Blizzard’s developers might be working from home, but they’re still working to get the next expansion of World of Warcraft prepared by the end of this year—as promised at BlizzCon 2019.
Despite numerous setbacks because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Blizzard announced today that the company will be sending out invitations to a limited number of players for a closed alpha test of Shadowlands later this week and detailed a few changes to expect.
Initial alpha testing will be limited to a select few longtime players, as well as a small number of content creators and journalists. But in a post on the Blizzard forums, the developer said that it intends to expand that access as testing continues.
When the alpha servers start up, Blizzard said that there will be a full level-up experience in the zone of Bastion available, as well as one of the game’s new dungeons. The developers intend to slowly add more content and zones to testing through the month of April.
The beta portion of testing will begin once every aspect of the game has been added to the environment. An exact or estimated date for the beta launch wasn’t announced by Blizzard, however.
Blizzard is also testing changes to spellbooks and talents for all classes, interface improvements for questing, and PvP currencies.
WoW game director Ion Hazzikostas said on Twitter that his team initially planned to have this alpha available sooner and he originally was going to make a video to announce the alpha. But due to issues related to working from home, which much of America has been subject to following the COVID-19 pandemic, dates needed to be pushed back.
There’s no indication yet that these delays will prevent the Blizzard team from meeting their goal of releasing the finished product before the end of 2020.