Today was a huge day for World of Warcraft news during this year’s Blizzcon. Blizzard announced the next expansion– World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor– and showed off the highlights, new features, and huge changes we’ll be seeing when the expansion rolls out. We’re talking big features WoW players have been wanting for quite some time now– player housing, new character models, new raid structures, major item/stat changes, and a return to some pretty cool and iconic places. The team also showed off a ton of artwork during the presentations. Let’s take a tour and go over the highlights.
Warlords of Draenor Overview
- Increased level cap to 100.
- New level 100 talents.
- Expansion will be set on the homeworld of the Orcs: Draenor.
- Players will get to revisit both new and familiar areas.
- New player housing/customized campaign system called Garrisons.
- New PvP zone called Ashran near the Dark Portal that will be a PvP sandbox with a permanent, ongoing battle that will mirror old-school Alterac Valley.
- New character models.
- Special character boost feature to raise a character to 90 instantly.
- Stat removals: Hit and Expertise will be disappearing.
- Stat additions: Cleave (gives you a chance to do extra damage or healing to additional nearby targets) and Movement Speed.
- New armor itemization will make gear disbursement easier.
- The often-discussed item level “squish” that drops down stat percentages to non-ridiculous numbers does seem to be in effect according to Blizzcon attendees that tested out the expansion.
The World of Draenor
Draenor is the original homeworld of the Orc race and the continent that we have come to know as Outland. Warlords of Draenor will focus on taking players back to Draenor in a time travel-esque fashion. As you can see from the map above which Blizzard published on the official Warlords of Draenor site, there are definitely some familiar places from The Burning Crusade. Other zones have been changed so dramatically that they are known by a different name. Throughout the day today, Blizzard posted a handful of screenshots from these zones on Twitter. Here are a couple (click on any to enlarge):
Frostfire Ridge (the Horde starting zone):
Other zones were briefly showcased in this video Blizzard released and can be previewed as concept artwork on the site. We’ll also be seeing some familiar faces in Warlords of Draenor including Kargath, Blackhand, Kilrogg, Khadgar, and Gul’dan.
New Character Models
Blizzard’s goals for the much-anticipated new character models for the older races were simple– they wanted to ensure the models still kept the same charm and “soul” of the original models yet featured improved visual definition and fidelity as well as better animations and greater details. We’ll be seeing new models on every race and gender up to and including both Draenei and Blood Elves, but for the moment, all that is previewable are the updated Dwarf, Gnome, male Orc, male Undead, and male Tauren races.
Here’s a gallery:
Quite a few changes are coming in Warlords of Draenor to make sorting through our inventory and bank a lot less messy (finally!).
- There will be a new account-wide collections tab similar to the mounts tab that will include heirlooms, toys, and possibly tabards.
- Toys and fun vanity items will be placed in a spellbook-type toy box interface and will not longer take up bag space.
- The toy box can be used for setting favorites and there will also be a way to randomly use a toy.
- Bags will be finally be sortable without any addons.
- Recently-looted items will be highlighted in your bags.
- Items in bags will have colored borders for their rarity as well as gold icons next to them when they can be sold to vendors.
- Quest items will no longer take up bag space and can be activated from the quest tracker (finally!).
- Players can craft directly from the bank.
- Stack size for many crafting materials is increasing to 100 (finally!).
New Raid Structure
We’ll be seeing quite a few changes to the way raids work in WoW with the expansion. First off, flexible raids will no longer be called “flexible raids” and their functionality will instead be incorporated into almost all of the raids. Most raids (except the highest difficulty raids) will have a certain amount of built-in flexibility as far as the number of players that can take part.
- Raid Finder groups will still be based around 25 players, but if a few people drop and the finder is unable to find replacements by the time the group gets to the next boss, the encounter will scale down to the number of players present.
- Normal raids will scale exactly like flexible raids currently do. Their difficulty will drop down slightly to be more like current flexible raids.
- Heroic raids will scale exactly like flexible raids currently do. Their difficulty will drop down slightly to be more like current normal raids.
- The most challenging raids will require a fixed raid size, and will therefore not use the flexible system. These will be called Mythic raids. The fixed raid size is being changed to 20 players.
World of Warcraft will finally have housing! Garrisons will be the housing system of Warlords of Draenor, but it will actually be much more than a simple housing feature. Players will get their own little settlement to build on and add a house, of course, but also add various buildings, etc. and employ plenty of NPCs. These NPCs become your followers that can be sent on missions while you’re offline.
These missions depend on the type of buildings you have in your Garrison. Completing these missions can reward you with profession items you normally wouldn’t have access to as well as gear. Your NPC followers will also be able to level and gear up. It’s almost akin to an RTS campaign, from the sounds of it.
Here’s a mockup of the NPC follower UI: