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Shadowlands will fix one of World of Warcraft’s biggest problems

A better experience for new players

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World of Warcraft - the Alliance starting area of Exile’s Reach Image: Blizzard Entertainment
Cass Marshall is a news writer focusing on gaming and culture coverage, taking a particular interest in the human stories of the wild world of online games.

One of the biggest problems in World of Warcraft is the way the game has stacked expansions such that new players will emerge in the world of Cataclysm, the MMO’s third expansion. After clearing Cataclysm, fans go through content from the first and second expansion, before rocketing ahead to the fifth expansion onwards. Add in removed content, quick experience gains, and an expansive fantasy world, and things get tough. Many players turn to YouTube videos and explainers from guild members or friends understand World of Warcraft’s story.

The next expansion, Shadowlands, is finally tackling this problem in a comprehensive way. While we learned some of this at BlizzCon, Blizzard released new details in a blog post in early April.

New players will be going to an island called Exile’s Reach. This mysterious place tells a new story, and encourages players to go through a series of trials that will teach them about their class. New heroes will learn about mechanics like how to interrupt a spell, taunt a boss, and heal a friend. These small tutorials will be specific for every class, and the zone is capped off with a two boss mini-dungeon to bring all those new lessons together into one place.

Death Knights and Demon Hunters, the two hero classes, will start with their own class-specific zones. Veteran players can choose to opt-out of Exile’s Reach, and complete the 1-10 experience in their race’s starting zone.

Once new players complete their starting zone, they will be sent to play through Battle for Azeroth’s zones; veterans can choose to level through any of the existing expansions, which will take from level 11 all the way to the Shadowlands.

When the Shadowlands alpha is available, players will be able to test the Alliance version of Exile’s Reach, as well as some content from the expansion’s leveling zones.

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