World of Warcraft’s Shadowlands expansion has been out for a little over a month, and its endgame is in full swing. In previous expansions, it felt like players’ endgame time was dragged in a dozen different directions, with no clear indication where their time would be best spent. But thanks to Shadowlands’ new Great Vault system, everything in the endgame—from raids, to Mythic Plus, to PVP—fits together and feels important.
The Great Vault gives players loot at the beginning of each week based on the content they completed the previous week. Unlike the weekly caches from past expansions, which only gave you loot for completing Mythic Plus dungeons, the Vault gives you a reward option for every kind of content you do and offers more options for loot the more content you do.
If you do one Mythic Plus dungeon, for instance, you’ll only get one reward, but if you do four, you’ll be able to choose from two loot options. Same goes for PVP and Raid content. The more you do, the more loot options you’ll get from the Great Vault.
The Great Vault doesn’t necessarily tell you what kind of content you have to do, but it’s a nice arrow to point you in the right direction. By bringing together all the different types of rewards into one place, it makes everything you do each week feel like it’s going towards one specific goal.
The system acts as a convenient checklist of all the weekly feats you should accomplish. One week, I logged in on Monday night — the night before World of Warcraft’s weekly reset — and checked my vault only to notice that I was one dungeon short of the 10 dungeon reward. So, I grabbed a few friends and hopped into a quick late-night dungeon to make sure I would wake up to the best possible rewards the next morning.
All the extra options that the Great Vault offers also give players more agency in the gearing process than WoW’s ever allowed for in the past. When I checked on my rewards the morning after my tenth dungeon, I had six pieces of loot to choose from. While past expansions would have given me my loot at random, this time I got to pick. I grabbed a brand new weapon at a much higher item level than the one I had been using (a bad 184 item-level Lakali’s Spire of Knowledge). It wasn’t the highest-level piece of gear in my Vault, but it was the one that benefited me most, which made it feel like a way bigger and more personal upgrade than some new helmet I didn’t even want.
Perhaps the most impressive feat of the Great Vault is how effectively it covers up some of the other weaknesses of Shadowlands. For instance, thanks to the new drop rate change that Blizzard has implemented, Mythic Plus dungeons give less loot overall. Shadowlands’ most challenging content at the moment, the Mythic Castle Nathria raid, drops just three pieces of loot per boss to split between 20 players. While these changes could easily have let gearing in the endgame slip into a full-blown crisis, the Great Vault’s weekly offering of rewards keeps players from growing too frustrated.
In past expansions, gearing in WoW’s endgame could be a listless process. It was always clear that you needed to do content to get gear and that the harder content would give better gear, but it was difficult to know where to spend your time, and every activity felt disconnected from one another. In Shadowlands, however, the Great Vault serves as a convenient roadmap to your weekly goals and makes everything you do feel like it works towards granting you that one extra-special piece of loot each week. The added clarity and direction make it an excellent bridge into a slightly more streamlined future for World of Warcraft’s endgame.