Shadowlands Covenant Campaigns Review

*Spoiler alert: I’m discussing the full campaign plots for all Covenants, so if you’re planning to play them all on alts and experience the lore firsthand, approach with care!

This week we have seen the finale of current Covenant campaigns. Blizzard promised further development, as Covenants will join their powers to fight Jailer and awake the Arbiter later in the expansion, but today we’ve got a decent semi-colon worth a feedback.

It is worth saying that I liked the campaigns and campaign design a lot. Using the succesful Legion’s Suramar model, Blizzard offered a 2-months experience of new lore. We were waiting for every next week with utmost eager, like a new episode in the series. And although the campaigns were a bit spoiled by the chapter names, we still received a lot of twists and wow-moments every week. Besides, we had a very transparent schedule that we could check through examining Renown levels, and a number of meaningful rewards for completing steps: from mounts to conduit levels to collecting our first Covenant set and upgrading it up to 197 (surpassing LFR by no less than 10 ilvl!). And, unlike Suramar, we had not one, but four different stories!

Lorewise, I cannot tell that I have my favorites or outsiders. Some steps managed to surprise and move me more than others depending on the week, but they were all very interesting and helped to shape the Covenant image and vibes, while addressing the enemies announced during leveling. Whichever Covenant you picked, you do not regret for picking the wrong one in terms of lore, epicness and all.

Now we will review them one by one.

Kyrian Covenant Campaign – is the most consistent and would naturally address the Forsworn, the fallen Kyrian, and the ways of Bastion. First we must learn about the whole soul delivery business, and I cannot help mentioning the journey to Redridge Mountains and seeing the whole process of delivering a soul from Kyrian perspective. During the campaign we are attacked by Forsworn right in our homebase, and we fight them off, then gradually taking over the sieged and seized temples.

We deal with Devos, the initial shit-bucket kicker, in the Spires of Ascension dungeon. Lysonia and Uther take over the leadership. We win some temples. We get a trip to the Maw, where Lysonia tries to kill Uther to absorb his anima and powers and turns into a Mawsworn (the winged dudes in the Maw are fallen kyrian). In the finale, we get a slaughter of Forsworn that would make a Maldraxxi proud, we fight Lysonia, Uther helps to kill her, and is taken to home arrest to process the wrong ways that he realized were wrong.

All the campaigns have small vignette storylines that tie them to other Covenants, and Kyrian are no exception. We would help the Maldraxxi Necrolords to overthrow one of their own big bads, the margrave of Constructs. There is a personal vendetta going on, so it’s quite logical: he/she/they (sill not sure about the voice? Probably they) – well, Gharmal, was behind the orchestration of Maldraxxi attack on Bastion, and later experimented with kyrian flesh to be turned into abominations. His heart is taken by kyrian as a powerful artifact useful for their pedestal of ascension.

What I also like a lot, is that we get a visual progress of the campaign in every Covenant Sanctum (again, like Suramar had their tree grow). In kyrian example, this is a pedestal where a wingless kyrian steps during ceremony and gets his/her wings, ascending from an aspirant to a proper soul caretaker. During the campaign, we empower said pedestal with items from all Covenants. From Maldraxxi, we get the heart of margrave. From Night Fae, we get a vessel of the forest – and it turns out a living fae must sacrifice herself to create one. That was super moving and sad! But she does that on her own agreement, and we provide the last tour of fun for her without realising it’s gonna be her last *sob* From Venthyr, we get a medallion that is super effective in purifying negative experiences, but useless in extracting anima – ergo, uselss to Venthyr and just what Kyrian need.

Resume: Kyrian may seem boring on paper, but it is a very interesting campaign, with lots of solemn and moving moments. Apart from the obvious siding-with-Jailer-is-bad, it manages to persuade why Kyrian ways are what they are, and why Devos and her sidekicks are doing it all wrong.

Results and Hooks for the Future: the Forsworn threat is crushed completely, all leaders dead, and Uther is taken into voluntary custody. He muses about his fate as we walk with him, and later we may explore his and Arthass fate, and may be see him in person, who knows!

Night Fae Covenant Campaign – is one of the most diverse. Blizzard clearly realized that re-introducing Drust, the villains of 1/3 of Alliance experience in the previous expansion, won’t suffice. So the Fae campaign explores three roughly equal themes: the Drust invasion on Ardenweald, the Night Warrior theme binding Ysera and Tyrande, and the Wild Gods of trolls aka loa – also tightly bound with the nature theme.

