MMORPG behemoth World of Warcraft was around for a while and Blizzard intends to keep it that way since the latest World of Warcraft’s expansion Shadowlands release date announcement should be just around the corner. The current WoW expansion, Battle for Azeroth, just concluded its story arc, so WoW Shadowlands alpha should be ready to be deployed. Maybe it was on the way and if not for that terrible virus we would be paying it already… In any case, we might get some amazing WoW news about the new content soon enough.
But before that time is here, we decided to write down everything we’re expecting to get in Shadowlands alpha. Let’s be honest, Battle for Azeroth wasn’t the best piece of content that Blizzard has released over the years and in order to keep their players engaged, the developers need to show that they still got it. And what better way to do it than giving some core expansion features for alpha testers to try out right from the start.
If you need a reminder, here’s a short feature overview in video format:
1. The Big Bad
While this is not really an expansion feature we can categorize it as one, since in BfA, World of Warcraft lacked the main antagonist who’d give players motivation to move forward and progress through the game’s story. Yes, we had a new faction war, fought against Queen Azshara and the last of the Old Gods N’Zoth, but not having the one big bad throughout the whole expansion really hurt Blizzard in the long run. Most of the players who joined the expansion in different periods of its cycle couldn’t follow the whole story, and in turn, caring about certain separate story bits was really hard.
WoW Shadowlands alpha should set things right. Even in the video above we’ve already seen the mysterious “jailer of the damned” which will probably serve as the main villain of the expansion and will be the main motivation to do stuff in the game whenever you’ll join the fight. We hope that Shadowlands alpha quests will give us more insight into what this mysterious Big Bad is all about.
Another super important thing in Shadowlands WoW will be the core progression. Blizzard failed with Azerite Armor and Azerite Essences due to a very simple reason – these core progression systems weren’t properly tested. Just a month after Battle for Azeroth launched, everyone agreed that the Azerite Armor system sucks big time and needs to change but it was already too late… Further down the line Blizzard tried to fix it but couldn’t since the whole progression of the game was built around AP.
In WoW next expansion, Covenants will be the core progression system, so getting it tested in WoW Shadowlands alpha must be on everyone’s mind. Practically everything you do in a game will give you a reputation with your chosen Covenant and through it you will unlock various skills, power upgrades, and cosmetic rewards. It has to be fun and preferably grind-free in order to keep the players engaged.
In addition, Blizzard shouldn’t forget alternate characters. One of the most annoying things in BfA was that every point of AP you earned previously had to be re-earned once you started playing with your other character. There was a lot of negative feedback regarding this and it seems like Blizzard listened. The developers said that WoW Shadowlands alpha will feature a catch-up system for alts which should make your life easier if you’re playing a few different characters.
3. Class changes
And finally, probably the most important thing Blizzard needs to address in the upcoming Shadowlands alpha is class flavors. Even during the deep dive panel in the Blizzcon 2019, developers addressed the issue of classes. Ion Hazzikostas himself admitted that the developers went a bit too far pruning certain flavorful abilities from the game. To further elaborate, he gave a few examples – curses for Warlocks, certain totems for Shamans, poisons for Rogues and so on… These and many more abilities (Wowhead has a full list here) will return to the game in WoW Shadowlands alpha.
In addition to the old flavor class abilities, Covenants will give each class a few new class-specific buttons to play with. This should make each class feel more unique while at the same time lowering the importance of specialization. Many abilities that became talents are becoming baseline once more, as a way to recover some class identity rather than spec identity.
So that’s that. If Blizzard gives us these 3 things to look into in WoW Shadowlands alpha, the next expansion might be able to avoid any huge problems later on. The story, core progression, and gameplay – the 3 pillars of any new (or in this case very old) RPG.