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World of Warcraft – Part 22 – Warlords of Dreanor Beta

I opened my email last week to a bit of a surprised, one I am a bit mixed about.  I had been selected for the Warlords of Draenor Beta.  I’m mixed because, “Oh cool, Beta!” and “Oh crap, I wanted to avoid the spoilers and I have all these level 90s I’m working on”.  I ended up playing it, I’ve done maybe 2-3 hours so far total, though I haven’t been keeping track.  I decided to transfer over my Blood Elf Warrior main and run her through the paces.  I had a couple of motivations.  I’m not sure if I want to start with her on Live, so doing her now means later I can still have the newness of running my Hunter.  I also wanted to experience the changes to Warriors.

Just as a forewarning, this may be a bit lengthy and it will contain some minor spoilers for WoD.  Honestly, there isn’t a whole lot to spoil, so far it’s just your basic WoW story, go do some quests and help people, and I have only been in the intro zone and first regular zone.  You’ve been warned though, from this point on.

On Transferring Characters

This isn’t exactly something that will happen during live, but for the Beta, you can transfer characters from Live for testing.  This also gives them the new updated models.  Ramchan, being a Blood Elf, doesn’t get a new model, but Ramenjunkie, my Orc, does.  The new models are reeeeallly nice.  I was worried he would end up all lame and baby faced but he still looks pissed and angry and ugly.

Some odd things happen when transfering characters that are notable.

  • Ramchan initially had all of her transmog gear on the character select screen.  Once I entered the world, the gear reverted to normal non transmog gear.
  • Initially I had my store bought two headed dragon mount, I flew around on it and everything.  Later when I logged in again, it was gone along with a few other mounts.  Later still, I created a new level 90 from scratch and the new testing 90 came with some 230+ super rare mounts for testing.  So mounts are funky.
  • I tend to run my Warrior using Berserker stance, which is no longer an option in WoD.  Initially entering the world had me in “no stance” with my normal action bar configuration, minus any trimmed abilities.  When I selected a stance, it cleared out all my action bar abilities.  I filled them back in.  Later, I did a taunt, which automatically toggled me into Defensive stance and switch to a Defensive action bar, which was empty, which really sucks when you have just pulled an enemy.
  • I transferred my level 25 Monk over and went in world to see what would happen.  He was still level 25, and in his normal Heirloom Gear.  There are some temporary dudes in world to let you quickly teleport around the Beta zones, so I selected one and was transported to a dungeon.  Alone.  A level 97 dungeon.  It DID scale my level and gear to level 97, but I couldn’t kill anything alone.  I left the Dungeon, hoping to drop back into Orgrimmar.  I ended up out in Draenor surrounded by level 90+ enemies, while at level 25….


I have not had a chance yet to explore Azeroth too much.  The new Dark Portal is in Blasted Lands and there are a bunch of people fighting Iron Horde dudes near it.  You get a quest to go there, completing the quest gives a “Cinematic not available” then you are in Draenor.

So far, there is no way to get back to Azeroth as near as I can tell.  The Portal is destroyed in the opening mission leaving you and your band of others stranded in this new world.  Your Hearthstone is automatically rerouted to a place within Draenor as well, locking you in.  I may try using one of the teleport dudes and exiting the dungeons to see if I can escape that way.

The Intro

The opening quest line has you working to first destroy the Dark Portal while a massive battle wages around you, then fleeing with the remaining characters through various small Orc strongholds to escape the Iron Horde to someplace safe.  This also serves as a way to introduce the various Orc Warlords.  Each step has you encountering one, who gives some little speech with some neat introduction effects before they run off to be fought again later.

It also serves as a way to provide up to date gear for the player through quest rewards.  I did not end up needing or using ANY of the gear provided.  It was all iLVL 505 or so, and way weaker than even my pathetic LFR Raid Gear.  On one hand, this is nice because it means I can cash out all the quest rewards with little thought, on the other hand, new gear might have been fun.  I guess there is always Transmog.

Speaking of Raid Gear, I was worried that I’d be weak, it’s really quite the opposite.  I feel extremely overpowered compared to all of the regular quest monsters.  It’s like being a fresh level 90, and going back and running Cata content.  It’s no contest and everything dies in like 3-4 hits.  I’m wondering if a secret push in this expansion will be to better normalize gear in preperation for whatever is next.  MoP went on for way longer than normal and the power differential between fresh 90 gear and Raid 90 gear was already kind of nuts.  I am only iLVL 530-540, I can’t imagine how much of a breeze everything is at the max iLVL of ~580.


On the other end of the spectrum, Dungeons are not easy.  They are BRUTALLY hard, at least as far as I can tell from the one I tried to run.  Level and items were scaled to be equal, which was neat, but the first boss wiped us 2-3 times at which point the group all pretty much left.  I have no context to comment on the dungeon content really, we were fighting some birdmen in a bird village.  The boss tore through the tank and then started ripping the rest of the party apart.  I don’t know if the Tank was off or the Heals were bad or if things were just too hard, but it kind of really sucked.

Frostfire Ridge

After the intro zone, you head off with Thrall to meet up with Durotan and the Frostwolves Clan.  For anyone not familiar with Lore, the Frostwovles refused to partake in the whole corruption of the Orcs thing back in the past, so they are kind of outcasts among the Orcs.  This is also where you establish your Garrison.  The Garrison is one of the new big features of WoD.  It’s a personal base that will gather resources and other junk for you.  It’s semi customizable in which buildings you can place as well.  It’s a generally neat concept, Think, the MoP farm on Steroids.  Horse steroids, and lots of them.

Once the Garrison is established you head off and meet up with more Frostwolves and lead an assault on an Ogre fortress.  The way quests are handles so far is really great.  There are a lot of multipart auto completing steps.  The effect is very much more immersive and cinematic.  You are running back and forth to quest givers constantly and you aren’t gathering BS piles of pelts for nobodies to fill time.  You are mostly just doing things relevant to the story and action happening around you.  Both the Intro and Ogre Fortress lines have a lot of really great NPC battles waging around you.m  This has been a thing before but it always felt kind of cheesy, like “here are some dudes fighting”.  These battles feel like battles.  It’s chaotic and fast.  It’s really great.  There is also a lot of phasing in and out as you complete quests that isn’t even noticeable.  You may run in a building after battling through some enemies, then kill the enemy leader, only to come out and discover the rest of the battle as been pushed onward and it’s all corpses where you just were.  The whole world just feels very alive.

Closing Initial Thoughts

I’m pretty excited to play the real thing after playing some of the Beta.  A lot of the improvements are improvements for sure.  Better pacing, better immersion.  I kind of really hate that my Warrior has almost no AOE attacks now but eh, fine, I can 3 hit most monsters anyway.

I already plan to binge on WoD upon release, this early taste of things to come is just that, a small taste.  I don’t think anything feels ruined at all at least.  I don’t want to bounce around too much out of order so I don’t see too much too soon, but I will probably continue on at least through Frostfire Ridge to whatever comes next.

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