Beyond the Grave: a Starter Guide to Shadowlands Endgame
World of Warcraft’s newest expansion does a lot to remedy the “there’s nothing to do” problem. Which is great! Always having something to do is a great way to play a game. Unless you’re a completionist like me – then it becomes anxiety inducing at times.
However, I did notice that there is a sizable amount of people who are overwhelmed at all the stuff hitting them once. See most of the content doesn’t pop up until RIGHT at the start of endgame. The moment you ding 60 and finish the Main Campaign (the story), you are summoned to the hub city of Oribos to make a decision. From there? Well, it’s a water rapids ride into the content. You got a half dozen different currencies, you got tons of unlockables, and no shortage of directions you can go. How do you decide? How do you remember it all? Well, hopefully this little guide will help.
Choosing Your Covenant
The first thing you’re asked to do is join one of the game’s four Covenants. These are the factions you’ve been helping out through the course of the story. Each faction will grant you a Covenant Ability, a Class Ability, and also feature unique mounts and armor sets that are only usable when you are a member of that Covenant.
The Covenant Ability and Class Ability you already got to play with through the course of the storyline, but if you need a refresher you can ask the Representative of the Covenant you talk to before choosing to let you try them out again. They even provide targeting dummies to try them out on.
The Armor Sets and Mounts are a bit less ‘try them out’. You are shown an image of the armor set you’ll receive and the mount you’ll get. Both of these are unlocked through the course of the 9-part Covenant Campaign story along with other not-shown goodies like alternate back cosmetics, toys, other mounts, etc. There’s no universal “you get X at point Y” except the Armor Set and Mount. Everything else varies from Covenant to Covenant. One may get more back cosmetics as part of the story but no toys, others may get toys but only one back cosmetic. You’re also not shown the various recolors of the armor set you’ll be able to unlock through various Covenant Activities.
So which Covenant to pick? Well there’s a few ways to choose:
- Pick the one that gives the best/favorite abilities: Some people will always want to min/max and here it’s no different. WoWHead and other websites have a ton of think pieces on the absolute best Covenant for your class & spec if you want maximum power. You can also just go for the one whose powers fit your own personal play style the best.
- Cosmetics: This is honestly my personal pick. Abilities can be rebalanced, but looks not so much. Just remember that the appearance shown to you is the default color choice and each Covenant has THREE other recolors of that set you will eventually be able to get.
- Lore: Let’s be honest, there’s likely one Covenant that you either liked the zone, the story, the flavor or the characters of more than the others. That’s a perfectly valid way to pick. After all, you’ll be getting MORE of that in the Covenant Campaign.
Finally, I want to recite the age old proverb: DON’T PANIC. The choice is not permanent. You are not locked into anything. In fact, switching to a different covenant is as easy as talking to a different representative in Oribos and starting their quest chain. BUT! Do keep in mind that going back to a Covenant you left before is a more annoying task. Namely grinding out three random objectives to prove yourself to progressively higher ranking members of that Covenant before they let you back in. Usually stuff like world quests, rare mobs or dungeons. It’s not impossible. Just tedious. And not as easy as switching away to a new Covenant.
(Also keep in mind that Armor Sets and Mounts are Covenant locked. Switching to a new one means losing access to that armor and mounts.)
Covenant Activities: Hanging out with your friends
So now you’ve got a Covenant. What does that mean? What do you do? Well, you’ll get a nice tutorial quest chain to introduce you to your Covenant Sanctum and the various things it can do for you. Each Covenant Sanctum has 4 features with one always being Covenant Specific. Each one is devoted to either giving you things to do or making life a bit easier. They are:
- The Adventuring Table: Oh yes, the Mission Table returns. With a slight twist. Instead of just matching symbols to overcome the various hazards, you must pit your squad of adventurers against a squad of enemies. Everyone has their own hit points and special abilities to help you or hinder the enemy. If you can wipe out the enemy squad with one of yours still living, you win! But yeah, most of this is set it up and let it go then check bank in 16 hours to see if you won.
- The Travel Network: This feature will unlock teleportation spots around your Covenant’s home zone. The higher level the Network, the more spots you unlock. Tier 3 also gets you a portal back to Oribos in your Sanctum. Kyrians can use the Network via their Stewards. Necrolords can teleport to a Necropolis that laps around the zone. Night Fae get a daily quest from the grumpy old mushroom that runs their network. The Venthyr will get the ability to repair broken mirrors that can lead to treasure and a Armor Recolor.
- The Anima Conductor: For 25 anima a day, you unlock a new activity in your home zone: rare mobs, treasure chests, daily quests, etc. Once you’ve channeled anima 10 times, you can permanently unlock one activity. These tend to have chance drops of mounts, transmogs, and unique and useful consumables. However, the Night Fae get a unique reputation with theirs – The Court of Night – that unlocks a Armor Recolor at exalted.
