Shadowlands patch 9.1 not out until May, here’s what to expect

Nick Johnson • April 11, 22:33

It’s only been a few months since the release of World of Warcraft: Shadowlands, but players are already eager for the game’s next patch.

Shadowlands hit all the right spots for players after Battle for Azeroth had some fans frustrated with it’s inconsitant storylines and infrequent balance patches. Shadowland’s November release was so popular that Blizzard publicly spoke about subscription numbers, saying that Shadowlands had broken all-time records.

Unfortunately for Blizzard, the early numbers gave way to frustrated players as they finished Shadowlands’ time-gated story. They were met with a whole bunch of nothing on the other side, and now the wait for more of the game’s legitimately solid narrative is dragging on. But there’s still a level of optimism surrounding World of Warcraft’s upcoming patch with a creepy name: “Chains of Domination.”

World of Warcraft patch 9.1 promises bigger story beats for Shadowlands

Since it’s been almost a month since players caught the end of the 9.0’s storyline, here’s a quick refresher and a look ahead at Chains of Domination.

Shadowlands’ opening act ended on a bit of a slow note, and it quickly became apparent that the game was wider than it was deep. By the end of the almost six month patch cycle, players managed to rescue the majority of the series’ major characters from the Jailer, Shadowland’s mysterious villain. Two characters were still missing, but players got to see what happened to one of them during Blizzcon’s World of Warcraft panel. The trailer for Chains of Domination revealed just how much trouble Anduin was really in.

Anduin’s sudden attack on Bastion’s head angel wasn’t unexpected. Despite Blizzard’s attempts to paint Sylvannas as being torn between two bad options in the final cinematic of patch 9.0, it seems clear she chose the Jailer’s side. That was all but confirmed by Blizzard, who revealed that the banshee queen herself will be the boss of the next raid tier.

After revealing Sylvannas had planned the events of Shadownlands since the fall of the Lich King, the expansion’s lack of urgency for the first six months brought everything to a screeching halt. As players ran errands for their covenants and beat up on the vampire Sire Denathrius in Shadowland’s first raid, Blizzard let the story beats slow down and moved the player to the backseat. It’s understandable that players are worried about the plotline in 9.1, but luckily there’s plenty of gameplay additions coming with the patch that could help fill the gap.

Shadowland’s 9.1 brings a new raid, new armor, and a new zone

In addition to the continuation of the covenant campaigns, Chains of Domination will introduce players to Korthia, a “long-lost domain” the Jailer has pulled into the Maw. Korthia is an entirely new zone for players to explore, and they’ll be able to get some insight on who the mysterious character is and what he’s really after. For PvP enthusiasts, Shadowlands will start its second season with the patch’s release, and Mythic+ veterans will have an entirely new dungeon to push in Tazavesh. 

Blizzard says that Taz is similar to Battle for Azeroth’s Mechagon, describing it as a “mega-dungeon” in its Blizzcon release. Mechadon was one of BoA’s few achievements, so it’s anything like the mechanical island is a welcome return.

Flying is unlocked for max-level characters, alts get it at 50 in patch 9.1

To the surprise of some, Blizzard hasn’t backtracked on its promise to unlock the skies for players in 9.1. After a quick quest, characters at level 60 will be able to mount up in Shadowlands outdoor zones.

It gets even better, since players will be able to fly on any alts as long as they have at least one toon at max level. It’s a new direction for Blizzard, who seemed to make gameplay feel more like work than an escape with recent expansions. And even though players are ready to take on the next challenge in Shadowlands, there’s still going to be a hefty wait until 9.1 hits live servers.

Blizzard seems to have learned its lesson when it comes to releasing patches and content before it’s ready. The developer even delayed Shadowland’s original release by several months towards the end of 2020, telling players that “it just wasn’t ready.” And with the Chains of Domination still still absent from the PTR, it looks like mid-May would be the earliest players will have new things to explore in the expansive world.

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