World of Warcraft: Shadowlands expansion screenshot of Revendreth and a vampire

[Update #2]: Shadowlands' latest preview is all about the Ardenweald zone and Night Fae Covenant.

[Update]: Blizzard has now also unveiled some of the massive class changes coming with Shadowlands!

World of Warcraft's Shadowlands expansion is heading into Closed Alpha this week, and in order to get everyone on the same page, Blizzard has started releasing a series of previews. This time around, the developer update is all about the Covenants and the type of abilities you'll be able to unlock by joining them.

There will be four Covenants in total, and while you will be able to swap between them, the current plan is encourage faction loyalty by making the swapping process take a fair bit of time and effort. Worry not, however, as you will have a good amount of time to test each of their unique abilities before making your choice, so you won't have to pick blindly and hope for the best.

Speaking of which, Blizzard has now unveiled a couple of examples of Covenant abilities for all of the classes. You can check them out over at the official website, but do be warned, all of it is still work in progress and there is always a chance the ability itself will be drastically changed by the time Shadowlands launches.

Personally, I'm not exactly sure what to think about all of this. On one hand, I do like having to choose an additional faction, and getting some nifty thematic abilities out of the whole deal is pretty exciting. On the other hand, a lot of these abilities appear to be exclusively geared towards one style of content, which is already making me somewhat worried we'll be expected to pick the objectively best Covenants if we want to push harder PvE content like Mythic+ or raids.

All of this is still early in development, and none of it has actually been tested, so I can only hope things will look a lot more balanced once Shadowlands is nearly upon us. After all, Blizzard already went through a very similar problem with Azerite gear in Battle for Azeroth, so odds are they're well aware they need to make things as equal as possible or face massive problems down the line.

Whatever the case may be, it'll certainly interesting to watch how Shadowlands develops over the next few months.