Warlords of Draenor is finally here but I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that! Right off the bat, World of Warcraft servers exploded with activity as both Horde and Alliance, revived old players, new players, and returning players from different other MMO worlds, were eager for the Draenic action to be had, forcing some pretty hefty unscheduled maintenances. That and someone DDoS’d WoW’s servers, but that’s another story. Regardless, so many have anticipated WoD’s release and are racing to reach the new level cap of 100 as we speak, breathing a powerful fresh breath of life WoW hasn’t seen for quite some time.
But, there are, of course, some of those not too keen on WoD as an idea and may need a little bit more insight on what Draenor truly has to offer the average gamer. Fortunately, I’ve hit 100 on some of my characters on Alliance and Horde, and maybe I can shed some light on the mysteries of this Orc planet since I have fifteen minutes to spare while I wait for a follower mission to finish. These are only the first impressions of the expansion and I’ll be reviewing more in-depth elements of it through the coming weeks and, hopefully, you all will join me unless you’re already into chopping down trees or screwing around in Ashran.
Warlords of Draenor throws players head-first into a suicide mission to stem the tide of the Iron Horde with the help of Archmage Khadgar. Players are treated to a very cinematic introductory mission that haves them face off against a garagntuan Orc army wielding technology that matches Garrosh’s horde in Pandaria. Cut-scenes, in-game or otherwise, are numerous in this first part and immerses you well into the current state of the other-worldly Draenor, introducing players to each new major power in the expansion in a stylized, floaty-text laden, Borderlands-ish introduction. With flashy effects and interesting deviations from the way WoW’s expansions start off, it’ll keep players’ eyes poppng from the sheer entertainment of the quests and missions in this preliminary event. From hijacking Iron Horde siege weaponry to getting trapped in Kargath’s arena and being required to kill a hundred orcs in order to escape, the epic and explosive Tolkien-esque conflict is a sight to behold and an amazing experience. It is hands-down the best intro in any expansion I’ve ever played.
The behemoth that is WoW, in my humble opinion, has, at least concerning expansion introductions, truly topped whatever else they have done in the past. Not only is the entire event engaging, it manages to keep interest even after it unfolds, compelling players to keep moving forward and see what other goodies are ripe for the picking. The “War” in Warcraft has never been more highlighted and expressed in game-form quite so amazingly.
Draenor: A World Full of Life
Unlike it’s original universe counterpart, The Outland, Draenor is sprawling with activity that range from a densely populated landmass of NPCs, quests, and world events. While older expansions harbored lively worlds as well, Draenor seems to have picked up the pace and went straight for the next level. As I explored Draenor for the first time, what was truly striking was how each area appeared to be just as interesting as the last, and even those places where we tread off the beaten path, there is a lot of adventure and secrets to be had. It rarely ever came to pass where I would find myself droning listlessly towards a quest objective, not caring about anything else other than the destination. There are many times where I would purposely deviate from my intended goal to find an interesting little cave with a few quests in it or finding rares that have small events about them detailing a richer backstory than what one would believe about NPCs. Hidden treasures, quests, and events, placed at the most proper of locations, are so organic that they feel almost random at times, giving the illusion that WoW was able to make for a more dynamic world past rare spawns. Most, actually, if not all, content in Draenor have been well thought out and feel organic, natural, and, most importantly, entertaining. Gorgrond, especially, is one of my favorite areas in the game due to it having a lot of secrets and surprises (I’m looking at you Monster Hunter).
The importance of location and area become far more amazing when Garrisons and Outposts come into play. Depending on what structures are built for both these Draenor-introduced mechanics, players get certain abilities that help them throughout their journey in Draenor. An example would be the lumbermill that not only provides an ability that lets players use a Shredder (that is just holy-shit powerful), but it also allows you to harvest certain trees to collect timber, and that resource is what allows for work orders for your Garrison using the lumber mill that provides other garrison resources, as well as obtaining other resources with the ability to wreck through vine clumps. But there will never be enough plots of land in a garrison to obtain all buildings, so some abilities may have to be forfeited or a player could simply replace one that they no longer need. This, in effect, adds a lot more depth in exploration and some planning ahead of time.
Draenor pairs up the gameplay content with splendid and well-crafted areas of dense towns, cities, landmarks, and other notable places that really immerse players in the old world of Draenor. Most of them are more than the run-of-the-mill hut and bonfire, but structures in placings of intelligent design, being more than just area-fillers, and absolute in purpose line the pixelated landscapes with interest and intrigue. It never gets boring going around Draenor.
Storywise, Warlords of Draenor delivers! There isn’t much else to say! I have to admit, however, it was initially confusing and to be honest, it still is now, but the way the events are laid out make it truly feel that I’m in the midst of a real war and that I actually am important. But probably the highlight of it all is the fact that this expansion is just filled to the brim with fantastic cut scenes that seek to impress, empower, and inspire the viewer. Even in-game cut scenes feel just right and look great, even more so with the care in voicing certain events paired along with interesting quest objectives and mechanics that both challenge and immerse players.
Another notable feature in Draenor are the quests that start only when players get to the area where they occur. Players won’t exactly be discovering them, but the exploration value is still high considering that the area quest won’t necessarily indicate if it’s up above a mountain or inside a cave. These are akin to FATES in Final Fantasy XIV, but they are one time per character only and players can finish them at their pace because other players’ progress won’t inhibit them from finishing theirs. They provide oodles of experience and some gold, becoming a boon for eager adventurers or as a break from the grind for others (in a sense, I guess). Regular questing, on the other hand, has been enhanced greatly when compared to the earlier expansions. Yes, there are still a lot of quests that involve the basic killing and fetching of some ridiculous items, but these have been greatly improved and far more epic in scale. But more importantly, I’d like to stress on Blizzard’s attempt at more voice acting. There is just so much of that going on, even with the very minor sidequest at times, providing a different feel for WoW and, when paired up with the improved animations, make for some very fantastic encounters throughout the world. It’s in no way on the scale of like, let’s say, Bioware games, but there is quite enough to make everything feel so real and in the moment. I’ve never been more willing to quest than I ever have, and I burned out from that activity ages ago.
Blood and Honor!
Everything talked about in this article barely scratches the surface of what Warlords of Draenor has to offer. There are far more intricacies to it and deeper gameplay that WoW hasn’t seen before. We still have yet to look at Garrisons, Story, Ashran, Questing, and all the other things mentioned here as deeply as they should. If I tried to relay all the things new and improved in Draenor in a single article, well, you’d be better off just finding out for yourself. What do I feel about Warlords of Draenor then? It’s initially fantastic and I believe the hype about it was just in the right place and just the right amount. It was surely worth the wait and playing through it is just a blast. This will get even more intense through the coming months when the other content is unlocked and released to the public. But, most of all, raiding is something people are just so eager for. There is more to be seen and talked about on Warlords of Draenor, so tune in next week as I tackle its questing in forms of both main and side. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a garrison to run.Expansion, Fir, Review, World of Warcraft, WoW Wednesday