- Covenant Specific Feature: These are all different but the all do have a Armor Recolor tied to them.
- Kyrian – The Path of Ascension: In a weird combination of the Brawler’s Guild and Pet Battles, you take control of one of your Soulbinds and use their preset abilities to do battle the simulated memories of powerful enemies from around the Shadowlands.
- Necrolords – The Stitchlords & The Abomination Factory: You craft up new Abominations with special skills that each grant you a weekly quest that rewards you with a crate that contains either crafting materials or a chance and an armor recolor. Craft up various cosmetic items to fashion up your various Abominations to make them feel pretty. The ultimate Abom has their own exclusive Armor Recolor you can get. Quests reward reputation with The Stitchmasters who sell a Necrolord weapon set transmog at Exalted.
- Night Fae – The Winter Queen’s Conservatory: The Night Fae grow spirits as seeds, so it would make sense for their special feature to be a garden. You can find spirits out in the world or pick a greater spirit by completing a ‘Gather 1000 Anima’ weekly quest (Quest does NOT consume the Anima). You plant that spirit in the garden and it eventually grows and gives you items. As you level up the Conservatory, you can plant ‘nutrient spots’ that boost the spirits growth and allows for treasures to give mounts, pets, and an Armor Recolor.
- Venthyr – The Ember Court: It’s time to party! Every week you pick the guests, send out the invites, prepare the Court’s aesthetic, pick out the guests favorite foods, and then wine and dine to make all the guests as happy as possible! The happier they get, the better friendships you have and then the more reputation you gain.
On top of the Sanctum Features, you also have your Callings. Callings are kind of like the Emissary Quests of previous expansions but aren’t limited to World Quests. A Calling can send you to do an elite world quest or dungeon, a number of world quests, open a number of treasures, or one that’s just do any of the above to fill a bar. I personally really like it because it’s less monotonous. You also can double them up when you get two Callings for the same zone to do two different tasks that occasionally overlap.
Return to the Maw: It’s Hell. You expected it to be easy?
The Endgame zone of the Maw is a pain in the butt. I won’t lie. Unless you’re a druid or worgen, you can’t mount up, everything you do raises the alarm level in the zone and each rank makes it harder and harder to quest there. But I can also assure you – It gets a bit easier as time goes on. You can unlock upgrades from Ven’ari the Broker that allows you to traverse the zone quicker (teleports, grappling hooks, etc) and nerf the threats somewhat (remove a lot of the alarm’s debuffs). You can eventually try and get a mount that drops from a rare or getting one from Torghast that you CAN use in the Maw. It EVENTUALLY gets better.
Luckily there’s not a ton of stuff you have to do in the Maw. Ven’ari has a set of weekly quests to increase her rep (unlocks more areas and upgrades), there’s a handful of daily quests that give rep, and your Covenant can either give you a Calling to come here and kill a few rares and a weekly quest to grab some souls out of the Maw and drag them back.
So yeah, the Maw sucks. It can get better over time. Luckily, you won’t be spending ALL of your time here like other expansion’s Endgame zones.
Ascending Torghast: WoW’s Rogue Like
The other half of the Maw is Torghast, a creepy crawlie tower where the Jailer keeps everyone locked up. There’s a storyline tied to this place that starts with Highlord Bolvar Fordragon in Oribos that reveals what happened to your Alliance and Horde friends who didn’t get away in the Expansion’s prologue. Beyond that, Torghast is how you craft your Legendaries in Shadowlands. Each “Layer” of Torghast you clear each week gives you a bit of currency you use to make Legendaries.
What’s a “Layer”? Well Torghast is divided into a bunch of Wings that have different enemies, traps, and flavoring. Each Wing is divided into eight “Layers” that serves as the difficulty for the wing. Layer 1 is the easiest, and Layer 8 is the hardest. Each “Layer” has 6 floors (Floor 3 is always a ‘break’ floor and Floor 6 is always a Boss.) Each Layer can grant you a reward of ‘Soul Ash’ (see below) once per week and if you do a Layer higher than 1 then you also get each un-rewarded Layer’s reward below you (Ex: Layer 3 will give you the reward of Layers 1, 2, and 3 if you haven’t earned any of those this week).
So whats in Torghast? Well just about anything. Every Torghast Layer run is completely random. The power ups you get are random, the layout is random, the enemies and bosses are random. So each attempt is pretty much a gamble. You might have a great run and you might have a TERRIBLE run. But there’s no loss for losing except armor durability and your time (lets be honest, you’re playing an MMO, we’re all losing time). If you’re familiar with the concept of a Rogue-Like that’s pretty much what you’re dealing with here. Each run resets you to default and you go through the floors of the Layers you build up new powers, abilities, buffs, etc in hopes to take down the Boss at the end.
