World of Warcraft's Next Expansion Sends Us to the Shadowlands

World of Warcraft's Next Expansion Sends Us to the Shadowlands

The land of the dead awaits.

As World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth draws to a close, it's now time to look forward to what's next for Azeroth. The past few years of WoW have seen some big changes: Anduin Wrynn has stepped up to lead the Alliance, the Burning Legion has been vanquished, Banshee Queen Sylvanas Windrunner has left the Horde behind, we've killed Azshara, and the next on the hit list is the Old God N'Zoth. What momentous shift will mark the next expansion?

Sylvanas has made her move, attacking the Lich King on his Frozen Throne. Bolvar Fordragon was once a hero, taking on the mantle of Lich King to save the world. After a brief battle, Sylvanas took the Lich King's crown from Bolvar in what look like a move to make herself the Lich Queen. Instead, she tore the crown in half, opening a tear over Icecrown Citadel. A tear that flows directly into the Shadowlands.

"We were told by King Terenas that there must always be a Lich King, and now there is none," said WoW director Ion Hazzikostas on the BlizzCon 2019 stage.

Yes, all the leaks were true. We're heading to the Shadowlands, the realm of death. It's the place that every hero ends up in when they die. It's the realm of the Spirit Healer, where the Death Knights draw their power, and where the Val'kyr roam. The next expansion is going to expand on death in all its forms in World of Warcraft.

The new zones within the Shadowlands are Bastion, Ardenweald, Maldraxxus, and Revendreth, with a final unseen section called The Maw. Bastion and Ardenweald are the regions that play against type, with the shining spires of Bastion and the placid forest of Ardenweald. Revendreth looks to sport the same aesthetic as the vampyr and San'layn, while Maldraxxus is standard undead for WoW. Players will plague themselves to one of the Covenants, the leaders of each of the four regions: Bastion's Kyrian, Revendreth's Venthyr, Maldraxxus' Necrolords, or Ardenweald's Night Fae. Each Covenant will offer different armor for players as a reward, alongside new class-specific abilities and Convenant-specific bonuses.

With the expansion's focus on the dead, Death Knights will see their ranks bolstered as Bolvar raises others to join them. This means Allied Races can now become Death Knights! Players will also have further options to customize their characters, as Blizzard is adding new appearance options. If you've been waiting to have a Pandaren Death Knight with a new haircut, now is your time.

One new feature is Torghast, the Tower of the Damned. This mirrors Final Fantasy 14's Palace of the Dead, as a roguelike experience where 1-5 players tackle floors of growing difficulty. There's no word on how many floors will be available.

Blizzard is also finally pulling the trigger on a level squish. Currently, the game maxes out at level 120, but soon, the current content will be crammed into levels 1-50. With that change, the level cap for Shadowlands will be level 60 and Blizzard promises that "every level is meaningful." That means there will probably be some class changes, which will likely be detailed in the forthcoming WoW panel later today.

WoW: Shadowlands is coming next year, thought Blizzard didn't give a firm release window.

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Mike Williams

Reviews Editor

M.H. Williams is new to the journalism game, but he's been a gamer since the NES first graced American shores. Third-person action-adventure games are his personal poison: Uncharted, Infamous, and Assassin's Creed just to name a few. If you see him around a convention, he's not hard to spot: Black guy, glasses, and a tie.

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