World of Warcraft: Shadowlands — everything we know so far

World of Warcraft: Shadowlands
(Image credit: Blizzard)

The heroes of World of Warcraft have gone to other worlds and realities, faced off against gods and the heart of a planet. Blizzard Entertainment has kept the war between the Horde and Alliance going for 16 years, with no signs of stopping. Now the warriors of Azeroth are heading to the Shadowlands, the world of the dead. 

World of Warcraft: Shadowlands is coming soon, with whole new zones to explore and a new fearsome foe to face off against. Blizzard is also using the expansion to release new dungeons and raids, new character customization options, new gameplay systems, and a level squish with a revamped starting experience for new players. Pull back the veil on the land of the dead and catch a glimpse of everything coming with Shadowlands.

World of Warcraft: Shadowlands expected release date 

World of Warcraft: Shadowlands was originally slated to come to PC and Mac on October 27. However, Blizzard has since delayed the game to "latter this year" in order to get the expansion in the best shape possible.

"However, as everything started coming together and we’ve been listening to and building upon your feedback, it’s become clear we need a little more time for additional polish, and to balance and iterate on some interlocking pieces—particularly those related to the endgame," wrote Blizzard in a blog post.

However, WoW players can look forward to the Shadowlands pre-patch going live on October 13. This update will introduce many of the expansion's key features, including "revamped character leveling, new-player experience on Exile’s Reach, and a host of new character customization options."

World of Warcraft: Shadowlands trailer 

Take a look at the story trailer for World of Warcraft: Shadowlands. In the trailer, the former Warchief of the Horde, Sylvanas Windrunner, faces off against the Lich King. She wins the skirmish, taking his crown and shattering it. This tears a rift in the world above Icecrown Citadel, a portal into the Shadowlands. 

If you want to dive deeper into the game's lore, you can check out the new Shadowlands Afterlives: Bastion animated short above. This 7-minute clip explores the fate of Uther the Lightbringer once he passes into the afterlife and comes across Devos, a Paragon of Bastion.

World of Warcraft: Shadowlands beta 

(Image credit: Blizzard)

There's still a chance to get into the World of Warcraft: Shadowlands beta and see everything that the expansion has to offer. If you have an existing World of Warcraft subscription, you just need to go to the official Shadowlands website, and click the "Beta Opt-In" button on the top right. 

This will take you to the bottom of the page, where you can click the "Opt-In Now" button. If you're already logged in on your WoW account, this is all you need to do. Blizzard is letting players into beta in waves, so you should eventually receive an email letting you know that you're in the beta. 

World of Warcraft: Shadowlands zones 

(Image credit: Blizzard)

When players head into the Shadowlands, they'll be trapped within the Maw, a ruined crag full of anguished souls watched over by the minions of the Jailer. Our heroes will then move to the other regions of the Shadowlands, each ruled by a different path for the souls of the dead. The glowing fields of Bastion are ruled by the Kyrian, who look to purify the souls in their care and raise them into a more noble duty. The Necrolords fight across the cancerous growth of Maldraxxus, believing that might makes right. In the gothic spires of Revendreth, the Venthyr torture souls, harvesting their sin and forcing the dead to seek penance for their deeds in life. Finally, the vast forests of Ardenweald are the home of rebirth, where the Night Fae tend the unearthly flora and fauna. 

Players will journey to each of these zones from Oribos, The Eternal City. Sitting at the center of the Shadowlands, Oribos is the home of the Arbiter, a figure that's supposed to decide on the final resting place of every soul that enters the land of the dead. Oribos will act as the social hub for the entire expansion, where players will return to sell items, craft, and more.

World of Warcraft: Shadowlands gameplay 

(Image credit: Blizzard)

The main gameplay addition of Shadowlands are the Covenants. This system allows players to align themselves with one of the ruling houses: Kyrian, Necrolord, Venthyr, or Night Fae. If you pledge yourself to a covenant, you'll get two unique abilities, with one general ability and one class-specific skill. 

You'll also gain access to the Covenant Soulbinds. These are characters tied to a covenant who will tie their souls to your character, unlocking different skill trees. These skill trees have a host of new bonuses and abilities, adding new combat skills or movement abilities. 

Once you've passed through each realm and selected your covenant, you'll head back into the Maw. The Maw is a time-limited region, pitting players against the Jailer's minions; the more you fight, the more you'll catch the Jailer's gaze, increasing the forces arrayed against you. At the center of the Maw is Torghast, the Tower of the Damned. This is a randomized, roguelike dungeon that changes every time you enter it with new room configurations, new modifiers, and new enemies. You'll want to face Torghast though, as within its infinite halls are the items you can craft into legendary gear. 

World of Warcraft: Shadowlands level squish 

(Image credit: Blizzard)

If you're just getting into World of Warcraft, Blizzard Entertainment is making the starting experience much smoother. Not only are there a host of new character customization options letting you truly make your character unique, but there's also been an overhaul of the leveling experience. The current maximum level is 120 in World of Warcraft, and that'll be compressed down to level 50 in Shadowlands. Those who make their way through all of Shadowlands will reach the new max level of 60. 

When you start a new character, you'll be sent to Exile's Reach, the updated starting experience that will walk you through standard WoW concepts. Exile's Reach goes from level 1 to 10, at which point you'll be able to decide which expansion you want to explore on the way to level 50. That's right, you can reach Shadowlands by simply playing through any previous expansion: Burning Crusade, Wrath of the Lich King, Mists of Pandaria, Cataclysm, Warlords of Draenor, or Legion, or Battle for Azeroth. We recommend leveling through Wrath of the Lich King or Mists of Pandaria, but ultimately it's your preference.

Speaking of new players, Blizzard is also focused on accessibility with the addition of controller support to WoW. No, it's not coming to consoles, but controller support will let you hook up your standard controller or even the Xbox Adaptive Controller. It's just another option for playing WoW, one that's been a long time coming.

World of Warcraft: Shadowlands Collector's Edition 

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Like previous expansions, if you're deep into World of Warcraft, you can pick up the Collector's Edition of Shadowlands. The Shadowlands Collector’s Edition costs $119.99 and is available to pre-order from a number of retailers like Amazon, GameStop, and Best Buy

The Collector's Edition comes with a host of physical and digital goodies. On the physical side, you'll get four pins with the symbols of all four Covenants; an Art of the Shadowlands hardcover book; a mousepad depicting the shattered sky above Icecrown Citadel, and a key unlocking the digital Shadowlands soundtrack. You'll also net in-game items, like the Ensorcelled Everwyrm mount, Anima Wyrmling pet, Vestments of the Eternal Traveler transmog set, Wraithchill cosmetic weapon enchant, and Eternal Traveler’s Hearthstone. Like previous expansions, you'll get a level boost, allowing you to instantly bring one character up to tackle the Shadowlands content. 

If you're trying to keep your shelves free of clutter, there is the digital-only Epic Edition on the Blizzard Shop. For $79.99, you'll get all of the digital items from the Collector's Edition. The Epic and Collector's Editions also come with a Shadowlands digital key and 30 days of game time.

Maybe the game will come to iOS and Android as well, as Blizzard is looking at bringing Warcraft games to mobile devices.