels them to safeguard souls from the mortal realm as they pass into the Shadowlands.
The mysterious Night Fae of Ardenweald, who fiercely defend the spirits of nature from those who would deprive them of rebirth.
The cunning Venthyr of Revendreth, who feast on the souls of the prideful and vain in a gothic realm of opulence and torment.
The warlike Necrolords of Maldraxxus, who forge the undead armies that serve as the first line of defense for the Shadowlands and honor those who seek power and glory in battle.
Blizzard also promises the return of various World of Warcraft Legends who since their departure from the land of the living now call the Shadowlands home. Other features for the expansion include…
Explore the Realm of the Dead: For the first time ever in World of Warcraft, players will cross into the Shadowlands and experience the wonders and horrors of the afterlife across five new zones—the gleaming fields of Bastion, the scarred battlefields of Maldraxxus, the eternal twilight of Ardenweald, the opulent keeps of Revendreth, and the horrific Maw.
Claim a Covenant’s Power: Players will be called upon to forge a bond with one of four Covenants that rule Shadowlands’ new zones, setting the tone for their journey through the expansion with a full Covenant Campaign. As they level up, they’ll get new abilities based on their choice, including class-specific abilities for each Covenant—as well as developing Soulbinds with specific Covenant members, which grant them access to that character’s specific traits and bonuses.
Ascend the Tower of the Damned: At the heart of the Maw lies Torghast, Tower of the Damned, a cursed otherworldly prison where the wickedest souls in the universe are locked away. Highly replay-able and inspired by rogue-like games, heroes are invited to explore its ever-changing halls and chambers and do battle with the minions of the Jailer, Torghast’s vile ruler. Those who brave its trials can claim legendary treasures and help free the heroic spirits wrongfully trapped within.
Every Level Is Meaningful: Shadowlands will introduce a new leveling system, meant to provide a meaningful sense of advancement with every level achieved. Current max-level characters will begin Shadowlands at level 50 and work toward the new level cap of 60.
A New Army of the Dead Rises: To combat Sylvanas’ assault on Icecrown, Bolvar Fordragon— the revered former paladin who took on the mantle of Lich King to keep the Scourge at bay—has raised heroes from among all the peoples of Azeroth to bolster the Death Knights of Acherus. With Shadowlands, pandaren and all allied races will now be able to become Death Knights.
Improved Character Customization Options: A host of new appearance options for all races will be made available to players when they create new World of Warcraft characters (or alter existing ones at the in-game barber shop).
World of Warcraft: Shadowlands is now available for pre-purchase and launches sometime in 2020. Check out more screenshots and concept art from the upcoming expansion in the gallery below.
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