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Following in the footsteps of her burly predecessor, Sylvanas Windrunner has failed the Horde during the events of World of Warcraft's Battle For Azeroth expansion, and by doing so, she paved the way for the MMORPG's next expansion known as Shadowlands. Coming sometime in 2020, the expansion will shake things up by upsetting the cosmic balance between life and death, reducing the level cap down to 60, and introducing the usual assortment of new locations, features, and systems. But before we get to those, here's the official cinematic trailer for Shadowlands:
And an overview of the expansion's features:
And if you'd like to learn what the Shadowlands are exactly, and what to expect from the expansion, you should read this article on the game's website. An excerpt:
THE WARCRAFT AFTERLIFE
The cinematic revealed during the BlizzCon 2019 opening ceremony left us with a view above Icecrown Citadel, of sky shattered and torn apart by Sylvanas’ destruction of the Helm of Domination. The very veil between life and death has been ruptured.
Unlike previous expansions, to fully understand what’s happening in World of Warcraft: Shadowlands, you must first learn the rules of the place players will be venturing into. There is more involved than a mere journey to a distant continent—Azeroth’s greatest heroes are going to the land of death itself.
It’s the spirit healers who decide when it’s time for a soul to cross into the Shadowlands. Souls who arrive here are brought before the Arbiter, a mysterious and ancient being whose existence predates all memory—even older than the Titans, according to some accounts. Those brought before her have all of their deeds, memories, and experiences—the very contents of their souls—laid bare, and are judged in a mere instant. Once measured, the Arbiter sends them off to one of countless realms of the Shadowlands. We’ll be visiting four of these, but not every soul is filtered into these specific places.
These four realms are ruled over by Covenants—ancient and powerful orders who have existed since the Shadowlands were shaped long ago, and who bear sacred duties to help maintain the afterlife’s ecosystem. To achieve their goals within the Shadowlands, players will work hand in hand with these Covenants, and eventually align themselves with one.
Every living soul bears a vital force—an energy known as Anima. This essential force is the lifeblood of the Shadowlands, allowing trees to grow, rivers to flow, new things to be forged, and more. Great or important souls—like those of Arthas, Garrosh, or Varian—bear more Anima than others.
King Terenas said long ago that there must always be a Lich King, and now, for the first time, there is none. Leading up to Shadowlands’ launch, the masterless Scourge will be marauding all across Azeroth. Off the heels of yet another brutal war, the forces of Azeroth will have to mount a counterattack and assault the source at the Icecrown Citadel.
Once Shadowlands begins, the world’s heroes will battle their way to the foot of Icecrown, en route to its pinnacle. The heroes of Azeroth will find an ally in Bolvar Fordragon, who now leads the Death Knights. With their ability to maintain a foothold in both life and death, they will help the heroes of Azeroth cross the veil into the Shadowlands—leading them straight into the Maw.
Within the Maw, players will discover that they are capable of doing what no one has ever been able to do—escape it. After breaking themselves free of the Maw’s horrors, they will find themselves in the city of Oribos.
Shadowlands’ story will send players through each of the four zones in order, telling an epic tale that will frame the role each Covenant plays in the cycle of death—and give players insight into the conflicts to come. Everyone will begin their journey in Bastion, then on through Maldraxxus, Ardenweald, and Revendreth, working with the leaders of the four Covenants that rule each zone. As you make your way through the story, the quests and creatures in each zone have fixed levels, ensuring that players will feel challenged by the creatures they encounter—and more powerful when they return to previous encounters.
As you progress through your journey, you’ll learn about each Covenant and the issues that face their domain. You’ll also work with them and borrow their powers. As you start to gain the trust of each Covenant, you’ll also have an opportunity to use their active abilities while in their domain.
Once you reach maximum level, and after you’ve been through all four zones’ experiences, you’ll be able to choose one of the four Covenants to join. You’ll then be able to take on some of their powers and champion their cause for the rest of your time in the Shadowlands.
World of Warcraft: Shadowlands introduces a smoother, more streamlined leveling experience. World of Warcraft—and as that continues to grow, we wanted to find a way to better pace the experience for players as they level. Over the years, we’ve found ways to speed up the leveling process, but we did so at the cost of a providing a complete experience for players, who would outpace a zone’s content and miss out on the ongoing narrative.
It’s also important for us to return to a time when every level is meaningful. This means that when you go from one level to another, you get something new such as an ability or spell, access to a dungeon, the ability to use mounts, or a new Talent tier.
We’re also updating the new-player experience to showcase more of the best World of Warcraft has to offer. New players will begin their journey in a whole new level 1–10 experience. Players will then be able to level from 10–50 in Battle For Azeroth or any expansion they wish to experience from start to finish. Finally, they’ll move on into Shadowlands, where players can go from level 50–60. This ultimately means that leveling will be faster, and players will be able to experience the complete story of an expansion while preparing to journey to the Shadowlands.
Afterwards, you might want to check out this PC Gamer article that briefly talks about Shadowlands' endgame that is said to be inspired by roguelike games. And then this one that lets us know that come November 12, 2019 World of Warcraft Classic will be getting world bosses and the Honor system.