World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor Review in Progress Week One
World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor is the fifth expansion for World of Warcraft, continuing the storyline from the World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria. Players follow along as the exiled warchief, Garrosh, went 35 years into the past before the events of Warcraft I and stopped the corruption of the Orcs by the Burning Legion, instead taking over with the original intention of ruling not only this universe, but many others.
The expansion comes with an array of new features, a new land to explore, and 10 new levels which is a drastic change from the 5 that we have been receiving with the previous two expansions. It also includes for all players who purchase the expansion a free level 90 character, reminiscent of the /level command from Dark Age of Camelot, except this is purchasable and not only just for underpopulated servers.
We'll be taking a look at the expansion each Monday for three weeks, before we post our final review on December 15th, unless there are limited delays in the release of the next season or raids.
Disclaimer: This article is written on 11/16/2014 starting at 4:45 PM. I have reached level 95 on a Shadow Priest. I have spent an estimated 20+ hours in queue. I have played for what I would assume to be at this point at least 25 hours if not more. My PC is a custom built, 3.8ghz quad-core i7 with a Radeon 7850, with WoW running on default Ultra settings. I use a wide range of addons, from auctionator to bagnon to Deadly Boss Mods.
One thing that I am very willing to overlook is issues with a games launch and while frustrating, I can actually see how this isn't specifically a surprise. WoD promises to fix a lot of issues that players that were upset about, but before many players quit playing they all transferred to a few servers like Area 52, Malganis, Kel'thuzad, etc. because the game is easier when you have players on your side and players in this modern era prefer one big server than a lot of smaller servers.
The result, of course being that there is a huge influx into a few servers and then that spreads out across the rest, as players return in droves and Blizzard lowers the population limits on the servers because of the mass of players who all are entering into maps that can't sustain them.
This is perfectly reasonable to me and, if the queues get better or go away by this week (or even more important, the weekdays), I will be content. However, at the same time - the inconvenience should be compensated and players unable to play should be given something for their efforts in not playing the entire weekend. Even if it's a we're sorry postcard, or something.
At the same time - limiting my playtime does make me angry, just as anyone else, and while I don't specifically put all the blame on Blizzard, I will say that if you have a character on a busy server, your enjoyment of the game will decrease greatly. If you're starting out, I'd head the advice of joining a "new player" server and then paying for a character transfer later.
Gameplay So Far
So far I'm level 95 and I am having an absolute blast, when the game is operational. The cinematics actually are engaging enough to make me shed a tear, the characters are relatable, and the gameplay mechanics are still the same classic things that made all of us collectively fall in love with WoW when it launched almost 10 years ago.
An expansion is at times a bit less than the original game. It's an extension, but with WoW each expansion changes the game so drastically that it's almost like a new WoW each time and Draenor is successful in making me feel like I'm not even playing WoW anymore - it's almost like WoW 2.
Some of the interesting things I've ran into so far is the garrison system, which is one of the most impressive feats any MMO has ever done - create a subsystem that players willfully engage in, provide enough incentive to make it worthwhile, but not enough that it's mandatory, and let it live or die by the player's will. These are the hallmarks of a great subsystem, anytime the developers nudge, but don't force you into something and you want to play it of your own free will is exactly the perfect mix of incentive and reward to me.
The graphics are stunning. Returning to what is Terokar Forest but was Telador was a beautiful sight to behold. The design and layout of the cities, the space and just size of everything really brought about this feeling that you're in a similar world, but it's not the same. This is unique to this expansion, because Cataclysm was a revamp of the old world zones which came out looking like a refresh "elevated" Azeroth instead of something new and different. Which isn't a bad thing, per se, but a big fear was that Blizzard was going to recycle Outland when in fact they redesigned the entire world (at least from my perspective).
I haven't gotten a chance to play in the dungeons or PvP yet, but I'll be sure to make comments about that next week.
One of the neat things about Draenor is the loot system. Reforging is gone and the boring static loot stats where armor had x y and z of a pre-determined set of stats is gone. Blizzard added in a few new stat categories, in addition to randomizing loot a bit more. It's not as random as the original WoW's 3 Int 4 Stamina 5 Strength 2 Agility bracers, but it's enough to make you curious - then again this is only with halfway of the leveling done.
There is much more to say, but right now when I can login I am satisfied with the game beyond belief. I wasn't a huge fine of Cataclysm, a little bit more of a fan of Mists of Pandaria, but this is scratching all of the itches I've been having for an MMO for the longest time, while at the same time not making me hate it along the way.
I'm sure my opinion will change as I continue, I'm still only level 95 and had to wait in a NINE HOUR queue today, but we'll see how things pan out in the wide world of Azeroth. See you next monday to talk more about my experiences.