The Night Warrior theme was not explored in full, as it is clearly meant to develop later. But we’ve got a tangible result: a solution to save Tyrande. The Night Warrior power must be split among several creatures for them to survive – at least more than two. We could expect some epic and moving scenes later on! I would bet that Shandris is gonna be one of them, but who else? Also, the interesting moment here was introducing gay characters: a former couple of male night elves, now unicorn and stag Ardenweald souls who died IRL by trying to share the Night Warrior powers among them two.

The loa/Mueh’zala theme is mostly a comic relief – as it involves Bwonsamdi. The bad guy, “da Boss”, sold his ass to Jailer for power, and we’re bound to stop him. The highlights would be Mueh’zala revealing that it was him corrupting Helya, and also he is responsible for whispering Vol’jin to name Sylvanas warchief and thus the whole BfA slaughter. Also this part is an important reminder that loa are also Wild Gods. I laughed so hard when Bwonsamdi tried to make a deal with Winter Queen for helping with Wild Gods souls, and her answer was simply “Depart” with a wave of a hand.

Finally, the major Drust theme. I missed a proper explanation of what the Thros realm actually is, where they come from, and all. Like in Drustvar, we simply had a “Gorak” leader and his sidekicks of corrupted locals to deal with, period. It was interesting and somber to learn that corrupted Fae cannot be healed, and thus are bound to extermination on sight. In the finale we jump right into the fray, exterminating Drust with all the Wild Hunt force and borrowed Winter Queen power, and crushing their leader. Ara’lon, the guy from the cinematic, dies, but clearly we have not seen enough of his character development to really care about. That fae which sacrificed herself for kyrian campaign was a lot more meaningful to me.

The Night Fae puzzle to collect: Winter Queen empowers the core seed of the main tree twice, Suramar-style, turning it into a majestic bloom.

Resume: the Night Fae campaign is diverse and holds many happy and sad moments. It is cocooned and deals with local problems, not caring about other Covenants. The campaign did not manage to enhance our knowledge about Drust and their home realm as it should. The highlight that bounds the whole thing is the majestic Winter Queen and the music theme of Heart of the Forest, communing the true-elvish, nature bound royal feeling, so tender and majestic.

Results and Hooks for the Future: the Drust problem is solved for good, Gorak leader killed and portals to Thros closed. Mueh’zala is defeated. Ardenweald is safe. So the only theme left to go is the Night Warrior problem.

Maldraxxus Covenant Campaign – is both consistent and cocooned in the local problems. There is a civial war going on, with population split into two camps: loyal to Necrolords/Primus cause of defending the realm of Shadowlands, and those seeking to conquer and acquire more power. There are 5 Houses. The House of Eyes, home of Vashj and Draka, is destroyed in the cinematic prior to the expansion events. The House of Plagues is destroyed too, and we deal with their mad Margrave Stradama and try to save the remnants, some possible, some bound to extermination. The House of Constructs is villainous outright, seeking to conquer other Covenants and fuse their flesh into their abominations. The House of Chosen, where we level, is taken over by traitors. Finally, the House of Rituals had a coup, and their margrave is imprisoned, with Kel’Thuzad the baron taking over and working towards Jailer’s cause. So technically the Houses paradigm failed: either they’re traitors or destroyed.

And so the Seat of Primus, the Covenant Sanctum, is technically not a House, but now a base of all House dwellers which remained loyal to the Primus’ cause. From there, we go and deal with the traitors on by one.

For House of Eyes, we collect the team of survivors and cobble up our own Necropolis out of their necropolis’ remnants, an ultimate doom weapon that is vital to match other Houses in the upcoming war.

The first to fall is House of Constructs. We travel to Bastion to help kyrian with their invasion – redeeming the honor, and also learning why Light-bound, sacrificial Alexandros Mograine belongs to Maldraxxus, not Kyrian: his strength comes from memories about his family, and thus memories cannot be taken away from him. Then we attack the House of Constructs with the combined power of both Covenants and kill margrave Gharmal, also discovering venthyr anima containers in his chambers!

Further investigation takes us to Revendreth, where we discover the conspiracy between the traitor Maldraxxi and Denathrius’ loyalists, all working for the Maw. It is where we reveal that the mastermind behind all this is Kel’Thuzad.

