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World Of Warcraft: Warlords Of Draenor
September 1, 2014 | Ted Bade

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Barracks Completed
The alternate universe of this new Draenor is beautifully rendered. I have included a number of screen shots which I hope show this effectively. But a lot of the improvements are more noticeable with the motion of the graphics then with the stills. The alternate universe Draenor is lush and green. Blizzard has created a very beautiful landscape for players to explore. I enjoyed the new scenery a lot.

Game play is still pretty much the same. At this time in the beta, there is a starting series of quest events that is designed to move your character to this new world. You start by battling the Iron Horde at the site of the new Dark Portal, then move to the alternative Draenor and help create an armed foothold there.

This series of quests serves to introduce you to the new stat changes, as well as your character to this new world. If you choose to jump a character instantly to level 90, this section also serves as a way to buff that character up to 90 with quest rewards adding those skills and abilities that they had yet to gain the normal way. The quests also drop gear that a level 90 character should have. Not superb stuff, but things that are better then what you had before reaching level 90. Some of the gear is also good for moderately geared level 90s as well. My well geared Hunter dumped all of this stuff, but a few items might have been useful to some of my Alts. Once you finish the beginning sequence, you move to the new Draenor and begin working on your garrison.

You have probably heard about the new Garrison concept. Here is my impression of what is going on with them. Mind you, I didn’t get very deep into leveling my character at this point in time, but I have some early impressions. To start, the garrison is a special place that only you can go. (Very much like the Farm in Halfhill, for those of you familiar with this aspect of the Pandaria expansion). It becomes a major homebase for your character.

After you, and an elite group of people from our world (which will obviously include every other player who does the upgrade), finish the opening sequences, you are now considered an “elite” commander and need to create a garrison to house your troops in Draenor. Obviously, a garrison needs resources, so you do a number of quests that are designed to gather the basic resources to start the garrison. Once you gather enough resources, you are introduced to building your first structure, barracks for the troops. Yeah, it’s a tutorial, but it’s fun, and you learn that you can gather resources in a variety of different ways. You learn to use the construction table to choose and place your new buildings. The “trick” is to gather the resources you need as well as to find, purchase, or be rewarded with the plans necessary to build a particular building.

Your garrison becomes an alternative home base for you. It has a flight point, an Inn, a command center, and various profession and other vendors, and all the stuff of a small town. You get a special hearthstone that brings you back to your garrison. This is in addition to the normal one you can set to whatever place makes the most sense for what you are doing. You’ll need to get back to your garrison on occasion, to continue the building process as well as to turn in certain quests.

Another method of gaining resources for yourself and your garrison revolves around finding certain NPCs that work for you. What is pretty cool about these followers is that when they are sent out on a mission they go off and do it without your help, beyond selecting a follower and sending them on their way. If they succeed, you get the rewards for completing the mission. This usually includes both resources for your garrison and some item for you. The gaming skill required here is to look at what the mission is about and determine which of your followers is best suited to succeed at completing the mission. Obviously, early on, with only one follower, there isn’t much choice. But there are a number of followers to gain, which you can see listed in the follower window (they remain “greyed out” until you gain them).

As you gain resources and plans for the garrison, you can build other buildings. When you look at the construction table, there are many spots and descriptions for a variety of useful buildings. There are three types of buildings: small, medium, and large. Large includes barracks or stables. Medium includes a barn and a trade post. Finally, small includes places to work on various professions like tailor emporium or a gem boutique. Each of these buildings cost resources to build and require finding a set of plans for the building. Once created, they can be used for their function. For instance, the trading post appears to provide access to an auction house for selling garrison resources, while you can capture and raise animals for leather crafting in the barn. Essentially, as you build your garrison, aspects of it create things for you. If you completed the Pandarian cooking quests and then trained Nomi, you found that he would cook up some useful food for you daily. Additionally, if you developed your farm in Halfhill, you might have learned to grow components needed for your professions. The garrison skills are like that, but provide a lot more.

Of course, with every expansion there are many new quests to follow, zones to explore, and factions to gain reputation with. Warlords has a lot of these. After the transfer, you start in Shadowmoon valley, but this Shadowmoon looks a lot different from that of the earlier expansion. First of all it is green, and there are no bubbling pits of acid and ichor! It is also populated with picturesque towns of the Draenei. As you would expect, there are lots of new quests, typical WoW fair.

Another important part of the Alliance world is Asran. Here you will find Stormshield, the major Alliance city/outpost for this expansion. (I didn’t play a Horde character, so I didn’t experience the equivalent Horde outpost). Stormshield includes a bank, profession trainers, Inn, and many other places of interest. Yes, there is a portal back to the old world as well. Move deeper into the isle of Asran and you will find the level 100 battlegrounds.

There are several new zones to visit, some with familiar names from the Outland parallel universe Draenor, and some new names. And of course, there are also new instances and raids. There is a lot of new stuff to spend your WoW time doing!

I also noticed a lot of NPC chatter that was interesting. The banter they have seems a bit more realistic then previous releases. It is a bit weird that the character you play is considered a special hero. So you will be greeted by name by any number of your faction NPCs as you travel the lands.

My overall impression of this expansion is that, while it can be considered more of the same, it offers a lot of new territory to explore and places to visit. The garrison aspect promises to be a lot of fun, and very useful to players who really want to expand their characters. Since this is a beta and Blizzard is pretty good about feedback from players, I expect the final release version won‘t have some of the things I experienced, but will maintain all the really good stuff. I am looking forward to Warlords of Draenor as I expect many other dedicated players are.

World Of Warcraft: Warlords Of Draenor


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