The first thing that hit me upon logging into the alpha was the new login screen music. It hits hard and as always feels like a perfect thematic match to the content ahead. You can hear it on the official Warlords of Draenor page in the media section. The track is called “The Clans Join.”
Next it was time to create a level 90 character and I decided to go with a male Orc Warrior.
Logging in I find myself at Glacier Bay in Frostfire Ridge. Now I need to confess right off the bat that I am a giant UI nerd - I must spend my first moments with any game becoming accustom to the interface and learn what all the icons and windows are used for. So naturally that’s the first thing I begin to explore in the Alpha. I open my map to get an idea of where I am in this new world and I immediately see some new touches.
As you can see the quest log is now part of the map window making tracking quests much easier. A new story progress section now makes it much easier to ensure you find all the quests in the main storyline of a particular zone and not miss important story beats along the way. Hovering over the story progress bar reveals the names of each story quest. Above the map are new drop down controls similar to the dungeon journal that’s in the game now. This offers a quick way to view different areas of the world with less clicks. Lastly, clicking on a quest opens a details window that offers the quest description and what rewards it will offer.
Next I opened the character info window to see what all the new stats looked like after the item squish patch 6.0 will introduce. As you can see the numbers are much smaller and easier to digest. It’s important to note that the item squish applies to everything - basic stats, spells and abilities, gear and enemy HP. The reduced values don’t make you weaker as everything has been reduced evenly including enemy HP values.
The other thing I noticed was the new the “Enhancements” section where some of the new stats such as Multistrike and Leech can be found. These new stats offer exciting stats on gear that isn’t as mundane as the former Hit and Expertise that are now no longer in the game. In addition, many stats have been simplified or rolled into one. For example, Spell Critical Hit, Ranged Critical Hit and Melee Critical hit chance are now just Crit Chance. The same also applies to Haste - Spell, Ranged and Melee are now just one stat.
Another new UI change that I noticed was with the Mounts and Pets window which is now simply called Collections. In addition to the Mounts and Pet Journal tab there is now a new Toy Box tab. Here all of the cosmetic trinkets and toys you’ve collected are stored instead of in your characters bags. The Toy Box tab is also account wide so all of your characters will have more free space and have access to all the toys you’ve collected with all of your alts.
Next I decided to open my bags and see what starting items I would be given for this premade character. I noticed two new, long desired inventory organization features.
The first change is the ability to assign specific item types to a particular bag. So for example using the left image above, if I select Consumables then all consumables I pick up will go into that specific bag until it fills. The other addition is the ability to cleanup bags. The image above on the right has a green square where there is normally a small broom icon. Clicking it automatically organizes your bags where it groups item types with one another. I’ve been wanting these features in the game for a very long time and I am so glad they’re making it in.
Ok enough of that, it’s time to start the adventure.
Off We Go
I close all the open windows and speak to Farseer Drek’Thar who’s accompanied by Khadgar and Thrall. He wants to introduce me to Durotan (here is where lore nerds get excited) so we set off along the path up the mountain side until I finally meet this legendary character. After a brief conversation he demands that we follow him into a small clearing just up the path. After arriving I take a moment and realize how awesome this expansion could be when you take all the lore into consideration. Just look at what greets players just minutes in:
Are you kidding me?! This is awesome. I speak to Thrall and addressing me as commander he tells me it’s my decision how best to use the land. He tells me I will be the one to lead the Horde forces on Draenor and to plant a banner when I am ready to claim the territory. As soon as I do Khadgar opens a portal to Orgrimmar where Horde reinforcements are standing by. Gazlowe, the Garrison Architect, is the first through and tasks me with marking trees to be cut down by Peons so their lumber can be used to start construction of my Garrison. That’s right, just moments into the expansion and my Garrison is about to take shape. Cue cliffhanger smash-to-black.
In the coming weeks we’ll continue to look at some of the new content and features of Warlords of Draenor while I do my best to avoid plot details and super-cool gameplay surprises. I hope you enjoyed this first look at Draenor as I experienced it.
It’s worth mentioning quickly that a new mount has become available on the in-game pet store, the Warforged Nightmare. This new flying mount also comes with a hitching post that allows other party members access to this mount for 20 minutes. Check out the official trailer for this new mount:
Are you as into UI elements as I am? What changes to the UI would you like to see? Let me know in the comments below!
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Further Warcraft reading:
Reza Lackey / Reza is a giant nerd who loves video games, board games, film and way too many other things. Works in the film industry, on some startups and thinks science is cool. Also launches rockets.