In a multi-step endeavor we have a super-cool spy mission in the House of Rituals, and in the finale with the help of Venthyr we attack Kel’Thuzad’s forces in a straight assault. The lich is defeated, and Mawsworn drag him to the Maw – because he will be useful later, and his battle as of now is lost. Rituals’ margrave released, she pledges loyalty to the cause.

Resume: the Maldraxxi civil warfare has all the components of a proper war: massive sieges, spy missions, gaining allies and diplomacy. Every step was quite interesting, and their theme and goals were described perfectly, with no stones unturned.

Results and Hooks for the Future: The local problem is more or less solved, but not entirely. Kel’Thuzad escaped the punishment, but his influence and schemes are over. What remains of the four Houses is united under the banner of Primus. But we have the House of Chosen to deal with yet, as it remained largely untouched. And Primus himself has not returned yet, although it’s crystal clear that Primus and Runecarver are the samepersun.

Maldraxxi puzzle was acquiring the Primus’ belongings, like bracers, mantle, staff, and putting them on his statue – as the actual Primus is yet absent.

Venthyr Covenant Campaign – deals with Denathrius’ betrayal, obviously. The whole campaign reminds Game of Thrones a bit, as well as multiple revolution plots all over other media. While puzzles of other Covenants were merely a flavor, in venthyr campaign it is the central plot.

Renathal and his rebels would like to collect medallions of power from Denathrius’ high-ranked followers, and the adventures they have on the way are most diverse and interesting. There will be tomb raiding, there will be a revolution situation, there will be persuading of the nobles, assassinations, espionage and attending soirees – just name it.

Venthyr also have their share of travels to other realms. They would aid Bastion and seek their help for crafting a medallion-holding crown. I laughed a lot as they went into Bastion’s light and cursed about it :) And in the finale (who spoils finale for whom?) they would travel to Maldraxxus to defeat their common big bad – Kel’Thuzad in the same scenario – and snitch the final medallion from his chest.

The finale is most inspiring – probably of all Covenants, as Prince Renathal denies wearing the all-amulet crown in fear of power corruption, and says that there will be no Sires from now on. Revendreth will be ruled by Court ever since.

Resume: the Revendreth campaign is super interesting and diverse. You will get all sorts of plots and schemes while collecting pieces of puzzle, and you never know what waits around the corner!

Results and Hooks for the Future: the sidekick lords of Denathrius are defeated, and Renathal’s Court has accumulated the power in their hands. Revendreth is back on their ways of mitigating sins through torture, not multiplying them through torture as Denathrius did. Denathrius’ fate is resolved in raid, so Jailer’s corruption in vampire realm is done for. Kael’Thas does not understand the path of redemption yet, but there are glimpses of hope he will.

What’s Next?

As you can see, the campaigns resolved the local problems so far. Yes, there’s yet a thorn of House of Chosen in Maldraxxi side, but they’re more or less ready to turn their eyes to Jailer. I liked a lot how Covenants gradually build trust to each other, learn about each others’ ways and troubles, and were eager to travel and help the other Covenants with their problems.

No doubt that the further development will be Maw-centered, because Jailer’s agents were crushed without restoration options. And did you notice how every Covenant’s hook for the next development involves important Azeroth lore figures? There’s a lot to be explored and found in the Maw for them!

Kyrian will explore Uther/Arthas theme. Night Fae have Tyrande and the Night Warrior case on their hands. Maldraxxus would like to chase Kel’Thuzad in a proper corner and finish him. And Venthyr have Kael’Thas to make him understand his sins. Funniest thing is, Blizzard is still leeching Warcraft III! All of the mentioned lore characters made their first appearance in WIII campaigns, and you actually played each and every one of them. Realising that was worth writing this summary :)

That said, it does not make the story-so-far – or the story-later worse. The campaigns properly introduced the ways of the Covenants, addressed and resolved their immediate troubles – and did so with a range of new characters, local characters, while Azeroth souls were but a flavor. But now I don’t mind to put them into the highlight. Heck, I would not even be against seeing Arthas at some point.

Overall resume: I did not mention Suramar campaign in vain. It was one of the masterpieces of Blizzard story creation, and Covenants took the torch from them. It’s been like four Suramars pressed into 2 months, and they all delivered.

What is even better, we get a sequel in a few months.

Well done, Blizzard!

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