BlizzCon 2019 is officially underway, which means fans of the company's many IPs are learning a ton about what the next year means for franchises like Diablo, Overwatch, Heroes of the Storm, and (of course) World of Warcraft. The opening presentation included an insane new cinematic for World of Warcraft: Shadowlands, but that was just the tip of the iceberg.
Although some new World of Warcraft features were teased in a follow up gameplay trailer during the opening presentation, many fans felt like substantial details about the expansion were lacking. Luckily, the follow up WoW specific panel later in the afternoon went much deeper into what's next for WoW and shared more Shadowlands details than most players could even digest at once.
Now that the WoW panels are concluded and details about Shadowlands will start to slow down for a while, let's take some time to breakdown everything that was revealed about the next WoW expansion at BlizzCon 2019...
What is the Shadowlands Story?
Shadowlands kicks off with Sylvanas encountering the Lich King and destroying the helm. This means that for the first time ever there is no Lich King on the throne and the walls between Azeroth and the Shadowlands are crumbling down.
Death Knights - New Supported Races and Starting Zone
At long last, all races will be able to be Death Knights (one of the most fun WoW classes). The starting zone won't be adjusted for the races that already had access to the Hero Class, but Panderan and Allied Races will experience a new, shorter Death Knight starting zone. The new starting zone story takes place right before the opening cinematic, as Bolvar senses her coming and tries to prepare for the attacks.
New Character Customization
In Shadowlands, some races will be able to have new additional aesthetic character customization options to help update a few of the races. Draenei, Humans, Trolls, Dwarves, and Undead were all confirmed to have new options. Trolls and Dwarves are getting war paint, Undead get more flesh options, humans (finally) get racial features that better represent different actual humans, and Draenei get options to adjust tail length and some cool jewelry.
Level Squish and New Level Cap
This is likely the most interesting and exciting change coming with Shadowlands. At long last, WoW is getting a level squish. Shortly before the expansion drops, all level 120 characters will drop down to level 50. When Shadowlands releases, players will work towards hitting the new level cap of 60. This is a massive change for the MMO and, so far, the community seems to be onboard and excited about this new direction.
This means that new characters will be able to play from level 10-50 in any of the expansions they want and experience the full story line. This is a big improvement and means that users will actually be able to experience an expansion's full story before they outlevel the content and have to leave it behind.
No New Talents?
After the level squish, it appears that there are still seven talent rows:
Row 1 - level 15
Row 2 - level 25
Row 3 - level 30
Row 4 - level 35
Row 5 - level 40
Row 6 - level 45
Row 7 - level 50
Since the new level cap is 60, it sort of looks like there will be no new class talents added in Shadowlands. That said, Ion stated multiple times that the team wants leveling up to have meaning again and make classes feel more powerful, so perhaps the new talents and abilities will come through other methods (like Covenant abilities, etc...).
What Are The New Zones?
These are called to service. Souls here shed past burdens and seek virtue. A soul that is familiar that will be in Bastion will be Uther the Lightbringer.
It's the heart of the shadowlands' military might. It's the survival of the fittest, but they're not necessarily evil. An example soul is Draka.
It's an enchanted mystical forest. Ardenweald is also a location of the Drust. An example soul is Cenarius.
This is a land of Gothic spires and dark secrets. It's flawed and prideful souls atoning for sins. An example soul is Kael'thas.
What Are Covenants?
Covenant are the four powers of the Shadowlands. Each will seek your aid and each will offer different rewards. Get ready for some player choice!
"Each covenant has a full endgame narrative campaign. Each covenant has two active abilities. One is class specific. Covenants have an Endgame progression system called Soulbinds. There is no Artifact Power to grind. Wide array of Cosmetic Rewards. You work to restore a Convenant Sanctum to its former Glory."
A Revised Approach To Legendary Items
Legendaries that matter are back! Blizzard wants to return to meaningful Legendary items, similar to the ones in Legion, but the devs are changing the way that these items are going to be acquired...
"We liked some of the elements from the Legion legendary system. We really liked the feeling that a ton of things to do in the world had this really exciting moment associated with it, where you'd go "OH WOAH, I just got this thing from my Emissary cache. I can't believe it. " Or you'd go "Woah, I just go Prydaz. " So we wanted to bring back the legendaries and some of the things that we want to involve are, again regards to player agency, we want you to build your own legendary. During your adventures in the Shadowlands, you're going to find the forge where Domination armor is created, where they made the Helmet and where they made Frostmourne and you're going to learn about how that process works and who is the Blacksmith there and ultimately all of the crafting professions are going to get the ability to make these base-level pieces that you can combine and turn into a customized legendary. Some of the themes we are talking about say, finding souls which are part of the Domination kit, and then combining them with this crafted piece to form a legendary with specific powers that you want. What would have been legendary bracers back in Legion that had additional casts of Fireblasts for your Fire Mage, I might be able to find the soul that has that particularly cool ability and then put it on some boots... You will take the piece that's crafted, you will take other components that you find in the world, you'll take the abilities that you want, and then you'll take it down to the Domination Forge, and then combine it together to form your legendary."
We are definitely going to learn a lot more details about Shadowlands in the coming months, so expect a lot of updates as Blizzard moves into full promotion mode and eventually fires up test servers.
Be sure to check back for more WoW Classic strategy guides, news, and updates in the coming days. Until then, For The Horde!
World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth and WoW: Classic are both available now on PC.