Shadowlands Preview: A Look at Covenant Systems

I want to make an unholy DK Night Fae… just for giggles. Hey, disease is part of nature!




I mean if there was no betrayal and power systems linked to them I would probably play Night fae. Night fae are more than the cycle of life, it’s also the cycle of death. Bwonsamdi is over there. And another name they used for it was also “The Wild Hunt”.


Night fae is what I was thinking too if I could choose one without having anything that impacts your character’s power associated with it. I’d probably have a token alt for the other covenants, but night fae is what I would prefer aesthetically and story-wise.

It’d fit my night elf toons thematically, but I do think it’d be funny to have my void elf destro lock go night fae as well.

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I don’t know if this has been answered, so please, may someone tell me if you can do daily quests (not campaign-related) with people from another Covenant?

As in, their objective might be universal but the RP/lore/reasons are different per Covenant?

I want to quest with guildies like I normally do, but we might have to/want to pick different Covenants.


I didn’t think about this. Good question.

I disagree I like that there are options to change your mind but concequences for betraying youre order it makes sense to me.

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It makes perfect sense. I just think it doesn’t belong in WoW personally.


Having cosmetic armor and mounts, unique lore and characters, special zone activities, quests, transport systems, all of that stuff is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G and everyone wants that! Perfectly fine to make people make a CHOICE for these.

However, the OBVIOUS flaw is having character power and utility tied to the choice. Please, let a character have access to the same pool of abilities to choose from regardless of covenant. Just make 4 color variants for the abilities and call it a day. Give it a daily CD or a game-system resource cost to limit swaps.

Blizzard says the goal is to create situations in the game where each player can feel like they made a good choice for their covenant. Does no one see the glaring problem with this?!? If everyone is happy about their choice 25% of the time, that means they are neutral or unhappy the other 75% of the time. It’s simple psychology and it’s going to be the big complaint for this expansion that gets a janky bandaid fix a year later after it’s already driven many away.


I’m BEGGING you Blizzard, do NOT cave into the demands of players insisting their character have the ability to swap Covenant’s with little to no hassle. WoW is very much a mmoRPG. Choices we make SHOULD MATTER!!! Making decisions and living with the consequences of those decisions is part of being an adult. Good players will adapt and overcome, poor players will rage that they can’t have the cake and eat it too.


Thank you for saying this. I couldn’t agree more.
I loved that we had a choice in being loyal to Sylvanas or to Saurfang(even though it meant nothing in the end). The choice in covenant feel’s much more weighty and shouldn’t be taken lightly. I would actually like the penalty for abandoning your covenant to be more severe to drive this home even more.


Just have to wait and decide based on the cookie cutter analysis that inevitably will take place, and then choose the “best” ret pally covenent.


Blizzard, I know you want this to succeed, so please take this in the spirit of trying to make this succeed.

Several months ago, I ran a survey - a simple survey to see what players in general consider important amongst three signature aspects of the game: faction, race and class. The results were fascinating, because they didn’t line up with expectations.

The results of the survey were that while players considered faction as very important, it wasn’t for any in-game reason, rather the drive to belong to a faction was largely driven by out-of-game factors; but that largely anything having to do with race or class were driven by in-game factors, with personal empowerment and story/lore being strong drivers. This is reflected in near universal approval for Legion, with BfA evenly split. To quote:

The respondents favored narrative story and lore, and respond well when expansions deliver not just strong narrative content, but mechanics that are framed well within narration. Where players looked beyond lore, especially to outside influences, it was commonly in regards to ensuring effectiveness in game or, in the case of faction favoritism, seeking a sense of community. Players tended to think worse of solutions and options that are bare bones, or programmatic solutions, and favor solutions that preserve the fantasy of the milieu. Ultimately, players choose class and race, not just for empowerment but because they are invested in the localized lore of those choices, and wish to see more of it, especially when done well. Players choose their faction to belong to a larger community; and when their investment is taxed, they disengage.

For instance, respondents of the survey were largely ok with relaxing faction division but only if it played out in the game as an unlock mechanism.

Right now, Covenants is on the cusp of failure, because you are forcing players to choose between empowerment and fantasy. This is not going to end well. Players will simply end up more critical of the systems and overall dissatisfied. This is why you keep seeing questions about switching. You would not get these questions if players weren’t worried that they would be sacrificing effectiveness for enjoyment. The player should never be forced to make this choice. Rather the choice should be in what manner do I want to be effective?

The solution is to choose 1: balance all 36 specs so that each covenant works equally well for each spec; 2. aim each covenant (or two) to a narratively connected class/spec, but allow players to continue to choose any. The first is setting yourself up for failure. The second, I think, will solve the issue.

For instance, looking at each Covenant’s goals, let’s chunk (keep in mind this is an example not what I think must be the breakdown – just what I think works best based on my opinions of each class’ fantasy):

Night Fae: Druid, Hunter, Shaman
Kyrian: Priest, Paladin, Monk
Venthyr: Warlock, Demon Hunter, Mage
Maldraxxas: Warrior, Death Knight, Rogue

You make this the “S” ranking, and tune classes to fit the chunk.

You then pick a second Covenant to tune for specs.
Night Fae: Ranged DPS
Kyrian: Healer
Venthyr: Melee DPS
Maldraxxaz: Tanks

This gives players meaningful choices. Their “S” Covenant is aligned with their class fantasy, and sort of fits into the idea that Shadowlands puts you kind of where you were in life. But the A tier gives folks who want to optimize their gameplay around their role, and do not want/need to multi-spec, have the option. The B tier is then the other Covenant/class combinations.

