“I don’t know how Blizzard does it every time, but they do it every time,” said GameSpot’s Chris Watters after the cinematic for Warlords of Draenor premiered at the Ace Theatre. The emphasis Watters had in that statement resonated with more than a thousand attendees who watched with bated breath as the event took place. I also watched breathless as the cinematic debuted. Blizzard’s cinematics have always been state-of-the-art examples to the premium quality this company strives to achieve for each of their games.
The line for this event was incredible and gave an example of the amazing loyalty and fandom gamers have around the world for World of Warcraft. Thousands of people gathered for a chance to gain entrance into the theatre to watch the reveals. One gamer even arrived at the theatre two days before the event and waited outside on the sidewalk to ensure his seat!
It is really interesting to compare the Mists of Pandaria expansion with the Warlords expansion—how different they feel, how diverse and intriguing they both are in their own way. Mists gave such a feeling of serenity, a focus on the earth, peace, and balance; reminders to slow down, enjoy the little things, and appreciate what life can offer. Warlords details showcase an almost entirely opposite feeling, but in such a powerful, meaningful way. The cinematic and mini series reveal new stories and a new spotlight on Orcs. These storylines draw together elements of desperation, darkness, a focus on strength, tenacity, the voracious, the pain of betrayal, and the allure of power. We are on the corner of Serenity and Savagery, and it’s going to be an exciting shift beginning on 11.13.14!
Before the event began the whole theatre waited patiently, then erupted with cheers when Mike Morhaime took the stage. Morhaime welcomed and thanked everyone profusely for joining the event. Two World of Warcraft designers, Ion Hazzikostas and Brian Holinka, took the stage next and kept the audience captivated by their passionate descriptions of the Warlords of Draenor expansion. Chris Watters asked the developers about a number of aspects, starting with the level 90 character boost option. Hazzikostas and Holinka described the mentality behind this boost as a way to enable players who may be a bit behind in leveling to be able to join their friends more quickly in the current expansion. They elaborated briefly about how there will be a method and designated place to get to know the boosted class to keep the returning player from feeling too overwhelmed.
Watters also asked the designers about the new PVP elements that will come with Warlords. The PVPers in the audience cheered when the designers mentioned skirmishes and bringing back a world PVP feeling and a resemblance to the old Alterac Valley four-day events. They mentioned new RTS elements getting implemented in Warlords and how this will bring a Warcraft feeling into WoW. Matching up a server mostly populated by horde with a server mostly populated by alliance will bring balanced faction battles to the game. There will be a PVP playground where players can flex abilities such as finding ways to sneak up on other players as well as looting rare and unique items—items such as special tomes with limited time buffs. The designers gave a priest example where the levitate spell could fly the character off the ground for a matter of moments, and a paladin example where laying down a judgment spell could send another player to a faction based prison. The audience in the theatre erupted in what sounded like gasps of surprise and shouts of glee when the designers described these new PvP elements—especially when they mentioned that in certain zones, when you kill another player, the killer can loot half the dead player’s PvP currency.
Events to kick off WoD are in store, much like past events such as the zombie plague. The dark portal in Warlords will be the first threat and first objective where players will need to address the Orcs laying waste to the Blasted Lands. The developers mentioned how they are really looking forward to this expansion and how so much of Draenor was built from the ground up. All of the Warlords zones and raids looked gorgeous up on that massive screen at the Ace Theatre. Audience members were pumping their fists and cheering in excitement in anticipation to play this expansion.
Chris Metzen also took the stage and introduced one of my favorite moments during the event: the release of part one of the mini-series, Lords of War. This may have been a quick cinematic but its appeal held a massive weight. The story centered around Kargath Bladefist and his clan, The Shattered Hand. The artwork was stunning, and the heartfelt glimpse into this Orc’s history—in an animated graphic novel 2d art form—was really impactful.
World of Warcraft has been such a fun game to play over the years. It’s really unique and fun to string together and re-experience all the memories I have of my time playing various expansions. This giant MMORPG continues to surprise and excite us year after year. I’d like to extend my heartfelt thanks to Blizzard Entertainment and the countless producers, designers, artists, writers, supporters, and fans. Thank you for your dedication and passion for video games and for gamers worldwide.
Bimonthly, The Holder’s Dominion author Genese Davis opines about video games, the issues the industry faces, and the power of shaping online worlds. Find her on Twitter @GeneseDavis and GeneseDavis.com
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