I'll admit it: I could find no better way to describe World of Warcraft's latest expansion, Warlords of Draenor, than to liken it to an ecosystem with each organism dependent on another in order to create a balanced environment. Just a moment while I remove my Nature Conservancy t-shirt...
As I made meandered through Draenor in order to level from 94 to 100 this week, I was astonished at the way that all systems seem to feed into one another. Each quest seems to stack upon the next in this at times overwhelming chain of adventure designed to gradually see characters grow to max level and see them geared at least moderately well by the time they hit 100. That's not to say, of course, that the journey is over at 100, but it is the focus of this week's article.
Last week, I had barely opened my garrison and had gotten a couple of buildings to level two. I admit to feeling pretty overwhelmed by the speed at which my garrison grew from its infancy to a pretty formidable fortress. It seemed it had barely opened when *POOF* Level 2! But I'd only just begun...
In fact, I find it necessary to digress a bit to make a more generalized statement about Warlords of Draenor as a whole. The one thing that constantly tickles the back of my mind, if not almost causing the ol' noodle to outright explode, is the sheer "overwhelming-ness" of WoD. So much has been changed since the arrival of 6.0.2 in terms of gameplay mechanics. Skills were removed and reworked. Familiar systems like reforging were removed. Gem stats changed and some of the bonuses all had become so accustomed to were taken out. It was, in some ways, like learning to play World of Warcraft all over again. For those who had been away for a time, it probably didn't seem like such a precipitous alteration of the fundamentals of the game but for those who were actively playing at the time the patch swept in, it was a lot to take in. It's not a complaint, really, just an observation. I actually quite liked the challenge of relearning my classes.
A scant few weeks later, however, Warlords launched on the world and we had even more to learn without any foundation on which to base our new found discoveries. I'd like a show of hands on how many of you at one time had, or currently have, an overstuffed bank? C'mon now. Be honest.
Hardly a foot touched down in Draenor before we were assaulted with New Toys! New Collectibles! New Crafting Components! New I-Have-No-Idea-What-This-Is-For-But-I'm-Keeping-It-Dammit! It felt like everything I touched was something I thought I had to save. Of course, a few days later, I started wildly pitching things out to cram MORE STUFF into my bank, my bags, my void storage -- I'd pitch it all into the mines on my garrison if they'd let me.
Even quests are collected at alarming rates. Just today I looked to the right of my screen, once so proudly containing only one or two quests and there were so many that the list scrolled off the bottom of my screen. "Go here! Do that! Come back!"
The sheer enormity of Warlords of Draenor is hugely overwhelming at the moment. Over time, of course, things will settle, quest lines will have been completed, I will have conducted massive Spring cleaning on all available storage receptacles and I will learn what is worth keeping and what is not. But for now....my mind is spinning.
Back to the symbiosis thing though. Outside all of the above, Warlords of Draenor has set a nice pace for leveling and for players to acquire gear and garrison companions and buildings along the way. Questing is fun and interesting though in fairness, it could probably be said that this is so mainly from the standpoint that it isn't Pandaria. I don't think so, though. Discovering new territory, building the garrison, learning some of the rich lore behind the "real" Azeroth that we've temporarily left behind us -- all of it is a lot of fun and it's quite interesting to boot. But more importantly, everything works together in a nice progression of leveling, story, gear acquisition and garrison growth. No one feature is ignored over another on the PvE side and it's working astonishingly well.
The path to 100 hasn't seemed overly slow or too fast but seems to have hit the right pace. When I started in WoD, my Druid had iLevel 569, not top of the game by any stretch, but a decent sprinkling of warforged gear and close to top end gear. It took about five levels to begin replacing things but, once started, it didn't take long to see me in a whole new set of togs (HELLO NAGRAND!).
In short, I'm having a blast and just about everyone I know is have a grand time from those who were toiling through Pandaria to others who have only returned since WoD launched. Most proclaim it either their favorite expansion or in the top two. Blizzard is seeing some well deserved praise for Warlords.
Now that I'm at cap, I'll begin the post-100 game as well as the WoW 10th Anniversary celebration. Stay tuned next week to find out what the end game is all about Warlords style.
What about you? Are you enjoying your time in Draenor? Let us know how you're faring in the comments!