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Filed under: Warlords of Draenor

Warlords of Draenor: Mysterious portal appears in Stormwind

The latest beta build for Warlords of Draenor brought with it an odd anomaly with no explanation as of yet. A mysterious portal has appeared behind the mage tower in Stormwind City, one that bears a striking resemblance to every Emerald Dream portal we've ever seen present in game. At this time, there are no NPCs or anything present to indicate exactly what's up with the portal, however there is no Orgrimmar counterpart -- this is unique to Stormwind.

There's a few possibilities here. The most obvious is that this is somehow related to the Stormwind repairs mentioned last month on Twitter by Cory Stockton. After all, if you're going to fix a park, druid intervention sounds like a good plan, right? The other option is that this is somehow related to Draenor -- and those wild vines have the look of some of the savage greenery found on Draenor, while the tents have the same purple color as used by some of the orc clans. This seems sort of unlikely at this point, largely because there is no Orgrimmar counterpart.

While we don't know what exactly the portal is for, it's still cool to see additions and changes being made to Azeroth right alongside all the gorgeous new vistas and scenery we're checking out on Draenor. We'll have to wait and see what kind of NPC's pop up around the portal, or how exactly it's implemented as more beta builds are released. But for now, those hoping that this might be some sign of a future full-out Emerald Dream expansion -- I wouldn't hold your breath.


Filed under: News items, Warlords of Draenor

Breakfast Topic: Has Ashran caught your interest?

Ashran, Warlords of Draenor's world PVP zone, has been hyped as one of the most exciting locations in the expansion. While the zone only opened up for play on the beta last night, it's been clear throughout development that many lessons from the game's past have been taken to heart in its creation. The devs have cited pulling not only from prior PVP areas such as Halaa and Wintergrasp, but also the Timeless Isle, which contained a potpourri of activities across the spectrum of gameplay styles.

Are you interested, though? Despite the great efforts put into the zone, I feel as if it's still only going to interest players who have primarily been PVPing all along. Faction-hubs-in-Ashran aside, I'm not sure that's necessarily a problem. I can hardly fault PVPers for getting new content when every other zone on Draenor is clearly dedicated to PVE. As someone who doesn't PVP at all, I have to see more Ashran before I can say with confidence whether or not I'll play there when the game goes live, but I imagine my participating will be much like Wintergrasp and Tol Barad. That is, I'll participate a handful of times, remember why I don't PVP, and never return.

Even the faction hubs being on Ashran may not be compelling enough to take me back there on a regular basis. I didn't like the Shrines in Mists of Pandaria very much. My hearthstone remained in Stormwind for the entire expansion. I just might be in Stormwind for another one.

Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Warlords of Draenor

Warlords of Draenor: New arakkoa models

Last night's beta build included new models for Draenor's arakkoa. I, for one, was rather surprised by their new look. The arakkoa we know from Outland were broad, hunch-backed creatures incapable of flight. Draenor's arakkoa maintain their form from before an apparent fall from grace -- they're tall, thin, and maintain their wings. While their Outland counterpart looked like creepy little warlocks, the Draenor arakkoa resemble harpies that have slid a few notches further down the bestial spectrum.

Interestingly, the new arakkoa models include both male and female versions. The female version can be seen in the video above, and many variants of the male model can be seen on MMO-Champion. Blizzard rarely models both genders for NPC races, unless that race is distinctly humanesque -- the vrykul, for example.

While I miss the creepy little arakkoa from Outland, their Draenor forms are pretty cool, too.

Filed under: News items, Warlords of Draenor

The Queue: Draenei society, Ice cream, Zone uncertainty


Welcome back to The Queue, the daily Q&A column in which the WoW Insider team answers your questions about the World of Warcraft. Matthew Rossi will be your host today.

Answering questions. It is our mission. It is... the Queue.

xashbringerx asks:
Why is it that the Draenei society that we meet in WoD so supposedly different than the Draenei that players can be? Lore-wise, Draenei have been a race in exile/constantly on the run from the Burning Legion since the corruption of Archimonde and Kiljaeden. Isn't the escape from Draenor to Azeroth in our timeline just a status quo for them? Technically, they already suffered a greater loss of their society when Sargeras came and corrupted two of their leaders and 95% of their original population - turning them into the Eredar (who then turned against the now-Draenei, and nearly annihilated them, saved only by Velen and the Naaru. The suffering caused by the Old Horde appears almost insignificant when compared to their original loss at the hand of Sargeras.

The flight from Argus was 25,000 years ago, and it greatly changed draenei society (technically, draenei society didn't even exist 25,000 years ago, they were all just eredar then). They were the ones who exiled themselves - the majority of their old society pledged themselves to Sargeras. Remember, the original name of the race was 'eredar', not draenei -- draenei means exiles.

