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WoWNov 19, 2020 7:00 pm CT

Everything we know about the Maw endgame zone in WoW Shadowlands

You don’t want to be in the Maw. It’s a new realm of irredeemable souls in World of Warcraft Shadowlands, and it’s a place that you’ll fear — especially because it’ll be designed as a tough, endgame zone. The Maw offers some fascinating story implications, and a whole lot of potential things to do while you’re working your way through the upcoming expansion. But what else do we know about the Maw?

Where and what is the Maw in WoW Shadowlands?

The Shadowlands as a whole is a place where souls go after their corporeal form dies, and within the Shadowlands are different realms for souls to be sorted into based on what they did in life. Among those realms is the Maw — the realm that you don’t want to be put into. Before relatively recent events, the Arbiter would have chosen to send you to the Maw or not. Only the worst of the worst get sent to the Maw, where they’re essentially imprisoned by the Jailer.

That brings us to the current day in Azeroth, where every single soul is going to the Maw. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never even done anything wrong in your life; if you die, you go to the Maw. This has caused a big rift in the Shadowlands. Tons of souls are going to the Maw and leaving the other realms dry of the spiritual resource Anima. On top of that, Sylvanas Windrunner is working with the Jailer to kill more people and generate more souls. Nothing good is happening in the Maw, and we have to fix it.

Your first experience in Shadowlands is the Maw, and you’ll have to fight your way through the zone in order to get to Oribos, the hub city for the expansion. But while you’ll see it at the start of the expansion,  you’ll be kept quite busy trying to escape, so don’t expect to have all of the zone’s secrets explored by the time you leave — far from it.

Indeed, the Maw will be like a home away from home at max level… I mean, depending on if you think of home as a place of eternal torment where forces of tyranny and damnation seek to destroy you or not.

When can you enter the Maw in WoW Shadowlands?

The Maw is a max-level zone, but you’ll see it at the start of the expansion. You’ll travel there like all the other souls and then be forced out into the other realms of the Shadowlands. At BlizzCon 2019, Blizzard said you’ll return to the Maw throughout the leveling experience to check up on your trapped allies and progress the story there. Once you hit the new max level of 60, you’ll go there more often.

Once you get to the Maw, you’ll meet Ve’nari, a Broker who knows the Maw better than anyone who isn’t trying to kill you the second you get there. Ve’nari has a unique reputation system, and sells items that help you survive in the hostile zone, complete various achievements, and even have uses outside of the place — for example, Ve’nari sells an item that can upgrade your Conduits or get you new Conduits: the Unbound Reality Conduit. You’ll find Ve’nari’s base of operations serves as a refuge from the rest of the Maw, and that’s good.

Here’s the thing though: The Maw is designed to be inhospitable. There will be no inns or settlements to rest in. Blizzard implied that the zone will be filled with tough enemies and reasons for you to want to get in and out as quickly as possible. Think of it like Suramar, but without the secret hideout or magical illusions.

Furthermore, the Eye of the Jailer is always watching you. This game mechanic acts like an unofficial timer of how long it’s safe to stay in the Maw — the more you do, like completing World Quests, defeating rares, and opening up treasures, the more of the Jailer’s attention you draw, and the worse the threats he sends after you get. Take things too lightly and you’ll end up overwhelmed and destroyed, so it’s best to play it safe until you’re powerful enough to endure all this attention.

Your Eye of the Jailer Threat level goes up as you adventure in the Maw, and only resets back down to 0 with the daily reset, although Sire Denathrius does drop a ring in the Castle Nathria raid that lowers the rate your Threat level increases, letting you stay in the Maw longer.

Here are the dangers you’ll face as your threat goes up:

  • Tier 1 is the Soul Beacon, which turns the Maw’s native Soulseekers hostile to you — this isn’t great because they’re strong, but it’s not that big a deal.
  • Tier 2, Soul Surge, adds the complication that the Towers around the Maw will target the area you’re in and blast it, dealing high damage and chaining you in place, forcing you to click on the chains to escape while getting pummeled for more damage by further Tower blasts.
  • Tier 3? Assassins! The Hunted debuff means that in addition to being artillery blasted by Towers and having Soulseekers hate your guts, the second you enter into combat, an assassin will appear and try and kill you.
  • That’s bad, but Tier 4 makes it worse. Kill Order means that the Assassins are now Elites.
  • Finally, there’s Tier 5, Immediate Extermination. You take less and less healing the longer this debuff is on you, and when it hits 0, you start taking Shadow damage that will kill you, especially since you can’t heal.

The Eye of the Jailer won’t affect you in Ve’nari’s Refuge, but it also won’t go away while you’re there, so once it’s at Tier 5 you’re basically going to have to leave or die.

Torghast is the big draw of the zone

Also inside the Maw is Torghast, Tower of the Damned. Torghast will also be difficult content, but in the form of a roguelike dungeon for up to five players. Torghast will be a necessary step towards crafting the expansion’s unique Legendary items. We have a roundup post here that covers the roguelike experience in more detail.

Think something like Hades in WoW form and you’re pretty close to what Torghast is like, and it’s designed to combine elements of previous World of Warcraft scaled play like Horrific Visions and the Mage Tower. You can go into Torghast solo or in a group, and not only does the dungeon scale based on your group, it also changes layout inside to provide a unique experience every time.

The Maw still holds a lot of mysteries. We don’t know what the Jailer’s intentions are and we don’t know if there will be a way to properly prevent all the souls from going there. The Maw clearly holds the answers to a lot of the big questions the expansion will ask. We’ll have to wait until we hear more about it and for when we finally can start exploring it ourselves to learn more.

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