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7 things casual players need to know about Warlords of Draenor

The dust has finally settled from the BlizzCon newstravaganza, which means it's time for us more casual players to figure out just what's going on with World of Warcraft's upcoming expansion, Warlords of Draenor. Here's the basics:
  • Where's the expansion set? Draenor, before it became Outland. Yep, we're heading back in time for this expansion.
  • What's the new level cap? 100. But don't panic if you haven't even reached the Mists level cap yet, because Blizzard is going to boost one of your characters to level 90 so you can play in Draenor.
  • What can I do in Draenor? In addition to the standard leveling, questing, dungeoning, and raiding, the expansion will have garrisons for you to build. Think of them as a seriously amped up version of the farms in Mists, letting build your own in-game city.
  • What new classes or races are coming? None -- however, all of the current classes are getting new models. It may not sound like much, but it makes the original WoW races look brand new.
  • When will I be able to play? We don't know yet. But as with most Blizzard games, we suspect it will be out "when it's ready."

So that's what the next expansion has in store for us. But there are some upcoming gameplay changes that will definitely help low-level or more casual players find their footing and get through the game -- if that means you, read on for 7 things you'll want to know about the next expansion.

1. Catch up with your friends
When you buy Warlords of Draenor, you'll be able to pick a character to boost immediately to level 90. This could be any character: even a brand new one you create for the purpose. This means no matter where you are in the game right now, you'll be able to jump into new Draenor content and play with your friends as soon as you pick up the expansion. This is going to be a big help to players who have let their subscription lapse or just never got to level 90.

2. WoW's new social philosophy
In the systems panel at BlizzCon, Ghostcrawler talked about the "social philosophy" in Warlords of Draenor. Blizzard wants you to be able to play with your friends, because playing with friends tends to be what makes the game fun. So, for example, you'll get a valor bonus by queuing up with friends rather than just joining a random group, encouraging you to play with your friends (and make new ones). We don't know much more about this yet, but playing with people we know is definitely something we enjoy -- and it's good to know Blizzard means to make it easier -- and more rewarding -- to do.

3. Raiding made simpler
Even if you don't raid right now, changes to how raids work will make joining raids easier in the future. In Warlords, there will be four types of raids:
  • Raid Finder: Today's LFR groups are basically the same as tomorrow's LFR groups, except the group sizes are now flexible. The Raid Finder will still aim to fill the group, but if a player or two drops as you go through the dungeon, the difficulty will scale down accordingly.
  • Normal: Right now, we call these Flexible, but in the Warlords, they'll be Normal. These are flexible-sized raids that scale in difficulty based on your group size.
  • Heroic: Today's Normal difficulty will be Heroic difficulty in Warlords, and will also scale in difficulty based on the size of your raid group.
  • Mythic: The only fixed sized raid, Mythic raids will be the most difficult ones, requiring a set group of 20 players to accomplish them.
It's also going to be easier to find and join groups, because the in-game group finder is being expanded with functionality similar to the oQueue addon. And worth noting: except for Mythic, all of these will be cross-server from day one.

4. Your inventory will be easier to manage
Anyone who's been playing for long knows that juggling your inventory items can be a big problem as you collect things, but Warlords of Draenor is bringing a lot of little -- and helpful -- tweaks to make storing your stuff easier than ever.
  • Quest items will no longer be stored in your bags -- instead they'll be shown in the Quest UI.
  • You'll be able to sort your bags and designate bags for specific types of things to go into -- so you might have a bag for consumables.
  • Many items will stack up to 100.
  • You can craft using materials stored in your bank, without shuffling them into your inventory.
  • Heirlooms and toys are now collections, which are stored like mounts and pets instead of taking up valuable inventory space. This also means your heirlooms and toys will be accessible account-wide.
5. Updated quest system
We admit, questing in World of Warcraft is already pretty easy -- but Warlords of Draenor will, as Blizzard says, "refine" the quest system. Here are some changes to expect:
  • Major storylines will be highlighted in the quest tracker, so you don't miss them -- and they'll be marked on your map, too, so it's easy to find them.
  • The quest interface will become even more user-friendly, making it easier to know where to go and what to do.
  • Quests will be able to award bonus rare or even epic items.

6. Simplified stats and gear
If the stats system seemed to complicated to you, you're in luck, because Blizzard thought it was too complicated and has changed a lot of stats and gear in the game. Here's what's happening:
  • Hit, expertise, dodge, parry, and reforging are all going away, so there are a lot of stats that you no longer have to worry about figuring out.
  • The number of items you can enchant and socket with gems is being reduced, which means you'll no longer have to stress about getting all of your gear perfectly enchanted or gemmed.
  • Useless gear drops will be a thing of the past, because primary stats on many types of gear will change based on your specialization. However, Jewelry, cloaks, trinkets, and weapons -- which can all be equipped by multiple classes -- will remain role-focused.
  • There are some new tertiary stats that can randomly appear on gear as a bonus. Some of these seem very useful, like lifestealing on a weapon, or sturdiness to avoid durability loss on a weapon.

7. An adventure guide to help you along
Though Blizzard didn't give many details here, they mentioned Warlords will have an adventure guide to help players progress. It will help you figure out where to go to improve your gear or train your professions. It also has an AI that will learn from your behavior and, presumably, suggest things that mesh with how you like to play.

Excited about Warlords of Draenor yet? Unfortunately, we probably have a while to wait -- but Blizzard has hinted that they're hard at work on Warlords, so we may have less time to wait than we expect.
Just because you're a newbie doesn't mean you can't bring your A-game to World of Warcraft! Visit the WoW Rookie Guide for links to everything you need to get started as a new player, from the seven things every newbie ought to know to how to get started as a healer or as a tank.

Filed under: WoW Rookie, BlizzCon

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