As for why their society is so much different on Draenor than it is on Azeroth, it's very simple - they almost all died. Not 'we ran away and left our relatives behind' but 'everyone but a small group of battle hardened survivors died'. The original flight was a self-chosen exile. This was "9/10th of everyone we've known and loved for 25,000 years is dead." That's why it's such a big deal. If you think the Old Horde killing just about every single draenei with a handful of survivors is insignificant... well, it probably isn't to the people who had to undergo it.

Read more →

Filed under: The Queue, Warlords of Draenor

Warlords of Draenor: Ashran preview

The zone preview train keeps chugging along. First we had Talador, Gorgrond followed, and now we're given a look at Ashran.

Built upon the remnants of an ogre civilization, Ashran looks deceptively like a nice enough island just off the coast of Tanaan Jungle. And it probably would be a lovely place to visit if not for the never-ending tug-of-war between the Horde and Alliance taking place in the central region of the zone. Then again, this might just be just your kind of excursion.

In Ashran, the Horde and the Alliance continue their long tradition of ruining everything they touch. Though home to the new faction hubs, Ashran is primarily a PVP zone with "world PVP" in mind -- though it maintains the essential elements of a battleground. Objectives are based around a tug-of-war, though it involves pushing rather than pulling. Each faction pushes down a lane toward the opposing faction's base, capturing points along the way. A powerful Ogre King awaits players at the central hub, aiding whichever faction can prove their might. A faction with dwindling resources will spawn NPC captains to aid them, some of which are named for known PVP personalities in the community.

Beyond the battleground elements, Ashran also has several other points of interest that will aid their faction's efforts and provide currently unspecified rewards. The zone preview also explains there are numerous personal goals littered throughout the island, encouraging players to venture out and find them -- luring more players into potential PVP conflict.

Head over to Battle.net for the full details.


Filed under: News items, Warlords of Draenor

The rise and fall of features in World of Warcraft

I've been playing World of Warcraft since its inception. As a result, I'm as likely to view the game through the lens of my experiences as any player. One of the reasons I'm so thoroughly anti-nostalgia is because I'm actually incredibly nostalgic. If I don't stop myself, if I don't actively make an effort not to, I'll drown in falling down the well of this is how it was and just spend hours annoying the crap out of people who started playing after me. In one guild, I remember doing exactly this - I would spend all raid reminiscing with the other old hands (there were like four of us) and driving the newer raiders crazy comparing fights to raids from BWL to Blackwing Descent. Remember - every fight can be compared to Omnotron. Every fight.

One of the ways this shows up is when any new feature is introduced to the game. As a writer for the site, I always try and stay objective about a new feature, and often, I come to love them - I'm a huge fan of transmogrification, for example, and when they announced reforging a few years back I knew immediately it was going to become a mandatory and huge part of gear strategy. But the fact is this - on an emotional level I hate every single new feature as soon as I hear about it, because they're not my World of Warcraft - it takes an effort on my part to be open minded and I don't often succeed.

As an example - I've written multiple posts essentially defending the decision to remove flight for a while in Warlords' 90 to 100 zones and leave it out. But the fact is, flight was introduced back in The Burning Crusade and I've gotten used to it. I understand and I support the decision from a design perspective. But emotionally? Emotionally I have flying mounts and I want to fly on them. I just plain like being able to shortcut all the things on the ground, even while I get why the design doesn't support it. This divide between what's new and most probably better for the game and my own desires while playing the game isn't limited to wanting flight, either.

Read more →

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Warlords of Draenor

Warlords of Draenor: Gorgrond preview

Fresh on the heels of today's Talador preview, we get a look at Gorgrond, forbidding home of the Iron Horde's industrial machine. Gorgrond is the next step for fighting back Iron Horde aggression -- after you've fought them off in Shadowmoon Valley or Frostfire Ridge, it's time to take the battle to them, and Gorgrond is exactly where you're going to do just that. Smash them Iron Horde. Smash them good.

But they won't just sit back and take it. In Gorgrond you'll come face to face with some of the most powerful and destructive weapons the savage world of Draenor had to challenge you with.

After withstanding the Iron Horde's initial assault, you'll make your way into Gorgrond with a handful of allies to try to discover the Blackrock orcs' intentions and find a way to thwart any plans the Iron Horde may have. It's a perilous recon mission. Gorgrond is a land of giants embroiled in an epic struggle between creation and destruction. It's the kind of place you avoid unless you have a death wish.

