For those of you out of the loop, there was a great disruption in the Force. It was almost as if 20,000 gamers cried out in awe and were silenced. Now, I may just be conjecturing, since a lot of stuff happened last weekend, but if you ask this guy, that awkward silence was the announcement by Blizzard Entertainment of the next in expansion in World of Warcraft at the titular conference, Blizzcon.
The criminal? A little thing we’re calling Warlords of Draenor. Curious? Here’s the promotional video:
For those of you that don’t know, or have been lucky enough to escape the wonderful waste of time that is World of Warcraft, every few years Blizzard releases a new expansion to their groundbreaking and genre-defining game. Some to a ton of fanfair, like Catalcysm or Wrath of the Lich King, two of their more popular expansions, and their sleeper hit, Mists of Pandaria.
There are certain things that have become common to Warcraft expansions, namely, a new race or two, new character classes, new leveling content usually in the form of a new continent, an increase of the level cap, and usually a ton of other bells and whistles. In Mists of Pandaraia, with a promotional video you can see below, came with a new race, Pandas (I’m not kidding), new class in the form of the Monk, a new continent that was a hodgepodge mix of Asian cultures ranging from Japan to China to Vietnam, a pet capture system a la Pokemon, your own personal farm, and tons of other awesome bells and whistles.
What does Warlords of Draenor have?
New character models.
Sure that’s not just it, but that kind of essentializes my reaction to the next expansion. New character models have been something Blizzard has been working on for years and to roll it out as a mind blowing new feature in a premium expansion is something that really disappointed me. Now, I might just be disappointed by how awesome Mists of Pandaria was, I mean, I got to be a Pokemon catching Panda with a drinking problem. Now that’s how you do an expansion. Regardless, take out of the lens of how great some of the previous expansions were, let’s take a look at some of the new features in Warlords of Draenor.
New Continent: Draenor
The new expansion brings with it a new old content and a rather complex storyline to make sense of it. The new continent is one of the old continents, but in the past. Seems the villain from the previous expansion, Garrosh Hellscream, a badass Orc in his own right, has escaped from prison and fled back in time to his homeland, and seriously messed with the timeline. Now its filled with a bunch of really, really angry Orcs, intent on invading the old world of Azeroth, where all of the other races live.
The content actually does look really cool, as your visiting the pristine origins of a world you once visited in ruins. Where there was once blasted wasteland is now fertile swamp and peaceful meadows, where there was once nightmarish mountains are industrial strongholds. I have to say, I am a bit interested.
New Garrison System
At long last, housing comes to Warcraft! This is actually pretty cool. From the documentation and the after reporting from Blizzcon, it seems like you, friends in a party with you, and in game friends will be able to visit an instanced town that has multiple functions across a lot of the in game professions. Like the farm from Mists of Pandaria, it does seem like something it would take a casual player like me months to develop, so it’s up in the air whether that is really a big seller of the expansion.
While you build your town, you’ll acquire a number of followers along the way. In WoD, followers will be act essentially like sims, and will have multiple levels of rarity, not unlike the current in game item based rarity systems.
Assorted Bells and Whistles
There are a large a number of assorted elements that care assumed part and parcel of a Warcraft expansions. New dungeons, new raids, enhanced profession craft, with this expansion bringing the new character models and a new feature that gives you an instant level 90, so you can start exploring the new game content.
This last feature is pretty important from a business perspective, as the WoW enterprise, with the addition of Warlords of Draenor, is now 5 expansions deep, with over 85 levels, 5 contintents, 70 zones, and nearly 10 years of gameplay to play through to get to this new content. This is new for Warlords, and is actually a bit of a selling point for me.
Lastly, one thing to note about this expansion, as has been discussed by many blogger, forum users, and game fans is the feel of the expansion. It feels less like a proper expansion, and more like a small content update. This feel belies what seems to be really going on, which is Blizzard seems to be battening down the hatches and doing a full backend update along with this expansion. The Warcraft game system is several generations of web technology owes, and the seems are seriously starting to show. One of the reasons given to the new character models is that the old character models no longer reflect the quality the game has been come to be known for.
Regardless, I’ll buy the game. Regardless, I’ll play it. Regardless, I’ll probably even like it. Blizzard makes a really good product, and for the small cost of the monthly fee, it’s definitely not something I’m going to be giving up anytime soon. So here’s to you Blizzard, and the Warlords of Draenor. I’ll see you on the next expansion.
I mean, what else are you supposed to do with a level 90 Panda?