Unless you’ve been living under a rock without a wi-fi signal for the past few days (or you’ve been intentionally avoiding it), you’ve most likely heard the big news to come out of Blizzcon regarding the future of WoW: Warlords of Draenor. I wasn’t terribly surprised that they picked that title; as you well know, it was copyrighted shortly before Blizzcon, and many (including me) predicted it’d be the title to the next expansion. I was surprised that, as far as we know of the story so far, it won’t be a predominantly Burning Legion-centric narrative. In short, we’ll be sent into the past (about 30 years or so), except it’s an ‘alternate’ timeline of sorts; Garrosh has escaped justice, and goes back in time to stop the orcs from drinking the blood of Mannoroth and becoming corrupted. Sounds good, except that he has intentions to unite the orc clans under his banner (known as the Iron Horde) to invade Azeroth, which of course Is Kind of a Bad Thing. Not to say it won’t involve the Burning Legion at some point since it was them that corrupted the orcs in the first place, but the primary narrative will surround an orcs versus draenei conflict, back when Draenor was still a proper planet, unspoiled by the effects of Ner’zhul’s dark magics.
I won’t go on and on about all the features they debuted at Blizzcon. A much better source for that would be wowhead, that has the best Cliff Notes version of the 411 surrounding Warlords of Draenor (http://www.wowhead.com/wod). In my very humble opinion, there’s nothing they showed that would make me say ewww icky, I won’t buy it/play it. There’s going to be some major changes in terms of raiding and such, but since I don’t do that outside of LFR, my own experience will be relatively unaffected by it. Instead, I figured I’d talk about the things I’m personally looking forward to, or intrigued by (with the usual caveat that any of this stuff can change at any time before WoD goes live–remember Path of the Titans?)
(And bullet format is much easier, so bear with me, plz and thank.)
*The free level 90 toon boost: basically when you buy WoD, you get 1 character to automatically boost to 90. It can be a level 85, level 30, even level 1. For me personally, I don’t think I’ll take advantage of this feature, unless I was really desperately struggling with a toon. I like having toons to level, it gives me something to do besides end-game content (which sometimes bores me to tears), and I like being able to get acquainted with my classes whilst leveling (even if I end up sucking at them at max level). That said, who knows, never say never right? And it’s not mandatory, and if other people do it, it doesn’t affect me, so I’m meh on it. As a game mechanic though, it’s very intriguing (though not particularly new in the MMO world), and kinda smart of Blizzard to offer: they know many players want to get to max level so they can do things with their friends, and making this easier (along with RAF) pleases that part of the player base.
*Level 100 talents (I’ll only be talking about mage ones here, for obvious reasons XD):
40 yd range, Instant.
Conjures a focusing crystal at the target location, which is attackable by only the mage. The crystal will absorb the power of all damage dealt to it. After 10 sec, it will release bursts of energy, dealing damage equal to 130% of the damage it took, split between all enemies within 8 yds, over 6 sec.
This one interests me, because seven hells, it’s never something I’ve done before. Attack something OTHER than my primary target, in order to inflict damage on said primary target, and I’m the only one hitting it? That’ll take some getting used to, because my mindset is pretty much HIT ALL THE THINGS but if it’s only me attacking the thing, I might panic and think I’m doing something wrong (it’s a reflexive action on my part). A cool concept though, and I’m very interested to see how it’ll factor into max level DPS rotations for all three specs (if it does).
Arcane Orb (Arcane) Instant, 15 sec cooldown. Launches an Arcane Orb forward from the mage’s position, traveling up to 40 yds, dealing 1000 Arcane damage to enemies it passes through. Grants the mage an Arcane Charge each time it deals damage.
Meteor (Fire) Instant, 40 yd range, 45 sec cooldown. Calls down a meteor which lands at the target location after 3 sec, dealing 10000 Fire damage, split evenly between all targets within 8 yds. Also burns the ground, dealing an additional 2000 Fire damage over 10 sec to enemies within the area.
Comet Storm (Frost) Instant, 40 yd range, 30 sec cooldown. Calls down a series of 7 icy comets on and around the target, each of which does 2000 damage, split between all enemies within 5 yds of its impact point.
These sound pretty decent too. Arcane Orb is very similar to Frost Orb, so that’s easy enough for me to picture as a decent addition to the arcane rotation. Meteor and Comet Storm (more Comet Storm since I’m frost, but that’s subject to change) as an AOE spell is always welcome for me as a mage, because I feel I shine the brightest when I get to pewpew lots of things at once, and everyone loves me for it.
