Warlords of Draenor Review in Progress #1
There's nothing that kills procrastination on writing an article more than the fact that the game you're supposed to be writing about is, well let's just say "non-functioning". Yes, I'm talking about the latest World of Warcraft expansion, Warlords of Draenor and, yes, it's been one of those days.
November 13th marked the launch of WoD, an expansion that many have been looking forward to more than any other since Wrath of the Lich King. Warlords has piqued player interest with the new garrison system, overhauled player classes and skills and the chance to take a look back in time to events that unfolded between the Iron Horde and the Draenei.
As a player of less than two years, this was my chance to see WoW expand and it was with no small amount of anticipation that I logged in about twelve hours after the official opening of Draenor at midnight. Surprisingly enough, I logged in without a hitch, zoomed through a relatively quiet Dark Portal after speaking with Khadgar and completed the initial series of quests that brought me into the main Draenor Alliance starter zone, Shadowmoon Valley.
Launch Woes: Overcrowding and DDOS Attacks
Before launching into any discussion of content, however, it has to be noted that by afternoon, server connection issues across all worldwide servers were legion. I experienced no lag or disconnects in my earliest foray into Draenor and I managed to play for about four hours before logging out thinking it would be easy to get back in later in the day. While I'd been reading player difficulties throughout the day, I negated them based on my earlier ease of play.
Ah but so goes a sunny disposition. When I tried logging in again, I found myself in a 1000+ queue with over an hour's wait. The queue seemed to be moving fairly quickly and within twenty minutes, I was about 255th in line. I am pretty sure that that's when the hamsters finally gave up the ghost. After ninety minutes, I had moved up a big four spots and my wait time was now 500+ minutes. I threw in the towel and figured to try later. When I tried logging in again, things ground along until I got to 500 with a fifty minute wait to log in, though this time I stuck it out. I needed screens after all.
I thought my EU server was having problems until I heard from a friend on the Russian Fordragon server. Players there were being dropped every three or four minutes, finding themselves unable to enter their own garrisons, experiencing inexplicable teleportation to Pandaria on relogging and five minute plus lag spikes that rendered her unable to log out normally (yay Alt + F4) resulting in the hated "character with that name already exists" error.
It is not to say that this sort of thing isn't expected to some degree on any game's launch day, most especially World of Warcraft, the globe's most populated MMO. What is astonishing is that the log in issues have continued to plague all realms for now approaching the twenty-four hour mark.
We were told late in the day, however, that servers were under DDOS attacks and that Bllizzard was lowering the number of players allowed on each realm:
To help correct for this and other issues, we’ve temporarily lowered maximum realm populations. This means there will be high queue times experienced on high-population realms. Here are some of the other important issues we’re currently working to address: Instance servers timing out, which may impact dungeon access Continent server issues, which are resulting in Player Not Found and disconnection issues Garrison server issues, which are resulting in phasing and performance issues We’ll post updates here as we make progress against these issues. Thank you for your zeal to face down the tyranny of the Iron Horde—and for your continued patience as we work to improve the current experience.
*sighs* And all I wanted to do was issue my followers new quest orders....though it seems that at least now, I won't be distracted by the game and will get this initial article finished.
The bottom line is that Blizzard will undoubtedly fix the issues and, honestly, DDOS is not their fault. Things should improve quickly but today has been a disappointment for many who took time off work or school in order to enjoy Warlords and who have only been met with a loading screen and hours of frustrating game play. Still, I have every confidence that it will all get sorted out but do wish that it would sort out faster.
Garrisons - Fun or Community-Busting?
The most notable part of my initial few hours in Warlords, at least for the purpose of this article, was the brand spanking new garrison system. Having been able to play for several hours early in the day without any issues, I managed to get my garrison set up and to level two.
Garrisons are WoW's rough equivalent to housing, though for my money, they are much more robust. After the initial quests, characters are deemed worthy of establishing a foothold on Draenor from which to base their operations. Players will gain followers through questing or other world content or through the weekly Tavern/Inn quests. These followers can then be sent out on missions that directly affect players in the acquisition of gear (even raid level epics), gold, experience and even as attack companions and bodyguards.
In an interesting twist, Blizzard has said that garrisons are not akin to the hated Pandaria "dailies" system, but more like running a personal guild.
Your Garrison operates more like a personal guild that you lead. Whether you check in on it multiple times per day or a few times a week, you can set up your Garrison to give you rewards and present you with challenges at varied intervals. When you’re ready to return, Followers that you previously commanded have finished their tasks, cooldowns have cooled, and resources that you need to progress have been gathered. The urgency of it all is up to you.
Without going into lots of detail that can be easily found on sites like WoWhead, I will say that I really believe that I will be spending a lot of time on my garrison taking care of "my people", sending them out on missions, constructing more buildings to find the right synergy of bonuses for my character and more. It's a lot of fun and there is so much micromanagement that I can see lots of happy hours being spent in my own corner of WoW.
I did, however, have this ghost of a thought that garrisons are community breakers in that so much time can be spent on them alone. Even professions are being neutered somewhat with garrison buildings able to mine, blacksmith, jewelcraft, etc. Even auction houses and mage towers with portals all over Azeroth can be constructed further removing the player from the community. Discussing this with Bill, he reminded me that there are still raids, dungeons, epic quests and more so I guess time will tell how it all plays out.
WAIT! My queue time's up! See you in Azeroth!
Have you managed to log a few hours in Warlords? What were your experiences? What do you think about garrisons? Let us know in the comments!