Why I’m Recklessly Optimistic About World of Warcraft: Shadowlands (You Should Be Too)

The World of Warcraft: Shadowlands beta is here, and that means we are staring down the barrel of a new expansion. Now that Battle for Azeroth is waning (to put it nicely) and so much new information about the next expansion has emerged, I’m starting to feel very excited. 

While some people might not be so excited about this expansion, I am completely ready for this game to take up a lot of my free time.

I probably should have learned my lesson about getting excited about Blizzard’s games, but there are so many little things about this expansion that made me pre-purchase it. In some cases, it’s the things that are going away that have me checking for the latest release date news every week.

Either way, let me punch your ticket and give you a warm welcome to the hype train by taking a look at some of the reasons I’m recklessly optimistic about Shadowlands.

Battle for Azeroth is Ending

for the horde
I gotta say, that opening video was a banger

This isn’t so much a point as it is a primer. Ladies and gentlemen, BFA is just about done. The war is over, we got a new direction to go into, and we’re not just miraculously finding another random island in the middle of the ocean to explore.

I’ve been playing WoW since Cataclysm, so I’ve seen a few expansions that died an ugly death. For many, WoD has the dubious honor of being the worst expansion at the end, but BFA hasn’t exactly been great since we Kamehameha’d N’Zoth.

I’m thrilled by the prospect that so many poorly-implemented ideas and annoyances are going away. With that being said, here is a quick run-down of things I’m glad to say goodbye to:

  • Azerite Power
  • Island Expeditions
  • Corruption powers
  • Having so many different currencies to keep track of
  • Magni’s accent. (I still hear it in my sleep)
  • “Zandalar For-evah” every five seconds
  • The atrocious random loot system for weekly chests (AKA earning a cloak for doing an emissary when you have a legendary cloak on)
  • Gearing through PVP
  • The entire cloak questline. It made gearing alts painful as hell.

Ah, it felt cathartic just to write some of that stuff. Anyway, it’s all going away or getting changed, and I can’t wait. I had a good time for most of BFA, but we’re on to new and exciting things!

The Level Squish Makes the Expac Alt-Friendly

WOW levels
I’m so ready to abandon leveling in some zones

The new level squish is making me happy, folks. Level 60 is the maximum once again, and the options for leveling are better than before. I honestly haven’t looked at what happens from level 1-10, but that should go pretty fast. I did see people power level from 10-50 quickly, though, and that gives me hope that bringing alts up to speed is easier to do.

It’s going to sound stupid when I write it, but the hardest part about leveling alts in BFA was that there were 120 levels. It doesn’t matter that you can get a level at least every 15 minutes for the first 70 levels, either. The process was often boring and arduous, to say the least.

Even the experience buff we got wasn’t enough to make the levels go by quick enough. Sure, there are ways to power level your characters, but plebs like me had to do it one by one.

Now, it looks like we have an interesting way to level by going back to older expansions and doing content there. Instead of having to go to specific areas to level, we’re going to have entire expansions that scale to you.

I kinda wish that we could get an instance to cap off each content area, like a foray into Icecrown Citadel if you choose to go level in Northrend. I’ll take what I can get, though.
All in all, I’m pretty excited to spend less time leveling old characters to take part in new content. That way, I don’t have to spend a week to hit max level if I decide to check out the other faction.

The only downside is that the level squish ensures that we don’t get to see DPS in the hundreds of thousands anymore. I think this trade-off is worth it, though.

Old Characters Return (Possible Spoilers)

bolvar 2
That was my favorite helmet.

Another reason I’m very excited to see what’s going to happen in Shadowlands is that old characters are going to return. After all, what use is going to the land of the dead if we can’t see some familiar faces? 

Uther, Ursoc, and Kael’thas are among those slated to appear in some way. Also returning is the Lich King, Bolvar Fordragon. I know that Bolvar isn’t dead, but Blizzard had stuck him on the shelf for a little while. Sure, we did talk to him while doing the whole Vol’jin quest in BFA, but now it looks like he’s going to be a guide for us.

