When Blizzard finally and officially revealed the Shadowlands release date as October 26, 2020 (for where I live in the US), I was filled with a mixture of emotions. I was relieved and excited to finally know when it was coming out, but I was also filled with anxiety, fear, and sadness. That probably sounds odd, but I’ll explain as I go.
The element of Shadowlands that I’m still most looking forward to is the character customization. I’m hopeful that character customizations come out with pre-patch, IE before the October release date. I’ve been playing around in the PTR customizing most of my characters and I love their new looks! I want to play them looking like that so much that playing them in BfA feels much less fun now.
The idea of the covenants sounds both interesting and worrisome. I’ve been reading things online about how abilities from this covenant will be useful for this and others will be useful for that. So my worry is that if I choose the wrong covenant, then I’ll have trouble getting into dungeons and won’t be useful in raids. But I really just want to choose a covenant based on what I want to do and what I find fun. Which means there’s apparently a very real possibility that I’ll be useless in some circumstances no matter what class I play. I’m rather tired of Blizzard and their “borrowed power” system. I’d really rather just have more talent choices for each class as we level up. Unfortunately, that seems unlikely to happen.
An October release date for Shadowlands is what it is, it might be too early, but time will tell. But for me, the release date falls around a rather sad time in my life. My father died on October 21st, 2009 and we laid him to rest on October 26th. This year, October 21st falls on a Wednesday and October 26th falls on a Monday, just like they did the year he died. Wednesdays were the hardest days for me for a long time after my father died, especially since it’s the day of the week when my girls go to their father’s house for the rest of the week. I spent many Wednesdays crying because the loss and loneliness were so hard to bear. Before my father died, October was one of my favorite months because I love Halloween and autumn and all the spooky feelings of the month. It took me a few years to start liking October again, but I do genuinely enjoy it and look forward to it again for the most part.
Playing World of Warcraft was a useful distraction for a time after my father died, but after a while, I didn’t even want to play it anymore because I was so sad and lost without him. Escaping into Azeroth wasn’t enough to make me forget that the one man who loved me unconditionally, who always treated me with kindness and respect and taught me that I deserved that treatment, was gone.
Therefore, the whole idea behind Shadowlands, that it’s a realm where spirits pass onto after death, raises some issues for me. I believe in life after death and that my father’s spirit is off driving steam engine locomotives, viewing history, and hanging out with all of his favorite people, but I certainly won’t be seeing him in Shadowlands. I’ll be facing various concepts of death and the afterlife in my favorite game and I just don’t know how I’m going to react.
Another loss I fear when Shadowlands releases is the loss of a scheduled, weekly event with the Strawberry group. It’s totally understandable of course since we won’t be doing the Nya raid anymore and because people most certainly deserve to play however and whenever they want. But I’m afraid everyone will go their separate ways and I’ll be wandering alone in Shadowlands, more lost than the spirits who call it home. Even thinking of it now makes me sad.
It’s taken me many years to regain the feelings of camaraderie and belonging that existed for me when I first started playing Warcraft. Those feelings of being in a community and being a necessary part of something bigger than myself are priceless to me. Not to mention that no matter what kind of mood I’m in, the Strawberries always lift my spirits and make me laugh. Something I always need a lot of in October. On the flip-side of that though, I don’t want to guilt them into interacting with me. I’m pretty durable and a survivor, I just don’t want to lose my Warcraft family.
I imagine I sound a bit melancholy sharing all this and I really don’t want to bring anyone down about Shadowlands. I’m hoping the expansion will be a good distraction for me for the most part and that I can not take it all so personally. I doubt that I’m the only person who’s lost a loved one struggling with the concept of Shadowlands. Losing a loved one is a pain I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy, but maybe just maybe, we can all find hope and reasons to come together in Warcraft’s upcoming visualization of the afterlife.