Today at BlizzCon, game director Ion Hazzikostas announced World of Warcraft: Shadowlands, the eighth expansion for the MMORPG, coming next year. You can see the cinematic trailer above.
Following her encounter with Saurfang, Sylvanas Windrunner travels to Icecrown Citadel, where she confronts the current Lich King, Bolvar Fordragon. After taking the crown, she then splits it in half, opening the gates to the Shadowlands, World of Warcraft's realm of the dead. While the souls of the departed would usually be sent off to the appropriate realm - depending on the lives they led -, they are now all being sent to the Maw, a realm dedicated to the eternal torture of Azeroth's most wicked souls.
To fix this, players will have to side with one of the four Covenants, each of which is indigenous to one of the five new regions - excluding of course, the aforementioned Maw.
First is Kyrian of the realm dubbed Bastion, whose approach is to safeguard souls traversing to the Shadowlands. Then there's the Night Fae of Ardenweald, whose goal is to defend spirits of nature against those who would wish to deny their rebirth. Those two are followed by the Venthyr from Revendreth who "feast on the souls of the prideful and vain in a gothic realm of opulence and torment." Last but not least, the Necrolords of Maldraxxus constitute the first line of defense for the Shadowlands, and will "honor those who seek power and glory in battle."
Siding with one of these Covenants will be of help in the Covenants Campaign, during which you can level up and gain class-specific abilities for your Covenant of choice. Furthermore, you'll also be able to create Soulbinds with specific Covenant members, granting you access to their character traits and bonuses.
Players will also be able to encounter fallen heroes from the Warcraft universe like Kael’thas, and Uther the Lightbringer. This will be of help in exploring the ever-changing Torghast, Tower of the Damned, at the center of the Maw. This is where you'll battle the minions of the Jailer, this realm's ruler and warden of Torghast.
Finally, Shadowlands brings in a level squish and as such, a new leveling system. Current max-level (120) characters will be starting at level 50, and working their way up to the new cap of 60. There will be new character customization options, and even the ability for every allied race - including the pandaren - to become Death Knights. All this in order to bolster Bolvar Fordragon's new army intent on defeating Sylvanas.
World of Warcraft: Shadowlands is available for pre-order now, in three different editions, outlined in the table below:
While all bonuses from the Heroic and Epic editions will be available immediately upon pre-ordering, a pre-purchase of any of the versions on offer will give folks the ability to create pandaren or allied race Death Knights once the Visions of N’Zoth content update for Battle for Azeroth drops.
No other information regarding release dates or time frames is available currently, although those interested can head to the official site to order or find out more.