I’m not going to get into every characters’ roles in the new expansion, though. I will say that I like the idea of seeing some of these people without having the whole expansion based around them. I’d hate for Blizzard to pull another WoD where we just went back and rehashed old problems. 

The afterlife is looking good, and we’ll have some friends and foes waiting to greet us.

Crafted Legendaries Offer More Customization

I’m ready to give it a shot

I’ll be very honest here, folks. I’ve only watched the videos of the Shadowlands legendary crafting (“rune carving”), but I can already see that it is going to be interesting. Notice that I didn’t say it was great, and I didn’t say it was going to be bad.

I think legendaries have the potential to be very cool if Blizzard does it right and doesn’t end up making certain items so good that they’re necessary to get a spot in raids or mythics.

Legendaries are something that you’ll have to grind for and improve. Apparently, the key to getting the materials is to spend time in Torghast, another part of the expac that is exciting.

While I like the idea of crafting our own items and having useful legendaries in general, the most important part is it gives all of our characters some much-needed class customization.

Apparently, you can decide to infuse different traits or bonuses into the legendaries, offering players a chance to branch out in other directions. I’m sure we’ll end up chasing a meta build at some point but getting a say in our character’s development is always good news in my book.

The Torghast Dungeon Looks Really Cool

It’s called the Tower of the Damned, people. What more do you want?

I am very excited about Torghast, Tower of the Damned. From what we know, the map changes every time you walk in, a setup that gives me fond memories from other video games like Diablo 3’s Nephalem Rifts and Azure Dreams.

Now, that doesn’t mean it’s a random, procedurally generated map. The maps are all pre-made and fitted together in a random-ish configuration. Moreover, the tower only has certain portions open each week.

A changing map isn’t the only feature of this area. Torghast allows the player to bring in a full party and have an adventure, or you can run it solo. While I thought the tower would be more akin to Mythic + dungeons, it’s not in many respects. For example, there isn’t a time limit at the beginning of the run.

Instead, you (or your group) are assigned a maximum number of deaths you can accrue before a 30-second timer to clear the level starts. From then on, it’s a race to the finish. If you get to the end of the level without The Tarragrue (an NPC that will immediately kill you) getting to you, then you get to start at the next level. However, there is no room for error because your next death triggers the beastly NPC again, and it’s much less likely you’ll clear a whole floor.

Torghast is more than a challenge zone. In this place, you’ll get the ability to collect reagents for legendary gear that you can make. Also, Torghast grants unique abilities called Anima Powers that only work within the tower. Some of these are direct skills and others are buffs for your character.

I’ve only scratched the surface here. I’d definitely recommend checking out a video or reading the full write-up from WoWhead about the area. Needless to say, I’m very excited to work my way through this area.

You Can Pick Your Weekly Chest Loot

Go on. Open it. It’s your fifth pair of gloves this week and it’s 10 ilvls lower than what you have on.

Every once in a while, Blizzard listens. In World of Warcraft: Shadowlands, they are finally changing the way that weekly loot works by giving you quality over quantity. In BFA, you would get a piece of loot in a chest for completing Mythic + dungeons and another piece from the PvP chest by obtaining 500 conquest points or filling a conquest bar.

The new system is going to combine PVP, Mythic+, and Raid objectives into a single weekly chest. Now, I know that sounds like you’re getting less gear, but again, quality over quantity. Each of the three different branches has three goals that you can reach, and every one of them unlocks an additional item.

That gives you a grand total of nine potential items from which to choose. Yes, you read that right. You get the chance to pick the loot that you receive from nine different possibilities if you complete all the available quest objectives.

Even if you don’t like or need any of the items, you can just cash in your gear for the special currency used in that stage of the expansion.

This is such a great change in my opinion. Not only does that ensure that players have more say in the development of their character, but it does away with the frustrating randomness of loot.

