So What Can We Actually Expect From the Shadowlands Changes?

Short answer: Quite a bit. In a recent interview with Game Director of World of Warcraft: Ion Hazzikostas, tons of new information and philosophies surrounding the design of the game were revealed. Ion responded in length to many of the burning questions and grievances that the World of Warcraft community has regarding the changes being made in Shadowlands. To much of the community’s delight, long sought changes may finally be coming to the game.

If you would like to watch the interview directly click here. Otherwise continue reading to learn more about Shadowlands and what’s in store!

Table of Contents
Shadowlands Class Ability Changes: “The Un-Pruning” & The Return to Class Identity
Huge Changes to the Loot Systems Coming in Shadowlands!
Torghast – A New Rogue-Lite Gameplay Feature is Coming to Shadowlands
Shadowlands Will Have You Choose Between Four New Covenants
What Other Changes Would I Like to See?

Shadowlands Class Ability Changes: “The Un-Pruning” & The Return to Class Identity

Over the past few expansions, starting with Warlords of Draenor, classes in the game underwent massive overhauls. Each class saw many abilities, and spells removed in an effort to make them more unique. While the sentiment may have been good, the results were anything but. What the classes were left with was a former shell of their glorious past. Many unique abilities like Alter-Time for Mages, Auras for Paladins, or specific Totems for Shaman were removed during this dark period of time.

However, those days appear to finally be over. The Blizzard Development team recently created a blog post that details all of the various class changes that Shadowlands will be implementing. Keep in mind, were are still in Alpha (at the time I’m writing this at least), so everything is subject to more changes.

I have posted one of my videos below detailing the class with arguably the most changes: Shaman.

If you would like to see a full list of class changes and the philosophies behind them, click here.

Huge Changes to the Loot Systems Coming in Shadowlands!

Between Vanilla WoW, and Cataclysm, loot was always a static item level, and you knew the power that was derived from the item. That all changed in Mists of Pandaria, patch 5.2 in the Throne of Thunder raid. Loot has never been the same in since then. Thunderforging, was what today’s Titanforging and Corruption systems were. Basically, to entice you to continue to continue playing the game, each piece of loot had a chance to roll a few item levels higher. Various iterations around that system have been made over the years, but much of the community relates the system akin to a slot-machine. Something that rarely rewards you. And for a game that requires work to be put into your characters, it just did not feel good.

Thankfully, in the very same interview with Ion, this problem was finally addressed. Their answer: scrap the system entirely, and return back to the way loot was.

No, I’m not kidding. Ion basically explained that they continuously tried to solve the problem of more and more systems in the game rewarding you with gear. Because you were being showered with more loot, you’d out-gear content much faster than was originally anticipated by the development team. This led them to create Titanforging (and its similar counterparts), to give you a reason for continuing to play the content (because maybe just maybe, you’ll get that +15 item levels or socket or whatver… but probably not). To offset the removal of the system however, Ion mentioned that we would just be getting less gear in general.

Jokes aside though, I’m very excited to see these changes to loot coming in Shadowlands. Can you even remember the name of any pieces of gear in Battle for Azeroth? I can maybe think of three or four. It’s because whenever I got a piece of gear, I just replaced it in my next dungeon anyway. I welcome back a return to a loot system where I get excited when I finally get my BIS item, and I don’t have to worry about it anymore.

Torghast – A New Rogue-Lite Gameplay Feature is Coming to Shadowlands

torghast non player characters in shadowlands
https://worldofwarcraft.com/en-us/shadowlands/media

Torghast, a new feature coming in Shadowlands, add a change of pace to the usual content we receive in an expansion. It is a rogue-lite simulator that can be run in a group between 1-5 players. This is Blizzard’s first attempt at creating an instanced scenario that will change every time you step foot in it. Players will have the opportunity to attain a new resource called “Anima” which enables them to buy upgrades for many of their abilities. These power increases will only be able to be utilized while within Torghast and expire after each run. A link to some of the preliminary power upgrades can be found here.

Very recently, Torghast became playable on the alpha test servers for Shadowlands. Changes to this initial build are more than likely to happen, but the ground has been laid for a very unique and dynamic feature.

Shadowlands Will Have You Choose Between Four New Covenants

covenant plate armor choices
https://worldofwarcraft.com/en-us/shadowlands/media

Shadowlands will also introduce four different covenants, Kyrian, Necrolords, Night Fae, and Venthyr. These covenants act similarly to the way the two factions added in Burning Crusade did, but with more content centered around them. Players will choose one covenant to align will, granting them a covenant specific ability, armor sets, and story lines.

There has been much debate in the community over this system due to Blizzard announcing that players would not be able to freely swap between the covenants. At first glance, many of these abilities seem like they would be best suited for certain types of content, whether that is mythic+ dungeons, raids, pvp, or open world. The problem with this is that if someone wishes to excel at all aspects of the game, then they could inherently be at a disadvantage from the beginning due to their covenant choice.

Ion, in the same interview, addressed some of these concerns, but ultimately doubled down on trying to get the abilities balanced, and keeping your covenant choice and important one. He did however mention that the team is listening, and if it doesn’t work out, that they may consider opening up the option to swap covenants freely.

What Other Changes Would I Like to See?

I must say that I am very impressed with Ion, and the team at Blizzard so far regarding the changes in Shadowlands. It finally seems as though the community is being listened to, and lessons are being learned from previous design failures. The changes announced in Shadowlands, and the communication we have seen so far from Blizzard sets a fantastic foundation to build on going forward.

That said, some changes I’d like to see added to Shadowlands would be the following:

  • Changes to the global cooldown –
    • Remove abilities such as buff, totems, and cool downs from the GCD to allow for smoother gameplay. Something like Sweeping Strikes on a Warrior, or some totems for Shaman just feels terrible on the GCD
  • Another look at ability un-pruning –
    • While some classes received a ton of abilities back, others only received a few. Classes like Shaman still lack a lot of defensive utility when compared to other classes.
  • Single-Minded Fury for Warrior, 2-Handed Enhancement Shaman –
    • This one is a hope and a prayer. But I think there is a great class fantasy involved with allowing either of these two options for Warrior and Shaman. Plus it opens up other options while trying to gear characters