Ion Hazzikostas, World of Warcraft’s game director, was onstage to reveal the expansion. Blizzard showed a CG cinematic to announce the game, taking us back to Icecrown, the fortress of the Lich King. Sylvanas Windrunner, the banshee queen, pays the citadel a visit. She goes to the top, to the Frozen Throne, and has a confrontation with the Lich King himself, Blovar Fordragon. Sylvanas wins the fight and takes the Lich King’s crown, ripping it in half, which tears a hole in the sky.
Somehow, she thinks that what she has done will set everyone free. She appears to be the main villain of the expansion.
Players will go to the Shadowlands, the afterlife in the Warcraft universe. They’ll encounter characters from the series’ past there. And while much of it is pretty dark and dreary, some of its locales look mildly pleasant and colorful.
The expansion will add new dungeons and raids, including the Tower of the Damned. Hazzikostas says that expansion will be all about player choice. Shadowlands is also playable at BlizzCon.
This will be the game’s eight expansion, following the 2017 release of Battle for Azeroth. Shadowlands puts Death Knights, a class introduced back in the second expansion Wrath of the Lich King, back in the spotlight. Sylvanas, the former Horde leader, will also play a major part in the story.
World of Warcraft now exists in two states. Along with this Battle for Azeroth, which will transition into Shadowlands, Blizzard has also launched World of Warcraft Classic, which recreates the game as it existed before the launch of any expansions.
Correction, 11:41 a.m. Pacific: We had said Sylvanas put on the crown, not shattered it. We have corrected the error.