5 Things You Need To Do Before Starting World of Warcraft: Shadowlands As A New/Returning Player

In just a few days, the gates to the afterlife will open with the launch of World of Warcraft: Shadowlands. Also known as Patch 9.0, WoW’s eighth expansion shakes things up by taking players into the realm where souls of the departed on Azeroth are ferried to. 

If you’re a new player or returning to the series after skipping one or two (or three) expansions, then you might be overwhelmed with just how much content there is to soak in. Even if you’re returning after a brief hiatus after abandoning Battle For Azeroth once hitting max level, there may still be some loose ends to tie up before the new expansion begins. 

Fortunately, Shadowlands will become more accessible for all players at launch, as character levels will be squished from the level cap of 120 to 60, as well as the return of fan-favourite talent trees and abilities offering more flexibility to character builds. These aspects aim to facilitate a much more streamlined leveling experience for new and returning players, while not sacrificing on difficulty and complexity.

Since many players, old and new, will be looking to continue or begin their WoW journey on Shadowlands, here are some quick tips on getting on track to starting the expansion with the biggest advantage possible.

1. Get your main character (and any alts) to max level ASAP

With the level cap being truncated from 120 to 60, newer players or returning ones will definitely not have to grind through levels endlessly just to get caught up and get started with the new content in Shadowlands. When Patch 9.0 hits, players who are at level 120 will automatically be shifted down to level 50, which means those players will automatically be able to partake in Shadowlands content, which begins at level 50 onwards. 

In general, leveling in the new patch, without any form of XP boosts, takes about 60% faster than the previous patches, so players — even those who are parents who have a day job — are assured of being able to hit max level within a matter of weeks, so really, one will not miss out on anything much even weeks after Shadowlands launches.

The good news here is that at the time of writing, there is an XP boost up until the official launch of WoW: Shadowlands, so players still have time to maximise their level gains for main and alt characters before the new patch hits.

Alternatively, you can also opt to create a Death Knight or Demon Hunter character if you haven’t already, as both hero classes will start out at level 8 each, compared to the others when Shadowlands drops, which all start at level 1. It’s a small boost, but if you’re that much concerned about less time wasted grinding levels, this might be worth looking into.

And finally, if you absolutely have no time to grind out a character from 1 – 50 and just want to jump into Shadowlands without any frills, there’s also the option to use a Character Boost, which is available in the in-game shop for US$60, or included free as part of the Heroic or Epic editions of World of Warcraft: Shadowlands.

If you’re really minted, here’s what the Shadowlands Collector’s Edition looks like:

2. Plan your 1 – 50 leveling route (if you’re starting from scratch)

Those that plan to head into the expansion with a fresh character and not take the Character Boost easy way out, or at least not at the current max level will have to take up the necessary-but-thankfully-truncated grinding experience. When starting out, players at levels 1 – 10  have one of two options to gain levels here: either their respective race’s starting zone, or at the new starting zone, Exile’s Reach. 

After which, levels 10 – 50 are a bit more free-form in nature, but you’re typically going to want to pursue the storylines in previous expansions from start to finish. Yes, this includes all expansions added up until this point, from The Burning Crusade to Battle For Azeroth, so you essentially have seven leveling paths! 

For returning players, this is a great way to catch up on previous expansions they may have skipped out on, or want to relive some of the best moments in previous WoW expansions, such as the dramatic finale of Arthas Menethil in Wrath of the Lich King. And for new players, this is a great way to get up to speed with the overarching WoW narrative before jumping into Shadowlands (as such, we recommend BFA as the ideal jumping-on point for new players as it serves as a “fresh” start for the narrative of WoW without getting too convoluted and confusing).

Again, with the new leveling system comes a boosted experience gain, so those who have to level up in the earlier expansions won’t have to spend too much time before they could do so.

3. Amass gold and talent-changing tomes

Aside from levels, perhaps another essential for any WoW player heading into any new expansion will be gold, and in Shadowlands, it will be no different as players will be spending quite a lot to upgrade their equipment in order to take on more challenging content.

The best way to farm for gold in the current patch is to keep grinding out Heroic or Mythic raids and dungeons, where sellable mounts, transmog and armour sets can be found, and these sell for typically high prices on the Auction House. And if you’re looking for any sellable/tradeable mounts such as Bloodfeaster, Dune Scavenger, and Terrified Pack Mule, here’s a list of those that you can try to farm/craft and hopefully make a quick buck with.

Additionally, now might also be a good time to craft and stock up on Tomes of the Quiet Mind, as materials can only be found in BFA. These talent-changing tomes will be hot property once Shadowlands hits as players will be looking to constantly change up their talents and abilities on the fly without having to create alts to further refine their leveling and endgame experience.

Also, it lets up to two other players be seated on its back so you can traverse Azeroth (and later, the Shadowlands) with your friends and be able to put up loot for auction on the fly.

4. Clear out your inventory and banks, and get more bags

And of course, with a new expansion coming up, players will be raring to go through the various new dungeons and raids available, such as Torghast, Tower of the Damned. But one can’t simply take part in the new content without clearing their inventory and storage space, as there will be a ton of new loot and gear to file through.

This one is a little more straightforward, if not a little tedious, than the other points here, but really, all you need to do is just sell any unwanted gear or materials to vendors, or stash them in alt accounts. If it helps you feel more organised and ready for the new expansion, maybe doing some spring cleaning on your banks and rearranging items on your inventory and even hotkeys might help too.

If you’re a returning player, heirloom gear, much like toys, pets, mounts, and transmog skins now has its very own collection tab located in the microbar. This means it no longer takes up space in your inventory, and requires absolutely no troublesome manual trading between alts.

Getting new bags might help with inventory management too. As it turns out, the new 34-slot Papa’s Mint Condition Bag will be up for grabs during this currently-ongoing Shadowlands pre-patch event. To get it, all you need to do is head over to the Icecrown area in Northrend and hunt the Bronjahm, one of 20 rare elite monsters located in that area.

5. Play some WoW Classic

If you’re all caught up on current content and are just waiting it out until WoW: Shadowlands finally lands, maybe it might be good to wind back the clock and explore Azeroth of 15 years ago in WoW Classic. This remaster of vanilla WoW has been a revelation since its launch last year, and is still going strong with a steady stream of classic content updates such as Ahn’Qiraj and, more recently, Naxxramas, coming out for veteran players to relive those iconic moments, or new players to get in on the action that they missed out on years ago.

Also, its generally slower pace offers a nice change of scenery for the generally hectic and blazing-fast level progression in WoW’s current content. And it’s just nice to see how far the MMORPG has evolved over the years with this blast from the past.

Oh, and did we forget to mention that WoW Classic is FREE as part of a regular WoW subscription? So yeah, definitely give this one a shot before Shadowlands drops.

And those are our quick tips to get started on World of Warcraft: Shadowlands. Whether you’re a current, returning or new player, the new expansion is sure to give one reason to take up arms in Azeroth’s afterlife with a host of new features and new ways to experience one of the most iconic MMORPGs of all time.

After all, this is but only the start. We all know the “real” game starts at level 60.

This article is brought to you in collaboration with Blizzard Entertainment.