Blizzard Entertainment is currently beta-testing the next World of Warcraft expansion, Shadowlands, where players head to the afterlife. There, we’ll have to make a serious choice and pledge ourselves to one of four Covenants in exchange for powerful abilities and cosmetics. This is a key feature of Shadowlands, and a big part of this was the idea that it would be a permanent choice. Now, Blizzard is testing a method of changing Covenants, which could resolve the biggest debate of the next expansion.
Every World of Warcraft expansion has a few endgame systems that determine how players will spend their time. In previous expansions, that took the form of a giant jousting tournament, or upgrading and maintaining a garrison full of useful stations and quests. In Shadowlands, one of the major systems is Covenants, where players choose one of the four factions from the zones they just experienced. Then, they get access to an exclusive storyline, companions, unique abilities, an upgradable base, and more. As the heroes of Azeroth fix things in the Shadowlands, the Covenants will reward them with sweet armor or a cool owl.
At first, Blizzard stood firm on the decision to make this a permanent decision. It’s clear that Shadowlands is focused on player choice. While Battle for Azeroth offered a few dialogue decisions, Shadowlands’ choice is based nearly entirely around the Covenants, and making the pick a permanent one would give players an impactful, serious decision. Players also have the ability to sample each faction as they level up, making it easier to choose without too much of a surprise.
However, players have been worried because the Covenant choice could prove to be too powerful. The fear was that, say, a Mage who chose to side with the Kyrian of Bastion due to the cool cosmetics would suddenly realize she had chosen a faction that does far less damage. Perhaps she might even get declined for groups and raids by the game’s most die-hard raiders, due to being at such a disadvantage.
Now, community site Wowhead has noted the existence of an ability to change factions. This is not a simple process; there are multiple confirmation windows. Furthermore, if the player wishes to rejoin their original Covenant, they have to earn that trust back through a longer and more involved quest chain. Because this is on the test realm, this is all open to iteration and change; none of this is set in stone. However, it does look like Blizzard is already ironing out one of the expansion’s biggest expected pain points during the beta.