WoW Shadowlands’ 9.1 Update Joins Its Distinct Covenant Storylines Back Together
In World of Warcraft: Shadowlands, players get to choose to join one of four different Covenants, which dictates much of the storyline (and many of the characters) they interact with as they explore the world of the dead. But with patch 9.1, that’s all about to change.
Speaking to IGN ahead of BlizzCon 2021, senior game designer Jeremy Feasel and technical director Frank Kowalkowski said that Patch 9.1 sees players working to unite the four covenants, bringing them together as a collective army to launch a strike against the Jailer on his home turf: the Maw.
Shadowlands patch 9.1, Chains of Domination, was revealed today at BlizzCon, and centers the lost city of Korthia — which the Jailer grabs out of the Maw and smashes into the rest of the landmass players have explored so far. Much of Chains of Domination will take place in Korthia and the Maw at large, with new Covenant hubs in the Maw, ways to cleanse the Jailer’s oppressive influence, and yes — the ability to summon player mounts in the Maw, where previously they were unable to do so.
Uniting the Covenants isn’t just a storyline choice. Feasel said that with 9.1, players will not only be doing most of the same content together, but they’ll also be able to follow the storylines of Covenants they haven’t joined, as well as receive story catch-ups to see what’s been going on in other zones.
“It was wanting to get across that feeling of the covenants really coming together, it doesn’t make sense for us to go off and deal with problems in our own home zone anymore,” Feasel said. “But then also, it allows us to show to every single one of the players, even players who may not play multiple characters, what’s been going on in some of the zones, and that helps us with our storytelling. Once everyone’s caught up with what’s going on, what’s happening in the world, it allows us take-off points from any of the four zone storylines.”
It will also be much easier to navigate the four Covenant zones, they said, because flying will be implemented in all four with the new patch. And, good news: there’s no reputation grind this time. If players have been keeping up with their Covenant story progression so far, they say it shouldn’t take long at all to unlock it — though still no flying allowed in the Maw, sorry.
Feasel added that there will still be things that make Covenants feel distinct to players, including extra storylines or “scene-lets” that only players of that Covenant will see.
The merging of Covenant storylines and ease of crossover begs the question: what if players want to change Covenants? The Covenant system was criticized heavily in the lead-up to launch due to players not wanting to feel restricted to one Covenant, especially if later changes to the game made a certain Covenant more or less ideal for more hardcore players. Feasel said that while there’s nothing specific to announce for now, the time between major patches is about the time Blizzard expects to see players experiment with other Covenants, and the teams will be listening to feedback from players who do swap to make sure they feel that changing Covenants isn’t too painful for them.
Covenants, Korthia, and storylines aren’t the only new elements coming in 9.1. There’s a new 10-boss raid, the Sanctum of Domination, where players will take on Sylvanas Windrunner at last as the final boss — though Feasel said no return of Tier gear…for now.
“We really like the idea, we don’t have anything to announce today, but it’s definitely on our list when we find a time that feels right,” he said.
And Kowalkowski confirmed there’s more. There will be”at least one new wing” added to Torghast, possibly more. Feasel added that Blizzard is looking at adjustments to the rogue-like challenge’s rewards, suggesting the “everything or nothing” approach currently available probably needs adjusting.
“We want it to feel like you can achieve a bit more incremental progression,” he said, and continued that Blizzard wants players who like the content but don’t need the rewards to still feel they get something from it.
We’ll also see an eight-boss mega-dungeon themed around the Brokers called Tazavesh, the Veiled Market, and at some point encounter this real messed-up version of Anduin Wrynn, corrupted somehow by Sylvanas and despair.
World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade Classic and details about the 9.1 patch for Shadowlands were leaked yesterday ahead of BlizzCon today, when they were formally announced. We also spoke with John Hight and Brian Birmingham ahead of the event about a number of Burning Crusade Classic details, including planned character boosts and paid cloning services, a potential future Wrath of the Lich King Classic release and changes to Burning Crusade from its original version.