BlizzCon 2013 heralded in the existence of World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor, the next expansion coming to World of Warcraft. We'll be taking a trip back to the series' past and exploring Draenor, the world which would eventually become the shattered Outlands from the first expansion, The Burning Crusade.
As excited as we were to see footage of the new expansion and all of the goodies it will bring, such as new character models, new worlds, a level cap of 100 and more skills, we almost lost it when we got some actual hands-on time with the game. We were only able to play for 15 minutes, but they were 15 glorious minutes of a peek into the future.
Once you started up the game, you were brought to the character select screen, in which you could make your own fresh character. Three of the new character skins were available for preview, giving us a look at how different we'd look in the expansion. The new skins were reserved for the Orcs, Dwarves and Gnomes. The new character models have generally smoother edges, darker shadows to show more depth and an overall more "realistic" feel. These characters no longer look like the cartoony models from about nine years ago and are more in line with more modern massively multiplayer online role-playing game aesthetics.
Once you make your character, you're dropped into the Siege of Karabor for the Alliance or Frostfire Ridge for the Horde. For those who have followed World of Warcraft or any Warcraft lore, the Temple of Karabor would later become known as The Black Temple, home to Illidan Stormrage. Since I made a cool Dwarven Paladin named Healbuttz, I got to experience firsthand how the Iron Horde, the new baddies led by Garrosh Hellscream, attacked the Draenei temple.
Getting around as a fresh level 90 character was a breeze and the quests came aplenty. It had been a while since I played World of Warcraft, but it felt like business as usual as NPCs assigned quests and I was pointed towards areas where I either had to kill specific amounts of a mob or perform actions on other NPCs, like patching up injured soldiers. Parts of the temple grounds would change their state depending on where I was in the questline, meaning that a previously open path would become blocked off by debris or a wall would crumble after being bombarded with enough ordinance.
Since I only got 15 minutes to play through this scenario, I couldn't go as in-depth as I wanted with exploring the new class skills. But suffice it to say that Paladins still feel as resilient as they used to be. I unfortunately didn't come across any gear drops, but the mobs were so easy to kill that you could probably end up farming them easily for an hour to collect trash to sell without ever having to stop to regain your mana or health.
Our brief time with Warlords of Draenor was incredibly short but thoroughly enjoyable. The new character models are attractive and should bring some new life into what some may call an aging game. As long as the questlines in Warlords are varied and offer more than the usual checklist of things to kill, we're looking forward to seeing all that it has to show.