Unlike World of Warcraft’s Legion and Battle For Azeroth expansions, which gave players a choice on which zones to level up their characters, Shadowlands’ story campaign is very linear. Fortunately you only have to play through it once. With the new Threads of Fate mode, players who’ve reached max level can skip the story with their alts and get right into the covenant reputation grind. It’s such a good idea.
Before my colleague, Ashley Parrish, brought the Threads of Fate mode to my attention, I was dreading the thought of having to play through Shadowlands’ linear storyline over and over again to level my alts. While the story is entertaining enough, it’s a straightforward introduction to Shadowlands’ four new adventure zones and the covenants who control them. The real meat of the expansion happens after the story, as players begin forging bonds with the covenant of their choice. The choice between joining the Kyrian, Venthyr, Necrolord or Night Fae determines a character’s identity in Shadowlands. It’s the gear they earn, the additional powers they gain access to, and the activities they participate in.
Threads of Fate mode allows players who’ve already selected a covenant on one character to skip the story bits and get right to the good stuff with their alts. My rogue went through the entire story, learning about the lands of Bastion, Maldraxxus, Revendreth, and Ardenweald while progressing from level 50 to 60. At level 60 she was able to select her covenant, the Night Fae. Thanks to my rogue’s heroic sacrifice, my warlock, a gnome named Murlock, could jump right to selecting a covenant.
Murlock still had to go through Shadowlands’ opening quest, escaping the “inescapable” Maw, but once she hit the expansion’s hub city of Oribos, she was given a choice: replay through the story, or fast track to covenant selection via Threads of Fate.
Instead of levelling from 50 to 60 through story quests, characters who select Threads of Fate level by performing world quests and side quests, completing bonus objectives, and completing dungeons.
Threads of Fate players select their covenant from the four available. Then they select a starting adventure zone. Players participate in quests and events in their chosen zone, slowly filling a progress metre. Once the metre is full, players receive rewards and can select a different zone to adventure in. Eventually they reach level 60, and can start exploring the Maw and continue gathering resources for their chosen covenant.
To players who prefer a more guided experience, Threads of Fate mode might disappoint. There is no narrative to follow, as story quests are all marked as completed. It’s up to each player to choose which activities they participate in. They’ll need to scour the map for world quests, queue for dungeons, and pay attention to chat so they can keep abreast of the latest reward-granting elite boss spawns. There’s more legwork to be done.
I adore Threads of Fate mode. I have so many level 50 (or close to it) characters, and I’m curious to see what each of the four covenants have to offer. I’m overjoyed they won’t have to suffer the same early-expansion slog as my poor rogue did.