World of Warcraft: Shadowlands screenshot of the Bastion zone

[Update]: World of Warcraft's Shadowlands expansion has been pinned for a Q4, 2020 release date.

In order to prevent hotbars from becoming too bloated with unnecessary spells, World of Warcraft has slowly but surely been pruning class abilities over the past few expansions. Unfortunately, Blizzard took things way too far in Battle for Azeroth, with most classes now having fairly homogeneous abilities and very little of the flavor they once had. I mean, was there really any point to removing fun but essentially useless spells?

Thankfully, this whole pruning business won't be a problem for long. According to the latest developer update, Blizzard is looking to heavily focus on player choice and customization in the Shadowlands expansion, as well as bringing back a unique identity for each and every single class.

"In Shadowlands, we want to return to the idea that a specialization is about powering up a specific part of a class’s kit, not narrowing down their toolset," reads the update. "Many specialization-specific abilities and spells that help define the identity of a class will once again be available class-wide, and we’re reintroducing some iconic abilities to give all of Azeroth’s heroes a fighting chance against the dangers ahead."

If you're wondering just what all of this means in practice, you can find some of the planned changes over at the official website. Needless to say, it's pretty exciting stuff, especially for Frost Death Knights and Monks as they will once again be able to choose between dual or two-handed weapons!

Besides the all-new (or returning) abilities, Shadowlands will also give players a variety of Covenant-exclusive spells and passives to toy around with. Since Shadowlands has only just entered alpha this system still isn't fully fleshed out, but the abilities shown so far do look quite interesting. I can only hope they'll also be quite balanced as Covenants are not going to be something you can easily swap around.

Whatever the case may be, expect to see even more developer updates in the near future as the Shadowlands alpha gets properly underway.