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It’s here! Warlords of Draenor is here!

I’ve been playing World of Warcraft on and off since Cataclysm (earlier if you count the characters I managed to level all the way to 60 on my friend’s account), but not so much over the last year and a half. This is partly due to a lack of time – a new job and a boyfriend who doesn’t play WoW (previously I was working from home and either single or dating a dedicated raider) left me with much less WoW time than I had become accustomed to – and partly because most of the friends I had been playing the game with stopped. It’s also partly because I just lost interest.

Of course, with a new expansion it’s almost impossible to not be interested, and in October I became one of WoW‘s 600,000 new subscribers flooding the servers in anticipation for new content that promises to deliver some of the most fun we’ve had in years.

At first, things took some getting used to. Since patch 6.0.2, quite a lot of things are just gone. No more reforging. No more hit and expertise. My main is a Hunter and some of my core abilities, like Hunter’s Mark and Aspect of the Hawk, just don’t exist anymore.

The reasons behind these sometimes daunting changes are promising though. Blizzard seems dedicated to making WoW less of a chore and more fun again, with a “kill, loot, equip” philosophy that makes a new item dropping a ton more exciting than it was when you had to literally spend hours preparing the item (reforge, upgrade, socket, enchant, etc.) before equipping it.

Thankfully, I had (mostly) gotten the hang of things by last Thursday morning’s 1am release of the expansion, and have been able to venture into Draenor without feeling like I’m playing someone else’s character anymore. Waiting for the Dark Portal to open was quite spectacular:

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Unfortunately (but quite amusingly), first attempts to go through it just transported everyone back to the Shrine of Two Moons, leading to a great trek being made back to the portal. Of course, I’ve played expansions as they launch before, so I wasn’t surprised by the huge crowds that gathered:

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But I was surprised that the crowds didn’t seem to get in the way of my gameplay. Maybe I was lucky, but at no point did I need to wait ages for quest objectives to become available to complete again. No waiting for this NPC to respawn or that item to reset. Apart from the initial hiccups, there was also very little to no lag. I didn’t struggle to log in, the quests were fun and exciting, and I finally went to bed at 3am extremely pleased and eager to try out this Garrison thing.

Most people must have been waiting until the next night to try out Warlords though, because when I tried to log on, this happened:

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After about two hours I managed to get in, only to find trying out Garrisons was easier said than done. Trying to enter my Garrison was repeatedly met with the error “instance not found”. Lag had also become a lot worse, and while I was eventually able to enter my Garrison and move on, these two problems continued to interrupt my gameplay for the rest of the evening, though the crowds still didn’t get in the way of completing quests.

The fact that I was getting to quest with/for some of the coolest Orcs of all time kinda made up for that:

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On a side note: if you haven’t been keeping up with Warcraft‘s lore, you might be a bit confused about why we’ve gone from exploring Pandaria to hanging out with long-dead characters like Durotan. For that, I strongly suggest checking out some of the videos on this Lore of Warcraft playlist, in particular The Story of Warcraft and The Story of Warlords of Draenor. Also, check out the official Lords of War series.

All in all, here is what Warlords is making me feel so far:

1) It’s not nearly as pretty as Mists of Pandaria, but it’s infinitely more bad-ass.

So instead of views like this:

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You get views like this:

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And this:

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That’s right, that’s a pack of wolves feasting on the corpse of my enemy, and that should tell you all you need to know about the general theme permeating Warlords.

2) Getting to send other people on missions for me is my new favourite thing and all I need now is a throne and a goblet of wine.

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I AM THE QUEST MASTER NOW.

3) Oh my gosh WANT

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Not much more to add to that. Just a general expression of an overwhelming need to own this pet. It requires that you hold the reputation of Revered with the Frostwolf Orcs.

4) Kinda feels just a bit too easy.

Dungeon bosses go down in no time (I’ve been in a dungeon where the healer disappeared for most of it and yet no-one was at risk of dying even once) and at no point have I felt too scared to attract the attention of too many mobs. I had pretty good gear entering Warlords though, including some level 550 gear from running the pre-Warlords dungeon, so that could have something to do with it. I’m also still only at the early stages of leveling to 100, so hopefully the difficulty balances out later.

5) It’s so exciting!

I loved Mists of Pandaria, but there’s something about Warlords. It feels like Blizzard is really going back to World of Warcraft‘s roots with this one, literally, and nothing taps into a World of Warcraft player’s spine quite like nostalgia.