BlizzCon 2013 has come and gone and in its wake is a dizzying amount of information about the future of World of Warcraft. For the next several WoW Factor columns, we'll be breaking down all of the exciting new announcements and peek at what lies ahead. This week we're going to look at the setting, story and itemization changes players can expect to see in the next expansion, Warlords of Draenor.
Where and When
Warlords of Draenor takes us to the world of Draenor before its breaking into what we know today as Outland. As you may know, Outland was the focus WoW’s first expansion, the Burning Crusade. Warlords takes us back in time so-to-speak (more on this later) to the savage world of Draenor just prior to the events of the orcs drinking the cursed blood of Mannoroth and invading Azeroth through the Dark Portal. Now that same Portal will glow red and through it lies the old world of Draenor.
Warning: Spoilers in this paragraph if you have not completed the Mists of Pandaria campaign. At the end of the Siege of Orgrimmar raid, Garrosh is finally dethroned and taken into custody to be put on trial for his crimes. Soon after with the aid of a mysterious accomplice, he escapes and travels back through time to Draenor and prevents the orcs from drinking Mannoroths blood. Don’t worry, Garrosh is not the main enemy of this expansion, merely a catalyst to set these events in motion. End spoilers.
This new Iron Horde, a cabal of various orc clans on Draenor led by Grommash Hellscream, begins to conquer their world and ultimately attempts to create a new Dark Portal to invade Azeroth. Now it’s important to stress that this isn’t a typical time travel story. While we do go back in time, history is not being rewritten. The new events that will transpire on Draenor will be happening now - the easiest way to understand it is to imagine that the world of Draenor prior to the orc invasion has been duplicated and thrust forward in time to the present. By going to Draenor, the events that unfold will not change anything that has already happened and only shape what is to come next. It will be the job of the Alliance and Horde to stop this new Iron Horde threat that is preparing to pour through the Dark Portal and claim Azeroth as their own.
In addition to making the point that this is not time-travel story in the traditional sense several times during BlizzCon, the WoW developers were also emphasizing that world of Draenor is not a simple reskinning of Outland from the Burning Crusade but rather built completely from scratch. Aside from some familiar landmarks it will be completely new territory. There will be seven new zones and one PvP zone.
With the expansion focusing on this crucial point in Warcrafts history, players will be able to interact with many historic figures and play a pivotal role in shaping a new future for both Draenor and Azeroth.
One of the biggest changes coming with this expansion is how itemization will work. The idea behind these changes is to make loot drops more exciting and fun. Right now when a new item drops you first need to make sure it has the right stats for your class spec. It may be the right armor type but if its stats don’t match the spec build you’re currently running then it is useless. If you do get the right item, odds are there is some work that will need to be done before you can equip and enjoy it. You may have to go reforge some of its stats, look up and acquire the right gems and then finally get the proper enchant for the item. There is a whole lot of work to be done between an item dropping and you showing it off to the world. So how does Blizzard plan on making loot drops more exciting?
First, the reforging system is being removed from the game entirely. Also being removed are hit, expertise, dodge and parry stats. If you’re a tank, don’t worry, Blizzard is adding a bonus armor stat to a few items and you’ll still be able to dodge and parry but they will no longer be stats on items.
There will no longer be specific types of armor classes. For example, there will no longer be intelect plate and strength plate - just plate. The same is true for leather and cloth. This is because the primary stats on an items will be based on the spec of the character wearing it. So when a piece of plate armor drops in a raid, anyone who can wear plate will be eligible to use it. This also works when a character changes their spec, the primary stats on their gear will automatically change for their new spec. Additionally there will now only be one tier set per class as both the stats and set bonuses will change based on the spec being used. This reduces the amount of gear multi-role classes will need to carry freeing up precious bag space. There are a few exceptions to this updated armor system: weapon, cloak, trinket, neck and ring gear will not adjust to the class they are being used by - their stats will remain static.