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World of Warcraft: Shadowlands pre-expansion patch notes detail what to expect ahead of the full launch

(Image credit: Blizzard)

World of Warcraft: Shadowlands patch notes have landed in advance of the pre-expansion update hitting the game next week, October 13, and they detail everything you can expect from the final major update before Azeroth's afterlife opens up later this year. 

The World of Warcraft: Shadowlands patch notes give a more detailed insight into the overview trailer that Blizzard posted earlier this week, explaining the decisions its made on player levelling, gear, and more in order to prepare Azeroth for the upcoming expansion. You can read the full list of tweaks, updates, and changes below, and find out more info from Blizzard's own blog post here (opens in new tab)


Shortly after the pre-expansion launch, you’ll be called upon to defend Azeroth from an undead invasion as the Scourge sweep across the land. Players will embark on a quest to establish a foothold in Icecrown, where the barrier between Azeroth and the afterlife has been shattered, and prepare for the coming journey into the Shadowlands. This limited time pre-expansion event will only be available until the launch of Shadowlands, so make sure to log in to experience it and earn special rewards.


Levels, items and stats have been adjusted to make reaching a new level feel more meaningful while simultaneously making the leveling experience faster than before. Characters at level 120 will become level 50 after the content update.


The character creation experience has been revitalized with a brand new user interface and many new character customization options to choose from. Some of the new options are selecting your eye color, new skin tones, new hairstyles and hair/fur colors.

All of these new options are available at Barber Shops throughout Azeroth, including the option for Druids to choose the appearance of their shapeshifting forms and the ability to swap genders. Now all customization is available in game at any time so the Appearance Change service will no longer be sold in the Shop. 


Exile's Reach is an all-new starting experience that will take you on an excursion that will introduce you to the fundamentals of playing World of Warcraft and the important mechanics for your chosen class. If you’re new to World of Warcraft and have never created or leveled a character, you will automatically begin your journey into Azeroth with the starting experience. If you’re a veteran player or you’ve leveled a character before, you can choose to opt out of the starting experience and begin instead at level 1 in the starting area for your race.

Upon reaching level 10, new players will continue their journey through Battle for Azeroth and into Shadowlands. [LEARN MORE (opens in new tab)]

Players who have already experienced Battle for Azeroth and reached level 50 on at least one character can now choose to level any subsequent characters in a different expansion using Timewalking Campaigns. This new feature allows content from locations like Northrend or Pandaria to scale to a player’s level, so they can adventure from level 10 all the way to 50 and experience the stories of these areas at their originally intended pacing. Visit Chromie near the embassies in Stormwind or Orgrimmar to select your expansion leveling experience. If you'd like to select a different expansion to level through, simply speak to Chromie again.

After creating your character and beginning your journey into World of Warcraft for the first time, you will enter the Newcomer Chat channel where you can chat with other new players and experienced players on the same faction who will be your guides as you level through the new starting zone – Exile's Reach. New players and guides will be able to recognize one another in the chat channels and with icons above their characters' heads that only they can see. Upon reaching level 20, new players will be prepared to continue their journey ahead on their own and will no longer have access to the Newcomer Chat.

If you're a veteran player and are interested in guiding new players as they experience World of Warcraft for the first time, head over to Stormwind or Orgrimmar and speak to the guide recruiter once you've met the following criteria:

Have an account in good standing

Reach level 50

Complete 3000 quests

Earn at least two of the following achievements: Terrific Trio, Rival: Battle for Azeroth Season Four, Battle for Azeroth Keystone Conqueror: Season Four, The Waking Dream or We Have the Technology.

If you no longer wish to be a guide, you can speak to the guide recruiter once again.


Flying in Warlords of Draenor and Legion no longer requires earning the achievements, Draenor Pathfinder and Broken Isles Pathfinder, Part Two.


Unlocking Allied Races no longer requires reaching Exalted reputation with that race’s associated faction.


Sold auctions will now show buyer or bidder player names in a tooltip.

Commodities (stackable items) are now sold by selected stacks before other stacks from the inventory.

Personal auctions can now be sorted by time remaining.

The “Level Range” filter now also filters battle pets by level.

A “Runecarving” option for Profession-crafted armor pieces for Legendaries has been added under each Armor category. These materials are not yet available until Shadowlands.


Max level is now required to access the Black Market Auction House.

The Mighty Caravan Brutosaur is no longer sold by vendors and will now be occasionally available on the Black Market Auction House.


Mythic Keystone Dungeon Affixes

Bursting is now a dispellable Magic debuff.

Bursting deals a flat amount of damage instead of a percentage based off of max HP.

Players are now knocked in the air when hit by Volcanic.

Volcanic now deals damage equal to 15% of the player’s health (was 40%).

Sanguine's duration reduced to 20 seconds (was 60 seconds).

Non-periodic heals now removes 1 stack of Grievous.

Grievous now deals a flat amount of damage instead of a percentage based off of max HP.

Explosive Orbs now spawn 4 to 8 yards from the unit that summoned them (was 3 yards).

Explosive Orb health has been reduced and no longer scales with keystone level.

Explosive Orbs now have a sound effect when defeated.


With the Black Empire turned to ash upon the defeat of N’Zoth the Corruptor, Corruption effects on items will no longer function.

Rank 4 Essences are no longer obtainable.

Heart of Darkness (Azerite Trait) no longer requires 25 Corruption Level to be active.

Memory of Lucid Dreams (Azerite Essence) now affects Holy Power instead of Shield of the Righteous for Protection Paladins.

Memory of Lucid Dreams (Azerite Essence) now affects Mana for Enhancement Shaman.

The PvP Talent granted with Conflict and Strife (Azerite Essence) Major Power has been changed for the following classes:

Mistweaver Monks now learn Chrysalis (was Way of the Crane).

