Huge changes are coming to World of Warcraft; and like any game that's existed for over a decade, change can be scary. Or downright buggy.
A lot of players are hoping that's not the case when the Shadowlands pre-expansion patch hits, in which case we'll get to test out the changes before they actually hit the expansion proper. The biggest alteration that's on the horizon? Level squishing.
From now on, level 120 (the current max) boosts will turn into level 50 boosts. Level 110 character boosts (the max for the prior Legion expansion) will change into level 48 boosts. It's...a little confusing, especially if you've been playing WoW since the start.
Item levels are also going to change all over the map. Currently a 120 level piece of gear will morph into 25 for Shadowlands. There's a handy chart that breaks down every gear level just so you can properly plan for it. Blizzard also reminds us that Exile's Reach is coming: which is an all-new area that allows you to learn the ropes of the game before you get dumped into the open world.
You'll mess around in Exile's Reach until level 10, at which point you'll join the world proper. Or, you can skip Exile's Reach altogether and enjoy the classic level one experience. The game is also getting a "newcomer chat," which will feature learned players as guides to help you on your quest (to apply to be one, you need to be level 50, have completed 3,000 quests and have an account "in good standing").
Also, and this is important, you won't need to pay for cosmetic changes going forward when the pre-expansion patch hits. Here's the full details: "With the release of the pre-expansion patch, players will be able to seek out a Barber Shop for a variety of character-customization options, including the ability to change your character’s gender, hair, facial features, and more. Due to this upcoming new in-game option, the Appearance Change service for Shadowlands will be retired from the Blizzard Shop prior to the release of the pre-patch."
Allied race recruiting (read: new races to play) also do not require the sometimes grueling requirement of exalted reputation (which can result in weeks of gated grinding). Now, all you need to do is complete the required story quests or achievements. Most of these changes are great! Hopefully Shadowlands is more Legion than Battle for Azeroth (despite liking both).
Explore the Updates Arriving with the Shadowlands Pre-Expansion Patch [World of Warcraft]