How Warlords of Draenor is planning to get you back into Warcraft

Let’s stick together.

What will it take for you to get back into World of Warcraft? If you’re a lapsed player of this genre-defining game, Blizzard is hoping that one of the many new additions they’re introducing in the upcoming expansion, Warlords of Draenor, will be enough to grab people’s interest. And if those features don’t work, then there’s one other thing they can hopefully fall back on: peer pressure.

Peer pressure only works, of course, if enough of your friends are also into the same thing. This seems to be one of the major reasons why Warlords of Draenor allows you to jump one character straight to level 90. Blizzard’s senior game designer Steve Burke, speaking to GameSpot at PAX East 2014, said the ability to jump to the highest starting cap allows groups of friends to start the new expansion at the same point.

Each race has received a visual upgrade in Warlords of Draenor.

"As the game has gone on and we’ve created more content, the delta between the player who’s been playing for a long time and someone who’s coming back into the game is becoming bigger and bigger. It just felt that this was the right time to bring people back to the same point," he said.

"Expansions are big events, people come back to the game for expansions because they want to play with their friends. And people who are still playing want their friends to come back. But there’s always this problem of 'well, I'm still level 85, or 80.' Some people just take an expansion off. (But now) everybody is at the same point, everybody is at the same content, so let's just started."

Jumping to level 90 is, of course, a very handy thing if you don’t have the time to spend leveling up a character. But it also has drawbacks. Getting to a high level without gaining the experience, skill, and nous that develops from playing a character for hundreds of hours means that the newly playable land of Draenor could fill up with players with poor skills (but excellent gear). So how does the experienced player looking for good team members for a high-level raid sort the wheat from the chaff? Blizzard PvP designer Brian Holinka says Blizzard has a solution for that problem--requiring players to earn a silver ranking in specific roles in Proving Grounds before they can join Heroic-level dungeon raids.

"You’ll still be able to get into dungeons with others, it’s not going to be a stiff arm to the content, but it’s going to make it so that those veteran players aren’t inundated with people they feel they have to retrain, and it’s not going to dumb down the game too much for them. But also for the new players they’re not going to be intimidated by these veteran players who’ll just be shouting at them the whole time," Holinka said.

With Warlords of Draenor, returning players will also see something that hasn’t been seen in any of Warcraft’s previous expansions--a significant visual upgrade.

The visual bump is readily apparent. Characters--both players and NPCs--feature much more detail and animation, with a dwarf character I saw sporting actual, moving fingers, as opposed to the oven mitt-like movement in previous expansions. Burke, half-jokingly, points out the new details in character facial hair, praising Warlord of Draenor's beard technology.

"We keep saying we have awesome new beard technology," he says smiling. "But seriously, the beards are awesome."

"We just felt that this (introducing a significant visual upgrade) was the right time to do it. Mists of Pandaria, the worg and the goblins, those were times we introduced races. And we were kind of developing our technology and making it better. And the panda was our test case for getting this new thing up and going. And once we got it going for one race, well then we decided to propagate it for the rest."

"You can actually see the evolution of getting to this point from the worg, goblins, to pandas, to now spreading it out to all races. It’s not as if we woke up yesterday and decided to do this, it's actually been a long process getting to here."

As for how this upgraded visual fidelity will affect the game's recommended specs, Burke says he has no specific information yet on what those specs will be. But he does insist that the game will still perform well for lower-end systems.

"We have some low-res versions of the character models, so there's the ability for players to have lower performance requirements for the characters. We’re very conscious of the fact that players can play this on almost any computer out there, so we want to preserve that. But at the same time we felt it’s time to provide some higher fidelity," he said.

Warlords, of course, isn’t all about looks and skipping to level 90. There are numerous changes and additions--big and small--planned for Warcraft’s fifth expansion. One of the biggest is the concept of garrisons, which has players build and maintain their own home base in Draenor. This base will be a way to farm resources, as well as be a “home” for certain NPCs that will become your allies.

Expansions are big events, people come back to the game for expansions because they want to play with their friends. And people who are still playing want their friends to come back.

Blizzard's Steve Burke

"One of the cool things about garrisons first of is that you’ll have a mine, you’ll have a barn, and a farm you can start with straight away. All of these are going to do, sort of what the farm did for you in Pandaria, but blown out. Those are going to be producing resources for you even when you’re logged off," Holinka said. "You’ll always have more buildings than plots in your garrison, so you’ll have to make some tangible choices. Each one of those buildings will have specific benefits."

"But also as you’re leveling up you’re going to encounter a lot of NPCs that are recruitable and that you can send back to your garrison. And they can do a few things--you can plug them into your crafting--a blacksmith can hammer away, and he’ll level up his blacksmithing skills, he’ll discover new recipes for you. You will also be able to open up missions, and these are basically quests for your minions."

World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor is slated for release for PC and Mac in fall of 2014.

See more coverage of PAX East 2014

Written By

Randolph is the managing editor of GameSpot, and needs more time to play games.

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41 comments
higochumbo
higochumbo

If they wanted me to go back to WoW, a game i left after The Burning Crusade, the first thing they could do is not force me to buy all the gimmicky expansions in between.

njs72
njs72

I didnt like the phasing they made into the wow servers, just this one little thing made me quit.. Walking out of SW to see thousands of players deuling ruined the entire game for me, will never go back to wow.

toophat2014
toophat2014

Sorry for double post but also wanted to say that there's nothing wrong with making it easier for gamers who just want to have fun but at same time they should have kept to where the hardcore players can enjoy the MMO the way they like to as well. Something that is very much possible to do had they wanted to but obviously they choose what was easier for them I guess.

toophat2014
toophat2014

If they made the gameplay a little faster I would actually have stuck with wow since they have plenty of content and expansions but I can't take how slow the gameplay is. I mean I have played other MMOs with the same auto attack and turn based gameplay like wow's but even theirs was faster. It just feels outdated to me especially after playing MMOs like GW2, Swtor, ESO, and wildstar which understand some of those have completely different gameplay but swtor has an auto attack turn based system that is fast enough that you can't tell or see that it is. So they don't have to change engines but at least speed up the gameplay a little so that attacking and abilities are more instant and appear that way.

Warlord_Irochi
Warlord_Irochi

I  Like Wow and will always do, but not sure If I want to go back again a 4th time. Too much to play at the moment.

mr_nee
mr_nee

Fuck it. About a yeal later after I quit wow, battlenet when got hacked. I wasn't playing anymore, so I didn't bother to update change the pass. But then I found out that my chars were robbed and my account got banned for trying to sell gold. It's blizzards fault. They could have reset all passwords! Not going back anymore!

creepshow2
creepshow2

This expansion is here for one reason and one reason only. They saw so many posts about how people thought Burning Crusade was the best expansion etc... Blizzard has no clue anymore and all the really good devs they had on Wow have moved on to other things. So far all they have been doing is dumbing down the game more and more and with this expansion that trend will continue. Blizzard has no idea why BC was so popular, but I know why it was. BC was challenging and rewarding. It took really great teamwork to advance and the dungeons, raids, and pvp were great! There is not a damn thing they can do to entice the players they have lost to return. The game is getting really old and many players have started new games, new lives, or quit gaming altogether. Wow is in decline and will continue to do so for several years. No it is not dieing a fast death, it is slowly losing what once made it great which was challenging and rewarding gameplay. Everything is handed to you now.

tommynj
tommynj

Pre-order and get a level 90. Are gamers that lazy or is Blizzard that desperate ? 

Enkhrypthor
Enkhrypthor

One of the perks of being married/father with 33 years , is when you start to select things on your life that you can enjoy in your own pace.

Eso is working great for me. I don't push on leveling and i'm playing it as slow as i can in order to enjoy each inch of this game.

One day "maybe" i will go back to wow. But it would be a great offence to my computer. ( since i made a huge hardware upgrade)

PLUS

I have those beauties on my queue:

-Dragon Age 3
-The Witcher 3
-WatchDogs ( which i also dont plan to buy yet )
- Dark Souls 2

It's like the quote, from Gravity:

"You need to sip, not gulp. Wine, not beer."

Ovirew
Ovirew

I'm looking forward to the visual upgrades, and whatever other interesting gameplay changes come from WoD.

I think the new changes are mostly positive, and offer a winning situation across the board for returning, longtime and new players.  It isn't gonna please everyone, but I think it's a step in the right direction towards improving and modernizing WoW.

RoyialNetwork
RoyialNetwork

I miss WoW for a lot of reasons, but i can't get into it anymore. Its not all WoW's fault for its success spawning hundreds of variations since its release. But, i've played the game, and played it with a different name, even my beloved Diablo was WoWified. I'm so tired of those types of MMOs that i can't even get back into the one that spawned them. 

