Blizzard debuted its next major expansion of the unkillable World of Warcraft during today’s Blizzcon 2019 proceedings, and if you were hoping that Lady Sylvanas’ prolonged and inexplicable heel turn might head in another direction after the end of Battle for Azeroth, well, I’ve got bad news. Sylvanas done sent us all to hell.
As seen in the below cinematic trailer for World of Warcraft: Shadowlands, Lady Sylvanas — once the honorable and proud Queen of the Forsaken, now a shameful and heartless monster because ???? — takes the Lich King’s haunted helmet from atop Bolvar Fordragon’s toasty noggin and cracks the damn thing in half. This shatters the sky because why wouldn’t it, and now the heroes of Azeroth must venture into the actual afterlife to make friends with angels and stop whatever Lady Sylvanas is planning.
Azeroth’s eponymous Shadowlands are separated into five different regions: Bastion, the space angel zone; Ardenweald, the angel druid zone; Revendreth, the resting place of “the prideful and vain;” Maldraxxus, home to the undead army that protects the Shadowlands; and the Maw, aka
Hell the Home For Infinite Losers. Each of these zones is ruled by a different “Covenant,” four of which players can align themselves with during their journey.
The Kyrian run
Bartertown Bastion, and their whole deal is about safeguarding souls as they leave Azeroth and find eternity in the Shadowlands. The Night Fae rule Ardenweald, and they’re real big on making sure that nature’s circle of life continues uninterrupted. The Venthyr chill in Revendreth and “feast on the souls” of the crappy people that end up there, and the Necrolords are in charge of maintaining Maldraxxus’ armies.
You can be pals with any one of these cheerful groups, and depending on the Covenant you choose, your character will gain access to different Covenant-exclusive class abilities, along with, presumably, a different story/quest progression tailored to your allegiance. (Blizzard says that choosing your character’s Covenant “[sets] the tone for their journey through the expansion with a full ‘Covenant Campaign,'” which sure sounds like diverging story paths to me.)
Sylvanas’ meddling has made it so that all souls now end up in the Maw, rather than just the super duper evil ones, and that seems bad! In order to help fix all this, players will venture into the center of the Maw, where Torghast, Tower of the Damned lies. A new dungeon for one to five players, Torghast might just be WoW‘s first piece of procedurally generated content; Blizzard calls the activity “highly replayable and inspired by roguelike games.” Players will do battle against Torghast’s warden, the Jailer, and those who can survive the ordeal will be rewarded with dope swords and hats and stuff. Also some of the wrongfully-imprisoned souls will be released or whatever, but c’mon. Y’all’s in it for the hats.
World of Warcraft: Shadowlands will further inflate WoW‘s gargantuan installation size sometime next year — probably around August, if the last two expansions are any indication. Battle for Azeroth has been widely panned as the game’s worst expansion since it came out in 2018, so Blizzard has a lot of social cache to make up in Shadowlands. The best way to do that is by turning a beloved franchise icon into an unrecognizable, repugnant shell of her former self, right? Right?