As I’ve mentioned in recent posts I’ve finally given in to temptation and returned to World of Warcraft after a year of not playing. I was not excited by the Warlords of Draenor build up and only now, a year down the line do I find myself wanting to play this content. There are few reasons that have slowly built-up my desire to return.
I do love story-led questing in my MMORPGs of choice and World of Warcraft delivers, the quality of story content was never something I’ve criticised the game for.
Having seen fragments of the Draenor zones, NPCs and stories over on my husband’s monitor I finally wanted to start experiencing them on my own character. Thankfully we both have many, many characters in this game so he has still characters that have not yet leveled past the old Mists of Pandaria cap of 90. We’re now leveling a shaman duo through Draenor.
The Garrison system has been criticised as being too central to the expansion’s gameplay. I can imagine already how burdensome it would be to fully develop a garrison on multiple characters. That’s not a problem now but it may limit my engagement with the game in the mid-term as for me leveling lots of different characters *was* my endgame for much of the years I played WoW originally. One aspect of the system that I love on this first pass is the gradually expanding stable of NPC followers that I’m collecting. These characters are tied into the unfolding story of the expansion and add elements of Pokemon and exploration to the game; the former because collecting all the available followers is something I could get slightly obsessed with and the latter because you find some of the followers at random out in the world.
So the followers and the mission system that they are most used for offers a real positive to the expansion, although their value is partially tied into the magic of the first play-through. I can’t say for sure I’ll care as much about them on a second or third alt character. What I would say is that the sheer variety and colourful nature of this large cast of cameo characters shows of some real creativity from Blizzard’s writers.
Leveling lessons from Pandaria
Blizzard certainly do seem to have learned some lessons from the development evolution that Mists of Pandaria endured. From my perspective as a relative newcomer to this expansion it is noticeable that the world has a large variety of interactive content beyond just monsters to fight or items to quest objectives to complete. There are treasures to be found at random out in the wilderness and there are rare and more challenging monsters to be slain.
This focus on the open world design is noticeable and very welcome. The zones are lavishly rich in content, including a new type of area based bonus quest, so questing isn’t just about following a line from hub to hub. There’s plenty to distract you from the beaten path if you care enough to look around you. Add to this the various garrison tasks and quests for a veritable feast of activities.
So far, at level 94 and just edging into the third zone of the expansion, I’m very happy with the overall quality of content in Draenor. It is a rich and tasty feast of PVE gaming, polished and very easy to enjoy with a friend or two. World of Warcraft is well-known for the polish of the game engine and it shows – the game plays very smoothly compared to other more ‘modern’ games and the graphics, while cartoonish, have indeed been improved greatly over the years.
I suspect this foray in Azeroth will not keep me subscribed all the way to the eventual release of the Legion expansion but Draenor should keep me engaged for at least a couple of play-throughs. If I can earn enough gold to buy some WoW Tokens then perhaps I’ll stick around for even longer.