Affliction Warlocks now learn Rot and Decay (was Endless Affliction).

Restoration Druids now learn Reactive Resin (was Overgrowth).

Discipline Priests now learn Purification (was Premonition).

Mages now learn Netherwind Armor (was Temporal Shield).

All Legion Legendary items' bonuses no longer activate.

Leatherworking drums now provide 15% Haste (was 25%).

War-Scrolls of Battle Shout, Intellect and Fortitude can no longer be used by characters above level 50.

Many consumables now have a 5 minute cooldown.

Water now regenerates mana slower in the first seconds you begin drinking, increasing to a rapid return as you drink continuously.

Reduced the amount of value that Critical Strike, Haste, Mastery, and Versatility secondary stats provide when reaching high thresholds.

Heirlooms no longer have experience bonuses and now have a set bonus. The new set bonus can be obtained from all Heirloom pieces except weapons and trinkets.

(2) Set: Rested experience consumed is reduced by 30%.

(3) Set: Increases your out-of-combat regeneration in the outdoors, normal dungeons and battlegrounds.

(4) Set: Gaining a level triggers Burst of Knowledge, dealing Holy damage to nearby enemies and granting you 40% primary stat for 2 minutes. Defeating additional enemies extends this effect, up to 2 additional minutes.

(6) Set: Rested experience consumed is reduced by an additional 30%.

Elixir of Ancient Knowledge, Elixir of the Rapid Mind, and Excess Potion of Accelerated Learning will become Poor quality and no longer usable.

The Draught of Ten Lands will still retain the 10% experience bonus but will now be capped at level 50.

Glyphs that change the appearance of a Druid’s form are now one time use and unlock the appearance permanently at the Barber Shop.

PvP Weapon Illusions can be used by all characters across the account.

You can no longer champion a Mists of Pandaria faction for bonus reputation.


Flat damage-taken modifiers (e.g. Black Claw) now happen after multipliers such as Shattered Defenses, or pet species strengths/weaknesses.

Shattered Defenses now increases damage taken by 50% (was 100%).

Abilities that dealt damage twice per round (e.g. Hunting Party) had their total damage dealt increased by 25%.

Abilities that dealt damage three times per round (e.g. Flock) had their second round damage increased by 66% and their third round damage increased by 133%.

Damage over time effects dealt by Aquatic pets increased by 25%.

Money Meteor and Twilight Meteorite damage reduced by 10%.

Jar of Smelly Liquid cooldown has increased to 2 rounds.

Righteous Inspiration starts on cooldown when a pet battle begins.

The following pets have had their stats lowered:


Hermit Crab

Slimy Darkhunter

Crypt Fiend

Mechanical Prairie Dog

Tiny Blue Carp

Mechanical Cockroach

Cinder Kitten


Battle for Azeroth Season 4 will end with the launch of the Shadowlands pre-patch. During the off-season, Mythic Keystone dungeons will still be playable using Season 4 affixes and rewards, but their seasonal achievements will no longer be available. Additionally, it will still be possible to queue for Rated PvP based on your Season 4 rating, but titles and associated rewards will no longer be earnable.

All Gladiator mounts and titles, including those from previous seasons, can be used by all characters across the account the mount and titles were earned on.

Gladiator’s Medallion, Adaptation, and Relentless have been removed from Honor Talents. The functionality of removing control-impairing effects will be restored as a powerful PvP trinket option that can be purchased with Honor from Aneka Melae in Orgrimmar and Alice Fischer in Stormwind.


A navigational marker will now appear on screen to direct you to quest objectives reducing the need to open and close the map.

Pins can now be placed on the World Map by pressing Ctrl+Left Click at the targeted location. The map pin can be tracked with the navigational marker and shared in chat.

Druids are now able to customize their shapeshift forms, including Artifact appearances, in the Barber Shop separately from their hair color and weapon transmogs.

Campaign quests now have separate headers in the Quest Tracker.

There is now a collapse button for each section in the Quest Tracker.

Player spells have been rearranged in the Spellbook. Each class now has a tab that shows abilities that are available to all players of that class, while specialization-specific spells appear under individual specialization tabs.

Hovering over the resource bar will now show the tooltip at the cursor location.

Using the Self Cast Key modifier on friendly target location spells now places it at your location.

You can now adjust key bindings when mousing over an action or micro menu button from the new Quick Keybind Mode option in the Key Bindings menu.

Encounter abilities are now searchable in the Adventure Guide search field.

The Item Sets tab has been removed from the Adventure Guide.

Group leaders can now start a countdown timer using group manager tools, or by typing /countdown 10.

Auction House and player mail notifications will now show on the character selection screen.

The UI Scale setting has moved from the Advanced section to the Graphics section in System Settings.

New Accessibility options are now available in Interface settings:

Added Motion Sickness options.

Added an Override Screen Fade option that changes the color of full screen flashes to fade to black.

Added keybind, camera, cursor control, and movement support for Gamepad controllers.

Cinematic subtitles are now defaulted on.

The ability to join a Group voice chat from the game client has been temporarily disabled.

The Credits screen has been updated and redesigned for Shadowlands.


The Brawler's Guild is now temporarily closed. This forum for fisticuffs and furious fighting will return in the future.


Legion missions and followers are now available.

Characters can now be favorited in the Character Selection screen.

The latest WoW news is now available in the app.

To see where World of Warcraft ranks among the MMORPG hall of fame, you can head over to our best MMORPG games guide.

Alex Avard
Alex Avard

I'm GamesRadar's Features Writer, which makes me responsible for gracing the internet with as many of my words as possible, including reviews, previews, interviews, and more. Lucky internet!