Also, it will reward people that play more of the game, allowing “hardcore” players to get ahead a bit for putting in more effort.

All in all, this is probably one of the best changes coming to the game that I’ve seen, and I can’t wait to see it happen.

Choose Your Adventure with Covenants in Shadowlands

Welcome to Bastion, the Kyrian Covenant starting area

Not only are we getting more control over our loot and legendary item development, but we’re continuing to choose our starting zone. However, this expansion comes with a little twist.

Apparently, when you die in the World of Warcraft universe- I mean, really die and not just get the life stomped out of you by 50 alliance players in Nazjatar- you go to one of four areas. Each one houses different kinds of souls and has a purpose in the grand scheme of the universe. You will choose one and make a pact with its denizens, forming a Covenant.

Every player will choose which Covenant they would like to be a part of, whether it is the Kyrian, Venthyr, Night Fae, or Necrolords. It’s like Hogwarts houses. Well, not really, but you can think of it that way if it makes it easier.

The Kyrian are from Bastion, an area that reminds me of the High Heavens from Diablo 3. The Venthyr reside in Revendreth, and they’re the weird vampire goth group. Then, we have the Night Fae of Ardenweald, which looks like the Emerald Dream at night. Last but not least, we have the Necrolords from Maldraxxus, and it shouldn’t take much to figure out they’re all about death and decay.

We aren’t getting a sorting hat, though. You get to choose which one of the Covenants suits you best and make a deal to serve their purposes and quest in their zone. You apparently can swap Covenants, but it’s not going to be easy or very desirable, so choose carefully.

This choice isn’t just about aesthetics, either, and that is why I’m so excited. Players get special abilities that are unique to their Covenant as well as Soulbinds, which basically give players perks and stat buffs by linking their soul with an NPC.

Druids are lining up to die and come to Ardenweald; it’s gorgeous!

But, wait! There’s more! You also get access to unique quests, armor sets, and weapons depending on which Covenant you choose. They can only be obtained through that Covenant, too.

Apparently, Garrisons are making a comeback in the form of Sanctums. The Renown that you earn by doing quests allows you to do more with the Sanctums as time goes on.
I’m honestly not that excited for them, but I’m sure someone likes them. Again, that means more customization and another opportunity to grind a little for people that play WoW a lot.

The Covenants offer you a “choose your own adventure” experience, but it’s more involved than choosing a starting zone in BFA. The group you choose will have a somewhat significant impact on your gameplay.

What is the Release Date for Shadowlands?

All the Blood DKs hoping to get pulled off the bench for raids. Just kidding.

Alright, I’m ready for the new expansion, and you might be, too, since you’re reading this. When is the game coming out?

According to the developer’s update, Blizzard wants this game shipped sometime in Fall 2020. That’s supposedly still the time frame even with the pandemic keeping a lot of workers at home.

I was kinda hoping that it would have come out in late summer like Battle for Azeroth. That way, more people had the chance to play it before school started again and raids won’t get interrupted by the holidays.

Still, we’re at least a few months away, but that gives Blizzard time to fine-tune the expansion before releasing it to us.

Final Thoughts

Future raid boss and sympathetic face-turn in the making?

Needless to say, I am holding onto my hype train ticket and looking down the tracks waiting for Shadowlands to come out of the tunnel that is Battle for Azeroth. It might be a little while, though.

While I am thrilled that Blizzard is trying to give us options for character customization, I can see it backfiring. I am a little worried that the choices for legendaries, Covenants, and skills will end up forcing people into cookie-cutter builds to make it into raid teams as the best builds become apparent.

That might not be a big deal for some people, but it could be a big problem down the road unless Blizzard does a heck of a job with balancing. Again, not necessarily holding my breath on that one.

All in all, I think we have a lot of new and interesting things to look forward to with this next expansion.

As always, thanks for reading. Feel free to let me know what you’re excited to see in the expac or if you absolutely hate it and won’t buy it and all that jazz.

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