Alliance, balanced, Blizzard, building, Burning Crusade, classes, community, Draenor, Expansion, game, Gameplay, garrison, Horde, Lore, Massively Multiplayer, Mists of Pandaria, MMO, online, Review, story, subscription, Warlords of Draenor, WoD, World of Warcraft, WoW, Wrath of the Lich King
World of Warcraft (WoW) has provided consistent content over the last 10 years. Each time an expansion’s come out, it has brought both new players, and veterans to come and try the new game-play. When WoW originally came out it was both breathtaking and amazing, as the MMO community had never received a game this well (unless you count EVE online). At its peak there were 12 million current-players online, however since Mists of Pandaria that number dropped quite drastically. Over the last 3 years, that number has dropped to 7 million players, however when Warlords of Draenor was announced, players have flocked back to the game due to all the bonuses provided from the new expansion. I admit that I played WoW for 4 years between 2006 – 2010, and when MoP was announced I decided it was time to stop fighting for the Alliance and move back into the real world. But when Blizzard announced that they would offer a free level 90 boost + bonuses when pre-ordering Warlords, it piqued my interest. The original concept of having to begin another long grind to earn new mounts, more gear and get back to the highest level was both a promising and depressing one, however with the increased graphics and more detail into the Burning Crusade’s lore expansion.
Now I have to admit if Blizzard hadn’t offered a free level 90 boost I think I would have been rather reluctant to continue playing. I looked through game-play, reviews and information about Pandaria and compared to that of WotLK (Wrath of the Lich King) I felt very tentative to play it and therefore it was the reason that my account became inactive (the same was felt with 5 million other players). I did wonder if this was a cashgrab from Blizzard, they’ve already made so much money from the game, so why would they stop making content from their 10 year successful MMO. It still has its monthly subscription (which is now getting even slightly more expensive) and there are so many other high quality MMO’s which have set such a high bar for game-play and graphics, such as Guild Wars 2 (which met an unfortunate end after such as short time). However if you wanted you could go back whenever you want and not feel the pressure of paying £9 a month. But once I started up my old account and got back into the rhythm of things there was a huge feeling of nostalgia, when wandering around Stormwind and flying through temples around Pandaria, I couldn’t help but marvel at the world that I had missed. So I prepared for WoD!
On release night I have to say, I wasn’t impressed. The servers went haywire which should have been both expected by Blizzard and sorted just as quickly. But this wasn’t the case. They were slow to react and they were constantly running updates to try and resort everything, occasionally closing all servers and stopping the game altogether. So instead, naturally, I went off to play something else.
However now that all the servers have been fixed everything has been enjoyable since then. The game has been everything I expected and more. The graphics and character models included in Draenor have been wonderful to behold and makes the game feel so much more up to date, as opposed to looking like a game which should have stayed in 2004.
The combat and mechanics have become a lot more smoother, with some spells/powers being removed or implemented into others. This makes life so much easier when playing as it stops your whole monitor being swarmed by different spells and buttons and forcing you to be staring at the bottom of the screen instead of the action happening above (unless you’ve filled it to the brim with addons).
The garrison addition was a really neat idea too, personally I love the idea of designing my own fort and making it look perfect and suit all of my needs, and since every character you have gets their own garrison it allows you to make lots of gold in a short period of time while keeping the building entertaining.
Then there’s the storyline. World of Warcraft doesn’t have the most detailed lore, nor the best, but to those growing up with the game it’s always been important to understand what’s actually happening and what they’re fighting for. Originally it was very simply the Alliance versus the Horde, but since vanilla it has become so much more complex, with each expansion bringing new information and detail to the growing world(s). Personally I believe that no game should be rushed, you need to take your time and enjoy the story of any game instead of rushing through it, though I am guilty of grabbing quests, clicking accept and doing them without thinking. So far I have found an issue within WoD to have very linear quests which are rather simplistic and dull. This was expected as after 10 years, vanilla and 4 previous expansions, that they would eventually run out of major quest ideas which don’t take up too much time, but keep the interest of the player. I usually find levelling through dungeons to be a lot more enjoyable than running back and forth to talk to an NPC, yet the graphics allow you to enjoy the atmosphere of the game as everything is now surprisingly beautiful, while making the game feel fresher.
Warlords of Draenor is the expansion that WoW has been waiting for. It has managed to bring back a new feel to the game, and easily allows both new, old and returning players to easily grasp the concept of the game and begin getting back into the flow of things. The new graphics have brought the game up to date within the new world of Draenor, however I wish the same could be said for the rest of the games world which still looks like it could be improved. The combat is enjoyable and still provides balanced, fun, game-play to many play styles. I am most impressed by the character models which look incredible and put the old ones to shame. While the expansion is detailed and provides great back-story and some fantastic cut scenes, to some players it feels short, whereas others enjoy taking their time as opposed to rushing through it. The launch had a huge amount of problems and I would recommend that players give the game a week or 2 to let everything get sorted out to enjoy the full extent of the game.