BlizzCon 2013 was definitely the year of the WoW. With the new expansion Warlords of Draenor finally revealed, we have a clear, if someone surprising vision of what the next year holds for the denizens of Azeroth. Let's take a look a what we know about this expansion, where it will take us, and what WoW will look like in the years ahead. It should go without saying that what lies ahead is completely spoilerific, but there, I've said it anyway.
Premise: After his defeat during the Siege of Orgrimmar, Garrosh Hellscream is brought in chains to stand trial. Before he can though, he escapes, and with the help of a Timeless Isle dragon Garrosh jumps back in time 30 years to the point when the orcs of legend are about to drink the blood of Mannoroth. By preventing this from happening, Garrosh saves his ancestors from corruption, and bestows upon them knowledge and advanced technology from the present in order to create the Iron Horde.
After 30 years of building up this massive army, Garrosh leads them back through the Dark Portal into present-day Azeroth, intent on laying waste to all we know and love. Heroes from both the Alliance and the Horde volunteer for a suicide mission to head back in time to stop Garrosh before he has a chance to create this army.They will venture into the Dark Portal, now glowing red, and step back in time knowing that if they want their world to survive, they cannot fail their mission.
Expansion Content Summary:
In Warlords of Draenor players will be travelling back in time 30 years to visit the planet of Draenor before it was torn apart by magic. Most of the planet's seven zones correspond to areas that players previously encountered in Outland during The Burning Crusade expansion launched in 2007.
Frostfire Ridge: Across snow-covered wastes and beneath towering volcanoes, heroes of the Frostwolf clan and the Horde unite to repel invaders from their homeland.
Shadowmoon Valley: Amid rolling moonlit hills, the draenei at the holy temple of Karabor unite with the Alliance in a desperate fight for survival against the Iron Horde and Shadowmoon clan.
Gorgrond: Deep within the desert canyons of Gorgrond, an arsenal of massive siege weapons built by the Blackrock clan is about to be unleashed upon the whole of Draenor.
Talador: In the shadow of a besieged Shattrath City, the Auchenai Soulpriests actively seek to safeguard the countless draenei souls inside Auchindoun from a terrible demonic threat.
Spires of Arak: At the height of their power, the regal arrakoa plot atop their high peaks, well out of the reach of the brutal Shattered Hand orcs and the wingless outcasts below.
Nagrand: Among the fertile hills and outcroppings of Nagrand, the bloodied wolf-riders of the Warsong clan remain a threat not to be trifled with.
Tanaan Jungle: Within the overgrown jungle home of the Bleeding Hollow clan, a Dark Portal is under construction . . . and an Iron Horde army makes grim preparations to conquer Azeroth.
In Warlords of Draenor players will be able to select a customizable home base that they build to suit their own needs. The player selects which zone in Draenor they want to build on, and can move their garrison with great difficulty if they decide to switch places. Garrisons will level up over three tiers. There will be different art for Horde or Alliance garrisons. The garrison is character-based, so you can have one with each of your characters who have reached level 90 and begun adventuring on Draenor.
All garrisons will contain these four starting areas. They will upgrade as the garrison levels up.
Building then come in three sizes, small, medium, and large. Filling up your garrison plots unlocks more plots, and the size of the plot determines which size building you can place there. The buildings have three levels, and once you max out your levels you can assign a specialization to the building. These specializations might be seen as talent trees, and will provide bonuses that can be used within the Garrison or even in the outside world.
Small buildings will give players access to professions they don't have. The specifics on how this will look are still in flux, but the developers mentioned that you might send followers on a mission to gather recipes for an engineering item even though you are a Blacksmith/Miner.
These are the large defining buildings that will set the scale of your garrison. An example might be a Mage Tower, Barracks, or Infirmary. These will have bonuses available, for instance having the infirmary will give you the ability to rez once a day. Upgrading your Barracks will increase the amount of followers that you can send out on missions in any given day.
One of the main purposes of the Garrison is the ability to recruit followers to help you out with tasks. Rather than simply hanging around like followers at Sunsong Ranch, garrison followers will be able to help work at the buildings, perform tasks even when you aren't there, and can be sent out to get epic gear for your character, gather resources, run scenarios, dungeons or raids, or complete garrison-related missions. These missions provide positive outcomes (bonuses, loot, etc) for your playable character.
Some followers will just show up at your base, but others can be recruited by upgrading your Inn. There are common, uncommon, rare, and epic followers, and their rarity affects the number of traits they can have. A major goal for the Garrison system is for followers to be dynamic and interesting—for example, if a follower fails a mission that takes place in a local dungeon, they might be taken prisoner; the next time you adventure in that dungeon, you’ll be able to rescue them.
All player models from before World of Warcraft: Cataclysm will be received complete redesigns. The philosophy behind this revamp is that the developers want to stay true to the original models and what players are familiar with, but give them an updated look and animations. For more information see our New WoW Character Model Preview.
A new raid tier system will be in place with WoW 6.0. They are doing away with the 10 and 25 man raids, and instead are implementing a 20 man raid across the board. Instead of having a specific level for Flex, all raids will flex between 8 and 30 players, with the exception being the most hardcore tier. All raiding will be cross-server from day one, because Blizzard believes you should be able to raid with your friends. Each raid tier will have their own gear-based lockout, to encourage helping others with bosses. Drops will be based on the number of players.
A 10-boss non-linear raid, with three wings you can take in any order before getting to the end boss.
The devs are also looking at reinstalling attunements of sorts to unlock the end boss of a raid so you don't always have to clear the wings if you are working on the last boss of a raid.
There will be seven new dungeons in 6.0, and a revamped heroic dungeon to make eight in total. My notes are incomplete about the eighth dungeon, so here's what we have so far:
In Warlords of Draenor players will have access to a couple nifty new systems. The first is a group finder queue system that will enable players to find groups for all sorts of content. Much like the Dungeon Finder tool, players who create a group using the Group Finder will be able to create or browse for groups to help them conquer challenges, and will receive a "Stacking the Deck" buff for using the Group Finder. If you queue with friends you will get bonus Valor Points, and if you requeue to an instance with a group you found through the tool they will count as friends and thus provide the Valor bonus.
The Adventurer's Guide will provide players with an in-game upgrade path to their best-in-slot items. We will no longer have to pay an outside service to find out where we can get the best gear. The Guide will be tailored to your class and spec, and will give you suggestions on what you can do each day to progress your character. By this I assume they mean that the guide will also give you information that isn't solely related to gear, but also to your progression through faction content and possibly quests.
In 6.0 Blizzard is looking to give us new ways in which to access content. We will see key storylines that we can choose to follow, and more non-linear optional content. There will also be dynamic events and quests that you discover in the world as you explore. They want players to be excited about questing, so they are adding in the opportunity to get rare rewards from quests. In addition there will be a ton of max level content, but little of it will actually be daily quests.
Going forward the devs like the key storyline progression of the Operation Shieldwall content, as well as the freeform exploration of the Timeless Isle. So in Warlords of Draenor we will see a combination of these two game design styles.
Items should be exciting, but in Mists the minute you get an item you have to go get it gemmed, enchanted, reforged, and upgraded before you can even use it. This boggs down the fun factor. So in Warlords of Draenor itemization is getting retooled so that it can be fun to get items again.