Hearthstone artwork for Thrall

[Update #2]: My Shadowlands review is now live, and I'm happy to say things are looking pretty good for WoW!

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

While the Shadowlands expansion has been delayed until later this year, the good news is that the pre-patch will be arriving this October 13th to help tide you over. The pre-patch will not only set up a whole bunch of things for Shadowlands, but also tweak a variety of older content in order to make leveling new characters a lot more enjoyable.

As such, expect to see character levels squished down from 120 to 50, with item levels and stats going downwards alongside them. Best of all, under the new system you'll be able to level in whatever expansion you prefer, all the way from level 10 to 50. So if you're like me and you miss seeing the latter parts of Warlords of Draenor's questing experience, you'll soon have a chance to do just that!

When it comes to new players, Blizzard will be introducing a mandatory and brand new starting zone called Exile's Reach. These initial quests will teach new players pretty much everything they need to know about World of Warcraft and how it operates, while also serving as a pretty fun starter zone in its own right. Naturally, if you're a veteran player and you want to level somewhere else, you'll be able to do so without any trouble.

On the cosmetic side of things, barber shops will now have a variety of new customization options, including the ability to change your gender. A little bit silly you can't change your name at the same time, but any sort of free character customization is definitely still welcome. Speaking of which, Allied Races will no longer require exalted reputation in order to unlock. So while you will still need to complete their entire questline in order to get your hands on them, this will make the whole process a lot faster and a lot less grindy.

The pre-patch will also bring in a whole bunch of class changes, including reworks for the Priest's Shadow and Shaman's Enhancement specializations, as well as a plethora of general balance tweaks and quality of life improvements. There's far, far too much for me to summarize, so if you're curious about all of the details, you should head on over to the WoW website.

And just in case you missed them, you might want to also check out the animated shorts highlighting each of the four Shadowlands Covenants. Enjoy, and I'll leave you with one of my favorites - the Venthyr of Revendreth: