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We've already talked about where to be for the automatic pop-up quest that takes you into Shadowlands and Blizzard have just made that zone a LOT more visually... well, visible at all!
No-mount zones, similar to hose around important quest NPCs have been erected around the portals that will pop up once you claim the quest to go to Bolvar when the expansion launches!
Orgrimmar (the zone starts just ahead of my character - also the portal there now is to the Argent Tournament from the pre-patch event):
As you can see the no-mount corridor is pretty narrow, which the brutosaur clearly demonstrates, so there will still be some visual clutter there, but at least we'll be able to click the portal easily enough! This is a very welcome change and shows Blizzard are learning, as a very similar problem happened when the pre-patch launched, as players gathered around the NPCs, so Blizz had to erect a zone post-launch after many player complaints.
In any case, park yourselves there and don't let WoW close, as there might be server/log in issues at launch, so you'll want to be safely inside the game!
The Jailer is the central figure of the Shadowlands story, as he's the one behind it all (at least as far as we know), so we'll be taking a look at everything we know about him so far. We won't be going into any specific spoilers from the Shadowlands story and quests, only using info from interviews, cinematics, trailers and similar, but there will be plenty of fan theories, as well as our own speculation/assumptions - some of which may end up being true - so take care with that.
His name is Zovaal. He is a "titan or titan+" level enemy. One of the "Eternal Ones" aka the "Pantheon of Death" comprising of the Shadowlands zone rulers and the Arbiter in Oribos. The Pantheon is somehow connected to the "First Ones" who presumably created the Shadowlands and perhaps the entire Warcraft universe. His role before the recent breaking of the machine of death was to rule the Maw and take the worst of the worst souls to Torghast, where he would keep them... in jail. When or why his actual imprisonment happened is unclear. It's also unclear when he freed himself, and if it was Sylvanas that did it (either by breaking the helm and opening the gate or by giving him power through the many deaths on Azeroth). Sylvanas has been working for/with him ever since her death falling from Icecrown Citadel at the end of WotLK. Sylvanas becoming Warchief was also the Jailer's doing (indirectly). The runes on his body match the ones on Frostmourne, and we know he was most likely the one that commissioned the Runecarver to craft the sword and helm, as it was called a "weapon of the Maw" by Devos. He may not be the final boss of the expansion.
The Jailer's Goals
He has been gathering souls to the Maw, bypassing the normal "machine of death" to grow in strength. He has been doing this since some time in Legion, Ysera's soul is one of the last ones to come through the normal way. We also see that the situation is already deteriorated in the Shadowlands and the Anima is flowing into the Maw by the time Ursoc's soul arrives (so around the time of the Emerald Nightmare raid). Aided by Sylvanas, who basically did all of BfA, from Teldrassil to Nazjatar and N'Zoth, just to get more souls to the Maw and the Jailer so both their powers might grow. He might be after Azeroth's World Soul/nascent Titan, as the Herald in the pre-patch says "Death comes for the soul of this world." but that could be interpreted in different ways. Even if he is after her, however, that doesn't seem to be his ultimate goal, just another means to an end. Why he/Sylvanas abducted Anduin, Thrall, Baine etc. is unclear. It could be just to siphon their power as major figures and heroes of Azeroth, but it's probably more complex than that, and has the smell of the Lich King (Arthas) drawing us to his lair to use us for some purpose. His ultimate goal is not clear, whether he wants to rule the Shadowlands/universe, destroy them or something entirely different. From the glimpse of how things used to work in some of the Shadowlands zones pre-Jailer revolt, he may just be after "justice", as the Shadowlands didn't really work well/fairly to begin with. Theories
We know Frostmourne and the Helm of Domination were forged in Torghast (probably at the Jailer's command), and the helm in particular is sure to have some additional significance in Shadowlands, as it fits his design a bit too well, as noted by Sakuriik:
We also know the true purpose of the helm, as seen in the Collector's edition. The following is an unattributed quote from someone working for the Jailer or the Jailer himself: "The veil between realms wanes. The Helm of Domination was created to be our way forward. Instead, the one seared by the flames of life uses it to keep us at bay." The Arbiter and Jailer seem to be two sides of one whole, as the hole in the Jailer's chest lines up pretty well with the Arbiter's pearl (small size difference notwithstanding, as we know size is relative in WoW):
Both the Helm of Domination, the armor (which was never actually worn by Arthas, he used his Death Knight armor instead) and Frostmourne may have once been the Jailer's equipment (as he's unarmed and unarmored), possibly taken away by the Pantheon of Death and later sent to Azeroth by the Jailer's agents. One of the biggest current theories is that the Arbiter is actually doing the Jailer's job, which Zovaal was doing before he was banished into the Maw, hence the orb/pearl in the Arbiter's chest might have been removed from the Jailer at that time. There's also the accompanying theory hat the Arbiter IS the LITERAL "machine of death", an automaton that took over the Jailer's duties and has now broken (presumably by the Jailer in some indirect way). The Jailer's Look
The very first appearance of the Jailer was very mysterious and shadowy, and is so far the community's favorite:
Then came the big leak/reveal, where the Jailer looked VERY different from what we know today, as a supposed early piece of art for him was photographed at the Blizzard offices, as relayed by Pyromacer (but leaked by someone else):
The more titan-looking fellow was scrapped in favor of the more burly and physically intimidating one we got in the end (and the reasons were purely aesthetic, he never actually looked like the above in-world).
