Class changes are complete. The Demon Hunter is now a playable class. Major movements in the story are happening. Dalaran is moving. And the Burning Legion is making a mess of all our low-level zones.
I think it’s safe to say that Warlords of Draenor has finally come to a close.
With that, I’d like to give some of my final impressions on World of Warcraft’s Warlords of Draenor expansion. You see, Warlords of Draenor is the first expansion that I really played. I’ve tried playing WoW sometime during Wrath of the Lich King and again during Cataclysm. I never stuck with it and hit the level cap, for some reason, until Warlords of Draenor. WoD is the first time I really started to get into the nitty gritty of the world’s most successful MMO.
That’s why I call myself a WoD baby. And that’s why this is a WoD baby’s impressions of Warlords of Draenor.
Since I actually managed to stick around for WoD, it should come to no surprise that I didn’t hate it. At the very beginning, Draenor had some awesome content. The story throughout levels 90 to 100 felt compelling and made levelling that first character feel epic. There were plenty of impressive cut-scenes, and the actual story on both sides was immersive enough to make the experience less of a grindfest. At least until you start levelling alts.
Looking through all of the other expansions, it’s clear that Warlords of Draenor is severely lacking in content. Three raids seemed fine to me until I decided to do a history run through the old content. And, yes, I was there for the music box patch and the selfie-cam patch. I can understand long-time WoW player’s seething frustration.
But the little content that was there was fun. The dungeons were challenging and engaging – which was a welcome surprise after the near endless dungeon grind between levels 15-90. Better yet, though, were the raids. The boss mechanics in the raids were cool. When I first ran Kargath all the way to Ko’ragh in a public group on normal, I was pleasantly surprised by how different each boss felt. I was blown away when Kargath turned five members of our raid into a makeshift dungeon group on the stands. And the way Tectus punished uncooperative raid groups just seemed cool. I missed out on Blackrock Foundry but ran all of Hellfire Citadel with a guild, and it was just as fun.
I did wish they did more with Grom Hellscream. He was a central character in the trailer and supposedly a central character in the actual story, but that wasn’t reflected at all by the game’s content. You see him once during the expansion’s opening sequence along with the other “warlords,” then maybe hear his voice in Nagrand, then he doesn’t seem to show up until you kill Archimonde. Maybe I missed something somewhere, but he just doesn’t seem to get the amount of screen time he deserves. He was one of the most hype-inducing things about the expansion, for crying out loud.
I know that garrisons get a ton of flak, and they probably deserve it. I know why people hated them – they ended up isolating players away from each other, and that is terrible for an MMO. At the same time though, I actually really liked them. Player housing is an awesome feature in MMO’s, so when we got a whole town, I thought that was the coolest thing ever. The follower mission system was a nice way to get gold and gear passively while you did other things. The mount stables thing was kind of fun to play with. I actually love the archaeology room that you can fill out. And the profession stalls were great for playing catch-up when levelling you professions.
Garrisons really did have a lot of problems, though. First of all, they really needed more customization options. Being able to change your buildings was cool, but I wanted to decorate my town, dammit. They already gave us the museum from Animal Crossing, so why not give us some paint or furniture or something?
The biggest problem, though, was its location. The player housing should have been off to the side while the main hub town sits near the center of the game. Blizzard opted to go the opposite direction instead. The garrisons were on the main continent while the hub towns were on an inconveniently-placed island. That ended up isolating players from each other, robbing the massively multiplayer feeling out from the MMORPG.
Warlords of Draenor was far from perfect. In fact, it was probably the worst expansion so far. Blizzard definitely missed a lot of opportunities by giving it so little content, but I think the quality of the content we did get was phenomenal. It’s a low point for WoW overall, but there’s so much for Blizzard to learn from. Looking at what we’ve been getting leading into Legion, it seems Blizzard may have learned a lot from it.
WoD might have flopped overall, but it was the one expansion that got me sticking to World of Warcraft, at least for now. It was fun as a first-time experience, and it provides a nice catch-up point for new players. The little content we got was fun and showed a gameplay direction that I am genuinely excited for going forward.
Oh, also the music was pretty freakin’ bitchin’.