Warlords of Draenor – A Year On (Review)

Platforms: Windows/Mac
Developer/Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment

So it’s been just over a year now since Warlords of Draenor (WoD) was released and the expansion has certainly gone through some rough moments in such a short period of time. I’ve been wanting to share my thoughts on the expansion and going through what I think of each 6.x patch, since there aren’t going to be anymore major content patches or anything new added to the game until the pre-expansion event for Legion (patch 7.0).

Keep in mind that this is the expansion where the final raid tier was available just 7 months into the expansion (which is very quick), which I think is one of the biggest problems with this expansion. It all felt very rushed and it seemed that they didn’t particularly listen to the constructive feedback they were getting.

The story of WoD is that we go to an alternate past timeline during the time where the orcs had yet to arrive on Azeroth (about 35 years ago). I liked that we got to see the fearsome orcs of old such as Blackhand, Grom Hellscream, Gul’dan, Kargath Bladefist, Ner’zhul (my favourite orc!), Teron’gor, Kilrogg Deadeye, Durotan and more! If you’ve played any of the Warcraft RTS games, then you’ll definitely know who these guys are!

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The story seemed pretty interesting at the start, even though we getting an orc overload especially having an orc as the final boss in Mists of Pandaria, there was a lot of lore surrounding these famed Warlords.

“Our world’s fine. History is fine”. – Chris Metzen 2013 BlizzCon.

However seeing how it’s basically an alternate timeline, there was no real threat to our Azeroth. So it basically seemed a little pointless and I didn’t seem to care what really happened during WoD since it’ll have no impact on our timeline. However after watching the cinematic when you defeat Archimonde and the Legion intro cinematic, I saw that WoD did have a purpose in WoW storyline and I could see that this expansion was almost a “set up” or a pre-cursor (perhaps a filler?) for the Legion expansion. So ultimately, the events at the end of WoD will affect our current timeline on Azeroth.

Well enough of that! Let’s get onto Patch 6.0! (Be aware, this is a long post this week as there’s a lot to cover!)

 

Patch 6.0

Of course with every expansion, we get access to new level zones to get to the latest level cap. In WoD the new zones included Frostfire Ridge, Shadowmoon Valley, Gorgrond, Spires of Arak and Nagrand. These zones were actually very cool for the first few times however there weren’t any that stood out for me. For example in Northrend, Icecrown stood out on its own for being where the Lich King resided and you could see that it’s the place where he had the most influence. On Outland (the sundered Draenor), Shadowmoon Valley stood out for being where the Black Temple was. If I compare that to Shadowmoon Valley on Draenor, I didn’t and still don’t really seem to care all that much for the Temple of Karabor (aka pre-Black Temple), especially since we couldn’t actually go inside it.

The leveling was actually really good and I enjoyed it more than I have in the previous expansions. Most of the quests ere engaging and felt meaningful and adding bonus objectives in the zones was a great idea to keep the whole quest thing fresh (although they’re pretty much mandatory anyway because of how much experience they give). Even with how good the levelling was, I found myself bored of doing it on alts because it felt very linear. You can’t exactly leave one area to go to another for different quests because you have to finish the previous area and that strips you of the freedom that MMORPGs should give us.

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Another thing is that the order of the zones you go to as you level up remains the same and after 5 level 100s, I stopped doing anymore alts because I was just bored of going through the same route over and over again. Wrath of the Lich King had a great leveling route as you could go to multiple zones. At levels 68 (Borean Tundra/The Howling Fjord) and 73 (Dragonblight/Grizzly Hills)  you had two zones each  to choose from and at levels 77-80, you had three zones (Sholazar Basin, Storm Peaks, Icecrown) to choose from. It would be nice to go back to this way of leveling, which thankfully is what they’re doing in Legion!

Oh boy, Garrisons. This is big main feature of WoD and while on paper this looked great and seemed interesting, it was completely the opposite. It took away a lot of the World in Warcraft because you sent other NPCs to do missions for you to get some high level rewards. The problem is that you don’t do the missions yourself and because of this I’m not really playing the game myself. I just spent a couple of minutes logging into each character of mine to get my rewards and send followers on missions again!

The result of this is almost everyone spending most of their time waiting at their Garrisons or at the capital “cities” (which where very disappointing as well!). What’s worse is that during Beta, people realized that Garrisons were too much of a focus and were giving a lot of feedback on it. However Blizzard seemed to kind of ignore this feedback, which is a bit annoying but it seemed they’ve learned their lesson in Legion, which is great!

