I don’t hate it so far.
Quite the opposite, actually. The launch event may have been a bit of a struggle, with groaning servers and the choke point formed by one NPC on whom all players must click to enter Draenor, but the experience on the other side of the Dark Portal is basically very sound.
Upon landing you’re rushed through a fast-paced chase sequence through the Tanaan jungle, in which you’re introduced to the titular Warlords and your key allies through brief cinematics and short quest lines. Opinion is divided among my guildmates on this, with some of us feeling that it’s a bit too quick and contrived, that a few should have been held back. Personally, I like it. It gives us an idea of who’s who and that’s vital in an expansion that will live and die on these existing characters being well-received, even by players who haven’t played Warcrafts I, II or III, or The Burning Crusade, or who have ever read quest text or in-game documents. Something that roleplayers often forget is that not everyone’s a lore nerd, indeed not everyone actually cares about what’s going on beyond the NUMERS. That’s a false binary, of course, but treat it as a spectrum with ends that you can’t actually reach and you’ll understand, I think, why things have to be the way they are.
Anyway, if you have any taste at all you play Horde (rumours that your host has a Draenei Paladin who he at least intends to drag through the dungeons will be VIGOROUSLY denied), and will end up in Frostfire Ridge. This place is epic. Ice and fire (yes, references abound), blades and heroes, some superb choral-and-war-drums music, and the garrisons!
Again, opinion is divided on these so far. I can see the argument that many players are making – that it’s a very solo-player experience in a multi-player game – and I even agree with it to a point. It’s in the same vein as Heroic Dungeons (group content where co-operation and communication are key) being gatekept behind Proving Grounds (potentially ego-puffing single player content). However, I a) really like that I’m lord and master of my own ice-bound doom fortress and b) really like that levelling alts can now, in theory, go so far as “get to Frostfire or Shadowmoon, build garrison, do dungeons until level 100, build gathering/crafting/loot upgrade buildings in garrison, log in once a day to keep things ticking over.” The interesting stuff like the PvE tavern or PvP gladiator pit, or the more effort-intensive stuff like Stables and the Lumber Yard, can be saved for one’s main and primary alts. It’s a real boon to people like me who have quite a few characters but don’t have the time or inclination to keep them all near the curve of progression all the time. (Of course, I’m slacking already since everyone who actually did dungeons while levelling already has Heroic-quality gear, but hush; it’s only ten item levels and the raid tier doesn’t open ’til next week. I’ll catch up.)
There’s one more thing I really like, and I’ll go to roleplayer hell for suggesting it, but the idea that one is, by now, a ranking officer in the faction’s organisation, sufficiently important to be commanding the assault on Draenor, has a certain appeal to me. I’d never actually roleplay that way, but considering that Gar’shúl the Warlock is a Veteran of the Wrathgate, a seasoned campaigner in Tol Barad, a Liberator of Orgrimmar and a vanquisher of the Black Harvest (to name his most significant accomplishments), it’s fun to have that acknowledged more and more by both the Horde and the Alliance (some of whom overcome their distaste enough to work in his very garrison!).
It’s almost enough for me to forget the loss of Glyph of Demon Hunting. Almost. I liked being a pseudo-tank (good enough to tank Primordius when he was current content, at least, and brilliant fun in PvP), and I liked jumping around pretending to be a Dreadlord, and I liked the cross-faction communication between Warlocks (reminiscent of the old quests for fancy robes, new demons and fiery steeds back in the old days). It’s not all bad – I’ve actually learned to use Metamorphosis so I can at least see the wings again – but I don’t understand why it was removed in the first place. It’s not like Blizzard didn’t bend the spec system so Druids could have a distinct tanking spec – there is precedent for this sort of thing!
That there’s an NPC Warlock follower who still has the permanent wings, the threat building and a tooltip that says “Metamorphosis: used by Warlocks who pretend to be Demon Hunters.” That’s just rubbing it in, guys.
Anyway, let’s not end on a negative note. Apart from personal gripes and regular infrastructural issues (Blizzard have been pretty good about comping people with extra days on their subscription, in fairness), Warlords of Draenor seems fun so far. I’ve really enjoyed the garrisons, and meeting the arakkoa (their quest-line in Gorgrond had me flapping my hands like a Tumblrina a few times, I shan’t lie), and I’m probably going to renew the annual sub in January. I have the Warlock at level 100 already, and I’ll be trying to bring up a tank (my Death Knight) and at least one Alliance character (a Draenei of some sort, either Paladin or Monk) before the first raid tier opens and the PvP season begins. There’s also the small matter of the Molten Core nostalgia trip… for which I could really do with some better gear. Time to get on that before I’m back at work on Tuesday. Adioski, amigoskis.