Sunday, November 16, 2014

Warlords of Draenor Launch

Warlords of Draenor was released on Thursday. As is tradition, the servers promptly melted. Thursday and Friday were pretty bad. The few times I was able to get in, the lag was so bad it was nigh-unplayable. However, the server maintenance Saturday morning seems to fixed most issues. Aside from queues on the high population servers, everything seems to be going well now.

All in all, it just emphasizes that one should never take time off work for the launch of an online game.

My paladin, Coriel, is level 93 now, and I've done the first Alliance zone: Shadowmoon Valley. It was a pretty good zone with a decent story. I like the mix of quest-driven gameplay combined with more open "Timeless Isle"-style activities like rare monsters and treasures. It's the best of both worlds, and it's always exciting to see a skull pop up on your mini-map.

I must admit that I was caught off guard by how central the garrison is to the leveling experience. It's well done, and I think does a very good job of establishing your character's role in the expansion. I rather like how all the NPCs call you "Commander".

I really have no idea what I'm doing with the garrison, but hopefully it's working out. I like recruiting new people and sending them on missions. It's simple but very well done.

I also like the randomness as applied to quest rewards. It's neat that green quest reward can randomly upgrade to blue or purple. It's a very good use of randomness.

A very bad use of randomness, on the other hand, is the Draenor Perks system. My first Draenor Perk for Retribution was Improved Forbearance. As I predicted, this was very disappointing.

All in all, WoD is going reasonably well. Blizzard says that demand was much higher than they anticipated. Which I suppose is good for them. However, I can't help but think that the lesson that will be drawn is that "SAVAGE! Orcs, orcs, orcs!" is what the players want. And maybe that is what we want.


  1. Yeah, I got the same useless perk as well. Fortunately my next two perks are a wee bit more useful in leveling. Empowered Divine Storm and Empowered Hammer of Wrath. Like the last expansion, I strictly level through Retribution spec.

    I was somewhat attached to my Tier 16 heroic gears, but they started to get replace quickly at level 97 around Spire.

  2. I am amused and saddened by the fact that it seems Blizz might have actually been on top of the servers this time, except that it seems someone decided to DDOS them during the launch period.

    I'm still working my way through Shadowmoon, but I'm liking it. As much as I liked the directed questing experience of the last few expansions, the exploration-light questing going on in Warlords has still been refreshing; I've been using that HandyNotes addon to show where the treasures are, and it's still a lot of fun to go running around, trying to find the one that's closest to me and revealing a small quest hub that I probably wouldn't have been directed to first.

    I hope later on we get some kind of feature to manage Garrison missions while away from base, though. I really like that system, and how it includes gearing and leveling your followers as well, but needing to run back often just to manage it all is kind of annoying.

  3. Dont worry RJ, blizzard wasnt on top of servers. The ddos only affected the NA server, and the EU was really bad as well. The issue was primarily one of bad bottlenecking design before and after taanan jungle, and TOO MANY people :-)

    By blizzards own word the ddos just made a bad situation a bit worse.

    And yeah a way to manage garrison from away from base would be nice. Or maybe even a mobile app like "auctioneer". Could be nice

  4. A very positive impression from me as well.... except for the utter nightmare of the launch days. I "played" almost 24 hours non-stop on launch day, or more precisely TRIED TO PLAY. Just after midnight it was a nightmare, then it went smoothly until the morning when hell broke loose....
    Apart from garrisons returns becoming impossible (instance not found) and people being locked out of their character (player not found), Spires of Arak will remain as a horrible memory of my leveling experience due to the lag/crashes/disconnects. Nagrand went reasonably well, except for the odd disconnects.
    I'm starting to appreciate the quests now that I'm completing the zones, and I'll definitely play them "reading the texts" with a reroll (with my main I rushed to 100). The closing cinematic for each of the zones is very nice.
    The garrison is housing done right, it's much much better compared to my experience with LotRO (=useless) and SWtoR (=deserted pile of trophies to raise the conquest bonus %).
    I like very much that in the quests and at the garrision you're taken seriously. Not just because of the "commander" thing, but there are few quests where you feel like they're sending you doing completely idiotic stuff.

    BTW you get a way to remotely "control" part of your garrison as you go through the zones: in each of them you can build an outpost which provides some zone-wide buffs and has a command table which allows you to complete/assign follower missions.

    I'm now running heroic dungeons for gear and they are somewhat old-school. It'll be a zergfest in a month (as usual), but when I started tanking them while 15 ilvls below the recommended and without any tank-specific piece was.... "interesting" :)

  5. People don't necessarily want more orcs or more Horde driven stories, but they do want more content. Regularly.

  6. I agree that the randomization of skill acquisition is not a good precedent to set. Even though in this particular case, where perks are acquired in random order, it doesn't matter, because you can faceroll the levelling content, anyway, and in a week's time you will have all the perks, and be gearing your level 100 for dungeons. Even the normal level 100 dungeons are tough.