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WoWSep 9, 2020 5:28 pm CT

Alts in Shadowlands now have a choice to level through the story or jump to the conclusion

The way you level alts through the Shadowlands is about to change, giving you more flexibility on how to play subsequent characters.

Your first character levels from 50 to 60 by playing through the story arc, playing through all the zones in order so you know exactly what’s going on and can make an informed decision when you pick a Covenant. But previously, your second character didn’t have to go through all of that: alts would jump straight to the end of the story and select a Covenant immediately. You could still play through the zones, but you weren’t obligated to do them in story order, and World Quests, dungeons, bonus objectives, rares, treasures — all of those lucrative goodies would be there to make the leveling experience quicker.

That sounds like a great way to get your alts up to speed quickly, without having to run the same quests repeatedly. But according to testers, it could be jarring to run quests that were out of sync with this modified narrative. Obviously, this was game mechanics over story — players could reap the rewards of joining a Covenant early while ignoring the lore. Suspension of disbelief was needed.

But the issue wasn’t just narrative: while questing through each of the four Covenant zones, players got to try out the Covenant’s class ability. Those abilities are an important part of classes in Shadowlands, and playing through the story let you get hands-on experience with them. Choosing a Covenant without being able to try out their abilities first can be a difficult decision. Without playing through the story, there’s no way to test abilities without being in the Covenant. Sure, you can easily switch Covenants, but it’s hard to switch back to a Covenant you’ve previously left, which is pretty punishing if you only want to try out the Covenant abilities.

After listening to tester feedback, Blizzard agreed that the experience didn’t really work. But they also know not everyone wants to replay the full leveling process over and over, so instead of making things one way or the other they’re giving players a choice. In the next beta build, when an alt completes the Maw intro, they will be met in Oribos by the Fatescribe, who will offer the choice to play the narrative arc again or jump to the conclusion.

It’s great to see Blizzard listening to feedback and responding to it by prioritizing player choice. When in doubt, give the player more options.

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