In the World of Warcraft, after the sky shattered, "We were left staring across the veil between life and death, into a piece of the Shadowland." And now we have finally arrived to find out more about what that means. There will be a deep dive tomorrow, but for now, here is what we know!
The Shadowlands are where the souls from the Worlds of Warcraft go after their body dies. These soulds have "Anima" which is a sum of all its experiences, and that Anima is what powers the Shadowlands.
There are infinite realms in the Shadowlands, but we will focus on just a few of them: Ardenweald, Bastion, Revendreth, and Maldraxxus, with the city Oribos and a mysterious region known as The Maw.
Bastion: Ruled by The Kyrian Covenant. The souls sent here by the Arbiter have some sort of purpose of service. These souls will stay here until they are ready to become a spirit healer, etc. for the rest of their afterlife. Uther is a soul in Bastion.
Maldraxxus: Ruled over by The Necrolord Covenant, and represents the Shadowlands miltary might. They seem like evil, but it's more about power and might has no necessary affiliation. Draxa is an example soul. She was not evil, but never bowed to anyone. That is the Maldraxxus way.
Ardenweald: An enchanted mystical forest ruled over by The Night Fae. Spirits of Nature are the ones called to Ardenweald, and they will later serve the forests and wilds. Cenarius is an example of a soul that will be called here.
Revendreath: Ruled by the Venthyr, Revendreath is the one place you don't really want to end up. The souls called here are those with flaws, and are needing repentance or atonement. Kael'thas is in this realm, and will be a part of the storyline.
Oribos: This is where the Arbiter stands, and it is the hub of the Shadowlands. It is also, therefore, the central area for you players.
The Maw: This is ruled by no Covenant, and it is the place for all the terrible souls. The Maw is essentially a type of jail. And it's a one way street, once you go in The Maw, you never get out. But of course, the players will eventually be travelling there. Good luck!
What are these covenants? They are the powers in the Shadowrealms, and are built into every aspect of the game, being an essential part of how you gain power and level up your skills. Each Covenant will seek your aid and in turn offer you portions of theor powers.
There is a full endgame for each covenant, and each one will have two unique abilities. There is an endgame progression system as well, called Soulbinds, but don't worry, there is no Artifact power to have to grind out! Fret not!
Each Covenant also has its own cosmetics and Sanctum that you can work to restore. The more you help your Covenant, the better their realm will be!
Unfortunately, death is broken right now, and instead of all the souls going to their usual Realm, they are instead all being sucked into The Maw, strengthening it. This is also starving the other Realms of their necessary Anima, causing them to wither and decay.
However, this may have been on purpose. Sylvanas has caused a lot of death. But that's because she has an affinity with the jailer in The Maw. And as The Maw grows, her power grows as well.
The story will then lead you through each Realm, focusing on a creative story and then once you reach max level, you will finally decide on which Covenant you want to join permanently. However, after the endgame, in your alts, you are able to then choose your own story, deciding on a Covenant immediately. This allows you to sepcialize much more, making for more replayability.
Once you reach max level, you may reenter The Maw. This is a much more dangerous max level zone than before. There will be no friendly salesman selling potions, there is only you and what you bring with you. The Maw is a terrible place, there will be no out of character friendliness.
First is Torghast, The Tower of the Damned. This is more or less an endless dungeon, that you can enter either solo or as a small group with four friends.
Then there are eight other dungeons. There are four "Level-Up" dungeons and four max level only dungeons. There will also be a 10 boss raid at launch, called Castle Nathri which mimics an old vampiric castle.
Mostly, Blizzard is focusing on player agency, trying to lower randomization and allow for players to take more control over their story and advancement through that. Instead of weekly loot boxes, they will now implement a system that checks for how well you've been playing and giving you a specialized list of a few items for you to choose as your reward instead.
They're also updating their professions to make them more useful as you travel The Shadowlands. And Legendaries won't be randomly obtained, rather you will work towards them in your tours through Torghast.
There will also be much better character customization, providing more options to make your character unique and - if you play a human - even feel much more like yourself. They have added features to help you create a more specific look so you can feel more connected to the character you play. Also... Everyone can now be a Deathknight!
Finally, they are revamping their classes system to make them feel more rewarding for what each player wants, and not quite as forced or randomized.
They're also updating their leveling system, and you will start at 50 and level to 60. This will allow for much better pacing, so that the leveling is better spaced out and feels more meaningful, while not requiring hundreds of hours before the end game.
They will also give you access to one of the other expansions for your alts to level you from 1-50! Now you can play through another expansion to prepare for your journey through the Shadowlands!
There will be MANY more World of Warcraft updates tomorrow in their deep dive, so be sure to check back as they release more on what and how we will explore The Shadowlands.