World of Warcraft’s upcoming Shadowlands (opens in new tab) expansion is still more than a month away, but Blizzard wants to make sure you’re appropriately prepared. Pre-expansion patch notes (opens in new tab), released last night, explain steps being taken to help bring new players onboard more smoothly, and changes to levelling and PvP.
Shadowlands is part of an attempt to make the new player experience a little more manageable. New starting area Exile's Reach (opens in new tab) is a big part of that process, as are the newcomer chat channels, "where you can talk with other new players and seek advice from experienced players on the same faction." Once you reach level 20, you'll be banished from the newcomer chat to explore WoW on your own, but once you reach level 50, you'll be able to return as a guide, providing your account is in good standing.
Blizzard's also outlined the plans for Battle of Azeroth's final PvP season. While the main season will end as soon as the patch drops, there'll be a pre-season ahead of the Shadowlands launch. Ladder placement will be locked, so you won't be able to change your season rewards, but you'll still be able to gather random loot.
One of the other major heading to WoW in time for Shadowlands is a level squish, which will see the game’s level cap drop from 120 to 60, and all current max-level players dropping to level 50 when the expansion hits. The pre-expansion patch will adjust levels, items, and to help determine what level you'll be once the patch hits, the patch notes feature a conversion table. If your character's current level is 108, for example, you'll be squished down to level 44, but if you're anywhere between levels 60 and 63 right now, you'll end up at level 25.
The patch will also change character boosts, with level 120 boosts accelerating you to level 50 after the update drops, and level 110 boosts taking you to level 48. Blizzard suggests planning ahead to make sure you get the most out of your boosts, and it seems like it might be safest to use them before the patch. You'll also be able to take advantage of 'Timewalking Campaigns', which allow specific chunks of content to scale with your level as long as you have at least one level 50 character.
There's no official release date for the pre-expansion patch just yet, but as Shadowlands is due to arrive on October 27 (opens in new tab), Battle for Azeroth's final update should be arriving pretty soon.