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Well, it’s official. Shadowlands, the next expansion for Blizzard’s World of Warcraft has been delayed from its original release date of Oct. 27 to “later this year.” An exact date has not yet been announced. The delay, in part, seems to be the result of employees being forced to work from home (Thanks a lot COVID!) and ample feedback from concerned players over the new borrowed power systems in place. 

Here is what executive producer John Hight wrote in a post on the official Blizzard website, to address the delay:

“Over the past several months of testing, we’ve made significant progress iterating on and polishing the core features and gameplay of Shadowlands. We’re at a point where the zones, the campaign, the level-up questing experience, and the story we have to tell are essentially ready to share.

However, as everything started coming together and we’ve been listening to and building upon your feedback, it’s become clear we need a little more time for additional polish, and to balance and iterate on some interlocking pieces—particularly those related to the endgame.”

There has been much criticism surrounding World of Warcraft’s newest expansion, primarily on aspects of the endgame progression systems, namely Covenants, featured in Shadowlands. Each player will have to select one of four powerful factions who reside within the Shadowlands and align themselves with their cause for special in-game items and cosmetics. These covenants will also play a rather large role in how a character is played and which bonuses are derived from the choice. 

Players’ biggest fears seem to stem from the various strengths and weaknesses of class-specific abilities and tools tied to these covenants will not present them much of a choice at all. The reason being that some abilities tied to covenants are too strong for how a character’s role and specialization will play out at endgame meaning choosing for thematic purposes will take a backseat to progression.

Blizzard continues to test new solutions for the perceived problem, even going so far as to revert the covenant choices’ permanence in favor of allowing players to swap between them at a small penalty. Regardless, the entire system has remained a point of contention throughout the beta.

This new delay should provide Blizzard with more time to address all of the concerns, as well as polish some of the other newly added systems such as Torghast, a repeatable rogue-like tower, and the Maw.

The news of the delay comes on the heels of another announcement surrounding the Shadowlands pre-patch, which will go live on October 13. The pre-patch will include a new player experience, Exile’s Reach, a revamped leveling system originally coined “Chromie Time”, a level squish from 120 down to 50, and a host of new character customization options. Closer to the actual launch, players will be treated to the Scourge invasion of Azeroth, a pre-launch event that will provide them with something to do in the meantime and likely segue into the Shadowlands expansion.

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