The reason why this review comes rather late is due to the release schedule of the PvE content in Warlords of Draenor. I waited for the full release of all PvE on purpose, for I don’t like reviewing incomplete games.
Warlords of Draenor came out as the 6th installment and 5th expansion pack of World of Warcraft.
Unlike any other expansion packs before, it introduced no new playable race and no new class. This time around, they introduced a play on one of the most requested features in the past 10 years. Yes, this is correct. World of Warcarft itself is 10 years old, and all this time, the players have been requesting a feature which generally goes by the name of “Player Housing”.
They finally brought into the game something similar to player housing, under the official name of “Garrisons” and created it in a way, so it could be the main selling point of Warlords of Draenor.
Warlords of Draenor is addressed to the nostalgic playerbase and very reminiscent of the Burning Crusade, since Draenor itself as a planet is the Outland of our present, in its past version. What I’m telling you is that, Warlords of Draenor is centered around the idea of time travel, as a consequence of the events that unfolded after Siege of Orgrimmar back in Mists of Pandaria.
Short Lore Elements (Spoilers Ahead)
Garrosh Hellscream was not killed back in Siege of Orgrimmar, but taken on trial. With the help of a Bronze Dragonflight representant going by the name of Kairozdormu, of whom we don’t know much, he manage to escape and put his plan in action: to alter the curve of time, travel to the past and prevent the orcish race from becoming slaves of the Burning Legion.
In this parallel reality, Gromash Hellscream refuses the oath of the Legion, does not drink the blood of pit lord Mannoroth, and as such, the orcs do not become slaves. In return, Garrosh Hellscream saves the life of his father Gromash, who creates the Iron Horde to attack Azeroth of the present through the Dark Portal.
The Alliance and the Horde join forces under the leadership of Archmage Khadgar and travel beyond the Black Portal to face the Iron Horde and prevent an imminent invasion.
The leveling process in Draenor
The access point to Draenor is a quest leading up to the Black Portal, where Archmage Khadgar, Vindicator Maraad, Thrall and other well-known figures await. The players then venture into the Black Portal for an introductory scenario in Tanaan Jungle, where an alert is raised, that the heroes of Azeroth have arrived to Draenor and the war had begun.
Important to mention is that, the two faction start in different zones: Shadowmoon Valley as Alliance and Frostfire Ridge as Horde.
Not long after the first quests in the faction specific zones, the player gets to establish the Garrison in its basic form. There are three tiers of Garrison progression. Level one is not provided but default, with a number of quests proceeding its buildup.
Unlike its present counterpart, Draenor was a lively planet, pretty different than Outland, but the players who were there in the Burning crusade would definitely be interested in exploring locations in Draenor and see the difference. The first thing I did Talador, for example, was to check out whether Shattrath is accessible. Unfortunately it’s not, but it appears to have gates and have something planned for future patches.
Draenor consist of regions, each having one or multiple zone specific themes:
Shadowmoon Valley with its draenic serenity and everlasting moonlight, Gorgrond with a plethora of jungles and even an amazing canyon, Spires of Arak with its Arakkoa motives, the good old Nagrand with its Ogres and Talbuks, Talador with its imposing buildings (Auchindoun and Shattrath), icy desert Frostfire Ridge and Tanaan Jungle which is currently closed and subject of a future patch.
The quests are a joy to undertake, the storylines of every zone relate to your garrison (like everything else, Warlords of Draenor is very Garrison-centric) and they end up with a Grand Finale quest (more or less).
Blizzard did a good job keeping it clean.
The Garrison is the heart and soul of the expansion and the main selling point of it. You will be spending lots of time there and everything gravitates towards activities that are linked in one way or another to your establishment.
Not only the primary, but also the secondary professions are linked to it in a way that you can create a “workshop” to enhance a primary profession’s product yield.
This is important because, unlike in any previous expansion, the main plans require that you have a crafting material which can only be produced on a daily cooldown and is not tradable. Having a corresponding workshop for one of your secondary professions assures a bonus on a daily basis when it comes to the production of the special reagent.
For the first time in the history of World of Warcraft, everybody has access to mining and herbalism without actually having these professions, albeit they are primary ones.
It seems that Blizzard decided to not only ditch the combat benefits of crafting professions, but scrap any utility of the secondary ones altogether.
The Garrison is a fun place to spend time in nonetheless. There is a variety of buildings you can construct in yours, but you cannot have all of them at the same time. It’s always a challenge to make the right decision whether you need one, or another.
Challenge Modes were introduced back in Mists of Pandaria as a form of extra PvE content. I am not going to go into details about how they play out, but just describe right off the bat my experience with them in Warlords of Draenor.
Well, I am not the biggest fan of challenge modes, but a fan of PvE content nonetheless, which makes them very enjoyable for me. Blizzard has built up on what they’ve created with Mists of Pandaria in terms of challenge modes. The Draenor ones are mechanic-wise more complex, probably twice as difficult and require more coordination.
I would say, it’s the perfect test for any applicant to a raiding guild.
This chapter is the reason why the review is late. I have waited for the day to be able to step into Highmaul, the entry level raid of Warlords of Draenor. Since it has only been released on 3rd of December, I had to take myself a few raids to get an idea, although I cannot have the full picture until mid January, when the Blackrock Foundry is released.
While Blackrock Foundry will be the backbone of the 17th Raiding Tier (first raiding tier of WoD), Highmaul is not a bad start. Located in Nagrand, Highmaul is an ogre-themed small raid with 7 bosses and very well designed fights. Not only that, but the difficulty ramp up feels just perfect.
Blizzard has rearly failed at creating raids, and their 10 year old experience is reflected in Highmaul. It’s not a pinnacle though. I wouldn’t rate this one as the best raid ever made, but it’s definitely a bone to chew on, until further notice.
Warlords of Draenor has managed to double the number of active subscribers, bringing it up from historic low, to 10 million. Although the launch was very messy, Blizzard did a fair job at making the game playable in a matter of days.
The content is rich, the leveling experience is refined and the story is reminiscent of the glory days of Warcraft, and this will keep me logging in every day a good while from now on.
World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor: EXCELLENT (shite, cash grab, mediocre, good, excellent).