There’s also the Twisting Corridors. The Corridors are unlocked by completing that aforementioned quest from Bolvar. Each Layer of the Twisting Corridors is 18 floors instead of 6 with 3 bosses instead of 1. The difficulty is definitely stepped up and with a bad build you can start getting one shot by monsters of the higher floors. On the other hand, there’s no currency tied to it. It’s completely optional. You can get titles, pets, and ultimately a mount that can be used in the Maw for clearing Layer 8. It’s just a fun side activity if you like the Rogue-Like nature of Torghast.
Dungeons: The Old Standby
Of course there’s the classic activity of running group content: Dungeons & Raids. Shadowlands at the time of writing has 8 dungeons and 1 Raid. Of the 8 dungeons, 4 are unlocked while leveling through the main story and 4 are unlocked when you reach 60. There really isn’t much to go into here because its been around since WoW has but there’s a few milestones you might want to hit if you like following this path:
- Normal Dungeons: No item level requirement. Rewards item level 158 gear.
- Heroic Dungeons: Group Finder requires an item level of 157. Rewards item level 171 gear.
- Mythic Dungeons: Requires Pre-made group (No group finder) and rewards item level 184 gear.
- Looking For Raid: Requires an item level of 170. Rewards item level 187 gear (item level 194 on last two bosses.)
Probably the only other thing I can think of note here is that you should that the Kyrian Covenant is the only one that REQUIRES a dungeon run as part of its campaign. It can be done on Normal though.
Currencies: Anima Makes The World Go Round
Shadowlands adds a ton of new currencies. You’ll probably notice fairly quick at 60 that gold rains from the sky and quickly rack up tens of thousands of gold for just doing normal everyday stuff. That’s because next to no one in the Shadowlands use the stuff. Gold is pretty much worthless in the land of the dead. Sorry Pharaohs. So here’s a quick run down of the currencies you WILL be using, where they come from and what they’re used for.
Anima: The big one. Almost everything costs some amount of anima, and usually a sizable stack of it. The good news is that you get it everywhere: boss drops, world quests, rares, dungeon quests. The bad news is that you only get a little at a time. There’s an anima drought going on and Blizzard wants you to know that. Bosses usually only give 35 anima, World Quests give 70-140 usually. There’s a few once-a-week quests that can reward more, but those usually top out at 250. Comparatively, you’ll need THOUSANDS to upgrade your Covenant Sanctum and THOUSANDS more if you want all the cosmetics, toys, mounts, and pets.
Grateful Offering: These come from your Covenant’s Anima Conductor. Whatever you channel your daily anima to: bosses, chests, quests. They’ll usually award you with a few Grateful Offerings. These can be exchanged along with Anima to various vendors in your Covenant for mounts, toys, cosmetics, etc.
Stygia: Stygia is the currency of the Maw. It comes from quests, rare mobs, reclaiming souls and even in very small amounts from regular mobs. You can use Stygia to trade with Ve’nari the Broker who hangs out in the little hovel you always enter the Maw at. She sells useful consumables in the Maw, as well as permanent upgrades for Torghast (account wide unlock) and The Maw (Character Specific Unlock).
Soul Ash: Soul Ash is used to construct Legendary items in Torghast. Once you’ve completed Chapter 2 of the Covenant Campaign you’ll be able to combine Soul Ash, a Vessel (created by crafters), two Missives (created by Inscription), and a Legendary Memory to create a custom made Legendary item of your own (limited to equipping 1 at a time for now.) You can craft bigger and better versions or upgrade existing Legendaries with higher level Vessels and even more Soul Ash. Soul Ash is rewarded for clearing a Layer of one any of the Torghast wings EXCEPT Twisting Corridors. If you complete a higher Layer than 1, you’ll get all the Soul Ash from the lower layers too, so feel free to tackle the highest layer you think you can. You won’t miss anything or have to rerun the lower levels.
Sinstone Fragments: Used as a currency to trade with the Avowed in Revendreth, Shadowland’s grind-mobs-until-blue-in-the-face reputation. They drop from the same enemies you get Avowed rep with – namely the ones around the Halls of Atonement in Revendreth. There’s only a handful of items that either let you gather MORE Sinstone Fragments, let Alts gather more, or cosmetics/toys/mounts.
Infused Ruby: These handy little gems drop from anything in Revendreth. They can be used to barter with the locals for various goods and services. Mostly small buffs, loaner fast mounts, consumables and that sort of thing. They’re also commonly used to unlock various treasures around the zone that can reward toys or pets. You can buy a map with Infused Rubies that will highlight any npc that will exchange Infused Rubies for something because it sometimes isn’t 100% obvious who will and who won’t.