After a year of new content for games, one expansion stands above the others.
World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor
When I originally heard about Warlords of Draenor, I was excited, but a bit worried about the premise. As much as I liked the idea of fighting these big name Orc Warlords and seeing how powerful they truly could be when free of the Burning Legion’s corruption, when you mix in time travel and alternate realities into any fiction, things always have the potential to go off the rails and end up a mess. World of Warcraft has dealt with time travel in the past with dungeons and even the Mount Hyjal raid, but this is an entire expansion built around having an alternate reality invade our own? Can something like this really hold up to scrutiny? In a word: absolutely. For a longer description, I’ll use my own starting experience to give an example.
When WoD was released, I was on vacation and thought “Oh I’ll just play a little when it launches, then go to bed and get back into it in the morning. No rush to get to level cap.” Cut to about 23 hours of gameplay and about an hour of sleep over two days later: my Brewmaster is level 100 and I'm barely coherent, but I’m still having fun. Cut to a month later – now I've got three 100s, I’ve done some Highmaul raiding, and a ton of Garrison missions and I’m still having fun.
There have been a few stumbling blocks along the way as with all MMO launches: DDOS attacks, server problems in the first few days and the infuriating madness that was Molten Core with 39 other random people that have never seen the instance (you couldn't pay me enough to tank that). Regardless, the general impression most WoW players have had for this expansion has been overwhelmingly positive. The story has been excellent through all of the Draenor zones, and the cutscenes and in-game cinematics that have been sprinkled throughout have done an excellent job in making the leveling experience feel engaging. The Garrisons are a welcome addition to the game, with all of the various services and customization options it provides. Sending followers on missions seems like such a minor thing, but it’s been rewarding and really drills home the idea that the player is the commander of their faction’s forces in Draenor.
The PvE content has been excellent thus far as well. I’ve loved tanking and DPSing the 5-man dungeons, and what I’ve seen of Highmaul has been very well designed. It’s been enjoyable and engaging enough to even bring back players who left Azeroth years ago. I’ve seen friends and guildmates pop up that haven’t been around since Cataclysm or earlier. Something about this expansion’s premise of cutting back some of the clutter and focusing on making what’s left fun, along with all of the new Draenor content, has really spoken to both new and old WoW players and bolstered the player count.
Is this expansion perfect? Of course not – there’s always someone who will complain about abilities their class lost or PvP balance or some other factor. From my experience though, this is probably the best WoW expansion I’ve played since Burning Crusade. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got alts to run through LFR and more 100s to level. See you in Azeroth!
Michael “Ragar” Branham, Contributing Writer