The pre-launch event for World of Warcraft: Shadowlands, now live, serves as the story lead-up to Shadowlands’ main event. Key leaders of the Alliance and Horde factions have been kidnapped on the orders of Sylvanas Windrunner. But before adventurers can rescue them, they must deal with a Scourge invasion. The pre-launch events detail your efforts to stymie this invasion.
Lore spoilers ahead! Ye be warned.
The initial quests are short and inconsequential. As an Alliance warlock, I travelled through the former starting zones Elwynn, Redridge Mountains, and Duskwood picking up reports and killing handfuls of Scourge monsters along the way. Things get interesting once you start the quest “The Banshee’s Champion,” which tasks you with killing Sylvannas Windrunner’s emotional support himbo, Nathanos Blightcaller.
Fighting Nathanos is essentially an outdoor raid that you can participate in no matter your faction. You’ll find him in the Eastern Plaguelands at Marris’s Stead in the Eastern Kingdoms camped to death by about 750 million players. The fight is a straightforward tank-n-spank, but you will die if you neglect to pay attention to his area of effect attacks. He seems to be farmable, but players on the “The Banshee’s Champion” quest will be treated to a one-time-only cinematic that details his fate.
From there, it’s off to Icecrown, where you’re tasked with more one-time quests that, when completed, unlock a slew of dailies to occupy your time as we all wait for Shadowlands’ full release November 24th. The dailies reward you with the new Argent Commendation currency, which can be spent by Horde and Alliance players at a quartermaster in Icecrown in exchange for powerful armor and items. You can also earn Argent Commendations through Darkened or Pitch Black Scourgestones, which drop from level 50 mobs and bosses in Icecrown. They can be exchanged for Agent Commendations once you gain access to the daily quests “Darkened Scourgestones” and “Pitch Black Scourgestones.”
The pre-launch event feels typical as pre-launch events go. It reintroduces you to factions, like the Argent Crusade, that you’ll no doubt be getting more intimate with in Shadowlands proper. While I enjoyed participating in the Argent Crusade’s ...er...crusade to beat back the Scourge and giving Blightcaller a well-deserved ass-kicking, I had more fun doing the more boring “deliver X to Y at location Z” quests that let me explore the world.
I really enjoyed the opportunity to travel through the starting zones of my youth, taking in sights and sounds I hadn’t seen in years but still had fond memories of. As a self-respecting WoW player, I unlocked Azeroth and Northrend flying long ago, but I decided to travel to each quest destination manually, riding the winding roads of Elwynn and Dragonblight and Duskwood. Azeroth has always been environmentally rich, and I appreciated the ability to experience those old places again, long since my level requirements forced me to seek the zones of each new expansion. I know when Shadowlands launches, I’ll be forced to abandon these zones again in order to make the journey to the Maw, so I’m appreciating this pre-launch bit of nostalgia while I can.
P.S. Stop crowding the damn quest-giving NPCs! It’s been 16 years of World of Warcraft, surely we’ve developed better MMO manners than this.