Professions were basically stripped down and implemented into Garrisons so you can get materials just from your Garrison. This made gathering professions die out and not really all that profitable. I even from 1-700 alchemy in just a few minutes with the “catch-up” mechanism, which I don’t like at because I think it should require more time investment (I’m not saying months, just not a few minutes to max them out!). WoD is just the profession killer, especially with the three item cap on wearing crafted gear. But alas with Legion it seems professions will be back with all their glory!

Ashran was supposed to be a place where you could arrive and fight other players in an epic struggle for PvP rewards and items. It is indeed successful in some regard, except there are too many flaws to be enjoyable. For one, Blizzard didn’t intend for Ashran to be something you queue for, rather you could walk in. But with the huge lag issues, they had to lower the number of players that could be in the zone at once (100 vs 100 down to 40 vs 40). It felt epic, but it was all just mindless fighting and the events felt like you were doing chores, especially when they tend to be one-sided and your team can’t seem to win.

Ashran seemed to have a lot of promise, but being forced to stomach the abnormally long queue times and having to do Ashran to reach the conquest cap made the experience extremely irritating, not to mention the imbalanced items you can get hold of in Ashran and heavy NPC influence for a PvP zone.


Highmaul wasn’t a bad raid, but it wasn’t my favourite raid either. Personally I’m not that big on Ogres and having an entire Ogre raid was a little boring for me. I only liked two of the bosses (Kargath Bladefist and The Butcher) and I didn’t really give a damn for the story here, but it was the first raid and only way to get progress my character in PvE so I still did it anyway! I didn’t like the fact that Highmaul had no tier gear, although one could say that life without tier gear for a short while was more enjoyable because you didn’t have that reliance on those set bonuses, which is an annoying issue with tier bonuses (balancing an entire spec around them).

Blackrock Foundry (I don’t count this as 6.1 content since it was released before 6.1 and during 6.0). Blackjack Foundry brought the first set of tier gear (tier 17). This was a much more impressive raid and had a lot more enjoyable encounters such as Hans and Franz, Beastlord Darmac, Operator Thogar and even Blackhand was a pretty good encounter (despite the giant mess you can get yourself into if you make a few mistakes!). We also fought Gruul for the second time, but for the first time in this timeline and the fight wasn’t as epic and he didn’t really feel like the Gruul that we all know from the Burning Crusade expansion.

What also bugged me was that none of the bosses, maybe except for Blackhand, felt all that threatening compared to previous expansion first tier raid bosses. In WotLK, we fought Kel’thuzad and Sapphiron in Naxxramas as the first raid tier, in Karazhan we fought Prince Malchezaar and even in Terrace of the Endless Springs, we we up against this huge physical manifestation of fear (basically fear itself) and these encounters felt like we were fighting for something and that we had a sense of purpose. Highmaul and Blackrock Foundry kind of feels like we’re there, just because we have to. But the instance designs and challenging encounters were pretty great!

 

Patch 6.1

Not much I can really say about this patch to be honest apart from being the worst patch ever in the history of MMORPGs. The funniest part is that it was labelled as a major patch and we’ve had the likes of patch 3.1/4.1/5.1 patches with so much more content! I don’t really know what they were thinking over at Blizzard to be honest.

The “patch” added a selfie camera toy which was one of the most hated “features” of patch 6.1. It basically added a toy that allowed you to take selfies and really is the same thing as taking screenshots…except you can make faces and change screen effects. Very, very insulting when there isn’t much to do already at this point in the expansion, except for raiding and PvP. Some UI tweaks were added and also Twitter integration so you can tweet while playing the game. At least this orc looks like he’s having fun!

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Now the best thing to come out of patch 6.1 was the so called removal of the once per day Apexis Crystal daily. I say so called because technically this is only beneficial for people who had tons of Garrison resources to buy Apexis Crystal dailies (which could and still can be repeated). These each cost around 200 resources each so if you’re a person who doesn’t give a damn about resources or struggles to get them, then you’re getting the short end of the stick here. Otherwise it was a much needed change to the sour Apexis Crystal (AP) grind that we were introduced to from the get go. However going from 1 AP daily to over 10 of them quickly became dull and I found myself burnt out from doing it for just a few days.

