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

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Pretty Pretty
Blizzard Entertainment has announced that they will be releasing the next expansion of their very popular World of Warcraft MMORPG on November 11 of 2014. This expansion is called the Warlords of Draenor. I was lucky enough to be invited to participate in the early beta testing of the new expansion, so I’ve had an opportunity to get a peek at some of the new material, experience the changes in stats, and view the improved graphics. It looks like an interesting expansion, with many interesting things for players to do.

My preview is designed for the more casual World of Warcraft player. I hope to share some of the interesting aspects of this new expansion. I am certain the expert players, if they weren’t actually invited into the beta themselves, have probably researched the expansion as much or more then I have! (But then, that is why they are experts on the game, LOL!)

You can read all the Blizzard provided details on the story associated with this expansion by visiting this link. In short, Garrosh Hellscream manages to travel back in time to prevent the Old Iron Horde Orcs from falling, an event that lead his sire to ruin. When the Iron Horde fell to the Fel demons it also led to the destruction of the world of Draenor, as we experienced in the earlier Outland expansion of WoW. Changing these events creates an alternate Draenor world where the evil magic of the Fel Blood Curse that had enslaved the Iron Horde and shattered Draenor never occurs. However, this old evil is now replaced with the Iron Horde conquering the lands there. Once they conquered Draenor, they create a new Dark Portal and set their sights on conquering the world of the present day. And so, the forces of this world need to battle with and stop this new powerful Iron Horde. (Watch Blizzard’s preview of the expansion, to see this take place).

The programming wizards at Blizzard have done a lot of work to enhance and expand the World of Warcraft machine. Everything they have done was done because they believe it enhances the players gaming experience. Although some of it probably also makes their work easier as well. ☺

First of all the bad (?) news. Yeah, Blizzard has once again munched and crunched player stats. There are several reasons why these changes were made. You can read over the patch notes if you want a lot of detail. Here are a few of the changes that players will encounter.

First, player and monster hit points have sky rocketed in the past as their levels went up. Just to make things easier, Blizzard decided to squash these numbers. However, the squash is equal over both the player and the monster characters. So monsters will stay challenging without needing to do tremendous amounts of damage and so forth. I am not sure if the system has been completed yet, but a character I copied to the beta server had 586,000 HP in the old game at level 90. In the beta, having achieved level 91, he now has 78,302. Just don’t be surprised by this change. The character I copied was very well geared for PVE, and has been having only as much difficulty as I expect that one well geared for level 90 should have. Along with this, both monster and character DPS are reduced. Which also implies that healer HP recovery will also be reduced. But overall, Blizzard assures us that percentage-wise, everything is really the same.

Another aspect of stat changes is the removal of class specific stats. For instance, spell haste versus melee haste. If a piece of gear had spell haste (or melee haste), it will now simply have haste. The good part of this is that this haste will benefit any character using it, melee or spell oriented. This makes gear more universal, so that when something drops, the haste (or whatever) stat will be useful for both spell casters and for melee players. Apparently, the only secondary stats that will be left will be specifically for Tanks and Healers.

Blizzard has put a lot of work into making the raids more accessible to their more casual players. In the last expansion we saw the creation of the LFR (Looking For Raid) search tool, as well as an epic gear quest string associated with doing raids. Doing this moved raids from the sole domain of the very dedicated players and power guilds. Hopefully, most current players have done one or more raids to help their character “gear up” for the next expansion.

Raids depend heavily upon players willing to take the very important roles of Tank and Healer. In this expansion, there will be some improvements for these two classes. For instance, there will be an improved mana regeneration for healers. Also, low end healing spells (those gained and used at lower levels) will be removed and replaced by one spell that improves as the character levels. This actually makes some sense. Playing one of my healer Alts, I sometimes hit a lower level healing spell and am surprised that someone didn't asked me why I had even bothered!

Finally, certain racial special effects will be changed. Those racial traits that have little or no effect will be removed, while traits that give a particular race the best advantage for a particular skill or type of battle will be reduced or even removed. Some traits are removed but combined with similar traits to give a general boost, rather then a specific boost. Again, for specific details, check out Blizzard’s update patch notes.

There are several other changes as well. I didn’t find playing all that much different. As always, I spent a little time looking for lost abilities, but found that I adjusted quickly to the changes. In effect, battles are similar, since the minor things have disappeared. However, it is the nature of people to dislike changes, until they adjust. We shall see how other members react when the game is released.

Certainly one of the more promoted changes in the new expansion is the improvement in graphics. Having played a number of hours in the beta, I can say I am generally pleased with the improvements. They aren’t radical, like, “Oh My God!!! This is phenomenal!!” But more like, everything looks sharper and clearer. Having copied a character from the “real” world to the beta, I could quickly change from the old version to the new, making it very apparent how much more detail and sharpness there is in the new version.

The first thing you’ll probably notice is that when you mouse over any character, NPC, or creature, they now have an aura which is colored green, yellow, or red, depending upon your agro relationship with them. Which means you don’t have to click on them to figure this out. (My hunter has been known to have a trigger finger, and clicking on something to get this relationship sometimes causes an accidental attack, ☺). There are a lot of subtle changes to the shape and form of the player characters. Words really fail to detail the changes. If you are truly interested, there are many video based reviews available on the internet.


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