Since you’re never going to get every class and every covenant to this pristine state of perfect balance, you might as well lean into the “BiS” mindset and force the issue and tune specific classes/specs to specific Covenants. Player choice is now - do I want to be effective in multiple roles on one toon, or optimally effective in one spec? Yet the remaining options are not bad for the remaining class/Covenant pairings, they’re just not “S” class. And in leaning into class fantasy, you will build a level of good will (as seen in Legion).

Because right now, you are doing exactly what players are not going to like - forcing them into a Covenant that doesn’t mesh with their class fantasy. I’m seeing Death Knights really wanting to be in Maldraxxus but feeling forced to be Night Fae. You are not going to make this frustration go away, and you will absolutely never balance 36 specs to be equally effective in all four Covenants, which is the only solution to trying to make all Covenants be all things for all classes. So you might as well lean into the class fantasy, and use that energy to “buy” into the Covenant borrowed power mechanic. And to do that, you have to make each Covenant work with a) a smaller set of classes and b) specific roles but leave the door open for whimsy and agency for players not invested in power.


This sounds like a lot of fun and much more like a worthy follow-up to Legion than BfA.

Having the faction conflict as the center of an expansion was just an awful idea.

I’m already looking forward to playing through all the Covenant storylines.


I guess you just prefer 4 ways faction conflict to 2 ways.

I though of this idea to allow characters to access the powers of other Covenants: Alliances.

  1. Your Covenant choice is now permanent. But…

  2. You are capable of forming Alliances with the other Covenants.

  3. After an Alliance has been completed you can then form Soulbinds with the denizens of that other Covenant.

  4. Choosing a Soulbind of a different Covenant changes your signature ability to that of the other Covenant.

I don’t want lazy color variants. This systemi s fine, you don’t need to be the best at every aspect of the game on one character.


It’s more like Legion, where the main story was fighting the Burning Legion, but each character was allied with a particular order hall as part of the overall effort.

Shadowlands is not about the Covenants fighting each other primarily, it’s a choice among several possible alliances with a shared end goal.

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I had a revelation yesterday, so I am going to throw another idea out there, keeping in mind that it is far too late for Blizzard to make this change at this point.

Blizzard really dropped the ball on exploring a brand new approach to WoW. There is a thing called the Bartle Taxonomy. It basically groups players into groups of four major buckets of gameplay: social (enjoying connecting with each other in the game), achiever (enjoying chasing achievements), explorer (enjoying exploring the world), “killer” (enjoying empowerment, and just killing *PCs). Every player has their Player “MBTI” of these four major characteristics.

Wildstar’s greatest contribution to the MMO space was to embrace the taxonomy by giving characters “jobs” that enhanced the gameplay. So folks who chose to build things (social) would build out items that would improve life for fellow players, the killers got more “kill x boar” quests, the Exporers unlocked things while uncovering the map. “Scientists” were a bit of everything.

So now we have Covenants, and Blizzard could have iterated on the concept. To wit:

Maldraxxas - “Killer” Covenent offers additional world quests to “kill x” or adds PvP bonuses.
Venthyr - Social - take that party time to 11, with more networking and socializing quests.
Kyrian - Achievers - more content specifically designed to accomplish unique goals.
Night Fae - drawn to preserving the cycle of rebirth, explore more areas, uncover more opportunities to rescue souls.

Now, your covenant is based on the kind of gameplay you like the most.

So where’s the power? Where it should be - on the Maw Walker conceit. Since being a Maw Walker makes you special, why not lean into that? It’s being the Maw Walker that empowers you. And it’s the quests you do through your Covenants as well as dipping into the Maw and Torghast which fuels your empowerment, with your Covenent’s contributions affecting you on a cosmetic level.

Thus, Blizzard is no longer balancing to 144 specs, but rather 36 specs. The actual empowerment mechanic is the one - Maw Walking, but maybe Night Fae has a different look and feel to it than Kyrian or Venthyr.

And because the Covenants are based on the taxonomy, and no one is perfectly in any one bucket, there is now a ton of wiggle room for players to choose the Covenant that works best with their personal aesthetic without worrying that they “picked poorly.”

In any event, I am more floored that Blizzard had the literal perfect opportunity to explore the Bartle Taxonomy and did not. This was the expansion to do it. And we ended up with yet another iteration of Legion’s borrowed power mechanic, just with four times the extra steps.


Good god I hate this so much - you will likely be forced into a faction you don’t like the look/theme of because it is the “best” power options then mid expac likely have to change because the power is shifted making all the previous grind worthless and have to do it all again URGH. Power should absolutely NOT be locked behind covenants - MTX/transmorg/mounts/story sure but NOT skills. There is a reason that both horde and alliance can have paladins/shaman. It’s just going to make playing your character feel soooooo bad because you are always wondering if you made the right choice and playing your character will easily start to feel like a chore.

I don’t want to be to negative but just think about how much people complain simply about balance/patches/nerfs can you imagine how bad its going to be when you start completely removing abilities from certain groups?

Its such a shame, my friends and I took a break last expac and were thinking about coming back but this sounds so horrendous to me I highly doubt we will be playing


In BFA, after grinding for long enough, I now have essences/corruptions/gear for all types of content that I want to do, and I am happy with that.

Why would you force me to pick one covenant and stick with it? That is the opposite of what I like about BFA =/

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