The eighth World of Warcraft expansion, Shadowlands, is set to shake up the MMORPG franchise in a big way. New leveling changes have already been locked in, and the narrative will be taking a plunge straight into the underworld.
Shadowlands was announced at BlizzCon 2019, and tentatively locked in for a 2020 release date soon after. Since then, the hype has only grown — following the closed beta, some players went as far as to suggest it could be the “greatest ever.”
There’s plenty already penned in for the expansion: WoW will be getting more realms, factions, and buddy-up features in the 2020 update, as well as the aforementioned level changes, and a new storyline.
When is the World of Warcraft Shadowlands release date?
Shadowlands was originally slated for a mid-2020 release when it was first announced, but Blizzard made sure not to point to a specific date for the drop. Recently, however, the devs have narrowed their release window: Q4 this year.
That means the eighth WoW expansion will be available in November or December 2020, a two-month window that was confirmed in Blizzard’s Q1 earnings call last month. They also confirmed it would be “before the holidays.”
Everything we know about Shadowlands so far
The new Shadowlands narrative is set to take place right after the epic Battle for Azeroth storyline. According to the expansion’s cinematic trailer, Sylvanas will shatter the Lich King's fabled Helm of Domination and destroy the barrier between Azeroth and the Shadowlands.
Players will be tasked with stopping the evil machinations of the undead Banshee queen before she can unleash the full power of the game’s afterlife on the living. Along the way, they’ll fight The Jailer, The Maw, and more.
New World of Warcraft zones
WoW’s eighth expansion is set to, as per usual, add several new zones to the ever-expanding MMORPG. Four will be leveling zones, to be played through in specific orders. Blizzard has also confirmed there will be a new player hub called “Oribos.”
The four new zones will be called Bastion, Maldraxxus, Ardenweald, and Revendreth. Each will boast their own new enemies. Revendreth will host Shadowlands’ first raid. There will also be a max-level zone called The Maw.
The biggest new feature coming in Shadowlands are covenants, a World of Warcraft title for factions in the underworld. As players help each faction — the Kyrian, Venthyr, Necrolord, and Night Fae — they’ll earn faction-specific gear and abilities.
Players will also be able to align with one of the new Covenants once they have completed the main Shadowlands campaign. These alliances will permanently unlock faction-specific abilities, and unlock a long post-game quest.
Dungeons & endgame in Shadowlands: Torghast, more
Shadowlands is adding eight new dungeons at launch, and will have a major raid — based in Revendreth, as mentioned before — that will unlock towards the end of the expansion drop. Four of the new dungeons will unlock at level 60.
As well as the new dungeons, Shadowlands will also be adding “Torghast, Tower of the Damned.” This new feature is an “endless dungeon,” Blizzard has revealed, which is made for between one and four players to grind repetitively.
Torghast is highly randomized, meaning it will change every single time you load into a new instance. Game director Ion Hazzikostas said it is based on ‘roguelike’ genres, and “should” make a “mighty endgame challenge” for hardcore fans.
World of Warcraft level cap dropped to 60
The last big change Blizzard will be implementing when Shadowlands finally drops at the end of the year will be a major reduction to the World of Warcraft level cap. The highest rank was level 120 in BFA, but that’s now set to be halved.
Blizzard is also tweaking new character experiences. When you start a new ‘toon,’ they will be loaded into a starter zone that aims to “better showcase WoW’s combat and questing.” Once you hit level 10, you can choose any expansion to play.
Finally, Shadowlands will be adding a new starter zone called “Exile’s Reach,” which will be replacing old level 1 zones. The new area is a whole island full of quests and tutorials, to better introduce new faces to the world of Warcraft.
Can’t wait for November? Fair enough — the Shadowlands closed beta will open ahead of the official launch later this year, and you can sign up now. Here’s how to get your name in the hat for an early peek at the 2020 expansion.