Feature Article

Hunting Heroes and Building a Garrison in World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor

In Warlords of Draenor, heroes are called upon once again to save the World...of Warcraft.

The rhythmic pounding of hooves met my ears, and I surveyed the icy terrain around me, It had been a while since I had been forced to traverse via mount on the ground, having become so accustomed to taking to the skies on a whim. This removal of the ability to fly is just one of the core changes Blizzard intends to introduce in its upcoming World of Warcraft expansion, Warlords of Draenor.

The change was the first thing I noticed while playing the beta. Tied to the ground once again, I found an appreciation for the landscapes I explored in Draenor, the new setting featured in the expansion. Because my travel distance was limited, this change slowed down the pace at which I took on and completed quests in comparison to how I had previously played World of Warcraft.

My habit of flying directly from quest point A to quest point B was no longer feasible. The landscapes of Draenor needed to be considered--not just in the routes through hubs of monsters, but in the possible player-versus-player encounters with stray enemies.

World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor is the fifth expansion to be released for Blizzard's landmark massively multiplayer online game. New features include a graphical overhaul to all characters, raising of the level cap from 90 to 100, player-managed garrisons, and a new overarching story that sends you back to the past to save Azeroth once again.

Finer details to changes include Blizzard's intention to scale down the numbers representing various statistics, which it has referred to as an "item squish," and the aforementioned omission of the ability to fly until a later patch.

For the most part, quests still follow a recognisable formula. Upon first arriving in Draenor, I was immediately assaulted with "kill X amount of Y" tasks intermixed with "gather X amount of items" quests. The tedium of these was broken up by some cinematic flair upon completion, as well as familiar interactive quests that played more like action minigames. First encountered in the World of Warcraft: Burning Crusade expansion, these interactive quests littered my screen with satisfying explosions and lots of numbers, which brings me to the next prominent change I noticed: the number crunch.

Having played the majority of my World of Warcraft life as a healer, a large portion of my game time was spent staring at numbers and different bars in a bid to heal my party correctly. These numbers grew exponentially in each subsequent expansion, with players able to easily hit six-digit figures in health and damage values.

Blizzard has announced its intention to conduct an "item squish" with the Warlords of Draenor patch, streamlining item statistics, player and monster health, and ability values. The effects of this were immediately felt upon selecting a character from the preassigned beta templates. As a level 90 paladin, I sported about 50K health and averaged a much lower amount of damage output than I was accustomed to. However, enemies had also been scaled down, so the average amount of time I spent in combat with each individual monster was relatively the same.

The streamlined figures felt easier to grasp because I no longer needed to calculate into half-million territory. Although somewhat trivial-sounding, the change helped to make figures in combat more understandable.

In a break from standard combat, Warlords of Draenor also introduces garrisons. To my delight, these player-built areas borrow elements from the Warcraft real-time strategy games. Assigned an area of my own, I could build structures and grow the size of my garrison. However, instead of having free rein over building placement, I was restricted to preassigned empty slots. Buildings cost resources, which exist separately to the gold players usually accumulate. I acquired these resources as quest rewards. Like in the Warcraft RTS games, structures take time to build, and I found myself quickly running out of the resources I had on hand.

More importantly, garrisons serve as a home to followers, whom I could manage and send out to complete missions independently. My first follower was a non-player character I rescued from a cave, who would go on to aid me at my garrison. Followers can be assigned missions to complete, with varying parameters determining their level of success and the rewards reaped.

To keep an eye on the progress of such missions, I could pull up the in-game mission tab at any time. Unable to participate directly in the assigned missions, I only had the ability to watch the mission timer tick down. Once a mission was completed, I was required to return to the garrison to look at the results and claim any rewards, creating a reason for me to regularly return to my established base. With a wealth of structures I have yet to build, the feature evidently requires a degree of time investment, but adds a layer of management into an otherwise combat-heavy beta experience.

Indeed, the content I've explored in the Warlords of Draenor beta strikes me as comfortably familiar, never veering too far from traditional World of Warcraft tropes. That's not to say my experience wasn't enjoyable; because of its questing system that results from many expansions' worth of tweaks, and its wealth of lore to draw upon, stepping into the past in Warlords of Draenor struck a balance between the old and the new. The introduction of garrisons and the appearance of key characters in the Warcraft universe were enough to reignite an interest that can be slaked only by taking up the MMORPG once again upon its release.

Written By

Zorine “harli” Te is a long time Australian competitive gamer and also an Associate Editor at GameSpot.

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Discussion

33 comments
jungleboii
jungleboii

So I am going to go from 600k hp to 60k hp??? Call me crazy, but I think I am going to feel like I am degressing rather than progressing in my adventures.

Chernnunos
Chernnunos

No new races. No new classes. No new professions. GG Blizzard. Still gonna charge 40$ for it, too, I'm sure.  Glad I'm done now. Freedom!

3dmatrixgamer
3dmatrixgamer

Every one is talking about WoD but no one shows intention for WoWs 10 th anniversary.i m too much excited about anniversary rather than WoD.

creepshow2
creepshow2

I have played this game since it launched. I recently quit playing it because Blizzard is really letting me down as a player. They have stretched MOP so long it has turned many off playing it at all. There are servers with healthy populations, but many have become desolate(even some of the connected realms). That being said this is the 1st expansion that has really turned me off before it gets here. I see nothing in it that interests me. I could care less about the model upgrades. If you look again they all have a similar neandrathol face to them. I would rather to have the option to keep my toons the way they are and not upgrade. They are dumbing it down even more! I think it is time to check Wildstar out.

