By Jason Parker (Ragachak)
There have been a ton of mixed reactions to the Warlords of Draenor; I watched someone have an 1100 hour wait just to log into the game at peak hours. Personally, I did not have quite that problem, but I logged in at 4am to begin gathering my thoughts on this expansion for my article. Granted, later in the day I did have about a forty five minute wait on Bloodscalp, but that’s minor compared to other people. There have been talks about DDoSing the servers, to simply having tons of players come back to witness the new expansion to see what they like and do not like. In general it seems Blizzard underestimated the excitement and rush this expansion would bring back to the game, likely due to the millions of players that left during Cataclysm and Mists of Pandaria. So of course there were first day problems; that’s to be expected of any major title launched these days. Take a look at the fiasco that Assassin’s Creed: Unity endured. It’s still sorting itself out as of this writing.
However, I’m still very positive for this expansion, fan of the game aside and everything. Consider this before you complain about bugs on opening day: No matter how hard you work and no matter how much testing is done, there’s always going to be something that happens that didn’t happen in the Alpha or Beta. There will always be some jerk who finds a way to break or change the system, or simply a hacker group that is “upset” about the state of the game. DDoSing is going to happen as well. It happens to Riot (League of Legends) servers every couple of months or so it seems. They are working on stabilizing it, and the speed and quality of support a developer offers post-launch is the real way the expansion should be judged. As soon as game crippling bugs were found, they set out to fix. It did seem that the Horde (at least on Bloodscalp) experienced far more bugs than the Alliance did. This is not to say “Blizzard hates the Horde,” it’s more a statement of fact. I am looking forward to more of the expansion even after a marathon of playing this week.
To PVP Or Not To PVP
While I was a little disappointed with no new Battlegrounds available on day one, it’s not all bad. December 2nd starts the new PVP season for arenas/rated battlegrounds, and that promises to be a whole bunch of fun. Plus, there is an entire zone dedicated to PVP in Ashran; I feel that Blizzard learned their lesson from Wintergrasp’s limited timed offering and the like. It is a level 100 ‘end-game” PVP area, a long overdue concept finally arriving in WoW. It is roughly 100 on 100, and has a Horde capital and an Alliance capital. Another fantastic thing about this is when it releases it too will be cross-realm, so you will not have to fear seeing the exact same players everytime. It will likely feel like an instanced area and should take place in a series of miniature battles, like the scenarios, with a pause between for sides to recoup and regroup. There is no end, and I love this; it is virtually non-stop PVP action!
They have also made PVP gear a bit easier to obtain with the “coin” system similar to the Celestial Bosses on Timeless Isle. Anytime you see a new or interesting mechanic like that, it is likely a test for later content. PVP will be easier to get into in this expansion, but it is not this player’s opinion that it will be “made” easier, simply that it is an effort to get more people PVPing and geared for it than before. Not quite to the level of Vanilla, when all of the rank restrictions were taken off PVP gear and suddenly anyone could have High Warlord/etc gear without any real work put in. It’s a delicate balance, but I do feel like Blizzard may have finally found it.
There is also the upcoming temporary 100 on 100 Tarren Mill battleground to celebrate the 10th year of World of Warcraft! From the many times I fought there in Vanilla/BC, I cannot adequately express my excitement for this.
LFG, Iron Docks, PST
The community as a whole has been positive in their reception of the expansion. While there is the unpleasable mass that instantly becomes bored upon their n+ return to WoW, most dedicated players seem to love the Garrison, which allows players to build their own fortress-town, with what buildings they feel like they need on that character. It is a fantastic way to gather resources on one’s own time without having to battle and struggle for hours on end without success. Now, it is not an overnight endeavor; it takes a lot of time and effort to really get the most out of your garrison, with level, resource and other requirements on building upgrades. The system is a great improvement over the Tillers of Pandaria since you can set up pretty much anything you need without having to go miles to fetch it.
So far the story has been terrific! I know, Time Travel stories are generally bullshit. But that aside, I am appreciating the character interaction and how the zones are set up. The “Bonus Objectives” are a huge source of XP and also tell a story to boot; you would be wise to pay close attention to these, as they will help you level faster. There are a lot of things left to chance however; followers for your Garrison, and quest/loot rewards have a chance to upgrade on their own, having a higher rarity/item level. While I love this idea, I’m not known for being very lucky and as such, it shows with my followers. Though I have seen people get epic followers on their first try, and I have seen Rare (Blue) rewards go to Epic (Purple) with my Paladin. Drops like this will surely be a godsend when leveling secondary characters.
Stay Awhile, And Listen: Still Hyped!
There will always be detractors to anyone’s success; but despite the DDoS and huge queue times, people aren’t quitting. Quite the contrary, fans are still lining up to get into the servers and enjoy this new expansion. There are always positives and negatives though. One of the big ones on PVP servers, are the main/starter zones for the Horde and Alliance are quite far away, and so starting off does not equal instant death on unbalanced sided servers. Once players get to Gorgrond (around 92-3), they will start to see other faction players. My experience comes from the PVP server Bloodscalp where roaming gank squads were a rare sight. In fact, Alliance players were helping Horde players kill rare enemies due to the change in target faction tagging to reserve loot and kill rewards. Named quest enemies and rare enemies can be tagged by one but credit given by many, which is a fantastic idea.
However, the wait times on some of these enemies were horrendous; I spent half hour waiting on one enemy to spawn with at least twenty other players. Blizzard has been very hard at work though, correcting errors when they occur. So at least they are paying attention and taking a very reactionary approach. I feel that anyone who is on the fence about the expansion should give it a whirl. There is so much to see and do! Your average (or even above average) player is not going to hit 100 overnight. And the people that try to glitch or cheat their way always get punished (Such as the person who was using Turtle Meat on Timeless Isle to try and hit 100 in a matter of hours). Plus it looks gorgeous; I’m very content, and despite setbacks, wait times, and other assorted issues, all around it has been a positive experience.