If there's one thing I know about players, it's that they can't resist going someplace conce they've been told not to go there. It's like candy to them. I expect we'll all flood to Gorgrond as soon as we possibly can. I for one welcome our new Iron Horde victims, and everything else in the zone that gets in the way, too.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items, Warlords of Draenor

NowGamer does Draenor/Outland side by side

One of the things I like the most about doing Shadowmoon Valley on the beta is the way it evokes the memories of Outland's version of the zone while clearly being a whole new place, designed from the ground up. Now the folks at NowGamers have put together a video comparing the two zones side by side.

It's cool to have because it does a much better job showing you how it is than telling you can. The way the new zone feels very much like the place before it got ruined, to the point where there's even places that were lost in the Outland version. And man, the elekks and talbuks in Shadowmoon make you feel sad for how much was destroyed and how only a few basilisks can eke out survival in the Outland version of the zone. Very much an elegy for a place destroyed when you see them side by side. Head over and check it out.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Burning Crusade, Warlords of Draenor

Warlords of Draenor: Talador preview

Talador
The Warlords of Draenor zone previews continue with Talador, the heart of the draenei civilization on Draenor. Associate Quest Designer Johnny Cash provides an overview of what promises to be a stunning zone. Talador is the original, pre-Burning Crusade version of Terokkar Forest, a lush, forested zone home to both Shattrath City and the sacred Auchindoun. In Warlords, we'll see Shattrath and Auchindoun in their full glory, along with other draenei outposts such as Tuurem and Telmor, however all is not well. Shattrath is under occupation by the Iron Horde, and it will be the player's job -- along with allies, of course -- to liberate the city. Similarly, Auchindoun is being threatened by the brutal Teron'gor (you may know him better as Teron Gorefiend, the very first death knight), as well as being threatened by demons from the Burning Front. Players will fight alongside Exarch Maladaar, leader of the Auchenai, and Lady Liadrin in defending the draenei's sacred mausoleum.
In addition, Talador will provide players with a choice between building an Arcane Sanctum or an Arsenal for their garrison outpost. Each will provide a means of support for the player--either an arcane orb that zaps enemies who get too close, or artillery strikes from mounted arsenal cannons. Furthermore, Talador holds plenty of secrets, like rumors of mythical Arakkoa, who have left their shadowy, ancestral homes in the Spires of Arak for reasons we can only guess at.

Talador is the zone I'm probably looking forward to the most, because Terokkar was my favorite zone in The Burning Crusade. I can't wait to see Shattrath and Auchindoun the way they were meant to be seen, and to fight alongside great heroes of the draenei in order to protect these precious cities. I'm sure Talador holds many exciting adventures for us denizens of Azeroth, and I look forward to experiencing them.

Filed under: Warlords of Draenor

Warlords of Draenor: Jumping puzzles abound

Warlords beta drinking nelf
Our friends at Wowhead have uncovered something I can honestly say I never thought I'd see in WoW: jumping puzzles. Well, I guess you could call those really annoying spots in Blackfathom Deeps and Wailing Caverns "jumping puzzles" but really, they're just jumps. So far three separate jumping puzzles have been spotted in Draenor. You'll find them at the Circle of Blood, the waterfall at Moonwillow Peak in Shadowmoon Valley, and the eastern end of Daggermaw Ravine. According to Wowhead, Circle of Blood is the easiest of the three, and Daggermaw Ravine the most difficult. All have rewards awaiting the intrepid jumping populace, be it a rare spawn with rare loot or a treasure chest of goodies.

The presence of jumping puzzles in the game brings the question of player flying capabilities to the forefront once more. We already know we won't be able to fly in Draenor at release, but it's been speculated that flying will be added into the game after a certain point. However, player flying renders challenges such as jumping puzzles completely obsolete. Why would you bother when you can just drop in from above? Of course, that doesn't mean that Blizzard will never allow flying in Draenor--content isn't designed to be new indefinitely. However, it does make me feel like perhaps our grounding in Draenor is meant to be more permanent than initially expected. Or maybe I'm reading way too much into this. What do you think?

Filed under: News items, Warlords of Draenor

The Queue: Surfing to Karabor


Welcome back to The Queue, the daily Q&A column in which the WoW Insider team answers your questions about the World of Warcraft. Matthew Rossi will be your host today.

Questions! Woo! Imagine me jumping out of a plane now without a chute, like Keanu in Point Break.

mightbechris says:
I thing to Sylvanas no, she doesn't do wrong. She an undead being. She has a long history of both combat and watching her people suffer. I can't fault any action she's taken. She isn't a good person by any stretch, but she protects her subjects and kingdom. Given her history I think she's justified in her actions. She's also a Horde faction leader.

Am I the only one that wishes the Horde was ok with being the bad guys? I know when I role play any or my Horde toons I don't feel right if they have a grounded moral compass.