Zignoff
Zignoff

Except first of all in Mist you couldn't fly either and had to traverse the land till level 90  which damn near required clearing all the zones, I know cause I did 2 times, so what's the bloody difference? First, taking away flight is stupid for starters, I understand restricting it, but forcing us to walk is a tedious design and also means that there are no hidden things that flight can find. I understand that's how it was in "Vanilla" but you know they changed it cause you know it was moronic :/

Second, according to alot of the people in the late alpha/early beta, Garrisons have seen 80% of their content which Blizz showcased and said it have to be in it, has been cut. I know for sure if the garrisons are not what show cased to us at blizzcon, I'm sure as hell not wasting money on this,

mari2kde
mari2kde

Sorry but this perview is very dissapointing...


Such previews sould be made by hardcore gamers that actually know what they are talking about.

Abberon
Abberon

*yawn*


Can't understand why people still pay to play this.  The game was effectively dead with WotLK as far as I was concerned.  

Samslayer
Samslayer

Thanks Zorine!  From the looks of it, garrisons seem to have a lot of potential. 

Ravenlore_basic
Ravenlore_basic

.... just not enough... and the SMALL increase in visuals (graphics) was not necessary, and redirected resources that should have been put to use with AI, or better phase abilities. 


Love the ability of the Garrisons but its too LITTLE to LATE. would have preferred a guild hall that can grow, be populated by upgradeable NPC's given orders, and be demolished if attacked

Zyconnic
Zyconnic

I think I'm getting too old for this game. Played since vanilla and all expansion.. After TBC they kinda lost it for me. Only my guild could keep me interested.

IMO I always hoped for a big change. Something they will do different and take a big chance. The new expansions ain't game changing, they will not risk changing the core, it's getting too casual and too boring with no imagination required from players.


For me this expansion sounds like a new questline.. nothing more

Wardishy
Wardishy

Why is not being able to fly being made a big deal out of? Each new expansion limits your flying in new areas and makes you upgrade your license/skill.

kdavenport88
kdavenport88

My wife and I took a break from WoW, but I know we'll be back. I just hope it has enough to keep our interest..not too worried though :)

Dagus0323
Dagus0323

it depends on how the garrison system works.
if i can fight stuff there and am required to level my little helpers and gear them out to beat back waves of stuff. then i'll like that.

if it just ends up as being farmville as has been stated previously, then it'll be a letdown for me. I know i'll come back and play WoD, but only for a month or two. they havn't showed me anything to make a lasting impression.

Kh1ndjal
Kh1ndjal

Garrisons: farmville in WoW.

edulink
edulink

@Chernnunos Actually it's $50, thanks to the "Free" boosted lvl 90 you get with it....

gta5onlinefunny
gta5onlinefunny

@3dmatrixgamer The same i was thinking over in my mind.Also there is no major difference for this both MOP and WOD (beta).

xan114
xan114

@creepshow2  i think warlords looks great. wow is overdue a graphical overhaul of its original models and animations. the new areas look great, garrisons look great, i like the story of draenor & the orcs. not sure what makes you think its being further dumbed down with this expansion though i agree that mop did make it too casual-friendly. the item squish has been needed for a long time. for the most part im looking forward to WOD and will renew my sub once pre-expansion patch hits live servers.

waffleiron88
waffleiron88

@Abberon You head it here folks, Abberon says the game is dead therefor its dead.

kalgert
kalgert

@Ravenlore_basic Pretty sure studios need a graphics department for the new models and enemies and stuff...

Pretty sure they have the budget to spread out to all sections, and the graphics department needs work!

jinzo9988
jinzo9988

@Ravenlore_basic You realize that graphic artists can't make AI better nor program better phasing techniques right?  They can't lay their guys off due to inactivity, they can't have them sit on their hands and do nothing,  and professionals at that level can't be re-purposed on a whim.

dialtech
dialtech

@Wardishy Because most people don't take the time to stop and think about what they read. When you see headlines and peoples comments that WoD has removed flying, everyone follows the hate/complain bandwagon. In fact, flying has only been removed until the 1st patch (I believe) it could be added a few patches after that I'm not aware of.

NX75
NX75

@Wardishy Yeah, the only difference this time is that you won't be able to upgrade your riding skill to grant flying until a later patch at best. But you're right in that for now it'll be the same as always, and not any different than it would have been otherwise. That's why it's weird to read stuff like "My habit of flying directly from quest point A to quest point B was no longer feasible." I wonder how one would develop a habit like that when the game has always restricted flying in new content.

NX75
NX75

@Kh1ndjal I think the more apt comparison would be the FARMS that we've had in the game for a couple of years now. Sure, the garrisons are an extension of that same kind of idea, but if you're going to compare it to Farmville, it'd make more sense to bring up Sunsong Ranch than the garrisons. You'd be better off comparing the garrisons to... I don't know, Clash of Clans or some other junk if you wanna be snide like that.

hXcShock
hXcShock

@waffleiron88 @Abberon
> "as far as I was concerned."

>learn to decipher a fact from an opinion, you couldn't look more unintelligent right now.

hXcShock
hXcShock

@jinzo9988 @Ravenlore_basic That doesn't change the fact that a ton of money was lost on a graphical increase no one really cares about. If you actually think blowing all that money on that just so the art devs would have something to do is justified then you're an idiot.