Blizzard has announced that World of Warcraft's Shadowlands expansion, which was originally due to launch on 27th October, will be delayed until some time "later this year".
Announcing the news in a statement on the World of Warcraft website, Blizzard explained that while it had made "significant progress iterating and polishing the core gameplay and features" of Shadowlands - the zones, campaign, level-up questing, and story are all "ready to share", it says - it felt additional work was still needed in other areas.
"As everything started coming together," the developer wrote, "and we've been listening to and building upon your feedback, it's become clear we need a little more time for additional polish, and to balance and iterate on some interlocking pieces - particularly those related to the endgame". It calls Shadowlands "one of the most intricate expansions we've yet created", and says the challenge of tuning the endgame "was compounded by the team having to work from home".
"Blizzard has a commitment to quality," it continued, "We believe Shadowlands will be something special, and we've heard from many of you who feel the same. We need this extra time to ensure that Shadowlands lives up to its full potential."
Blizzard says it's "still in the process of determining the right new date to launch", but will be releasing a Shadowlands "pre-patch" on 13th October. This will supposedly lay the groundwork for the expansion, introducing revamped character levelling, new-player experience on Exile's Reach, as well as various new character customisation options. A pre-launch event, in which players must defend Azeroth against a resurgence of the Scourge, will run closer to Shadowlands' release.
Shadowlands is World of Warcraft's eighth major expansion, and introduces the titular "resting place for every mortal soul - virtuous or vile - that has ever lived". In more practical terms, that means five new zones for players to explore: Ardenweald, Maldraxxus, Revendreth, The Maw, and Bastion, home of angelic soul guides the Kyrians.