World of Warcraft: Shadowlands launched a few weeks ago, but the real game begins today. Season 1 has officially started, unlocking all of Shadowlands' most hardcore endgame features like the new Castle Nathria raid, Mythic+ dungeons, competitive PvP rewards, and The Great Vault.
The big draw will undoubtedly be the new raid and Mythic+ dungeons, however. Castle Nathria is a massive 10-boss encounter where players will take the fight to Sire Denathrius after betraying everyone during Shadowlands' main story campaign (don't worry, that's not a spoiler). Starting today, both Normal and Heroic difficulties of the raid are available, with Mythic and LFR (which uses automatic matchmaking and is meant for more casual players) will open next week on December 15. LFR difficulty divides the raid into four separate wings that unlock separately. Wing 2 won't open until January 5, with Wing 3 and 4 opening on January 19 and February 2.
If you don't have a big group of friends to tackle the raid with, Mythic+ dungeons will be where you'll probably spend most of your time. Like in previous expansions, these dungeons scale in difficulty as you beat them at higher and higher levels. They also add deadly "affixes" that rotate weekly, changing the rules of each dungeon.
For this first week of Season 1, players will have to contend with:
- Fortified, which makes all non-boss enemies hit harder and take more damage.
- Bursting, which makes enemies explode upon death.
- Volcanic, which causes gouts of flame to burst beneath ranged players' feet.
- Prideful, the new seasonal affix that conjures a demon that, when killed, gives the party an extremely powerful buff.
Season 1 also opens the gates on Shadowlands' competitive PvP. Players can now earn Conquest and Honor in ranked PvP matches to be spent on powerful new armor and weapons.
Lastly, participating in the new raid, Mythic+ dungeons, or PvP will also earn you bonus rolls on the Great Vault. Each week, you'll earn a powerful but random piece of gear from the Great Vault, but by knocking out different objectives in these categories you can unlock additional options to choose from.
All of these activities—aside from PvP—are meant for endgame players who have already farmed the appropriate gear and are at level 60. If you're struggling with that, here's a guide on how to hit max level in just under 6 hours. You can also check out our guides for Covenants and Anima, two new systems that'll help you get geared quickly.