Algearond
Algearond

LMAO. I wouldn't go back to this trainwreck if I was paid to play, especially with TESO being out. Sorry Blizzard but between the RMAH in D3 and you gutting every enjoyable feature in WoW over the last two expansions I have you on a perma boycott list. But you just keep making those changes *for the good of the game*

ganondorf77
ganondorf77

If trees in Ashenvale are still pentagonal, then all the visual improvements on entire game are complete nonsense. (By the way, there are no new models for trees in vanilla zones, so, ashenvale will still suck, and so many other places)

McGregor
McGregor

I'm not sure this game can ever offer enough for me to get back into it, but it was a lot of fun when I had the time. That being said, I have wanted a game that replaces this, that is completely casual. I got into TERA, and while it was far superior in the combat aspect, it was lacking in end-game content. If blizzard could implement combat similar to TERA, but add their flavor of content, they would have a new subscriber.

devilzzz1983
devilzzz1983

Here is the big question Blizzard.  Will you have combat changed at all finally?  Will you go a la Tera, WildStar or ESO?  Also what about bring back 40 man raids and attunement like WildStar is bringing to their game?  What about more group questing say have it be 50% of it where it is required that you actually group up in places other than a dungeon or raid which is all people seem to group up for in mmorpgs?  What about NO NERF dungeons and raids like WildStar has been rumoured to be bringing?  

Seriously can Blizzard or some other company step up and deliver a proper mmorpg that is fun, challenging but stays a challenge and actually has players grouping out in the open world you have created?

1wikkid1
1wikkid1

 What exactly does the following mean: "players with poor skills (but excellent gear)"? More specifically the "excellent gear" portion. Are the "autoleveled" characters recieving free sets of excellent gear along with their free levels? 


Some of these changes sound pretty good... so good in fact that they should have been done years ago instead of screwing around with noobmode difficulties and flying ponies.

grenadehh
grenadehh

The problem is that there are no fundamental changes outside of itemization. They will continue to fuck with, and ruin, classes that worked perfectly fine before, like Paladin. Literally the only positive changes Paladins have seen since BC have been Holy Shock, and Holy Power. These allow for insta-heals, assuming you're a healadin. Beacon of Light and some other slight changes have been positive, but for the most part paladins have been superceded by Monks (absolutely unrealistic) as main tanks and even in other roles. What they don't realize is the amount of noobadins who joined up because of TBC  - Paladin is the perfect class for them. Heavy armor, holy magic, can DPS, Tank, or Heal very well - and Paladins used to be the best tanks for a while, the best all around healers, and were very reliable DPS.


I fear to see what they even did to my Mage or Hunter or Warrior.

grenadehh
grenadehh

I've played WoW for 10 years now. I quit, after finishing each expansion, and eventually come back. MoP is the first time I've honestly given 0 fucks about this game - never getting to even 86 - and Cataclysm was so offensively easy, without content, and blatant in it's "masking" of the redesign of PARTS of Azeroth that I couldn't take it anymore. Blizzard literally had us pay for 8 years, to beta test a game, before they finished off the original game world and repeatedly redesigned classes, such as Paladin and Hunter, from the ground up. To this day, Silvermoon and many other main cities are on a separate actual map from the rest of the world (by design) - and it's not just that. So many parts of the world remain absent or inaccessible.. Going to any area in Quel'thelas requires a portal. Dalaran itself was a missing chunk of land alleged to exist but not inserted until the second expansion for an entirely unrealistic purpose; there's no way in fuck Dalaran would be neutral after the scourge erased their city. The same can be said for parts of the world that were supposed to exist, such as Uldum, or Hyjal. 


Having said that, I know a lot of people personally that agree with me who seem content with the alleged upcoming changes in WoD. The itemization has been unfucked, finally after 9 years, so that it's supposed to be back to normal. That doesn't attest to any story changes - you can't unretcon the retcon unfortunately METZEN - but it seems to be a start. WoD seems to be what we SHOULD have received with Burning Crusade. A lot of people seem to honestly believe this is a step in the right direction, and the free 90 thing - whatever all this nonsense is - may honestly bring some people back. It'll still take 10 million XP per level - at a likely 400k xp per major quest - but this might bring some old-timers like me back. Though Blizzard has done their utter best to drive this franchise through the core of the earth and beyond, they seriously may have made some positive fixes.


