WoW game cards are flying off the shelves this year as World of Warcraft: Shadowlands takes over Azeroth. Sylvanas and the Jailer are teaming up to unleash chaos in the world. Players, new and old, will be fighting their way from dungeons to raids in yet another immersive expansion that will keep players up in late-night raids trying to gear out their characters.
A lot has changed – a lot is the same – and there’s a whole new world that awaits.
If you’re just starting out and didn’t start the expansion on day 1, our guide is going to walk you through the changes and what you can expect.
Brief Summary of Shadowlands
When you log into your account, you’ll notice a lot of changes. If you haven’t kept up on the changes and new features, you may be shocked, especially by your character’s level.
Quick Rundown on Changes in Shadowlands
What’s changed or been added in World of Warcraft? Well, first, there’s a major change in your level. That awesome 120 level Paladin that you have is now a level 50. The max level has been reduced to 60, so all of your gear will also have its stats reduced.
The developers did that to make leveling easier.
Speaking of leveling, you get to choose which expansion you want to level through, so you get to choose if you want to run through:
- The Original
- Burning Crusade
- Wrath of the Lich King
- Mists Of Pandaria
- Warlords of Draenor
- Battle for Azeroth
When you level up, you’ll actually be able to explore storylines and learn what’s happening instead of running through each expansion with no clue of what’s going on. New players will have to start in Exile’s Reach and then level up in Battle for Azeroth before jumping into Shadowlands.
If you have an alt and hate leveling, you’ll be happy to know that you can level through Warlords of Draenor in 12 hours or up to 24 hours for Wrath of the Lich King or Burning Crusade.
Additional features include:
- Covenants. Players will be able to join covenants that allow them to receive certain abilities and have their own type of bonuses and powers. This is a complex topic that we cover in-depth in another article here: Choosing Your Covenant in World of Warcraft: Shadowlands. Soulbinds, adventures, anima conductor, and transport networks are the key features available.
- War Mode. Level 10% faster with War Mode, which essentially allows you to brave the world “flagged” as a PVP player. This feature isn’t necessarily new to Shadowlands, but it’s worth mentioning for people that didn’t play Battle for Azeroth.
- Legendaries. The legendaries have a new acquisition system, which requires the Runecarver, the creator of old artifacts, to work. This allows for less RNG because you bring the mats and have the items you want created.
- PvP. Not much has changed, but the vendors are back (finally), so you can buy the gear you want.
You can also expect the standard new raids, dungeons, character creation (more below), six new zones, maps, and class tweaks.
November 23, 2020.
Main Story Behind the Expansion
Sylvanas, after the defeat in the Battle of Azeroth, returned to the Icecrown Citadel in Northrend and decimates the Lich King. She rips his helmet in two, shattering the veil between the worlds and opening the Shadowlands portal.
The Maw, where sinful souls go in the afterlife, begins absorbing all of the world’s souls.
Tyrande Whisperwind evades abduction while Sylvanas abducts all of the world’s leaders, including Thrall, Baine Bloodhoof, Jaina, and Anduin. Scourge invaders overrun the world and are allowed to run rampant thanks to the breaking of the Lich King’s helmet.
Nathanos Blightcaller is spotted in the Eastern Plaguelands, and Tyrande confronts and kills him. Tyrande learns of the shattered veil between the two worlds and uses her Night Warrior abilities to prevail.
She works on the new intel, goes to Northrend, and footholds are created throughout Icecrown as both factions aim to attack the Shadowlands.
Read our entire article on Everything We Know About The Lore Leading Up To Shadowlands to know more!
Character creating in World of Warcraft: Shadowlands has also changed. Finally, there’s a new interface that allows for more customization with eye colors, ear lengths, necklaces, and other additions.
How to Choose a Class for You
You have four main “jobs” that you can choose from, as always:
- Melee DPS
- Ranged DPS
A tank is a person that runs in and controls the mobs or bosses. Tanks and healers have the most responsibility. DPS does damage. Melee is up close and personal, while ranged DPS uses spells or arrows/bullets (hunters) to kill mobs from a distance.
Hybrid classes also exist that allow you to have options to do a whole lot more:
You also have pure DPS classes:
Some classes such as Warrior, Priest, Demon Hunter, and Death Knight are able to perform two roles rather than all three.
The most popular classes to date are:
- Death Knight
- Demon Hunter
When you choose a “pure” DPS class, the drawback is that they lack some form of survival, but do a lot of damage. If you want to play the “best” class in terms of damage, tanking, or healing, I recommend checking out the logs to see who is performing best.
Choosing the Right Race, Faction, Realm, and Server Type
Race and faction are totally a personal choice. A lot of people choose their races and factions based on aesthetics and the racial traits offered by the faction/race. I’m a firm believer that you should pick the race and faction most appealing to you, although there are some abilities that can give you a slight advantage, especially in PvP.
When choosing a realm, you can choose the population you desire and realm type.
