WoW Shadowlands quick-start guide for returning players

Shadowlands is the latest World of Warcraft expansion and it brings new features, dungeons, raids, and zones to discover. Whether you stopped playing a few years back or just a couple of months ago, this Shadowlands quick guide will help you get back on track in no time.

Torghast, Tower of the Damned

Torghast is an automatically generated dungeon in the Maw, one of the new zones of Shadowlands. This dungeon is ever-changing and can be played by up to 5 players. Each run of Torghast comprises 5 levels players need to complete to finish the dungeon. Torghast is one of the biggest Shadowlands changes but is pretty easy to complete.

The 5 levels always follow the same pattern:

  • The first two levels are a labyrinth with enemies,
  • The third level has no enemies, but a broker to repair your gear and sell you temporary upgrades,
  • The fourth level is another labyrinth with enemies,
  • The fifth level has a broker and a final boss to defeat.

At the end of a Torghast run, players receive Soul Ash and Soul Cinders. These currencies are required to make legendary equipment, which tremendously increases the damage, healing, or survivability of a hero.

Covenant and conduits

The realms of the Shadowlands are ruled by four orders: the Kyrian of Bastion, the Necrolords of Maldraxxus, the Night Fae of Ardenweald, and the Venthyr of Revendreth.

During the Shadowlands campaign, players can pick one of these Covenants as their second home. Each provides unique spells for each class, and the choice for a Covenant is more often a matter of optimization than personal preference.

These powerful spells, called Covenant abilities, can be further improved by a Soulbind tree specific to each Covenant. As their reputation within a Covenant increases, players unlock new sockets in their Soulbind tree.
There are three socket types: potency, finesse, and endurance. Each class has its own Soulbind abilities they can add to the Soulbind tree. These abilities work like gems to add to the sockets of the tree.

WoW Shadowlands covenant conduits tree
Screenshot by SQUAD.

The Covenant abilities are a core feature of Shadowlands and can tremendously impact performances. Some may increase raw damage or healing ability, reduce a powerful cooldown, or improve the survivability of a character.

All these Covenant abilities are not available as soon as you unlock the tree. Just like gems, players have to find and loot them during their adventures. Each conduit drops from specific enemies, often in dungeons and raids. They also have various levels, ranging from 145 to 252. Of course, a conduit with a higher item level is more powerful than the same one with a lower item level.


Korthia is a new zone in Shadowlands with daily and weekly quests. This zone was introduced in the 9.1 update and players can access it by running to the southeast of the Maw. Luckily, once there, a stone to Oribos eases access to Korthia from the main city of Shadowlands.

Korthia is under the control of the Archivists, a bunch of scholars looking for relics from across the Shadowlands. Archivist Roh-Suir is the leader of the Archivists’ Codex, a reputation faction in Korthia.

By completing daily quests and killing rare enemies in Korthia, players can improve their reputation toward the Archivists’ Codex. This reputation is useful to increase the item level and overall statistic of most of the gear dropped by quests and enemies. It also unlocks crafting recipes, cosmetic elements, and mounts. Moreover, a high reputation unlocks two powerful items to add a gem to an existing piece of equipment and improve the maximum level of a Conduit.

Mythic+ dungeons and affixes

Mythic+ dungeons are just like regular dungeons, but with a higher difficulty. The enemies, bosses, and mechanics remain the same, but they deal more damage and have more health. Overall, mistakes are less forgiving in Mythic+ dungeons and strategy is key to completing them on time. To help you avoid a quick death, we have prepared a guide to help you with one of the core mechanics in Mythic+ Shadowlands dungeons.

To enter a Mythic+ dungeon, you need a Mythic Keystone. Every player gets one in their weekly Great Vault, but you can also loot one by completing a regular Mythic dungeon, also known as +0.

Mythic+ dungeons start at +2 and scale infinitely. Keys rarely go above +28 though, as the difficulty is getting too high to move forward.

