Shadowlands: Covenants Are Horrible and Really Cool

Covenant Armor Sets

The idea of covenants is a great RPG premise. Going to a new world, meeting the people that live there, finding a group that you connect with and joining forces with them to help their cause and increase your power… perfect role playing game opportunity.

The idea of covenants is a terrible MMO premise. Locking important power gains – that will likely be unable to be balanced from one covenant, class, spec, or even type of content to the next – behind long grinds and with limited access is not the way. Particularly for an expansion that is supposed to be focusing on player agency, telling us that we cannot choose between the pool of options available based on the content we are doing is really against what seems to be the goal.

So are covenants good or bad?

Overall, this really depends on your goals in the game. And the extent to which they are good or bad will be how important and one-sided those goals are for you. For someone whose primary interest in this game is role play, lore, story, etc… for someone who is here for the RPG in MMORPG – I imagine covenants are pretty neat. You get to make an important choice regarding your characters alignment, your role in the upcoming story, the look and flavor of your gear and a couple abilities. However, if you’re worried about being optimal for content then this is probably going to present you with some problems. The problem is in a way even MORE intrusive if you’re a player who values both sides, to some degree. Being torn between picking the flavor that seems the most fun with the build that seems the most efficient doesn’t feel good. It’s okay for a single player game, less so for a game where there are other players and your ineffectiveness (or perceived ineffectiveness) can affect your group.

Covenant Backs

The Issue in a Quote

“I don’t understand why they put all this cool stuff in the game, the covenant abilities are all really cool, but for some reason they don’t want us to be able to use it all while playing. I don’t understand what’s wrong with being able to experiment with other things. It just feels like we’re stuck with one thing.” This was from Sloot’s hunter round table discussion on twitch and was by Ftbubbler. As of writing this, he hasn’t posted the video yet.

My Take

I think the idea of covenants is great. The concept is a solid idea for an RPG. The flavor of choice, the meaningful impact of choice is important and can make for fun consequences in gaming. However, for World of Warcraft, specifically, there’s no way to implement this system that could satisfy even a small majority of the population. If you care at all about optimization AND lore, you’re kinda burnt. If you care at all about optimization and playing more than one spec or one type of content (pvp, m+, raiding), you’re probably burnt. Then again, if they had pulled the ripcord, anyone who would have cared about the RP elements of the system, anyone who liked the flavor and themes, they’d be unsatisfied with the nonsensical limitations of covenants only giving their most loyal helpers purely cosmetic options, while letting their power – the thing that would normally be rewarded to those putting in the most effort – could be given to anyone.

Now, despite me talking negatively about this system, I generally don’t think it’ll be huge to the majority of players. If I main DK, I’ll be annoyed that I can’t be Necrolord for the super grip for PVP AND Night Fae for the movement and super death and decay for PVE. However, neither choice is likely to limit the level of content I’ll be doing. While this might annoy many players, it won’t be of significant detriment to anything but the most cutting edge of players.

The covenants are cool, in theory. And, while it’s not going to be some expansion ruining problem… it’s just… not for this game.

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