I originally started playing World of Warcraft back in late 2006, a few months before the release of the game’s first expansion. From when I started and playing and to when I thought I was done with the game, I always felt that it was one of the best online experiences a gamer could have. I admit that I didn’t play the game nearly as much as I used to during the game’s latest two expansions, but I have a feeling that could change with my excitement for the latest expansion. In light of the recent announcement, I thought I’d touch on a few highlights.
Last week at Blizzard’s yearly convention, Blizzcon, the next World of Warcraft expansion was unveiled – the fifth in the game’s history. Warlords of Draenor brings players back to continent of Draenor, or Outland as its currently known, which was originally visited during the game’s first expansion, The Burning Crusade. Unlike previous expansions, Warlords of Draenor takes place in the past on a different timeline to what’s currently happening in the world.
Story wise, former Horde Warchief, Garrosh Hellscream, has escaped imprisonment with the help of a new friend who can bend time. With his help, Garrosh goes back in time to enlist the old Horde into his new Iron Horde before they have the chance to succumb to the will of the Burning Legion. With his new Iron Horde, Garrosh intends to conquer the present world of Azeroth. However, both the Alliance and Horde follow him back through time to put a stop to his plans.
The expansion is set to add plenty of new content upon release, although the addition of a new playable race or class appears to be absent from this expansion. In previous expansions, Blizzard has either introduced a new race of class, or both in the case of the game’s most recent expansion. However, with 13 playable races and 11 classes, it doesn’t seem like something that will be missed too much.
One of the most exciting parts of this expansion will be exploring the new continent of Draenor. The expansion is set to launch with seven zones with an additional eighth, Netherstorm, to be added in a future patch. It’s worth mentioning that even though Draenor is Outland, Blizzard rebuilt the new continent from scratch rather than editing the already existing Outland and giving it a new theme. Based on a short comparison video of the continents, it’s easy to mistaken the two for completely different worlds.
Players who are fans of the older Warcraft RTS titles may recognize some familiar characters returning with the expansion’s release. Many of the revealed characters were originally introduced in Warcraft 2, and more will likely be released in future patches. This character reintroduction may be Blizzard’s way of making the expansion more appealing to fans of the classics.
World of Warcraft has had the same player character models since its launch in 2004. These models have served the game well for the better part of a decade, but nothing lasts forever. Blizzard has announced plans to update the eight original player character models as well as the additional two released in Burning Crusade. So far, Blizzard has released previews of the new Dwarf, Gnome, and Orc models.
Unlike the Cataclysm and Mists of Pandaria expansions, Warlords of Draenor increases the game’s level cap by an additional 10 levels. The last two expansions dropped the level cap increase into increments of 5 per release, as opposed to the traditional 10 originally set with the releases of the Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King expansions. Leveling up has always been one of the most rewarding features of the game, and community feedback has been mostly positive in regards to the increase back to 10 levels.
Garrisons are personal fortresses which players can customize with layout, appearance, upgrades, and gameplay effects. Players can invite their friends over to their Garrison to check it out or trade resources. The main Garrison feature is followers which players can assign to complete tasks and missions. Garrisons are located in a non-instanced area, meaning players can see their base in the distance as they travel the continent.
Blizzard has yet to set a release date for Warlords of Draenor. Until then, I anxiously await the announcement of the expansion’s beta test.
More information can be found on Blizzard’s website: http://us.battle.net/wow/en/warlords-of-draenor/
Will Friesen is a recent graduate of the VFS Game Design Program