*Garrisons: These are going to be HUGE, just going by initial player reactions. It’s one of the biggest things I see people talking about, as Blizzard’s nod to player housing (which, many WoW players have been bugging Blizzard about since forever). Player housing itself wasn’t something I was terribly concerned with, but after dealing with my farm in MoP, and having ‘my own space’ in Azeroth, I think it’s a really neat idea, especially considering how functional it’s going to end up being. You’ll be able to use it to gather resources and loot and help with professions (which were in dire need of a makeover), and you’ll be able to not only micromanage and upgrade your buildings, but your ‘followers’ as well. Your friends can even come see and visit your garrison (as long as you’re partied up), and I can see it becoming quite popular if it makes it live. It’s obvious Blizzard wants to push the social and community aspect of WoD by making your garrison open to friends, and to me, that can only be a good thing :D
*New character models: This was one of the BIGGEST things for me from Blizzcon. I’ve been waiting desperately for news about this project, and it feels like Blizzard has been working on it for a million years (which is understandable somewhat, it’s not a small undertaking by any means). When I play games like Rift or Guild Wars I always end up becoming insanely jealous of their character models versus WoW; not that WoW’s graphics are ‘bad’ per se, and WoW has its own style apart from other games and I would never want them to get rid of the style I’ve grown to love over the years. But it is a bit…dated, I guess?
That said, oh my gods. The developers gave us some teasers of what they’ve done so far, and it’s literally like night and day. The new models are much more detailed and expressive versus their older counterparts whilst maintaining the classic WoW style, and they’re still recognizable as the races we’ve been playing for years. All of them blew me away, but especially the dwarf and gnome women (go check them out at the link–DO ITTTT!). They say they’re about 25% done, and that seems about right; they can’t say whether they’ll be ready to go live at launch, or shortly thereafter, and it will most likely be a staggered release, but still. I will have to roll ALL THE RACES! when it happens, because they’re gorgeous!
(I guess my one question is, will these new models apply to our existing toons? Or only for toons created after the new models go live? I desperately hope Alyzabeth can get a bit of a makeover, urgh)
*Itemization: Guys! They’re getting rid of hit! And expertise!
I’m still kinda digesting that one, because hit has been a huge bane of my existence with my mage. I can’t do the deeps if I can’t hit shite, and that’s been the ONE stat I’ve had to keep my eye on for years of end-game content. They’re also scrapping reforging because it’s a PITA, and I agree–it sounds good as a concept, but it’s the biggest pain to get an upgrade, but then you’re thinking crap, I gotta reforge my junk AGAIN! All because my new upgrade dropped me 1% below my hit cap or whatever. It seems itemization is getting cut down quite a bit to make it a bit simpler and more streamlined, which I can’t complain about. Gear will change based on your spec, which, thanks the gods, finally; every hybrid player in existence cheered for joy when this was announced (I know my husband did, considering his struggles gearing a DPS/tank paladin). I’m not big on making things complicated just for the sake of being complex/difficult (and I imagine I’m not alone), so I think this could work out really well.
(Don’t expect me to get into the maths of these changes, because hahahaha, no, you don’t want that XD)
*Inventory & UI: Big stuff for me as well, because I never seem to have enough room for anything. Quest items not taking up inventory space? Me gusta. It’s something other MMOs have been doing for a while now, so it’s good to see Blizzard jump on that bandwagon. Your bags can also be allocated to hold certain items, like one for consumables, one for vendor items, etc–all things that separate addons have been doing for years, but functions Blizzard’s now adding to the default UI. Definitely can’t complain about that; I’ve scrapped using addon packages for a while and resorted to using the default UI, and it’s kinda nice getting back to basics. I also know how much time I’ve wasted trying to sort my bags, and wishing I could just put stuff automatically into separate bags without having to run third-party addons. Huzzah!
Heirlooms and vanity items are also getting their own UI set up (similar to mounts and pets) to free up space, which I like, considering how much of my bank space is currently clogged up with this stuff. It’s about time Blizzard made Heirlooms truly account bound; as it stands now, it’s only account bound on the same server and same faction (because you can’t post things cross-faction or cross-realm), and putting it into its own panel and making that accessible to ANY character on the account is awesome.