The problem is that these dailies don’t seem to give us any sense of purpose i.e. Why are we fighting these guys over and over again? Every time we do the same daily, there seems to be no advancement in the story line. This is something I hope they address in Legion and all I’ll say is…HURRAY for no AP dailies in Legion!

apexis

At this point, Highamul and Blackrock Foundry were getting really stale and everyone wanted something new to do. You could do some PvP, which I dabbled in but the sheer imbalances among certain classes made it dissatisfying and it left a sour taste in my mouth, since I play Elemental/Enhancement (which isn’t so bad now as a purge bot)/Destruction Warlock and we all know the problems they have!

 

Patch 6.2

Soon enough, we’re saved with the first real patch in Warlords of Draenor, seven months after the release of the expansion! Added some new content like Tanaan Jungle (new zone) and dailies/reputations and a world boss. As much as I wanted to love the zone and the fact that it gave us some new things to do, it got boring and repetitive very quickly as it was just another zone with more AP dailies because you know, Blizzard thinks we can’t get enough of AP dailies!

Shipyard is just really terrible and with the dreadful Garrisons, they add a second Garrison type feature for ships that you can’t even control. Basically more followers that do stuff for you. I’d much rather do the missions my followers do. I think this is one of the main things that created the content drought throughout that still exists and persisted since patch 6.1.

The best thing that 6.2 brought was the second and final raid tier, Hellfire Citadel (HFC). I put the word “final” in bold letters because it was released just 7 months into the expansion and it made me wonder when we’ll get the next expansion (I predicted April 2016, which doesn’t seem likely at all now) and the fact that we wouldn’t get anymore major content patches. But of course that probably won’t happen after seeing their announcement at BlizzCon 2015. Anyway, back to HFC, the raid was very good! The design of the raid felt very demonic and evil with the excess fel energy coursing throughout the Citadel. Compared to the previous two raids, HFC was on a different level (which is a good thing!) as the encounters felt a lot more threatening and there is a sense of purpose/progression as you fight your way through the instance, not to mention the bad ass final two bosses, Mannoroth and Archimonde.

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Along with Hellfire Citadel, 6.2 brought a new level of difficulty to 5 player dungeons, Mythic. Doing Mythic dungeons just increased the health pools and damage of enemies so there isn’t really much change. It would have been to add a new boss mechanic every so often but I think it was just meant as a catch up mechanic for alts since the gear that drops are of item level 685/705 Warforged gear.

Another big feature of 6.2 is the introduction of Timewalking dungeons. This can either be seen as new content because it’s a new system or it can be seen as old content because it’s essentially the same instances we’ve done countless times before. I for one was actually excited for Timewalking, but boy was I wrong. Not only are Timewalking dungeons very dull, they’re not very challenging, even though I knew they wouldn’t be as difficult as they used to be, I just thought they’d have some resemblance of the old difficulty. Again, Timewalking seems to be another catch up route for alts.

timewalking-dungeon-finder

With the addition of HFC and Mythic dungeons, Highmaul and Blackrock Foundry are basically redundant because they don’t drop great gear anymore, unless you’re doing the legendary quest line. So if you’re new to WoD at this stage in the expansion, you’ve really only got 1 raid to progress through, which is very sad.

Well, I’ve gone through a lot so far but there’s still one last patch to go through. So let’s get onto the final major content patch for Warlords of Draenor!

Patch 6.2.3

Since Blizzard knows what we love to do, they added Cataclysm Timewalking dungeons! Before this patch, only a handful of selected dungeons from BC and WotLk were available, but in 6.2.3, we have access to some Cataclysm dungeons. These Cataclysm dungeons are pretty faceroll but they’re at least a lot more difficult than the BC/WotLK dungeons. The encounters take longer and there are more meaningful mechanics involved. There’s also a new mount called the Infinite Timereaver that has a chance to drop from any Timewalking dungeon boss and by the way, it looks crazy good!

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Blizzard added a few things to Mythic dungeons, one of them being higher item level gear. Gear can be between item level 685-725 (in increments of 5), of course you’ll be very lucky to get anything higher than 710. Not much else here other than an alternate route for players who don’t like to raid.

Mythic dungeons also add 4 new item level 715 heirloom trinkets that scale from level 100-110 and they’re just meant “aid” you as you level to 110. These trinkets give you bonus damage to demons, which are who we’ll be facing in the next expansion.

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Thanks to MMO-Champion for the image

A returning feature is the valor currency, but only to upgrade our gear from Hellfire Citadel/Tanaan Jungle Baleful gear/Mythic dungeon gear. This is pretty much an indirect nerf to HFC as it’s basically improving your character and therefore making you stronger on encounters where you guild might be struggling with.

