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World of Warcraft: Shadowlands’ new Covenants system is already causing some stress

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New abilities, new rules

World of Warcraft: Shadowlands - a shot of the new Bastion zone, where the Kyrian Covenant live. Image: Blizzard Entertainment

World of Warcraft is starting to roll out the red carpet for its next expansion, Shadowlands. With the game’s alpha on the way, Blizzard is starting to unveil one of the most important features of the new update: Covenants. These four factions represent the forces of death in the Shadowlands, and they will reward players with powerful in-game abilities and cosmetic items.

There’s just one problem: Picking a Covenant is meant to be a big deal. I can’t switch between the Night Fae and Necrolords willy-nilly; instead, I need to carefully plan whom I’m going to join and what they can offer me.

World of Warcraft - concept art of Shadowlands’ new Covenant armor sets Image: Blizzard Entertainment

Now that Blizzard has released more information on what exactly players can expect from those in-game bonuses, some players are excited — but also a little alarmed. We have known since BlizzCon that each Covenant would offer each character one standard ability, and one class-specific ability. (For instance, I can pick the Kyrian Covenant and get both a Kyrian-only tool and a Kyrian paladin ability.) The four main abilities are:

Kyrian: Summon Steward

Call your steward to bring you a Phial of Serenity that can be consumed to restore some of your health and remove all Curse, Disease, Poison, and Bleed Effects.

Your Steward additionally offers access to a selection of useful amenities, each once per day.

Venthyr: Door of Shadows

Wend through the shadows, appearing at the targeted location.

Necrolord: Fleshcraft

Form a shield of flesh and bone that prevents damage equal to a portion of your maximum health. Standing near the corpse of a defeated enemy when the ability is cast will create a larger shield.

Night Fae: Soulshape

Turn into a Vulpin, increasing movement speed. You may reactivate Soulshape to teleport a short distance forward.

Additional cosmetic forms can be earned and collected through a variety of gameplay.

While out in the world, this effect has a short duration before it wears off, but lasts indefinitely while in a rest area.

Players can visit the World of Warcraft website to see each ability currently planned for their specific class. With 12 classes and four Covenants, there’s a lot of potential mixing and matching.

The issue that many players have is that picking a Covenant is going to be a big deal. Some people may feel forced into picking one option, just so they can get the best ability. Players are already suggesting alternatives to the current system, in hopes that they can unshackle their favorite abilities from a specific Covenant. The World of Warcraft subreddit is in an uproar over this development — although some fans are being cheeky with their feedback. Complicating matters is the perception that Battle for Azeroth, the game’s current expansion, had similar structural issues during its beta, which were not ultimately addressed by Blizzard.

It’s still early days for Shadowlands, since the alpha has yet to arrive. Every bit of information that Blizzard shares is subject to change, and we’ll likely see big tweaks to the balance of each ability (if not replacements or larger changes).