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WoWOct 6, 2020 6:00 pm CT

What you should do now to get ready for Shadowlands, and what you can save until later

We’ve all done the World of Warcraft expansion rodeo, at least once if not a few times. Things tend to change — classes, talents, and abilities — and the FOMO that may accompany those. One time I had an incredibly powerful artifact weapon only to have to sacrifice all of its power to save the planet from a giant sword, so we’re cognizant of how radically things can change between expansions.

This expansion, Blizzard is handling the pre-patch and the expansion rollout a little differently. The pre-patch will be patch 9.0.1 and the expansion itself will be patch 9.0.2. So when we talk about the pre-patch here, we mean patch 9.0.1, which is arriving October 13.

With the patch just around the corner, Blizzard has put out a patch survival guide so you’re ready for the changes to come.

But the video doesn’t cover everything. So what do we really have to do before these patches roll out? The truth is, there are a few things to do now, while you still can, but not as many as I’d expected.

Mounts and achievements going away

Blizzard released a list of mounts and achievements that are going away with either the Shadowlands pre-patch period or the Shadowlands launch. There are also two mounts that will get significantly less farmable when Shadowlands comes out.

Raid mount drops will be harder to get

These Mythic raid mount drops will see the number of mounts that drop reduced to one (down from two) and the drop chance reduced massively starting at Shadowlands launch:

The new droprate should fall in line previous expansion mounts like the Mimiron’s Head from Zero Lights Yogg, giving it a 1% droprate. But, while the chance to get the Mythic Allseer and Glacial Tidestorm will be reduced, they will at least still be possible.

Achievements (and their rewards) are being removed

Three mounts will be unavailable in Shadowlands:

  • The Lost Flight quest for killing Heroic N’Zoth, which awards the Uncorrupted Voidwing, will be removed on Shadowlands launch (patch 9.0.2)
  • Keystone Master achievement for the Awakened Mindborer will be removed in the Shadowlands pre-patch (patch 9.0.1)
  • Mighty Caravan Brutosaur will no longer be for sale in the Shadowlands pre-patch (patch 9.0.1), but it will move to the Black Market Auction House so you can still get the Conspicuous Consumption achievement with some luck

These achievements will be unavailable, too:

  • The Ahead of the Curve and Cutting Edge achievements for Ny’alotha are both going away in the pre-patch (patch 9.0.1)
  • The Mad World achievement for Horrific Visions and its attendant title, “The Faceless One” will no longer be accessible once the pre-patch for Shadowlands begins (patch 9.0.1)
  • When Shadowlands launches, rank 4 Essences will no longer be obtainable, which means you can’t get the achievement Phenomenal Cosmic Power or the title “Azeroth’s Champion” (patch 9.0.2)

Hero classes and Allied Races will start at lower levels

When I think about getting ready for Shadowlands, one thing that immediately comes to mind is leveling more of my alts. Because the Winds of Wisdom XP buff is going to endure until the Shadowlands pre-patch (patch 9.0.1), and because certain classes and races currently start at higher levels like Death Knights, Demon Hunters, and the various Allied Races.

Hero classes will lose a lot of their level advantage

Demon Hunters, who currently start at level 98 and are usually level 100 by the end of their starting experience, will start at level 8 in Shadowland, so you could end up saving a lot of time by getting your Demon Hunter into Legion content now. Death Knights will drop to level 8 as well, which isn’t as big of a drop, but still substantial. After finishing their starting experiences, both classes will likely be at level 10.

Allied Races lose some of their level advantage

Similarly, Allied Race characters will start at level 10 in Shadowlands. I don’t feel like this is as big a deal, since all leveling content is going from 10 to 50 in the expansion so you’re not losing out the way you will with Demon Hunters and Death Knights. But if you want to get the benefit of the XP boost, which is going away in the upcoming expansion, now is definitely the time to level these alts, or indeed any alts you may want to jump into the Shadowlands content with.

Legacy content may be more difficult to solo

It’s also an extremely good idea to get as much transmog farming as you want to get done now, because we have no idea how effective your level 50 characters will be at soloing older content. Achievements like Balance of Power require you to run Legion raids, which is currently pretty easy to solo, but may be more difficult when Shadowlands launches.

It may be fine — I’ve done a little mog farming on the alpha and managed it, but it wasn’t any cutting edge content. Still, I can report that the Cataclysm raid Blackwing Descent is easily soloable by a level 50 character — trash mobs were level 35, and the bosses died in a few hits. When I get a chance to try higher level content I’ll report on that, but it feels like efforts have been made to make mog farming/raid soloing compatible with the new expansion.

Still, it’s always better to go in when you know what you’re doing, and to get as many chances at loot as possible. I should also say that legacy loot did not appear to be enabled on the alpha, but I have no idea if that’s a deliberate change or just not implemented yet because it’s not the focus of alpha testing.

But the game doesn’t change as much as you might expect

No content appears to be removed in the upcoming expansion, so I can’t say that there are any quests you should rush to get done now — other than Lost Flight, which is essentially the reward for N’Zoth’s Ahead of the Curve achievement — before they’re taken out. However, with the level squish, a lot of content is going to be heavily rebalanced and no content is going to be intended for levels above 50 except for Shadowlands content itself which will be levels 51 to 60. So if you enjoy the way any content is specifically balanced now, you might want to run it before it gets changed.

But one of the most interesting things about this expansion — considering the drastic changes to leveling and character level, very little is actually all that different. It feels like you’ll be capable of doing just about anything you can do now, with the added flexibility of doing it in a more a la carte fashion — leveling from 10 to 50 in pretty much any content you choose from the history of World of Warcraft. All the options that currently exist seem to exist on the beta, and I would expect them to continue into the actual game on expansion release.

Originally posted 7/7/2020. Updated 10/6/2020

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