With Blizzconline scheduled for this week, World of Warcraft players have a lot to anticipate. World of Warcraft's developers have been surprisingly quiet about the future of the expansion, which has left many players to speculate. The delay of Shadowlands has only furthered this lack-of-information. Where will our adventurers go next? What should they anticipate?
What we do know:
Warning: Shadowlands Spoilers After This Point
Blizzard has done a fairly good job of wrapping up all four of the covenant campaigns in ways that offer both stability and resolution. The Kyrian have the majority of the Forsworn leaders, allowing Bastion to begin recovering and dealing with their plight of delivering the dead to the Maw. Maldraxxus’ civil war appears resolved, although Kel’thuzad has escaped custody and appears to be working for the Jailer. The Night Fae have eliminated the Drust. And the Venthyr have claimed power from Sire Denathrius. But much is still left open for the covenants to host additional chapters in the campaign.
Players have also recovered Baine, Jaina, and Thrall from Torghast, and begun searching for Anduin. However, the boy-king appears to have been offered a corrupted version of his sword that resembles Frostmourne; the blade used to empower the Lich King. And the Jailer is still attempting to find something known as the ‘Sepulchre.’
There are still massive questions regarding the story, however. How will Bastion resolve its fate? Will Tyrande find a way to recover from the dangers of being a Night Warrior? Is Anduin to be the next Lich King? What is the exact intent of the Brokers; the mysterious group of merchants who operate on ‘both sides’ in the Shadowlands?
What we know mechanically:
With Blizzard releasing patch 9.0.5, the game appears to be experiencing several mechanical updates, with no known content updates. players should expect to see upgrades to various combat systems. These include upgradable Mythic Keystone Gear, which will require the acquisition of Valor Points. This will allow players to upgrade their gear a number of levels to 220 through point collections as well as the fulfillment of select achievements.
Covenants are also receiving some hotfixes that should affect the balance involved with Legendary items and Soulbinds.
What could be next
- New Zones: Like most patches, it seems fair to expect at least one or two new zones to arise in the future. The Shadowlands is supposedly infinite, and there are still three ‘portal openings’ in Oribos that players could open in time. . One zone that is certainly of interest would be the original home of the Brokers, or perhaps the end-location of the First Ones. There are also an assortment of afterlives that permeate through Azeroth, from the afterlife that the Kaldorei go to through Elune to the one inspired by the Naaru and the Light.
- New Covenant Campaign: Since all of the Covenant campaigns are far from wrapped up, it seems fair to anticipate additional chapters that delve into the conflicts, culture and future of their chosen covenants. It also seems fair to anticipate that said covenants will add ranks of renown. The current top Renown rank (40) is expected to be fully unlocked by mid-March. Considering how relevant that system has been to the game as of today, players should expect to gather more rank in the future; or perhaps a similar system.
- New cosmetics/soulbonds: With additional ranks in renown would come extra aesthetic benefits. These could include new mounts, new transmogs, and perhaps additional variations in the covenant armor sets.
- New Covenants/Allied Races: Some players have theorized that additional covenants could arise as more lands are revealed. It’s also possible that current allied races could end up making partnerships with the Alliance or Horde. However, nothing has been mentioned about this by devs as of February 2021, so it should remain as speculation. But it would be pretty cool to play as a Maldraxxi necromancer or a Venthyr huntress.
- New Torghast Wings:
In regard to the story, a few key points seem to stand out:
- The Jailer is clearly still not stopping in his quest to escape, which means that heroes will need to do something to stop him. What that something is will be hard to guess. However, the key appears to be something that fans have called the ‘Sepulchre’, an artifact that would allow the JAiler to succeed. As of the end of 9.0.2, nobody appears to have an idea where it is. But that will likely change soon.
- What is the Jailer about to do with Anduin? It isn’t clear what his intent is, although it certainly will not be good. Either we, the players will end up rescuing Anduin in the next raid, or perhaps see him fall deeper into the control of the Jailer. There is also the possibility of seeing Sylvanas turn on the Jailer, but such decisions would likely not be popular among fans.
- Tyrande’s fate will inevitably be resolved. While some motions have been made to better understand the Night Warrior, Tyrande’s hunt for vengeance continues; all while the threat of the Night Warrior lingers above; threatening to tear her apart.
- Much of what we, as players, understand about the Shadowlands seems up to debate. Bastion’s fight with doubters feels cult-like, while the amoral nature of Revendreth seems concerning. There are also questions about whether the Arbiter really has the best interests of the Shadowlands.
- Blizzard could also return us to Azeroth. The game has offered little insight into how our home has been responding to the Scourge or the effects of having an open gate between the Shadowlands and Azeroth.
There’s a lot that could come out of Blizzconline. With much of Anduin and the Jailer’s stories left unresolved, the potential is limitless. But players should get excited, as there will likely be an enormous amount of new lore and new content to come out of the February 19th and 20th presentations.