Gamescom 2020's opening night was the virtual venue for many an unveiling, including trailers for the latest Call of Duty: Black Ops, DOOM Eternal DLC, and Sam & Max's return to gaming (this time in VR). But no single scintilla of information was more anticipated than the release date for World of Warcraft's eighth expansion. Thankfully Azeroth's faithful weren't waiting for long.
World of Warcraft: Shadowlands will launch globally on Monday October 26th / Tuesday October 27th, a date which is quite a bit sooner than many commentators were expecting. The current Shadowlands beta testing realm has an experience which is distinctly unfinished, with many core systems still rough around the edges and many class abilities clearly yet to be balanced and tuned. But now Blizzard are committed, come hell or high water.
The last week in October keeps Shadowlands well clear of the looming juggernauts that are CoD: Black Ops Cold War and Cyberpunk 2077, which launch on November 13th and 19th respectively.
The new expansion also brings with it major changes to the underlying game. Character levels and item power are being squished, with the level cap initially reduced to 50 before expanding to 60 at end-game. The 1-50 levelling process is being streamlined with a fresh new player experience and ability to opt for a single prior expansion's worth of content for your levelling journey.
A patch will roll out at some point before the expansion's launch, sun-setting many of the old systems and content while paving the way for the new. A date has not been set as yet, but based on prior experience it's expected to be between four and six weeks before the expansion's due date.
To coincide with the launch date announcement Blizzard prepared the first of four cinematics outlining the main story beats as the game heads into the next adventure. Afterlives: Bastion tells of Uther's passing at the hands of his most favoured student, and how death might not be the end for this Paladin of the Light after all.
The remaining three cinematics, each dealing with the remaining three Shadowlands Covenant factions, will follow in September.
Digital pre-orders for Shadowlands are already open. There are three options to choose from starting at £34.99, and a monthly subscription continues to be necessary to play. Find out more at Worldofwarcraft.com and via the Battle.net app.