It begins! The Iron Horde have come through the (now red) Dark Portal and all of Azeroth quakes in fear! Welcome to Warlords of Draenor! World of Warcraft's fifth expansion, and the game will never be the same.
As of pre-expansion patch content, there has never been a better time for the curious to jump in and join World of Warcraft. New character models with better attention to detail, extraneous (and often confusing) stats have been changed or removed outright, and every class has been streamlined to be arguably its' most effective ever.
The game, now 10 years strong and is loaded with amazing content for both the newbie and veteran player alike. If you've been gone a while, or just don't like being left behind while all your friends have all the high level fun, Warlords of Draenor grants you one free character level boost to 90 (the previous expansion, Mists of Pandaria's Level cap.) Meaning you can get your feet wet and jump right in the deep water.
That said, allow me to give you my two cents. There is always a hiccup on the release of an expansion. And that hiccup is sadly the ongoing feud between player density and what the server for a MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) can hold. Because of thousands of players flocking to taste the new content, servers promptly crashed several times. While this is totally standard and nothing to worry about – it is irritating when you are chomping at the bit to get your feet on the other side of the portal. Once these growing pains (and player density) abated, I was treated with my first taste of Draenor.
A lively cut scene features some of Warcraft's familiar favorites stomping a veritable mud hole into the spines of the throngs of the Iron Horde coming their way. The heroes moves their way towards the portal. Once on the other side? A massive army greets us – complete with cannons aimed at our not cannon-proof faces. Clearly, we were in the wrong neighborhood.
The quests from that point focus on stemming the advance of the Iron Horde into Azeroth. After that, like the heroes you've become after 90 levels, it's all about surviving insurmountable odds. I was treated to quests involving amazingly huge siege weaponry, slaying 100 enemies, and seeing some of World of Warcraft's greatest heroes and villains up close and personal. And even though the quests do lead you by the nose for the first little bit, it never really felt that way. You never feel overwhelmed or outgunned. You feel challenged, but not to the point of impossibility.
Blizzard has done an amazing job of balance here, and the story sucks you in immediately. Other features include the new garrison system, allowing you to build your own little patch of heaven as is necessary for you. The methods for doing so are easily spelled out, but I still found myself asking important questions like "Where are my profession trainers?" and "How the hell do I find more blueprints for my garrison?" Thankfully, websites like Wowhead.com are quite generous with information to help you along, yet without giving away every little detail.
In conclusion, if you haven't picked up World of Warcraft yet, I urge you to do so. If you have, get the Warlords of Draenor expansion. Now if you don't mind, I'm needed at the front. The Iron Horde aren't going to kill themselves.
Update: After launch, Blizzard was hit with both a massive influx of users that bogged down servers and a DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack from an unknown source. As such, players in high density servers have been locked down, which means no new players allowed on those. Also worth noting, high density server's players could be waiting in a digital line for hours just to get the chance to play. Add on scheduled maintenance that has all servers down for hours, and you're looking down both barrels of a frustration shotgun. I feel the need to reiterate what I've previously said: these are growing pains and no new game or new expansion launches without a hitch. I still stand by my review and can't wait to get back to my garrison and kicking more Iron Horde ass. Yes, it's frustrating, but Blizzard had a solid product here and a damn fine team of professionals in their ranks. Give them the benefit of the doubt, and you will not be disappointed.
Check out the trailer here.