By Jeff Bond on November 13, 2013 at 3:14pm
A portal into Warcraft history has ripped open, and the fifth World of Warcraft expansion has been revealed! Warlords of Draenor sends players to the savage world of Draenor—home of the mighty orcs and haven of the mystic draenei—to fight against and alongside legends from Warcraft’s brutal past.
Another patch for Mists of Pandaria would delay the release of “Warlords of Draenor,” so there will not be a patch 5.5. There is no release date yet, but Blizzard intends to beat their typical track record of releasing in the winter of the following year, stating that they would greatly prefer spring or summer. However, that is hard to predict, and the developers did not promise any dates.
New World: Draenor
Draenor opens seven new questing zones to players: Frostfire Ridge, Gorgrond, Nagrand, Shadowmoon Valley, Spires of Arak, Talador, and Tanaan Jungle. Draenor is a time traveling past version of Outlands – a parallel similar to that of J. J. Abrams’ visions of the “Star Trek” universe - so even familiar looking locations need to be tamed in completely new ways. Unlike “Cataclysm,” players won’t revisit old zones but visit “old” versions of new zones instead. The zones were designed from scratch, and even in their current state, they look breathtaking.
Build and Upgrade Your Garrison
Garrisons are Blizzard’s answer to the years of demands for player housing. They will operate similarly to personal farms in the current expansion but on a much grander scale.
First and foremost, since it’s a Garrison, it’s far more expansive than just a player house that you can pop in and visit, oh no. You will be able to select from different types of buildings to add to your garrison including inns, infirmaries, and others. These buildings can be upgraded and eventually give you bonuses when you’re away adventuring. Not content just to have a bunch of player selectable buildings, you can flat out move your entire garrison to any of the zones on Draenor.
A giant garrison would seem empty if it was just your character milling around, so Blizzard intends to address that. The most basic thing is that you can invite friends in a party or in a huge raid, to visit and see what you’ve built. You can even show off trophies and statues that you will earn while completing achievements. But why stop there? From your Inn, you can bring on Followers, friendly NPC’s that will fight for you, and live in your garrison with their own little lives. These followers can be one of the three current roles: tank, healer, or dps, and you can send them on missions. These missions are completely automated once started, you pick your followers, what you want them to do, and away they go. The missions can take anywhere from a few minutes to a few days and when the return, if they are successful, they will bring back some form of reward.
Professions also get some love with the addition of Garrisons. Instead of having things grow on your farm for your particular fashion, things are headed a potentially more literal direction. In the example given, once you have built a certain building, you will gain access to a mine so you can gather ore conveniently. This mine would be able to upgrade as well. There were no other details about how it would work for other professions, but it isn’t far of a stretch to assume they would work in similar ways.
New Character Models
This another one of those highly requested features that seems like a “Finally!” moment. So far they have completed 3 of the races models, and they look great. Player Theory even got to sit down at the demo station and get a real hands on look with them and they are still absolutely true to the originals in every way, just better. Your character will still feel like your character. It isn’t yet decided if they will try to push and get all of the races finished prior to the release of the next expansion or if they will roll them out with each patch.
Some of the talking points that they were especially proud of included texture resolution increasing from 2x to 5x depending on what area of the body was being worked on and polygon and bone count increasing significantly. For example: Dwarf Males were 1160 polygons, now they are 7821 polygons. Attention has been paid to every single aspect. Facial hair is now animated, including gnome pigtails, as well as capes.
Level Cap Raised to 100
Going up to level 95 didn’t feel quite right. Players getting new abilities wasn’t panning out the way they wanted so they decided on 100. Leveling is aimed to fast paced, they have backed off the idea that leveling should be a long grind.
The leveling process itself is being changed to have less quest hubs that had to be unlocked by completing another chain. Once you reach level cap, there will also be few or no daily quests and would instead be a mix of the story in 5.1 and the Timeless Isle in 5.4.
New Dungeons and Raids
Let’s cut right to the chase. New dungeons are: Bloodmaul Slag Mines, Blackrock Depot, Achinduon, Arakkoa Spires, Shadowmoon Burial Grounds, Iron Barracks, and the return of Upper Blackrock Spire. New raids will be: Blackrock Foundry, Highmaul, and of course, the world bosses that we’ve grown to love in Mists of Pandaria.
One other major change is that there is a new raid structure. Previously, there were 6 types of raids, and that felt cumbersome, so that’s being reduced down to 4 with Flex mentality baked right in. Flex style raiding will be available for Raid Finder, Normal, and Heroic, so benching guildies shouldn’t be an issue any longer. The only difficulty with a set raid size is Mythic which requires 20 players. 20 seemed to strike a balance between 10 and 25 where you had a good spread of character class representation and guild sizes.
New World PvP Zone
The new World PvP zone, located off the north east coast of Tanaan Jungle, uses cross realm zone tech to create a faction balanced zone that always has PvP going on. The battle you find will also be different than what you are used to. The battle will be ongoing with no distinct end. There will be changing objectives, items to gather, creatures to summon, faction bases, and vehicles. To really bring home the size and expansiveness of this zone, there will not be a cap to the players and the amount of faction members allowed in the zone.
Gear in general is getting a huge overhaul this expansion. The most prominent change that players will notice right away is the “item squish” that has been planned for some time now. Item levels will stay the same, but the stats on gear will be reduced to avoid having ridiculously large numbers that seem to grow exponentially and get out of hand. Player Theory played with this at the demo stations and found that it is actually quite easy to adjust to and is not going to be as impactful as some players were worried about.
Another change to gear is that primary stats on armor will now change based on your spec. For example, if a piece of Plate gear drops, it will have whatever stats your class needs, no more Intellect plate! No more PvP Priest Healing set and PvP Priest DPS set, just a Priest set.
Tired of worrying about Hit and Expertise caps? Those two stats are gone completely in the new expansion, as well as Dodge, Parry, and Reforging. Some new fun stats are being added such as Movement Speed, Cleave, Lifesteal, Avoidance, Sturdiness, and more.
Boost to 90 and Play Immediately
Warlords of Draenor will boost one of your characters to Level 90 for free. The boost will clean up your bags, quest log, and action bar to reduce the mess.
One common piece of feedback we’ve received from new players and those who’ve taken an extended break from the game is that World of Warcraft requires a significant time investment before they’re able to “catch up” and play with high-level friends. Design changes such as speeding up the leveling curve and features like the popular Scroll of Resurrection and Recruit-a-Friend system have proven very popular, but the issue’s only getting more challenging with each patch and expansion we release. By giving players the option to boost a character to be ready for the latest expansion content, we hope to remove some of these entry barriers and make it so anyone can pick up and enjoy Warlords of Draenor right away, no matter how much World of Warcraft they’ve played in the past.
You don’t need to decide which character to boost immediately. You can also create a level-1 character from scratch and then use the upgrade on that if you wish. The boosted character will also receive a level-appropriate set of gear (along with some other assistance) to make sure you’re set for adventuring. We’ll have more details to share as development continues.
You can technically buy as many level 90s as you want if you buy another copy of the game, get the level 90, and then transfer the character to your main account each time. The team has talked about putting a level 90 purchase option in the store, but it is currently seeming unlikely.
With all of this taken into account, this is shaping up to be one hell of an expansion, and we can’t wait for it to get here.