World of Warcraft: Shadowlands artwork for the various covenants

[Update #2]: Shadowlands pre-patch has now arrived with revamped leveling and tons of new customization.

[Update]: Blizzard has revealed the full list of changes arriving with the Shadowlands pre-patch.

World of Warcraft's upcoming Shadowlands expansion will feature five unique zones, four of which will have Covenants you can join in order to receive new abilities, cosmetics and story content. While this is a pretty fun idea on paper, in practice it's an absolute nightmare to balance and can easily result in a scenario where players have to google the most optimal choices in fear of picking the wrong ones and being stuck with them.

In order to alleviate this, Blizzard has announced that the next Shadowlands beta update will make Conduits (the Covenant-tied 'talent trees') a lot easier to experiment with. Instead of being able to reset your Conduits only once per week, you will now be able to change each individual Conduit by using up Conduit Energy, a brand new currency. Since you generate one Conduit Energy per day, up to a maximum of ten, this will allow you to more frequently tweak your build without removing the ability to do a full respec once in a while.

To further help with this, Blizzard will also be taking a closer look at many of the Covenant abilities in order to tweak some of the outliers. While there will still be abilities that are obviously geared towards a certain game mode (like raids or PvP), the new changes should hopefully make it so each one has at least some kind of purpose and makes the class itself just a bit more enjoyable to play.

Whether they will actually manage to balance all of the Covenant abilities and their accompanying Conduits, that still remains to be seen, but with Shadowlands being delayed until later this year, there is at least time to get everything fairly close together. After all, as long as the abilities are numerically similar, having some be slightly more useful shouldn't be too much of a problem as nobody will end up 'trapped' in their favorite Covenant.

My little musings aside, you can read more about these changes over at the World of Warcraft forums.