Mythic+ dungeons add new mechanics to make fights harder. These new mechanics, called Affixes, appear at levels +5, +10, and +15. The affixes change every week with the Wednesday reset.

To complete a Mythic+ dungeon, not only do you have to kill the dungeon’s bosses and a certain number of regular enemies, but you also need to do that within a specific time frame. Each dungeon has its own timer. Completing a Mythic+ dungeon on time awards more loot and increase your Mythic+ rating.

The Mythic+ rating is a new feature from Shadowlands. It helps other players see what is the highest key you ever completed on time, and if you are used to running this type of dungeon. Prior to the 9.1 update this score was only visible on

Sanctum of Domination

Sanctum of Domination is the latest raid tier available in World of Warcraft Shadowlands. It is the home of the Jailer, the main villain of Shadowlands.

The raid consists of 10 bosses and is available in three difficulty modes: Normal, Heroic, and Mythic. While most of the bosses were unknown to players before Sanctum of Domination, some familiar faces make a comeback. If you want to avoid spoilers, skip down to the next heading.

Soulrender Dormazain is here, torturing Garrosh Hellscream, the former Warchief of the Horde. Kel’Thuzad is another familiar face we have to defeat in Sanctum of Domination. The former human mage brought the plague across Lordaeron with the Lich King, was killed by Arthas Menethil, and was then resurrected as a lich to become ruller of Naxxramas. When players slew Kel’Thuzad in the Wrath of the Lich King expansion raid, he came to the Shadowlands. He is now a minion of the Jailer, and the penultimate boss of Sanctum of Domination.

Last but not least, the final boss of Sanctum of Domination is no other than Sylvanas Windrunner. The Banshee Queen was the one to cause the events of Shadowlands, opening a doorway into the Maw from Azeroth.

The first 8 bosses of Sanctum of Domination drop gear with an item level of 213 in Raid Finder, 226 in Normal, 239 in Heroic, and 252 in Mythic. Kel’Thuzad and Sylvanas Windrunner, the last two bosses of the raid, drop items with a level of 220 in Raid Finder, 233 in Normal, 246 in Heroic, and 259 in Mythic.

Weekly Great Vault

An easy way to gear up in Shadowlands is by completing at least one slot of the weekly Great Vault before each Wednesday reset. Whenever you complete a Mythic+ dungeon or kill at least 3 bosses in Sanctum of Domination, you can get a free piece of gear in the weekly chest.

WoW Shadowlands weekly vault
Screenshot by SQUAD.

The item level of the piece of gear available in the weekly Great Vault depends on the highest difficulty of an activity. For instance, killing 3 bosses in Sanctum of Domination Normal will reward a 226 item level piece of gear, while killing the same bosses in Heroic will unlock equipment with a level of 239.

The highest item level available in the weekly Great Vault is 252. You can collect this if you killed at least three bosses of Sanctum of Domination in Mythic, or completed at least one +15 dungeon.

How to gear up fast in Shadowlands

There are 5 fast ways to gear up in Shadowlands:

  • Complete the daily quests and kill rare enemies in Korthia (item level 207 and upgrades)
  • Run Mythic+ dungeons (item level 210 to 236)
  • Kill the bosses of Sanctum of Domination (item level 213 to 259)
  • Open the weekly vault for a free loot (item level 226 to 252)
  • Kill Mor’geth in the Maw (item level 233)

You now have all the information about the biggest changes brought by World of Warcraft Shadowlands. Whether you choose to run directly to Torghast or want to face Sylvanas Windrunner, I hope this Shadowlands quick guide will give you everything you need to complete your mission.

Stay tuned to Squad for more World of Warcraft tips and tricks.

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Ophélie Castelot

I was born with a gamepad and played my first MMORPG at 8. I'm scared to death by Resident Evil's dogs. FPS enthusiast, I like to pewpew people. I love both video games and writing, so naturally, I'm a gaming writer. Want to pitch an idea or debate the latest game you played? Let's talk!
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