Our quest logs will also automatically break down quests–you’ll either have ‘main’ quests, and ‘side’ quests, which is something else other MMOs are doing (looking at you, Rift and Guild Wars!), so it gets a thumbs up from me :D
*This little tidbit I found under the Zones, Quests and Leveling section:
When completing quests, you’ll have a small chance to get a rare or epic reward instead of the expected one–this adds an element of surprise.
WHHHHHHHHHHAT? That’s kinda neat! It’s one of those things that I won’t get bent out of shape if I DON’T get a blue or puple, but if I do? I’ll be pleasantly surprised.
You also won’t be allowed to fly in Draenor until 6.1, but really…eh. That only starts to really bug me when I’m leveling my fifth alt or so through the content, so I can’t get terribly upset about it, especially considering there was a point in time when we couldn’t fly at all, so there’s that.
*Lore: WoW’s lore is one of the best features of the game for me, as a fan of the fantasy genre and as an aspiring writer (ahahahahaha yeah right). It’s one of those features I focus a lot on whenever a new expansion comes out, because for me it sets the tone and ‘feel’ of the content I’ll be consuming. I admit, I haven’t been super psyched about MoPs lore thus far–it’s okay, but it’s not my favorite, not when compared with the likes of Burning Crusade and Wrath (blood elves and zombies respectively). I’m excited to be able to see these mythic names in action: Durotan, Grom, Ner’zhul, Khadgar, and visit a part of Azeroth’s ‘recent’ past (albeit in alternate timeline form? O.o). I’ve always been curious as to what Draenor was like before it was torn asunder and became Outland; I’ve read the novels which were good, but it’s not the same as being able to see it in-game, as the developers envision it (and whether it matches up to my own vision I suppose).
I do have a beef though.
There’s a distinct lack of women, at least in terms of the main cast. All of the orc clans are led by men, you got Khadgar who’s awesome and my magey patronus, but there’s no major female characters that have been mentioned so far. There’s Y’rel, who sounds interesting enough, and I hope she works out and they write her well, but really. Blizzard straight up said WoD is a ‘boy’s trip’ which irks me, because it doesn’t NEED to be this way–they’re the ones in charge of the lore! Write some decent, well-rounded women. It’s really not difficult (protip: pretend women are people, with the same complexities and troubles and strengths and weaknesses as men). Aggra gets to stay home and take care of Thrall Jr instead of following her partner through the portal. I don’t even know if we’ll get a mention of Draka even though Durotan’s name has been dropped (and c’mon, of course they’ll throw in Thrall’s daddy! duh!). I really hope as they further develop the story, they can insert characters that aren’t automatically cismen and diversify the cast a bit, because there’s absolutely no reason it should be a boy’s trip. Urgh.
On a more selfish and personal note, I’m very curious as to the blood elf narrative in this expansion. Last we heard, the sin’dorei were quite disillusioned with the Horde under Garrosh’s leadership, and even though Lor’themar lent his support to Vol’jin as Warchief, there still has to be bitterness and anxiety on part of the blood elves. What position are they in going into this effort? How enthusiastic are they entering into this conflict, another one that they didn’t necessarily start, but have to participate in nonetheless? What about Dalaran, and the Sunreavers, and their conflict with Jaina, and the constant rebuilding efforts in Quel’Thalas…I’m eager to learn more, and how it affects my mage. (And on that note, weren’t the blood elves thinking about rejoining the Alliance because Garrosh was such a d-bag? Wouldn’t that be something! *cry*)
Oh, and Thrall is gonna smash things again. That’s good, I kinda miss my slightly aggressive (yet merciful) ex-Warchief :D
*PvP: Ashran will be the new PvP zone, and it’s been described as ‘Timeless Isle with PvP’. That’ll be interesting! I’ll most likely give it a go though, because it’s kinda open-ended world PvP with objectives, with an old-AV feel to it. Thing is, it’s also going to be cross-realm (because it’s near the Dark Portal) and there’s no limit to the players that can participate, so my computer may very well blow up in the process XD
I know this got extremely wordy, and if you read this far, good on you! Delicious mana buns to be had! And possibly a beverage of your choice, because that was a lot to get through and I normally try to keep it a bit more condensed, but I have Opinions and Ideas and Things I Want.
Everything seems really cool and interesting, and I’m eager to get my hands on WoD. Hopefully we won’t have to wait long, since Blizzard said there will be no 5.5–it’s straight to 6.0 and Warlords. I don’t imagine they’ll want us to go without content for *too* long, but we’ll just have to sit and wait patiently for a release date (well, beta first, then release date, but you knew that).
So yeah. The end!