The types of realms are:
- PvE – no open-world PvP unless you flag yourself
- PvP – always flagged and can fight open world
- RP – roleplaying, although this can be a hit-or-miss
World of Warcraft Game Cards work on an account basis and will allow you to play on any realm or server type that you want, so you don’t have to worry about that.
Shadowlands have a lot of ways to level up. Put on your heirloom gear if you have it, and enter Warlords of Draenor if you’re leveling from 1 up. This is by far the fastest option to hit level 50. After that, you’ll want to really follow the storyline. You can easily level through quests and dungeons (also a little PvP if you like).
If you want to add 10% to your leveling, turn on War Mode, which means that you’ll be able to fight others when out in the world questing.
Mounts will always help you traverse the world faster. There are an array of new mounts, from stags to boars and chimeras and even unicorns. Mounts can be found in different zones as drops, treasures, or sold from vendors.
Covenants have their own mounts, too.
Mount levels and prices after the item squish are:
- Apprentice – level 10 – 10 silver
- Journeymen – level 20 – 50 gold
- Expert – level 30 – 250 gold
- Master – level 40 – 5,000 gold
Expert and Master are both flying mounts. The heirloom mount can be used from level 1 onwards.
Heirlooms were meant to help speed up leveling, but that has changed with the new level squish. These pieces won’t help you level faster, but they do provide a few perks:
- Reduce rested experience consumed.
- Increase out-of-combat regeneration.
- Buff when you level and adds a holy damage hit that affects everyone.
Overall, the gear is still really good and will help you level up faster due to the rested XP consumed reduction.
World of Warcraft: Shadowlands has a lot of great dungeons (8 total, 2 for each covenant). You’ll have multiple dungeon types to choose from that each drop different gear levels:
- Normal (150)
- Heroic (171)
- Mythic (184)
The dungeons and when you’ll be able to enter them are:
- The Necrotic Wake – level 50: Located in the Bastion, Necrotic Wake has four bosses and is the first dungeon you’ll experience.
- Plaguefall – level 53: Located in Maldraxxus, the dungeon has four bosses and is the second dungeon you’ll encounter.
- Mists of Tirna Scithe – level 55: Located in Ardenwald, Mists has three main bosses.
- Halls of Atonement – level 57: Revendreth is where the fourth dungeon in the game is located and has four boss encounters.
- Theater of Pain – level 60: Located in Maldraxxus, the Theater of Pain has five bosses.
- De Other Side – level 60: Located in Ardenwald, De Other Side has four main bosses.
- Spires of Ascension – level 60: A four boss encounter located in Bastion,
- Sanguine Depths – level 60: A four boss encounter located in Revendreth
The dungeons are all a lot of fun and provide multiple difficulty levels for better gear. You’ll find the weekly dungeon quests in Oribos in the basement of the Inn. Players can form their own group with friends or their guild, or you can opt to use the dungeon finder to play with random people.
General Tips for Beginners
World of Warcraft Shadowlands is made for everyone – new and current players. If you’re a veteran in the game, you can skip this section. Beginners should be trying to maximize their fun, and as someone that has been playing since Vanilla, I know how some people seem to sabotage the game.
A few general types that can go a long way in helping you have more fun are:
- Make friends. Friends are going to make the experience much better. When you play with others, learn their stories and really get to know each other, the game becomes more social and fun. While LFG is a great way to get into dungeons and begin playing, inviting friends to a group will make the experience better. Friends enable you to learn from each other and really master dungeons and raids. New players will also have a more comfortable time playing together.
- Join a guild. A guild is a must-have. There’s nothing better than clearing dungeons and raids with a guild. Since you’re just starting out, don’t join a guild that is too serious because they can have high demands and make the game more of a job than an actual game where you have fun. If you join a guild and they’re not moving in the direction you want or don’t ask you along, leave and join others. A guild is your tribe, so find the one that works best for you.
- Consider Addons. Addons aren’t a must-have, but these addons can make it a lot easier to play. Deadly Boss Mods (DBM) is one of the best addons because it will help you better understand boss encounters. You should look through the most popular addons and the ones for your class. Again, this is completely optional, but it’s a good way to make your UI look nicer and make sense of some encounters or aspects of the game.
- Be nice. One of the biggest complaints that I have is that there are a lot of toxic people in the community. LFG caused a lot of these problems because you can be rude to others without any consequences. The game is a lot more fun when you’re a part of the community and really know the people that you play with. Be nice. Make friends and have fun.
Also, pay attention to the lore and story. When you really know the story rather than rushing to the endgame, you’ll feel this immense sense of purpose. Enjoy the world around you. Explore. Level up your professions and have fun.
If you’re not ready to buy Shadowlands, watch streamers on YouTube and Twitch to see character creation and insights into the dungeons/raids.
Also, we invite you to check out our article on the 8 Best Gaming Gift Cards in 2020.