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WoW: Warlords of Draenor preliminary thoughts…

January 2, 2015

Two of my friends at work are pretty big into WoW – and with the new expansion we’ve all decided we should give it a shot, in spite of the internet being /fucking awful/ at work.

The short version is: I really enjoy the expansion, and I like what Blizzard did to simplify combat.

I think this is the best expansion so far, in terms of entertainment and value, of any game that I’ve played. This is the most fun that I’ve had with the game since Vanilla. None of the previous /four/ previous expansions did much to get me reinvested into the game for longer than three months at a time. /As of right now/ I feel more confident about having /fun/ with the game than I had in the past. I won’t go into great detail about what this expansion is all about, but I will hit a few highlights:

– The environments are much more varied and interesting, yet the game is very playable on my $300 walmart computer, even on medium settings.

– The quests are /generally/ much better this time around, with better overlap, less backtracking, and more variety in tasks. It feels less like grinding and more like exploration – akin to what playing Guild Wars 2 feels like.

– The Garrison is a fantastic idea and adds a new metagame that is surprisingly addictive. When I first heard about the Garrisons I thought it would be a gimmick, but it’s actually a solid addition to the game.

– PvE combat is solid – it’s in the best place it’s been since /ever/. As a Druid player I really bummed that a ton of abilities had been taken out of the class, and that they split Feral into DPS and Tank. Yet after playing the expansion enough to get a solid feel for the rotations and combat in general, I think Blizzard did the right thing by trimming the fat. They mostly removed underused and redundant abilities. Now you have to focus on using a few, key abilities, instead of memorizing the 40 to 60 abilities of your class.

– PvE difficulty is just about right. While it was “nice” for a little while to be God-Mode in WoTLK and just plow through everything, I enjoy how this expansion requires more thoughtful gameplay. You can’t just jump into massive groups and walk away unscathed. /Granted/ they give you some way, way overpowered cooldowns in this expansion via the Garrison abilities – individual combat is just about right, elites are rarely solo-able anymore except using cheese tactics. That’s really the way it should be, it’s the way the game was originally meant to be played in Vanilla.

– The story is interesting. It’s not GREAT, but I feel more involved in the actual story in this game, rather than just being some background noise between quest hubs.

– No more kill stealing! Now you’re generally encouraged to jump in and help someone out on an elite fight, because you get credit for it (at least the loot and any “Rare” unlock).

– Lots of hidden treasures and bonuses squirreled away around the game. It /really/ pays to explore more. I wish they would have used more “books” though… something I miss from Vanilla.

– Druids are still fun to play. In fact, I’d argue that they are even /more/ fun to play now than they ever have been. I still miss being able to break roots when shifting, but overall the class is in a good place. Travel form is FINALLY useful (again) /and/ it automatically switches from air/water/land without a special macro. Speed bonuses have been simplified, with cat /automatically/ gaining the +30% that formerly required talent speccing; and Prowl stealth seems potent, it /feels/ about as good as the talent spec’d version. And this will sound petty, but I’ve always disliked the Moonkin form – so I’m /very/ happy with the Astral form alternative.

I don’t have any outstanding gripes at the moment, and I’m /very/ surprised that I’m not already getting bored with it. My seroius concern is that the internet at my camp job makes it barely playable. Ping times right now are in the range of 3000 to 6000. Plus the download speed is too slow to ever patch. Unfortunate… If I stay with this job for ~3 years we may see significantly improved internet, but that’s pretty far out for me to care much about.

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