I don't really understand the first part of your question/statement. Sylvanas isn't wrong to invade neighboring countries and murder people with disease because she's undead? That's pretty flexible morality. By that standard, nothing Arthas did was wrong, including murdering Sylvanas and the people of Lordaeron in the first place. I mean, he was a servant of the Lich King, and then because the Lich King himself, so it's okay that he freed his people from suffering by rendering them all walking corpses, right?

Being undead, being a Horde faction leader, even being someone who's seen a lot of suffering and combat, none of this excuses anyone from their actions. Garrosh was a Horde faction leader, and he grew up on the shattered remnants of a world we call Outland, believing himself damned due to the actions of his bloodthirsty father. We still have little difficulty calling what he did wrong.

As for the Horde being the bad guys - I think the Horde has been established as more 'morally grey' than out and out bad guys in its World of Warcraft version. The Old Horde? Total bad guys. The Horde as bad guys is such a useful trope that we keep getting other Hordes to fight, like Garrosh's True Horde and Iron Horde.

Read more →

Filed under: The Queue, Warlords of Draenor

Breakfast Topic: Gray Text

I didn't think I would like the new system where gear has all kinds of stats on it and the ones you can use in your current spec/class are white, and the ones you can't use are greyed out. It's kind of fascinating how I now thing it's the greatest thing since sliced bread. Running around on a druid in starter greens, these boots would have been an upgrade - sadly, they dropped for my warrior and soulbound immediately on pickup. Le sad. Still, I really like this change to gear - no more 'do any of our six paladins need these' and then a quick trip to the disenchanter.

So how do you feel about it? Awesome change? You hate it? You don't care? Why would you hate it, it's so awesome, sometimes I don't get you.

Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Warlords of Draenor

Know Your Lore: Stranger in your homeland

The World of Warcraft is an expansive universe. You're playing the game, you're fighting the bosses, you know the how -- but do you know the why? Each week, Matthew Rossi and Anne Stickney make sure you Know Your Lore by covering the history of the story behind World of Warcraft.

I kind of want to change gears this week. I assume if you read this column, you have a passing interest in Warcraft's lore and story. So instead of picking apart the Shadowmoon Valley or Frostfire Ridge experiences from a lore perspective (and believe me, I'll be doing that in the future) I thought we could take a look at what it feels like to play through both starting zones as a member of the race that dominates the experience. This column will be about the disconnect of playing through Tanaan and SMV as a draenei -- there will be a follow up about the experience of playing through Tanaan and Frostfire as an orc. Spoilers are likely unavoidable. So from this point on, be aware of them.

For me this is one of Warlords' big strengths as a story, the way the characters are in a place that's familiar, but not too familiar. Even if you're playing a tauren or undead in Frostfire or a gnome or dwarf in SMV, it's possible to have that feeling of almost but not quite when you go there. I think it's stronger in Shadowmoon for a variety of reasons -- it's a classic BC zone (Frostfire seems to be half of the Blade's Edge Mountains) and there are quite a few moments where you feel a sense of twisted, broken recognition - the fact that the Alliance player garrison seems to be almost right on top of where the Horde starting base in the zone was, the first time you approach Karabor and see the structure dominating the region.

But playing a draenei, it's another step into the weird. Because here are your people, and yet, they don't recognize you.

Read more →

Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore, Warlords of Draenor

Around Azeroth, Beta Edition: In the hushing dusk, under a swollen silver moon

The science of Azeroth is confusing as all get-out. How do snowy zones co-exit next to jungles? If Azeroth is round, why is it always day and night at the same time on each side of the world? Why gnomes? (Not why do gnomes do anything, just ... why gnomes?) I don't even want to consider the astronomy. Instead, let's just admire this picture of the Pale Lady in eclipse during Warlords of Draenor, taken by beta tester Nganga of Pact of War on Silver Hand (US-H). Don't think of the logic! Just look at the shiny lights.

Want to see your own screenshot here? Send it to aroundazeroth@wowinsider.com. We strongly prefer full-sized pictures with no UI or names showing. Include "Azeroth" in the subject line to ensure your submission dodges email spam filters; if you'd like to be credited, also include your name, guild and realm.

Filed under: Around Azeroth, Warlords of Draenor

Breakfast Topic: You can't go home again

One of the things that playing in the Warlords of Draenor beta has done is it has made me really appreciative of small things and their cumulative effect. In terms of the story of Shadowmoon Valley, the ultimate effect of all the small touches is to give you (if you want it -- if you're the type who doesn't read quest text and doesn't pay attention to in game events and cinematics) the effect of a slowly dawning realization. Especially as a draenei player, by the time you finish with Shadowmoon Valley you'll realize that not only can't you go home, you didn't -- Draenor isn't the same place you come from.

It's really well done, it's very subtle -- even for Horde players, there are constant little moments that tweak the status quo you remember from books like Rise of the Horde. I like how it's playing out.

Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Warlords of Draenor

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