Blizzard devs officially announced when we could expect to see a beta for the WoW Shadowlands expansion, and went into new details about the upcoming content, mechanics, dungeons, raids and more that will be included.
World of Warcraft players finally got another developer update from Blizzard on the game's upcoming Shadowlands expansion during an hour-long live stream on July 8, which was originally scheduled for a month earlier, but was pushed back due to current events.
Arguably the biggest news of the live stream was the announcement of when Shadowlands would be entering open beta, allowing WoW players who have beta testing enabled to try out parts of the new expansion for themselves.
John Hight, WoW's executive producer, informed us during the July 8 stream that beta would begin "sometime next week," which most likely means it will go live on Tuesday, July 14, since Tuesday is the most common day for WoW and Blizzard games in general to see updates.
Unfortunately, we didn't get an exact release date for Shadowlands during the stream - but in classic Blizzard fashion, Hight assured us that "WoW Shadowlands will be releasing sometime this fall, even if we have to ship it from home."
In addition to the beta details and release date tease, we also got a zeppelin-load of information about the expansion's new Covenant system from WoW game director Ion Hazzikostas. Covenants are the four powerful factions that rule over the Shadowlands, and players will have to choose one to side with once they hit the max level cap and reach the endgame. These are the Kyrian, Venthyr, Necrolords and Night Fae.
Each Covenant will provide their respective players with a ton of exclusive content and gameplay options, including Soulbinds, which are basically additional, highly customizable talent trees players can switch up fairly easily and cheaply. As you gain power in your Covenant, you'll work your way through and unlock other soulbinds that fit your playstyle, giving you access to special abilities, utilities, passives and more.
The stream likewise shared a wealth of in-depth information about how Covenants will work, and how Shadowlands is shaping up to be the most ambitious and customizable WoW expansion in recent years.
Unfortunately, we don't have room to cover every single detail that was discussed, but if you want to learn more about how Shadowlands will work, we definitely recommend checking out the full Twitch VOD.
One last important note - if you want a chance at participating in the beta next week, you need to sign up. All you have to do is log into Battle.net, and head to the Shadowlands site and click the "opt-in" button at top. After that, it's a matter of waiting for that magical email telling you you're in.