WoWhead has their finger on everything World of Warcraft, even the things that a fan generally won't be able to see. They keep their sharp eyes on all versions of World of Warcraft to be able to immediately update fans of the game and site of any new changes. \n \nToday, they discovered that World of Warcraft is continuing to test Alpha builds for the upcoming expansion, Shadowlands. The new build is still encrypted, unfortunately, so they aren't able to do any datamining to discover what exactly is new in this build. Eventually, if the patch has its encryption removed (or broken) they'll be able to do more digging to discover what the new patch holds. \n \nSome may wonder, what's the use in knowing an encrypted alpha build shipped out? If we can't read it, there's nothing to update, right? \n \nWhat it really means is that Blizzard is still making forward progress on the upcoming title. It helps fans to know that Blizzard is moving forward, even if we don't know what exactly they're moving forward with. By knowing this alpha has hit the playable build for the developers, we know that they've hit another milestone in their production of the title. \n \n \n \nIn other words, it lets fans know that Blizzard isn't slacking. Of course, we don't know how far along this patch may be - maybe this was actually quite behind schedule? There's no way for us to know that either, unfortunately, so we'll just have to wait to find out. \n \nOne of the factors playing into this is the fact that Shadowlands still doesn't have a release date, even tentatively. Many people assume that we'll hear something about it soon at PAX East, but that's not quite set in stone yet either. \n \nBlizzard has only recently "finished" the story of the current expansion of the retail version of World of Warcraft, Battle for Azeroth, as they released the Visions of N'zoth endgame patch. This major patch added the final raid of the expansion, allowing players to do battle against (supposedly) the last Old God plaguing Azeroth. \n \nWe know from the expansion trailer that the upcoming Shadowlands expansion will have us departing from Azeroth and into another plane of existence, the Realm of the Dead, the Shadowlands themselves. The way that the story has continued on has been met with some hesitance (and annoyance) from the fanbase, but there seems to be a general excitement to see the next expansion regardless. Maybe once a patch hits the alpha without encryption, we'll know a bit more about the title.