The Details of World of Warcraft: Shadowlands Release
Blizzard has announced a release date for the next World of Warcraft: Shadowlands expansion during the WOW Gamescom stream. The addon will be released on October 27, 2020.
Launch times in the game’s regions:
- Americas (PDT): 4 p.m., October 26
- Europe (CET): 12 a.m., October 27
- Taiwan (CST): 7 a.m., October 27
- Korea (KST): 8 a.m., October 27
- Australia/New Zealand (AEST): 10 a.m., October 27
- UTC: 11 p.m., October 26
Before the release of the addon, the pre-patch events will be available in the game ‒ preparation for the transition from Battle for Azeroth to Shadowlands. Most of the ties have already been tested by users in the beta test of the addon. For example, the developers will add a Scourge Invasion event to the game. The plot of the add-on is also known ‒ gamers will have to visit the Icecrown Citadel and meet with Bolvar.
The Scourge Invasion occurred twice in World of Warcraft. The first time the undead attacked before the opening of the Naxxramas raid in the original WoW. The second invasion took place before the start of the Wrath of the Lich King expansion.
During the event, zombies will start attacking players in large cities. They can infect users ‒ if the character does not heal, he will also turn into a monster.
Shadowlands will kick off in Icecrown Citadel, where representatives of both factions will meet with Bolvar. The Lich King will tell you that after Sylvanas destroyed the helmet, her soul was connected with the fragments of the artifact. Bolvar claims that with this, the Banshee Queen can be tracked down.
The player will need to go to the Maw to free the heroes captured by Sylvanas, among whom was the king of the Alliance Anduin Wrynn. In the ShadowLands, we also have to meet the wounded Thrall and Jaina, who will hint that time in the afterlife flows much slower than in Azeroth. Sylvanas will again be able to hide from the heroes, and the player will need to fight the Jailer’s minions. The complete passage of the starting storyline takes about 45 minutes.
As the game director Ion Hazzikostas assures, the addon has already been completed. But then the process of debugging, grinding, dressing, tuning, and polishing will begin, which, as practice shows, can take years.
In the meantime, in a series of interviews and broadcasts, the World of Warcraft team has revealed a huge amount of new details about Shadowlands. Besides, the press was given access to a special test version of the game: there it was possible to get acquainted with some activities for high-level players.
Runaway and come back
The days of the Legion victors and the saviors of Azeroth are over. For the inhabitants of the afterlife, our hero is nothing more than a curiosity, a creature of flesh in the land of spirits. They are much more interested in another feature of the protagonist: he visited the Maw, from where they do not return, but managed to escape. That’s what they call him now: Mawborn.
The Maw, like Argus, is a place for high-level heroes. Moreover, you cannot fly on Argus, and in the Maw, you are not even allowed to ride. On foot, everything on foot!
The local area has one more annoying feature. Pretty soon, the suspicious activity of the protagonist arouses the interest of the Jailer, and now he promises not to take his eyes off the character. His gaze constantly pursues you in the Maw, and any activity fills his strip of attention. As soon as it hits the edge, it is better to sit out for a day in a safe place, because all the forces of the local armies will be thrown into your search. And in case of death, you will lose half of the stygia obtained by hard labor ‒ the local “uterine” currency, which is spent on useful opportunities and enhancements.
Somewhere out there, in the inaccessible depths of the Maw, new meetings with Sylvanas await us. The creators of the game promise that its story will unfold in all its glory ‒ much the same as Illidan was presented to us in Burning Legion.
Lucky, Just Died
Fans of World of Warcraft will remember exactly how Blizzard started Shadowlands: with a story cutscene. Sylvanas defeated the Lich King, took possession of his crown, and opened a rift into the ShadowLands ‒ a world where the souls of fallen heroes and villains fall. Why would she?
For several years, players have been wondering why Sylvanas and her subjects have been intriguing and breaking agreements for so long. In the meantime, the inhabitants of the afterlife are perplexed: the souls of the dead have ceased to come to them long ago. Mortals have discovered the secret of eternal life? Or is it again the machinations of dark forces?
The story of Shadowlands should answer all these questions and show why Teldrassil died and Saurfang sacrificed himself. But first, we go to the world of the dead and see the Maw ‒ a place in all respects terrible. Although … No, wait, now we see: in the alpha version, the characters created for testing go straight to the Bastion ‒ the first location of the expansion of five and the fiefdom of the Kyrian covenant.
A bastion is a place for heroes and valiant warriors, whose souls must be cleansed and turn into a kind of winged angels. And the most “purified” of them become Ideals ‒ The ideal of purity, Ideal of courage, Ideal of humility, Ideal of fidelity.
The Kirii are just the first of four covenants we will encounter. This process is well known from the faction system, but there is a fundamental difference: they will only be allowed to establish close relationships with one covenant to choose from. And it depends on this choice what additional skills we can use, what outfits to wear, and what mounts to ride.
Each covenant has its problems, but one thing in common is that they all suffer from a lack of anima. The anima brings with them dead souls, and they have long ceased to fall into the lands of the Covenants. The Kirii, in particular, are forced to shut down their centurion guards.
The heavenly world is certainly beautiful ‒ walks through its picturesque expanses result in gigabytes of screenshots. Only one thing can be reproached with designers: their creation is not always perceived as something completely new.
