Below are some highlighted topics from the video, but be sure to watch the video for a more-detailed analysis as well as speculations surrounding Death!
Jailer and His Partners
At BlizzCon, we learned that Sylvanas was in partnership with the Jailer since the “Edge of Night” short story from Wrath of the Lich King, but we weren’t aware of other specific characters the Jailer worked with. Now with the Shadowlands alpha open, we’re learned of at least two more: Mueh’zala and Sire Denathrius.
Mueh’zala, the Father of Sleep and Loa of Death, was responsible for whispering to Vol’jin, suggesting he appoint Sylvanas Warchief. We’ve learned this through datamined broadcast text between Bwonsamdi and the Winter Queen. Mueh’zala’s involvement was foreshadowed with his presence in the Traveler series and a Patch 8.3 quote by N’Zoth, “Before the last shadow falls, the Father of Sleep shall savor his feast.” If some of Il’gynoth’s whispers are coming true in Shadowlands, it’s worth taking a look at the rest to see what else could come true.
Sire Denathrius, through datamined quest UI text, is revealed to be the character responsible for the anima drought in the Shadowlands. Initially, you work with Sire Denathrius to secure the Halls of Atonement and defeat the Accuser, believing Denathrius to be on your side. However, the Accuser reveals Denathrius’ true motives, leading you to join the rebels in Revendreth, enter Torghast, rescue some prisoners, and stage a valiant stand against Denathrius. However, Denathrius then sunders Revendreth and floods the Maw with anima, giving the Jailer even more power.
We’ve played through the Revendreth story on alpha but it’s still incomplete so details surrounding Denathrius are still unknown. However, he’s currently listed as the final boss in the first raid, Castle Nathria.
While we don’t know the final boss of Shadowlands yet, it’s been made clear that the expansion will be driven by the Jailer, what he’s after, and how to stop him. While Battle for Azeroth was frequently ambiguous, Shadowlands has greater clarity, positioning the Jailer as the major threat and revealing more of his allies and motives throughout the expansion.
And if you’re curious to learn more about the partnership with Sylvanas, which makes her actions in the past few expansions much clearer, check out our longread Sylvanas in Shadowlands – Edge of Night, Jailer of the Damned, and Vol’jin’s Mystery. Sylvanas has also received a new model, one that replaces her iconic Banshee Queen armor with a set full of spikes and drained of color.
Souls in the Maw
One hot topic of speculation is when did all souls start being funneled to the Maw? Normally, the Arbiter weighs all souls and assigns them to a specific realm, but at some point this stopped due to the Jailer’s plotting, leading to an anima drought disturbing the balance in all Shadowlands zones. While the dead from Teldrassil were sent to the Maw, providing a large power gain to Sylvanas and the Jailer, it’s unclear if the change occurred in the BFA pre-patch or earlier in Legion.
It will be interesting to see who is stuck in the Maw–Saurfang could be a likely candidate, as he died after Sylvanas had considerable control of her powers in Battle for Azeroth. So far we’ve encountered several tortured souls in Torhgast, specifically Jaina watching spectral versions of her siblings die.
As far as gameplay, the Maw is an outdoor max-level zone with a unique element of danger. You’ll need to farm the Maw for currency to enter Torghast, but it gets progressively more challenging to survive in the zone due to the Eye of the Jailer debuffs. In order to build up your resistance, you’ll have to spend Anima–which can only be acquired in the other zones.
We’re not sure what role the Maw will play in future patches, but we’ve datamined some armor sets with the name “Maw Raid,” which is distinct from the “Castle Nathria Raid” sets. Perhaps the Maw will be the second raid of Shadowlands, occupying a similar position to Nighthold in Legion.
Stories in Shadowlands
While not all zones are open for Shadowlands testing, we’ve played through everything we can and know a bit about major characters in other zones. All players will experience the four leveling zones (Bastion, Maldraxxus, Ardenweald, Revendreth) and after choosing a covenant, will learn even more in a covenant-specific questline, similar to the class-specific storylines in Legion.
In the Bastion storyline, we learn more about the rituals to become a Kyrian, which involve letting go of your past life. While Uther the Lightbringer is here unsurprisingly, he’s decided not to ascend which is a bit of a shock–he’d rather hold onto his identity and belong to the Forsworn, avatars of vengeance. The storyline ends on a cliffhanger where it’s revealed the Forsworn have not been attacking Bastion all along, but apparently a group from Maldraxxus.
The Maldraxxus storyline is not yet open for testing, but based on datamined models, it looks like Draka, Lady Vashj, and Mograine will be present (and apparently allies based on datamined scenario steps).
The Ardenweald storyline is not yet open for testing, but we’ve datamined an elaborate Winter Queen model, as well as Ysera with glowing blue eyes. Tyrande will play a major role in Ardenweald, seeking answers for Elune’s abandonment of the Night Elves at Teldrassil.
The Revendreth storyline is open for testing, depicting the treachery of Sire Denathrius and the rebel alliance fighting to reclaim their lands. However, the climatic moment where Sire Denathrius floods the Maw with Amina is hidden for now, although we datamined a summary of the event. We know that Kael’thas Sunstrider was sent to Revendreth, and he’ll be a boss in the Castle Nathria raid–although based on the encounter journal abilities, we’ll be trying to save him, not defeat him. He’s also received
two new models, likely tied to his Castle Nathria and post-encounter appearances, implying he’ll play a bigger role in the Revendreth-specific covenant story.
Realms of Death
While the lore of Warcraft has been extensively documented for years, none of the writings was from the perspective of the realms of Death. Shadowlands gives us the opportunity to learn about the workings of the world from a different angle, and there are many unknowns about the cosmos waiting to be discovered. While the Shadowlands is specifically for mortal souls, and a few other types like nature-themed beings from the Emerald Dream, other species travel to other realms of Death. For example, Demons go back to the Twisting Nether and Old Gods also return to a different realm. Death may also be part of a cycle, not an endpoint as previously assumed, one that leads to birth and new types of creation.
There’s also numerous Titan-themed details in Shadowlands, notably associated with the Arbiter and armor sets associated with the player hub of Oribos. There was no clear answer in a lore interview with Steve Danuser as to whether Titans will be involved in Shadowlands or not, but it was pointed out that we’ve never seen an actual Titan home world, so that may be something to explore at some point in the future as well.
Future Storylines in Shadowlands
With Shadowlands alpha so early, there’s still much to learn about the realm of Death. Some notable questions include:
- Who is the Arbiter and how did the get the power to judge all souls?
- Who all is allied with the Jailer and what are they fighting for?
- Is the Jailer’s attempts to break the cycle actually a good thing?
- Why do the Kyrians want you to let you go of your past?
- What does Sylvanas want from her deal with the Jailer?
- Will Arthas play a role in the Shadowlands?
And of course, we don’t know how Shadowlands will end–while we know that the Jailer is a major character, we don’t know if he will be the final boss. Due to the Titan-themed hints, perhaps we could travel to the realm of a Death Titan…or since Arthas’ presence was neither confirmed or denied in Shadowlands, he could also return at some point, which would tie nicely into character arcs for both Sylvanas and Bolvar.
If you enjoyed this article, check out our other Shadowlands lore pieces: