After the announcements at BlizzCon for Warlords of Draenor we were excited to run up to the press room and get our hands on the new expansion. The playable demo at the event was only a run through of FrostFire Ridge, the Horde starting zone in the new expansion. We got the chance to run around and do battle with some ogres, plus work with Thrall to begin our quests in this new time. Draenor is huge, it is savage, and it really will test the players with ten new levels of content.
I played an Orc Warrior to start out in Frostfire and began running across a massive wall battling ogres. The remnants of the Ogres are battling the Frostwolf Clan right as you enter the zone. The battle is raging everywhere and your job is to run though and plant Thrall’s totem as well as collect supplies and fight the giant ogres themselves. The quests did not seem to change from WoW so there was not much difference in completing the tasks at hand.
What was exceptionally impressive was that the graphics overhaul had been baked into the demo. The new Orc and Dwarf character model were playable and I immediately took the chance to see how they looked. The game has needed a graphical boost for some time. The developers at Blizzard even said that they were happy with how long the original graphics had lasted, but it was time for a change. The Orc I had chosen to play seemed to move much faster and more fluid with the new system. I am used to playing a shaman but the warrior ran perfectly and the attacks jumped off the screen. I did not demo the dwarf to see the difference, but if you watch some of the videos from BlizzCon you will see all of the races updated. We thought Undead looked the best with the new system, but they’re not 100% ready to show off.
In terms of gameplay with new zones, a very epic storyline helping the Orcs of the past, battling Garrosh’s Iron Horde, and seven dungeons and two raids, there will be a lot to do. Chris Metzen explained that Garrosh is one of the villains in the expansion. However, players will be surprised at where the storyline leads them. There will be someone else behind the Iron Horde that will not be revealed…yet. This was something they learned about story from the last patch. Players had no idea that Vol’Jin was to become the new leader of the Horde until someone had defeated Garrosh. Adding this cut scene to the game when players unlocked it was great for fans and devs to watch. It is something the team looks to continue into Warlords.
One of the things that FrosftFire ridge does right from the beginning is get you started down the path of ancient Warcraft lore. The team explained that they really want to reimagine those early stories that many World of Warcraft players may not have experienced. It was games like Orcs vs. Humans, and Warcraft 2 which drove Blizzard in its old times. Now they want to bring these stories to the current age. Running through the zones and working with all six of the Orc tribes on Draenor will give both the Alliance and the Horde a lot to do. We really liked the descriptions of the clans and what they each stood for. Kargath’s Shattered Hand clan by far sounded the most interesting. We cannot wait to find him on the continent.
In Frostfire, it is the Frostwolf Clan of the North that you meet first. Under the rule of Thrall’s father, Durotan, the tribe is noble and fierce. The team did not give away anything other than to say that players will help Thrall with some old family business. It is not just the Frostwolves that will be exciting, but also meeting and interacting with Ner’Zhul as well. Ner’Zhul was an Orc shaman who became the first Lich King before Arthas sat the Frozen Throne. Again, Blizzard is really digging deep into their lore with this expansion.
While the gameplay did not seem different from current World of Warcraft, the two biggest things I took away from my short time is Frostfire Ridge were the new character models and the storyline. The movement and design of the Orcs worked well, especially in their former homeland. The quests and story really had us wanting to learn more about the tribes and events going on in the expansion. Blizzard really seems to be stepping back into old school style with this expansion, let’s wait and see what else they have to say before it comes out.
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