BlizzCon 2019 brought a host of announcements for Blizzard games, including the long-running fantasy MMO World of Warcraft. Blizzard showed off a CGI cinematic for the next expansion, Shadowlands, and we got to see Bolvar Fordragon take centre stage, along with the controversial war chief, Sylvanas Windrunner.
World of Warcraft’s next expansion, Shadowlands, has officially been announced. The months of rumours and leaks turned out to be true, as Shadowlands will wrap up the faction war of Battle for Azeroth as both sides unite to fight a far bigger threat: The Old Gods and their evil masters, The Void Lords.
Revealed during the opening ceremony of BlizzCon 2019, the cinematic trailer opens with Sylvanas returning to Icecrown Citadel, where the current Lich King Bolvar resides. Sylvanas and Bolvar battle one another, before Sylvanas takes his crown and claims it for herself. Using the Lich King’s crown, Sylvanas tears open reality, revealing what appears to be the Shadowlands, an alternate dimension of death and decay. Players will be familiar with this realm because it’s where you’re sent to when you die.
The World of Warcraft lore has been hinting that we would be heading to the Shadowlands for quite some time now. A recent leak from the Blizzard Gear store lent further credibility to the speculation, but there was lots of in-game evidence as well. The former Horde Warchief Vol’jin is in a state between life and death, and there was a long quest line investigating who whispered in his ear as he died. Sylvanas Windrunner, his successor, was also very interested in death. Bolvar’s been very active (and up to no good) since the last expansion, Legion.
View the cinematic trailer below:
Now, Sylvanas is in her end game, or at least it appears that she is. During the cinematic, Sylvannas is shown clearly destroying the Lich King’s helmet and entering a portal to the Shadowlands, which is full of “fallen warriors”.
Additionally, Shadowlands will bring a new continent to the game, as well as overhaul existing game systems, and new NPC factions that the players can join — this looks similar to the Aldor/Scryer split in The Burning Crusade, but dramatically expanded. Player choice and the “covenant” system seem to be key features of the new expansion.
The new expansion also comes with a number of new features. One of the key features of Shadowlands will be choosing a Covenant, aligning with one of the different factions that call it home like the Valkyr. Of course, Shadowlands will also include several new zones, which we’ll have more on shortly. “Shadowlands is an expansion built around choice,” Hazzikostas said.
When they cross into the realm-between-realms, players will be able to:
– 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 Soul binds 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 re-playable and inspired by roguelike 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 levelling 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 Customisation 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).
Shadowlands will release in 2020, with raid content at launch, and will be patched in the months after its release.