Deadman Wonderland: World of Warcraft: Shadowlands
Opening portals and traveling to other dimensions – all fantasy genre fares and by no means nothing new in Azeroth. Still, its upcoming expansion, Shadowlands, promises to make a whole new WoW experience and breathe life to it once more. Or perhaps more accurately, death! It looks like you have a reason to log off WoW Classic, but not anytime soon.
Windrunnin’ to a New World
Announced last Blizzcon 2019, the first trailer of Shadowland shows Sylvanas managing to defeat and uncrown Bolvar, the new Lich King. Shethen breaks the iconic headgear, in turn unleashing a giant portal over Northrend. This leads to the Shadowlands, a spiritual plane where the souls of the dead go.
The Horde’s lady warchief’s reason for committing an act that will greatly upset the fragile balance of life, death, and everything in between (which is huge and confusing in fantasy settings like this)is central to this WoW expansion plot. Other than why she did it, players will eventually find out who controlled and helped her to accomplish such a task, as he will be the very same person adventurers will be confronting later on.
If you want to know more about Sylvanas’s motivation, read up on the Edge of Night short story. It also helps to look back on certain story beats across World of Warcraft Legion and Battle for Azeroth. If you don’t have the time or patience to look all that up, you can always check up on forum sites and other fansites.
It’s A Beautiful Afterlife
But as important and perhaps more interesting than her tale is the World of Warcraft: Shadowlands itself, a supposedly decrepit yet deceivingly beautiful place – a rather fitting destination for dead souls. While your character won’t become canonically dead, you’ll still have a chance to explore this haunting expanse.
For this new world beyond life and death, the new player hub is Oribos. Dubbed as the Eternal City, it’s where you’ll first arrive in Shadowlands WoW and where you’ll be doing your menial tasks. It’s also where you’ll be buying using anima, a life essence that also serves as currency – the area’s version of WoW Classic Gold.
Despite being a single afterlife, Shadowlands is divided into five zones. To which of them a soul arrives will depend on the kind of life on Azeroth they lived:
- Bastion –a shining citadel where those tasked to bringing souls to Shadowlands reside.
- Ardenwald – a magical slice of afterlife wildlife. Here, the never-ending process of nature’s rebirth goes on and on.
- Maldraxxus–a war-torn region, this place, where necromancy is said to have originated, is where once-powerful souls become undead armies and wage war once more.
- Revendreth – a series of gothic villages for souls that either require contrition or become subjects of the realm’s overlords.
- The Maw – only the most wretched souls go to The Maw, a prison-like place where there is no hope for escape. Here, a long-forgotten yet powerful evil is chained, and his release will mean much destruction. Perhaps he and the one that pushed Sylvanas to open the portal to Shadowlands is one and the same.
No Ark Involved
Save for The Maw, these zones will play a huge role in Shadowlands’ new feature: Covenants. There are four Covenants, with each one tied to a specific zone and role:
- Kyrian (Bastion) – tasked to bring the souls of the dead.
- Necrolord (Maldraxxus) – concerned with the undead souls that wage never-ending wars across the universe.
- Night Fae (Ardenwald) – keepers of nature, they ensure the cycle of rebirth is continuous.
- Venthyr (Revendeth) – their job is to punish souls and extract anima out of them.
Each Covenant has a unique campaign, set of quests, alliances, and rewards, which come in the form covenant abilities, transmogs and mount, and access to that Covenant’s sanctum.
Despite the WoW: Shadowlands expansion sharing half of its name along with the dimension-hopping theme with a rival MMO, this is not really a case of a once genre-defining title riding the coattails of another. World of Warcraft: Shadowlands has long been a part of WoW lore, and it’s due time adventurers set foot in it and enjoy the many things it offers. Such a shame you’ll have to wait until the end of next year: exactly December 31, 2020. Hopefully, Blizzard makes it worth the long wait.