Warlords of Draenor Preview: will it Draenor time?

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So after many PC issues and downloads I finally got into the beta for the new World of Warcraft expansion, Warlords of Draenor. I dove in to find out what the world of Draenor held for me after the surprisingly addictive experience Mists of Pandaria.

Draenor map

The biggest changes that you’ll notice if you’ve been playing WoW is the lowering of player and enemy health, the loss and gain of abilities, and of course, your own garrison, which is basically your own town that becomes quite large once it is levelled up. There are no additional classes or races, but there is the addition of Draenor, of course, which by all accounts and information is Outland of the past, before it was ripped apart. This means Shadowmoon Valley is a lush land with forests; Hellfire Peninsula is named Tanaan Jungle, and the amazingly unending drops between parts of land are now gone and replaced with water. Plus there are additional areas that we’ve never seen.

Horde Garrison

One of the main points Blizzard is trying to sell is the addition of the personal garrisons, a feature that many MMOs are now incorporating into their games. These pieces of land are all in the same place on the map depending on if you’re Alliance or Horde and are a separate “in world instance”: no one can see your garrison or your character while you’re in it. This addition reminds me of Warcraft 3 in a way; you start with your Town Hall and add a barracks, stable, etc. with your own peons doing all the building. There is also the addition of a new currency called “Garrison Supplies” which is required to build and upgrade your buildings. As you upgrade your Town Hall, your garrison changes and grows and you get more slots to add more buildings. You gain followers as you quest and you can send these followers off on quests to gain you supplies, experience, gear and gold.

Alliance garrison

The world of Draenor is really beautiful, quite large and full of quests, lore, amazingly difficult enemies and quirky characters, including one that’s apparently based on Twitter personage @angryorc1, named “Angry Zurge”. There are also the updated character models, which look so much better. This means the humans no longer look like they took a shovel to the face, and the orcs look like orcs instead of an uglier version of Shrek. Character customization is still quite limited, as it was in MoP, but the increased detail on the characters, armour and the ability to keep your helmet visible at all times means you can probably forget that your character looks like Geoff.

Draenor models

The classes have received a major overhaul with abilities being removed, locked to certain specialities or added, and some of the older players are not enjoying that. Why would they be complaining? For example, I have a level 90 Beast Mastery Hunter who has more abilities than I can get my fingers to, and I’d use most of them in any given boss fight. That same level 90 hunter in WoD has about 16 abilities, and I don’t think I’ve used 11 of them in 2 hours of play – not because I don’t want to, but because I didn’t have to. The amount of abilities my friends have been raving about in Mists of Pandaria that they’ll no longer have on their character is staggering, and I’m really going to enjoy listening to them rage about it. There is, however, one thing to be happy about though, for the first time in 3 expansions the Talent system hasn’t been totally destroyed and rebuilt.

Hunter talents 1

There are some nice little additions like getting a coloured outline on an NPC, player or enemy when you mouse over them, and a gold outline on someone that is required for a quest. They’ve added a “Bag Clean Up” which will auto sort your bag by item category, and junk in your bags now show a gold coin on them so you know it is safe to sell it. The Quest Journal has been updated to include a small map of the area with points marked for where you’ll find your quest related goodies or baddies.

Speaking of quests, Blizzard has mostly stuck to their “tried and tested” questing system: kill x amount of enemies, while collecting x amount of items from that area, or kill something to get x amount of items. This makes the whole experience feel like you’re still playing WoW, and if you’ve ever levelled multiple characters through Cataclysm or Mists of Pandaria, then you know that you’ll be limited to areas to quest through. The fact that you need to kill 30 wasps while collecting 10 flowers again, or having to kill 25 or more crocolisks to get 5 skins AGAIN, will probably put you off by the third character, or possibly the fourth one depending on your patience.

Quest tracking text 580

There is no real talk of whom the main end expansion boss will be this time, but there are many possibilities: from Grom Hellscream (Garrosh’s father) to Kil’jaeden, with the highest possibility being one of the other Warlords of the Iron Horde. We might see Kil’jaeden as a raid boss, but after Sunwell Plateau the chances of Kil’jaeden being the main boss dwindles. The Lore gives us so many possibilities, but we’ll just have to wait and see who Blizzard chooses.

While the setting and story behind Warlords of Draenor is impressive and immersive, will it bring players back to World of Warcraft? I have no idea – I know there will be many WoWaholics going back to the game and it might well bring many new players into the MMO. That said, following my time in the Beta, Warlords of Draenor didn’t grip me at level 90 or 100 and I don’t see myself going back to WoW for extended periods of time for a long time, if ever.

Last Updated: August 26, 2014

Gavin Mannion

I for one welcome our future robotic overlords

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