The bastion is similar to the pastel version of Suramar, in which the Valkyries and other associates of Odin of Stormheim settled. Most of the architectural structures are reminiscent of places we’ve been to many times: here’s a repainted gazebo from the Broken Isles, here’s the bridge from Trial of Valor, here’s an arched entrance from the legacy of the vrykul. And we have already met and fought with many of the local inhabitants. For example, the excruciating memories banished from the Aspirants are close relatives of the Sha forces we fought in Pandaria.
The Target Mark
Yes, sixteen years after the game’s premiere, Blizzard finally managed to draw a beacon that shows where to run. Sometimes it is even more convenient than the classic TomTom mod since it points exactly to the entrance to the cave, and not to the boss in its depths.
The updated classes are also striking. Everyone got new skills … No, sorry, old skills that were got rid of in the Legion in an attempt to make classes and specializations unique. For the expanded arsenal, they even took a new tab in the spellbook: it contains skills common to the archetype. Conveniently.
The alteration is conceived so globally that this time we are not given a new class ‒ despite the time has come for it. But it’s too early to judge what will turn out in the end: everything changes on the fly and will likely change many more times before Shadowlands is officially released. Also, each class will have the skills of the selected covenant, and they are not yet fully represented ‒ which means that the designers of the combat system are still working on them.
But it is already clear that fans of minimalistic interfaces with a dozen buttons on the screen will have a hard time: all the skills on them simply will not fit. The layout has to be changed radically, and this usually leads to errors during a battle. But we will have a lot of time for training ‒ we still need to get the missing ten levels of pumping.
Dead Souls and Where to Find Them
By tradition, the bulk of important and necessary activities await the heroes of Azeroth at the highest level. In the alpha version, one of such activities was presented: Torgast, Tower of the Damned. This is a completely new type of dungeon ‒ an endless tower with procedural level generation.
Players need to climb it as high as possible, and each next floor is slightly more difficult than the previous one. On every sixth floor, a boss waits for us, and on the “regular” ones you can meet mini-bosses or mini-quests. For example, freeing captive souls, helping them find an object, or solving a puzzle.
You can go through the tower of the damned either alone or in a group; developers are ready to “customize” the assortment of tests for each class and even specialization if they decide that there is a need for it.
However, Torgast is high-level content, which means that only heroes of the maximum level can go to it. And this is now not 130th, but 60th: the pumping system has been completely transformed, and the number of levels has been cut by more than half. So level 120 fighters will begin their journey at level 50; proportionally “younger” and those who have not reached the cap.
The start page of the recruits’ forge has got very nice changes: now, when choosing a class and race of your future hero, you see a small demonstration of strength, accompanied by special effects with the main class abilities. For example, a robber barrages blades, a warlock summons crowds of imps, a druid jumps like a cat, and so on.
It looks epic, at least compared to the stationary enchantments that just stand and endure while you customize them.
We move on to what will distinguish you from the rest, we put our souls into the future hero. Character customization has been expanded much, up to the choice of eye color and decorations. New hairstyles were added, and many of the old ones were reworked and ceased to be the property of only one race. And everything now has a name … well, except for faces and colors.
Naturally, such customization as, for example, in Black Desert, is not and will not be here, and why is it needed ‒ after all, WoW is far from about that.
By the way, now you don’t have to press the “complete” button with the hope that your character has a unique name ‒ now you see a green checkmark for availability when you write it.
For new characters, a special starting location has been built, although not only beginners but also veterans will be able to get there. The only exceptions are death knights and demon hunters ‒ they have their introductions prepared for them, and their initial level is higher: 8.
According to the plot, the aspiring heroes of Azeroth find themselves on an unknown island. Somewhere here the Alliance expedition has disappeared (the entry is not yet ready for the Horde), and now we have to survive the shipwreck, gather the remains of the team, find survivors and deal with local secrets.
Isle of Exiles resembles Stormheim, Highmountain, and Drustvar at the same time. The locals range from the familiar wild boars and spiders to the ubiquitous murlocs and malevolent harpies. And in the final, we will face a battle with orcs and ogres, who decided to test themselves in necromancy.
The new introductory campaign is pretty straightforward: we are being led by the hand and are not immediately allowed to deviate from the course to find a couple of side quests. And in the process, they introduce the basics of the game and the chosen class. For example, hunters are taught to tame animals and in the end, they are given a unique racial pet.
The path to the heights of development has become shorter, but richer. Now with each new level, we get something new: a skill, an opportunity, opening a dungeon.
Having mastered the basics, newcomers go straight to Kul Tiras or Zandalar ‒ the locations of the current expansion. Yes, the content of the Battle for Azeroth addon should be enough for the entire path from 10th to 50th level, even if you have to grab Nazjatar and N’Zoth’s invasions from later patches.
However, this revolution also has a side effect. Old territories and remnants of the original plot are finally sent to the archive. Newcomers will begin their journey in the midst of the confrontation between the Horde and the Alliance ‒ and what exactly led to it may never be known.
Pain of Choice
Having kindly shown us the facets of reality and the atmosphere of the locations for the subsequent pastime, we are introduced to the options for foster families and are presented with a choice of whom to join. We’ll have to choose a covenant that gives different bonuses in the form of unique abilities, mounts, sets of clothes, and a mentor, with whom we will link our destinies and develop turn-based relationships in a talent tree reminiscent of Legion artifacts.
We will not describe each covenant in detail ‒ we will do it immediately after the release when all the decisions of the developers become final. Let’s just say that even the formidable wicked Death Knight, who commands the armies of ghouls, can become a cute space fox and rush in this image to meet new adventures.