I have been playing Warlords of Draenor now for almost two months, and I can’t stop. I love the Warcraft universe, I have been playing since Warcraft: Orcs and Humans (a very long time!). Sadly, I began losing interest in the universe somewhere near the end of Wrath of the Lich King. Cataclysm didn’t appeal to me, neither did Mists of Pandaria, but seeing the trailer for Warlords of Draenor made something in me reignite. I started playing WoW again about a month prior to its release, and got a couple of characters to 90 to prepare for WoD. Pandaria was more fun than I had thought it would be, the scenery was very pretty but none of it felt like it was in the Warcraft universe, aside from the Garrosh storyline. Warlords of Draenor, however, makes me feel nostalgic. Everything feels exactly like a Warcraft game should. The scenery, the storyline, the characters—it all feels so natural. I even heard an orc yell out “My life for Ner’zhul!” It’s been a decade since I’ve heard that. Needless to say, I’ve been hooked.
There are so many things that Warlords of Draenor has going for it; everything feels so fresh, the quests, the zones, the storyline. I even got that same sense of wonder I had when I first started playing World of Warcraft back in vanilla as I strolled past the corpse of a colossus in Frostfire Ridge. I haven’t been able to keep interested in MMOs as much as I used to, but this has gotten me to stick around for more than my usual few weeks. Warlords takes place on an alternate timeline, so a lot of the older characters that are dead (mostly orc characters) have returned. The biggest return is Grom Hellscream, a personal hero of mine from Warcraft 3. In this timeline he doesn’t drink Mannoroth’s blood, but does decide to lead the orcs on a huge conquest anyway! Yeah, he’s the big bad in this expansion, which kind of bums me out but also excites me.
I hit 100 a few days after the expansion launched. I didn’t rush it (though I did play a lot), but the experience point gain is pretty substantial so it doesn’t take too long to get to level 100. The quests are very enjoyable and the zones are very well done and fun to explore. This expansion doesn’t feature flying mounts in the pre-Outlands Outlands (Draenor), so you will be doing a lot of on-foot travel. They give you plenty to look at and experience during this, so it makes the game feel much more alive and larger this way. Bonus objectives, rare mobs and hidden treasure litter the maps to give you a break from the normal quest log grind, but still let you get gear and experience. Nagrand is an absolutely gorgeous zone; it was one of my favorites in Burning Crusade and it’s one of my favorites in Warlords. I’m glad Blizzard finally added some incentive to explore besides a couple of achievements and one title, they did this namely with the hidden treasures. There are probably 50 or more in each zone and some are hidden quite well. They drop pets, gear, money, resources and toys. So now if you see a mountain and decide to try to find a way to climb it, chances are you won’t be greeted with nothing but instead something shiny!
The biggest addition to the game with this expansion (besides, you know, an entire new continent) is the garrison system. It lets you run and customize your own fortress and build outposts to help further your goals. The outposts don’t seem to do too much other than give you a couple extra perks when you’re in different zones but the garrison itself is pretty fantastic. You can gather NPCs (non-playable characters) as followers to send on missions to bring back resources, money, experience points, or even gear at later levels! They level up as they do missions, and once they reach max level you can start gearing them to send them on harder missions with much larger rewards. I am completely addicted to the followers’ missions. They take anywhere from 30 minutes to a week to complete, so sometimes it involves a lot of waiting, but setting up your strategy for efficiently completing as many missions as possible is quite fun. Most of your daily quests will start from here, as well.
The garrison has three different sizes, which you upgrade as you progress through the story in Draenor. At the third level you can have a total of seven buildings of your own choosing in your garrison. You also receive four “free” buildings which are automatically added into your garrison: a mine, an herb garden, a pet menagerie and a fishing shack. With the mine and herb garden you can mine and collect herbs without having those professions (poor miners, I really think this is going to kill their money-making ability. The price of ore has dropped significantly.) The pet menagerie is for pet battlers, and the fishing shack is for blacksmithing . . . wait, no, it’s for fishing, sorry.
For your seven other slots you get to pick a variety of other buildings to put up that have different effects, or give you different abilities. If you build a profession building for a profession you don’t have, you will be able to craft some items from that profession through an NPC (Neat!). If you build one for a profession you do have, you will receive several benefits from it: namely, the ability to make work orders for NPCs to create the item you can only make once a day. As a blacksmith I can only make one truesteel ingot a day, but with the blacksmithing building I can create one every four hours. It’s pretty handy!
As for PvE, the dungeons are well thought out and fun to run through. Heroics aren’t as much of a challenge as they used to be, but I’ve enjoyed the ones I have run through. I have yet to run the only raid that is currently available (which is Highmaul) but it is now open in LFR (looking for raid), I believe only the first two wings are available for LFR, but the entire thing is open for those that run it on normal.
Battleground and Arena PvP hasn’t changed terribly much, except for the typical shift of power and buff/nerfs across the board. The new level 100 talents add some new toys to your arsenal, my favorite of which is Necrotic Plague on Death Knight (if you thought the diseases were bad before). The only big change I’ve noticed, as far as class balance goes, is that Warlocks seem to be much weaker in PvP than they used to be. Death Knights (any spec) and Retribution Paladins are still powerhouses, and for those of you that PvP’ed during Mists of Pandaria after 6.0.2, healers are finally able to be killed again. The biggest addition to PvP this expansion is the persistent PvP zone in Ashran. Ashran is home to your “capital city” in Draenor and just outside the gates is a large structured PvP zone—think Wintergrasp with less tanks. The main objective is to trash your enemies’ base, and there are plenty of side missions along the way to help you accomplish this. Ashran is quite a lot of fun, but can quickly become a stalemate where it’s just a huge throwdown at the middle for hours at a time, which is entertaining but it’s nice to win every once in a while! NPC’s and other players in Ashran drop artifact fragments that can be used to summon powerful NPC’s to help you destroy your enemy. Beware, if you die, you drop all that you are carrying! Boatloads of honor, some conquest and lots of blood can be found here!
Warlords of Draenor was plagued with problems for the first few days, mainly large queues and constantly being disconnected and kicked back into queue. All that has since been leveled out, and it really is a fantastic expansion. I haven’t been this excited to play World of Warcraft since Burning Crusade came out. If you’re on the fence about picking up Warlods of Draenor, I highly recommend it. You also get a free boost to level 90 for a character, so you can jump right into the new content.