Philip Tang ’15 / Emertainment Monthly Staff
World of Warcraft will celebrate its 10th year of continued existence in 2014, and there’s no better way to cap off a decade of dominance over the MMO market than releasing a fifth expansion pack; the details of which were revealed at Blizzcon 2013.
WoW’s new expansion will be Warlords of Draenor, starring fearsome Orc-ish heroes from the Warcraft series’ past. As with every previous expansion, WoD will introduce a myriad of new features and refinements. The most obvious of these would be the extension to the level cap. The previous two expansions only raised the cap by five levels each; WoD will return to raising it by 10. The max level will be 100, a true milestone for a game whose level cap was originally 60.
As hinted in the name, the newly added continent is Draenor, the Red World. Perceptive players familiar with Warcraft lore may notice that Draenor has actually already been used in the game since it was introduced in the second expansion, The Burning Crusade, as Outland. It was explained that the Draenor featured in WoD will be of an alternate timeline, one where Garrosh Hellscream has escaped into to prevent the Orcs from ever drinking demon blood, a critical event in Warcraft history. Hellscream seeks to form his new Iron Horde by banding together the Orcs of the past and then returning to invade the regular timeline with this newfound strength. Time travel shenanigans are always confusing, but further official elaboration down the road can be expected.
Fans have been clamoring for a player housing system for years now, and Blizzard has finally responded with the new Garrison feature coming in WoD. It allows each player to form their own personal base of operations, starting small and slowly growing their territory. Players can invite others by hand to check out their personally decorated garrison. Moreover, the Garrison system features a component similar to the Brotherhood mechanic introduced in Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood. Players gain followers that can be sent on missions to gather treasures for the player upon their return. Overall, the Garrison should prove an exciting addition to quell a massive thirst among the player-base for personal housing.
Another wildly requested feature that will become a reality in WoD is the graphical revamp of the original playable races (plus Blood Elves and Draenei). Over the years, the graphics of WoW have evolved as easily seen in the newer environments, enemies, weapons and armor. However, player character models have looked the same as they did nine years ago. Needless to say, the player models looked severely outdated in comparison to their surroundings. Fortunately, Blizzard has finally decided to address this glaring issue by bringing every playable race’s character model into the present with a sorely needed graphical update. It’s important to note that the company’s core philosophies in conducting this revamp are to retain iconic features and refine where necessary. Some players have grown a tight bond with their characters over the past several years, so Blizzard wants to ensure that the characters do not lose their previous charm while still being graphically enhanced.
This appears to be the first expansion that does not introduce a new playable race or character – a feature that many players heavily anticipate every time. Many would expect such a fierce selling point to be revealed immediately, but it’s entirely possible for Blizzard to be saving such a reveal for later.
Level 100 is an incredibly daunting number. Luckily, any who purchase the expansion pack will be granted the ability to instantly boost one of their characters to level 90 so that they can experience new Warlords of Draenor content immediately. Although no release date was set in stone at Blizzcon, the developers did set a vague timeframe in response to questions from the attendees. For now, expect World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor to launch some time before summer of 2014. Or, in infamous Blizzard terminology, expect it to launch “soon.”