As one of the very few people who actually played the original WC games, where is Kul Tiras? They were a major part of the story line and are entirely absent from WoW with the small exception of some marines made out to be douches in Durotar. The alliance is the protagonist in this storyline, hands down. The horde may have been fucked into existence and screwed before that by their own chieftain, but the Alliance (I play horde and have  not played alliance since 2004), but the fact that Kul Tiras is utterly absent - that's unacceptable.


and yes, I am too drunk to use italics, fuck that the editor is more effort than typing three words per minute/proper grammar or punctuation.

sabawoon
sabawoon

ahhhh so much nostalgia from BC. I am glad Blizz is going back to the roots. Can't wait to get into Draenor!

amaneuvering
amaneuvering

That single screenshot with the elephant things looks gorgeous.

Oh wait...It looks like that might not actually be an in-game shot based on the smaller screen above it. 

Well, that's how the game SHOULD look.

vadagar1
vadagar1

yah you got me in cata, never again

time to enjoy TESO <3



claybiscuit
claybiscuit

@mr_nee  

The same thing happened to me where my account got hacked but, unlike you, despite not playing the game at the time I got in touch with blizzard and everything was sorted out with minimal effort on my part other than sending them a couple of emails.


It is not blizzards fault that you got hacked because you didn't "bother to update change the pass" and trying to blame them now is laughable when you haven't done anything except complain on an article for the next expansion about how fairly you have been treated.


My advice to you is to get in touch with Blizz asap and sort your life out


Clay Biscuit

nero2142
nero2142

@mr_nee  Blizzard fault that you were unable to protect yourself from keylogger ? you know that it isnt a problem and they can restore your acc in 1 day....... 

claybiscuit
claybiscuit

@creepshow2  

You do realize that as a franchise WoW has been around long enough for the old players to go on and live new lives in other games or stop gaming entirely and be completely fine?  Every year new kids start playing computer games and WoW will certainly be a choice for them.


I entirely agree that they have lost some of their more mature target market with some of the more recent expansions though... I for one have stopped playing WoW about 3 times in the newest expansion alone because I have found something else to play but then I keep coming crawling back because the other games get boring or I still have friends playing the game.  Sure the game is easier now than it was 2/3 expansions ago but at least there are harder difficulties to play the game on.

feleas
feleas

@creepshow2 Well endgame of Cata was pretty challenging too.... but then they nerfed it all to dumb it down for players.... yeah I see what you mean haha

mr_nee
mr_nee

@tommynj  Remembering how long it took to level from 1-60 in vanilla, I can see why someone wouldn't want to level from 1-90 all over again

vadagar1
vadagar1

@Enkhrypthor yah I get what your saying, just started a relation ship which I hope evolves into something more, and got TESO too hehe


frankly wow is just dated as hell both visually and game play wise, not to mention too much crap can be bought with money now like levels items...etc 


the whole point of the game is lost

ColdstoneX3
ColdstoneX3

@1wikkid1 it means people will have sets of gear to go with the char, i have preordered WoD, and got one char to lvl 90, a warlock, with a complete set of green (magic items) at ilvl 483, compared to whats available to raiders of normal tier end content, its pretty crap. but its enough to get started. As for the poor player skill, he outlined that nicely, boosting to 90 doesnt mean you know how to play the char, alot of unskilled players running around atm

tomtomtom1230
tomtomtom1230

I play a human Frost Mage. I'm regularly in the top 3 DPS'ers in raid groups (Flex and Normal level raids). Hunters always seem to be up there with me too. Stop being so doom and gloom it ain't that bad!

Ezio_2009
Ezio_2009

@amaneuvering  I hear they are upping the graphical fidelity of the game, so it should look alot nicer now, across the board :D

claybiscuit
claybiscuit

@mr_nee @tommynj  

Vanilla is Vanilla... MoP is MoP.  It doesn't take that long to get to Panda land... I have done it in about a week and a half to 2 weeks play time easily

Enkhrypthor
Enkhrypthor

@vadagar1  

ESO is really catchy if you give a chance to it. Its normal most of players doens't like it :)

Also, any game vs any game is like:

What do you prefeer? Rollercoaster or ballon ride?


atm im playing eso in tourist mode. and i'm loving it =)

claybiscuit
claybiscuit

@tomtomtom1230  

It's okay tomtom if you look below grenadehh is just blowing of steam because he is drunk... he has absolutely no idea of how things have gone in MoP because he never got to lvl 86.


So you can just ignore all the he writes in this post because he has no clue and doesn't understand the need for game balances that affect not just WoW but every online game that comes out... it's called an update for a reason :)