Except for visiting dungeons and raids, most everything else can be accomplished via the new Garrison system. Garrisons, as we’ve mentioned before, is the rough equivalent of a housing system in other MMOs. But Garrisons bring a lot more to the table. Players can make their main crafting profession quite viable and make gear for themselves and alts and friends at a fairly rapid pace. It doesn’t take long to fill those three crafted item slots.
Secondary buildings can be erected that allow followers to bring back salvage that can yield mid-raid level gear. Even non-trained professions can be accessed if the right buildings are put up. Garrisons become living breathing outposts specifically designed by each player to suit their individual needs.
Followers are found throughout the game world or can be purchased at, for instance, reputation vendors or earned through the Brawler’s Guild. They come in uncommon, rare and epic versions and at various skill levels. All can be raised both level and quality wise, all the while heading out on missions to earn gold, XP for both themselves and the player, garrison resources (needed to build, complete work orders and more), find gear for themselves and the player and more. Garrison buildings begin at level one, progress fairly quickly to level two with level three unlocking via the completion of work orders. Replacing a building for another of a different type starts that progression over again.
The point here is that Garrisons have added exponentially to the overall grind in the game. Again, it’s not a bad thing, particularly in light of the fact that the grind is split in so many different directions that no one thing stands out as the ZoMG moments of Pandaria’s dailies. The hunt for loot and achievements is mitigated by the sheer number of things that need to be done on any given day. Warlords tasks are now hourly leaving players feeling like they need to rush back (thank goodness for the garrison hearthstone!) to gather crafted items, send followers out on missions, etc.
The only true complaint I have about garrisons is that the impact on guilds will remain to be seen. Symbiotic guilds where players truly work together will be able to find great ways to create synergy of creation between players. Other guild that may lack that type of commitment may find that their members spend more time on garrisons and hanging with virtual companions than they do with other guild mates. As said, time will tell.
PvP is the same with no new battlegrounds added though there are a couple of important changes that help players get their item levels up a bit: Each battleground gives players the chance to be rewarded with a crate that can contain extra honor, gold or even blue or purple PvP gear. What's cool about PvP gear now, however, is that it is viable to use in the PvE world at iLevel 620 but in PvP matches, it scales up as high as 670. That's pretty amazing, I think.
Ashran is too much a mess right now to give an accurate assessment. That will have to come at a later date when the server imbalances are corrected.
Warlords of Draenor is a fantastic value. For the price of the virtual box (standard at $50) and a month’s subscription ($15), players will squeeze every cent back out of the game and more. There is so much to do, so many achievements to earn, so many followers to raise to epic, so many raids to run, so many stories to hear, that one could conceivably be kept busy for months on end. Hopefully, if Blizzard keeps its word, we’ll have a new content expansion next year, if not a full blown expansion.
To make a long story short, Warlords of Draenor has set itself squarely in the top two of most players’ “favorite WoW expansion” list. There is so much to do. There is so much to like. There is so much to see and learn and read. The developers truly outdid themselves on Warlords. It’s hard to believe that World of Warcraft is ten years old when one looks at the breadth of what was added in this latest expansion. Perhaps they truly are on to something when they say they have another decade’s worth of stories and content to share.
Now, pardon me. I have a Garrison that is depending on me. Time to go!
Gameplay (also includes story): 9.0 - Game play is a lot more fun in that players have to think even in normal outdoor locations in the world. Granted, it may not last forever and the appeal may wear with alts, but for this review at this stage it's good. Also, pruning has been useful, though a lot complain about only a 4-5 skill rotation. The new garrison is a blast with tons to do, albeit with a lot of grind involved. Decent gear can be obtained in a lot of ways outside raiding if players don't wish to participate. Visuals & Sound - 9.0: Well, it IS Blizzard. Sound and music are nearly flawless. The wide variety of environments is nice. The same models throughout Draenor makes it feel "samey" sometimes, however. Longevity – 9.0: While some say grind IS the end game, it seems more levels of grind have been added on top of the usual gear grind. That said, this is also WoW with 10 years behind it. It's going to last until the next expac. Polish - 8.0: There are some odd visual bugs like weapons clipping through armor, creatures inside rocks/trees, along with a few strange conversation bugs with garrison NPCs. Of course, the rough launch goes a long way to lowering the polish score, though some of that was not Blizzard’s fault with DNS attacks. Subsequent patches have created their own issues even if quickly solved with another patch. Value - 8.5: Even at $50 for the standard edition or $70 for the digital deluxe, the number of hours per dollar spent is way above average. Some see $70 as too high for a digital CE. Social - 8.0: Warlords doesn’t really add anything new to the social aspect. Forced grouping is never fun but the features in place that have made WoW shine are still there. What knocks the score back slightly the 'guild breaking' mechanic of garrisons and the lack of need to go to social hubs for things like banking, transmog, etc.