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The next World of Warcraft expansion is Shadowlands

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Bolvar’s back, baby

World of Warcraft - a CGI depiction of Bolvar Fordragon Blizzard Entertainment

BlizzCon 2019 brought a host of announcements for Blizzard games, including the long-running fantasy MMO World of Warcraft. Blizzard showed off a CGI cinematic for the next expansion, Shadowlands, and we got to see Bolvar Fordragon take center stage ... along with Sylvanas Windrunner.

The World of Warcraft lore has been hinting that we would be heading to the Shadowlands for quite some time now. A recent leak from the Blizzard Gear store lent further credibility to the speculation, but there was lots of in-game evidence as well. The former Horde Warchief Vol’jin is in a state between life and death, and there was a long questline investigating who whispered in his ear as he died. Sylvanas Windrunner, his successor, was also very interested in death. Bolvar’s been very active — and up to no good — since Legion, so it’ll be interesting to see how this shakes out.

Now, it looks like Sylvanas is in her end game. She has destroyed the Lich King’s helmet and entered a portal to the Shadowlands, which is full of “fallen warriors”. Some of them are beautiful, others look terrifying and goth.

Shadowlands will bring a new continent to the game, as well as overhaul existing game systems, and new NPC factions that the players can join — this looks similar to the Aldor/Scryer split in The Burning Crusade, but dramatically expanded. Player choice and the “covenant” system seem to be key features of the new expansion.

The Shadowlands aren’t as physical or tangible a place as previous expansions, like Kul Tiras or Northrend, so we can likely expect things to get weird during our stay. We also saw a glimpse of Banshee Sylvanas, so she may be a raid boss for us to tackle.

Shadowlands will release in 2020, with raid content at launch, and will be patched in the months after its release.