If you play World of Warcraft®, or are friends on social media with someone that does, you no doubt know by now that Blizzard Entertainment released Warlords of Draenor™, its latest expansion for the game, on November 13. You are also probably aware that the launch of the game was less than smooth. There have been major server stability issues, substantially long queues to log into the game, disconnects, content bugs, and to top it all off the servers in America fell victim to a Directed Denial of Service attack. There was much weeping and gnashing of teeth on social media, YouTube, and Blizzard’s own forums about it and the accusations flew at Blizzard about having had ten years and four previous expansions to have known better than to not be prepared for such an enormous demand of the infrastructure on launch day. By Friday, all seemed to be stabilizing for the most part (at least, for me it was – I only experienced a short queue on Thursday night). Sure, I was disappointed that I really didn’t get to play on Friday as planned, but hey, it’s just a fucking game people. Yes, I took the day off too, but to be fair, I would have anyway because it was the day after my birthday and I wanted a three day weekend regardless of if a game expansion was coming out or not. Launch day stability aside, so far I like what Blizzard has done with this latest expansion to WoW.
Let’s start with something simple – updated character models. Characters in WoW have long been referred to as “toons” because of their cartoonish appearance. Blizzard decided, after ten years since the game’s original release, to finally update the character models and graphics. Below are screen caps of my main toon, Uhnk, an Orc Rogue. The shot on the left is how he appeared at level 90* before patch 6.0.1 was released and on the right is the updated version. Sure, it still looks cartoonish, but it’s still a much cleaner, sharper look than it was before.
Uhnk: Orc Rogue – Before and after Patch 6.0.1
Garrisons – A new feature in WoD is that each character now gets their own Garrison, which can be leveled up, have new buildings built and upgraded, and attract followers. Some folks (going by the in game chat channels) seem to feel like Blizzard is trying to capitalize on the popularity of various social media games, like Farmville, by including a similar element within WoW. Maybe; but I tend to look at it as going back to their roots with the original Warcraft: Orcs & Humans where you had to gather materials and build a garrison, and then defend said garrison. As a solo gamer these days who doesn’t play often enough to really get into the end game raiding, having a game within the game like building up a Garrison is kind of fun for me. I like having to recruit followers and send them out on missions. At least, I like it so far – we’ll see how that progresses (apparently some of the twenty followers available can only be found by participating in dungeons and raids).
Back to the Ground Pound – There is some debate amongst those that play WoW as to if flying mounts are good or bad for the game. For me, it made questing faster because I could fly past all the trash mobs and go straight to the objective, but I can see where that cheapens the experience a bit. In WoD, there is no flying on Draenor, except for the taxi flights between set points on the map. Sure, I kind of miss flying, but I’m definitely getting lots of use out of my Warlord’s Deathwheel these days.
So far, I’ve only gained a couple of levels and gotten two of my characters through the opening quest chain. So far I’m enjoying the new expansion, despite the technical glitches.
* Actually, that may have been taken when he was level 82, but the model remained the same until patch 6.0.1 came out.