The time has come for the post-opener panels for more granular information for the projects unveiled at BlizzCon this year, and that includes a deep dive into World of Warcraft: Shadowlands, the next expansion.
Due sometime in 2020 (likely around August), a number of huge changes are coming to WoW in general, not just the new zone. With a philosophy that Blizzard is calling "every level is meaningful," Shadowlands has a new leveling system that will squish max level characters (120 currently) down to 50, allowing them to work their way to the newcap of 60. Retro.
Blizzard says this change should make leveling more exciting, as each level will give you a "meaningful sense of advancement." While I'm cautiously optimistic for the idea (Blizzard isn't the best when it comes to stat squishes), the concept of opening up alt (other character) leveling is what really excites me. According to WoW lead Ion Hazzikostas, you can level alts in any zone (or through world quests), and alts can also interact with the new Shadowlands narrative in what Blizzard is calling a "New Game+" experience (which Final Fantasy XIV just got!)
While hitting level 60 with your main/first character will allow you to choose between one of four story-based "covenant" factions (granting you new powers and putting you on the path to the endgame main story quest), alts can pick one right away. Blizzard pitches this as "earning endgame progression while you level," which is a huge change compared to most MMOs (outside of say Final Fantasy XIV, which lets you to switch jobs [classes] at will and has you control one character in total). Even better: you can level alts in any expansion from 1-50.
Eight dungeons will arrive at launch (four leveling, four endgame) as well as a 10-boss raid called Castle Nathria that was modeled after "Dracula's Castle." The team also confirmed what the Tower of the Damned is: a "highly replayable" dungeon inspired by roguelikes. Basically, it's an extension of the polarizing Island Expedition mechanic from Battle for Azeroth with randomness involved, but the loot will seemingly be more valuable as Blizzard frames it as an endgame-esque activity. All the new zones are also confirmed: "the gleaming fields of Bastion, the scarred battlefields of Maldraxxus, the eternal twilight of Ardenweald, the opulent keeps of Revendreth, and the horrific Maw." All races can be a Death King (sorry, no new hero class again) and more races will get new customization options (more skin tones for humans is a big one).
Content aside the new open-ended alt experience is huge, as it changes the fundamental leveling concept that was set in stone since the game's launch. We have a full year to wait and see how it plays out, so enjoy level 120 while it lasts. End of an era!