Source 1, Source 2.
And finally, for a bit of levity, here's how we're going to be defeating the Jailer (no spoilers):
Or, the REAL nightmare scenario, as Magni gets involved (which makes WAY too much sense when you think about it, as he does like woonz a whole lot):
If you want to know more, from the actual storylines of the Shadowlands quests, you can check out these two articles below:
We're sure we missed some details, as we wanted to avoid using information that was either datamined or even simply learned through questing in Shadowlands, but if there's anything you think should be added (also spoiler free), please let us know in the comments!
It seems Blizzard are not quite on some speed levelers good sides after the recent dungeon blue post, as they've drastically changed one of the main methods they were planning to get to 60 fast!
In the recent blue post Blizzard have changed the way dungeons work from the beta, as you will now need to clear the zone campaign before you can access the related dungeon. Many speed levelers were planning to only use dungeon leveling to get to 60, including the current max level World First player for Battle for Azeroth, Gini, who had quite a bit to say on the changes:
To be fair, this is extremely last minute, as the speed levelers have prepared for months and months for this day, and now, less than 3 hours before the launch and the race start, they've massively changed how it's worked for so long on beta.
We've recently covered a very fast way of leveling via the Necrotic Wake dungeon, but it seems it wasn't the plan for the speed levelers (or is it and this is just a distraction?), as the Wake will actually be available immediately after Oribos, before any Shadowlands zone campaigns, so presumably other dungeons were involved in the plan. Or perhaps that method has also been fixed.
We're highlighting 5 minimalistic compilations that you should give a try in Shadowlands.
1. AltzUI (Download)
AltzUi is a minimalistic compilation with in-game configuration. It's a really great lightweight UI that I've been using for a long time.
2. SUI (Download)
SUI comes with an intuitive and powerful configuration menu, enhanced WoW Interface, it's modular and intuitive.
3. vUI (Download)
vUI is a visual interface replacement for WoW. It restyles the default UI while adding many useful features. It requires no setup and is configurable in-game via the /vui command.
4. MayronUI Gen6 (Download)
MayronUi is a minimalistic, graphical WoW UI replacement package. It comes with Bartender4, Bagnon, Masque, ShadowedUnitFrames, TipTac, and more addons.
5. ShestakUI (Download)
ShesktakUI is a modular, lightweight, all-in-one overhaul for the WoW interface that aims to streamline and clean up the interface, removing unnecessary frills and wasted space left in the default UI.
On your first character, you won't be able to queue for a Shadowlands dungeon if you haven't restored access to that dungeon's zone via the main quest campaign for that zone, according to Blizzard.
On alts, all dungeons will be made available immediately through the Threads of Fate system,
We’d like to note a difference between the Shadowlands Beta and the live game that you’re going to experience later today.
On your first character to explore the Shadowlands, you will not be able to queue for a Shadowlands dungeon if you haven’t yet restored access to that dungeon’s zone via the main quest campaign for that zone.
For example, while Necrotic Wake will be available the moment you depart Oribos (when you first reach the Shadowlands), you’ll have to complete the Bastion campaign and reopen the way to Maldraxxus before you can queue for the Plaguefall dungeon. You’ll then later unlock Mists of Tirna Scithe and Halls of Atonement as you complete their associated campaigns.
On subsequent characters, all dungeons can be made immediately available to you via the Threads of Fate system.