Previously, I wrote about World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor and what it got right. However, this latest expansion was most certainly not without criticism. From the lack of content to a broken, unpopular player vs player zone, this expansion has raised much controversy with the player base, some even referring to this expansion as the worst of all expansions. Here are the five things about Warlords of Draenor that this writer did not like.
Now, this player has a guilty admission that he actually enjoyed Ashran for a time. It was a zone that was filled with different events and areas for the Alliance and Horde to do battle. The size of the map was small to the point where there were often huge clashes between both factions, which made for a rather epic display and riveting experience.
Problem was, the zone was made in a way that the Alliance and Horde would just do different events. The Alliance would take the main fight all the way to Warlord Volrath’s base, while the Horde would sweep shop in the events. Later on, as the expansion progressed, it was a rehash of Alterac Valley, whereby the opposing factions would not fight each other directly but avoid each other while accomplishing their own objectives.
What made Ashran even worse was how Blizzard continued to mess around with the zone. Players would sign up for premades to get easy wins and bonus conquest points in response to the fact that perhaps the Ashran on their server was more favoured towards the other side. Blizzard responded by only allowing only five man premades, thereby making it a game of sheer chance of whether or not the player would be in a good group. The fact that Blizzard constantly messed with how much currency the player could earn in Ashran is indicative of the fact that the zone was flawed from the start.
- PvP (or lack thereof)
Aside from technical balance changes, PvP is more or less the same each expansion mechanics-wise. However, each expansion would produce a new battleground for players to try new strategies and accomplish new objectives. Burning Crusade had Eye of the Storm, Wrath of the Lich King had Isle of Conquest and Strand of the Ancients, Cataclysm had Twin Peaks and Battle of Gilneas, and Mists of Pandaria featured Silvershard Mines, Temple of Kotmogu, and Deepwind Gorge.
Warlords of Draenor had… absolutely nothing. There was the Southshore vs. Tarren Mill, 100 vs 100 battleground, but that was only for the World of Warcraft 10th anniversary, and while the development team has talked about bringing it back on a permanent basis, that has yet to pass.
The amount of attention the development team has paid to player vs player has been virtually nil, with the exception of tweaking class balance. The player simply had to rehash old content if he wanted to do PvP in this expansion.
- The Lack of Community
This writer wrote that garrisons were one of the good points of the expansion, but he also acknowledges that they took away the incentive to explore and interact with the surrounding environment. Why should the player ask a mage to give them a portal to Dalaran or Stormwind when they could just as well go to Stormshield and jump through one of the portals floating around? Why go through the trouble to farm mats and gold when sending upgraded followers on missions could do the job just as well for them?
The garrison perhaps was intended to do away with the monotony of farming and instil a sense of importance in the character, with the NPCs referring to them as the Commander of their respective faction. However, the consequences of the players being able to gain thousands of gold from the click of a button has inflated the economy and has discouraged them from going outside and interacting with others, much like how the game does to its players in real life.
4. The Story
The story of Warlords had a wacky premise to begin with. It was set in Draenor, the same place as Outland in Burning Crusade, but this time, it was before Warcraft: Orcs and Humans. The players were going to fight the Horde that invaded Azeroth, but this time they refuse the demonic corruption with the help of a recently escaped Garrosh Hellscream. So, the Orcs are no longer demonic, but they still manage to be stronger and carry out their campaign to wipe out the Draenei and invade Azeroth anyway.
It took this writer a little while to wrap his head around the complex storyline, but, like his previous article mentioned, the story managed to be executed pretty well. The storyline hit several notes of nostalgia, bringing back Orcish legends from the old Warcraft real-time strategy games like Orgrim Doomhammer and Rend Blackhand.
Khadgar, who already invaded Draenor in Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal, comes back for a second serving. There was also the side story of the Ogre Empire that wishes to reclaim its place as the supreme power in Draenor. Watching new characters such as Yrel find their way in the vast lore of Warcraft was rewarding in of itself.
But then that all came to an abrupt end. The storyline in Nagrand involved the player following Cho’Gall into a deep Draenei ruin, where he corrupts a Naaru. Then, in Highmaul, the two-headed ogre mage makes yet another appearance where he plans to twist the downfall of Imperator Mar’gok to his own ends.
There was absolutely no mention of him or whatever happened to his plans during patch 6.2, the final major content patch of Warlords.
There was also Grom Hellscream, the original antagonist of the expansion. While he did not pursue the path of demonic corruption that his original timeline self did, he nevertheless pursued an expansionistic campaign against the Draenei, with plans to invade the original timeline Azeroth afterwards.
Yet, Gul’Dan nevertheless has his way, persuading Kilrogg to drink the fel blood and corrupt the Iron Horde anyway. Grom gets imprisoned and tortured in Hellfire Citadel and ultimately ends up fighting alongside Yrel, Khadgar, and the Commander’s forces against Archimonde, the final raid boss of Hellfire Citadel.
The inclusion of Archimonde, a villain that has been defeated in Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos and the Caverns of Time dungeon inspired by the same game, felt a little cheap. It would have made more sense to fight a broken Grom who finally succumbs to corruption, but it was a decision this writer was happy to overlook.
What he cannot forgive Blizzard for, however, is the fact that at the end of the fight, Grom is suddenly best pals with the heroes, declaring that ‘Draenor is free,’ even though he spent the majority of the game trying to subjugate it. The fact that the protagonists are willing to overlook all of that is a very stark contrast to the ending of Mists of Pandaria, where a huge deal was made about how Garrosh must answer for his crimes.
There is absolutely no payoff from all the quests against the Iron Horde that the player undertook. Not since the original endings of Mass Effect 3 did this writer feel so cheated. Moreover, it could be surmised that the abrupt ending to the story had something to do with the worst part of the expansion, hands down.
5. The Lack of Content
Blizzard has always contended with balancing the need to pump out expansions at a faster pace with getting content out to satisfy the player base as time moves on. Vanilla had monthly updates with class revamps and raids being introduced. The Burning Crusade had plenty of raids at launch and introduced several more before Wrath of the Lich King was released more than year later.
Mists of Pandaria was widely regarded as the worst expansion ever because people were starting to get tired of doing the Siege of Orgrimmar raid over and over again for more than a year before Warlords of Draenor released. The lack of content lead to a sharp drop in subscription numbers and a growing discontent among the players that remained.
Quite unfortunately, Warlords has repeated that same mistake. Patch 6.1 had minimal content, adding a selfie camera and the ability to connect to Twitter, and while patch 6.2 opened a new zone and raid, it is not enough content to stem players over until the release of Legion. Even the new zone, while beautiful, felt a little lacklustre, with the zone filled to the brim with daily quests and bonus objective zones. It did not have the same quest storyline progression system that the other zones had.
This player is saddened by this fact because this expansion showed so much promise during its launch, introducing a zone that was familiar, yet new and a storyline with interesting twists. There were even ideas to have zones such as Farahlon (what eventually becomes Netherstorm) and raids like one in Shattrath City later on in the game. Yet, halfway during the game, the developers gave up. There are terrible games, and there are games never reached their potential, and this writer believes the latter is a greater offence to the gaming community. It can be understandable as to why many gamers are approaching Legion with a healthy dose of scepticism.
Bonus Round: This writer got the soundtrack for the expansion because he found the music riveting. He especially was a huge fan of the Alliance garrison music, so he his heart shrank indubitably when he found out that the track was not even included in the soundtrack.