One annoying thing is there isn’t a vendor where you can buy gear for valor and I think that this would have been nice for alts who have a ton of valor but don’t want to spend it on gear they may replace in a few days. The thing that bugs me is that you have to do LFR (which is one of the sources for valor) to get as much valor as you can, but you can’t get valor from Normal/Heroic/Mythic raids which I think is very tedious. Valor can get gained from LFR, Mythic dungeons, daily random heroic dungeon and the weekend dungeon events. Again, this isn’t really anything to be excited about since we’re being redirected to do content that we’ve already done multiple times.

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Blizzard gave a little something for Heroic/Mythic raiders just as a reward for killing Archimonde on those difficulties. If you kill Archimonde after patch 6.2.3 only Heroic/Mythic, everyone will be rewarded with a quest item that will reward players with the Grove Warden mount and honestly, it’s a very nice mount! There is some lore in this very short quest, but just be sure to get your hands on it before it disappears in patch 7.0!

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Another PvP season was added with the release of 6.2.3 and that means higher item level PvP gear and some class fixes. All this means is that the expansion is going to last at least another 20+ weeks. Strap in boys and girls!

The final and most needed feature in patch 6.2.3 is Mercenary mode! This was very much welcome as it helps with long queue times for Battlegrounds/Ashran. What it does is it allows you to queue as the opposite faction when there’s not enough of that faction playing. Ashran is certainly a lot more tolerable after this change because of the shortened queue times and the many changes that it’s gone through. However Ashran is still a giant mess and really,  I don’t know anyone who enjoys it. But Mercenary mode is one of the best features in this expansion to be added!

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TL:DR? Well overall Warlords of Draenor is a disappointing expansion with not much going for it except for progression raiding or rated PvP. It had a very promising start but for some reason the quality of it just dropped and continued to spiral downward, maybe most of their efforts were focused on Legion (which seems like the case!). The story has been pretty mediocre and the content less than stellar. In terms of value provided for content available, it’s not really worth it, unless again you put time into raiding or PvP, even then there isn’t much of a choice when it comes to raiding because there’s on HFC that’s relevant now.

The world content is pretty dry and non-existent but the leveling experience is the best it’s been. The expansion has been plagued with content droughts, dire Apexis Crystal dailies and questionable class changes but there are still some things to do through old world content and achievements, if you’re into that sort of thing. I’d recommend it for a new player but for a returning player, I don’t think it you’d be satisfied with the current state of the game.

Rating: 65%

Do you agree with me or am I completely nuts?! I’d be interested to know what you think in the comments! And if you liked what you read, make sure you click that follow button for updates and special gifts (coming soon)! 😀

10 thoughts on “Warlords of Draenor – A Year On (Review)

  1. […] Let’s face it. Destiny was overall a let down. And it might be partially our fault (not saying I’m blaming everyone!). Yes Destiny was way overhyped by Activision and the marketing of the game was literally shoved down our throats via TV ads, billboards, online ads etc. The problem is, they fed us with this hype for the game and from what we got from it, didn’t fit the hype (which almost no game would probably handle). You could place the blame entirely on Activision but it was up to us to fall for the bait (which was pretty much inevitable, even I was hyped beyond measure. Like I was with Warlords of Draenor!). […]

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      1. I have not played Since Myst Pandaria. I kind of fell off of WoW, but your review might make me come back. I am kind of immersed into Swtor and the beta of Blade and Soul got my interest.

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      2. Mists of Pandaria was actually pretty good, until the last patch and Swtor has some great class missions and has gotten better with the recent expansion. How is Blade and Soul playing?
        What part of WoW interests you? Raiding, PvP or something else? 🙂

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      3. Blade and Soul looks amazing, I really dig the martial arts aspect of it hence why I got into Mist of Pandaria. The cool thing about Blade and Soul is the interesting way they do their PVP with your clothing. The faction you join goes with your clothes and as long as you have that on you are in pvp mode.

        I enjoyed the raids when I could get them done. Not much into the PVP in that game, but my favorite was Cataclysm being a Worgen was the best thing to happen to that game. The only flaw was that it was stuck to Alliance. I was all about the Horde, however I enjoyed it either way.

        Yea I am really digging Swtor. I am going to get back on it for streaming tonight actually. But I gotta go to the Mundane job. Be well and looking forward to more of your work.

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      4. I can’t wait for Blade and Soul now! 😀 And same here, I love the martial arts theme in games. You’re in luck for Warlords, the raids in this expansion are actually pretty good, well the last raid anyway! I think Worgens might be getting a model update but not really sure when.
        Cheers!

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