I will open with an admission: I’ve been playing World of Warcraft for a long time - since the very beginning, in fact, and I still main the Paladin I rolled on day one, way back in 2004.

The game’s had its highs and lows for me since then, but there’s no doubting that expansion time represents - for me at least - a significant high in the ongoing MMO cycle. Warlords of Draenor has even more expectation associated with it than normal, as evidenced by the huge bump in subscribers since its release. To say I was excited is something of an understatement.

Anyway.

In theory, all you really had to do was get to the Dark Portal and hand in a quest, but - given thousands of others were attempting to do the same thing at the same time - it didn’t all go according to plan.

To start off my experience in Draenor, I decided to honor tradition and start off by taking my Paladin out for a spin. He’s taken a back seat to the hunter of late, thanks to a demonstrably easier end-game for that particular class, but he’ll always be my go-to character for experiencing new stuff.

After standing around for an hour or so, soaking up the anticipation, the “Let’s start Warlords of Draenor!” quest appeared - some 15 minutes before the scheduled launch time - and it was all on. In theory, all you really had to do was get to the Dark Portal and hand in a quest, but - given thousands of others were attempting to do the same thing at the same time - it didn’t all go according to plan.

Instead, this simple task that would ordinarily take minutes to complete took over half an hour, during which time I was booted from the server several times and the server itself (Aman’Thul, in case you’re interested) also needed some of that sweet restart action just to keep ticking along.

None of that was particularly surprising, of course. The launch of every World of Warcraft expansion that I can remember has played out in pretty much the same way. In fact, being there when the chaos goes down is almost the point and, as such, I wasn’t upset by the madness.

While hunting for mobs with hundreds of other players was fun in its own way, it still gets old pretty quick, so I was glad when people started to thin out and quests were less about hitting things first and more about finding the next item you needed in order to proceed. I recently took one of my hunters through the same set of quests and it took something like half an hour without all of the first timer craziness, compared to more than two hours in the thronging madness that was launch night.

World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor review diary part one
World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor review diary part one
World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor review diary part one
World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor review diary part one

Leveling went largely as you’d expect and I hit level 100 after around three days leisurely questing and exploring.

One of the nicer bonuses I found on the way to 100 -and there are many - was the fairly frequent upgrades you get on quest loot or gear that drops from any of the numerous rare mobs. While a drop or reward might be uncommon, for example, there’s a chance it will be upgraded to rare or even epic, boosting its stats and giving you that endorphin rush that all MMO players are ultimately seeking.

Something I was unsure of when I first heard about it, but am now a huge fan of, is the Garrison. Effectively similar to the garden from Mists of Pandaria, in which you could grow various resources, the Garrison takes the “personal instanced area” concept and dials it way up.

Now you can deploy a range of buildings from a large selection, and earn bonuses from them that relate to that building’s purpose. An inn, for example, will see random visitors turning up to give you quests, while an enchanting hut will let you perform your own enchants or even disenchant your gear - without you actually being an enchanter yourself.

You can recruit more followers to man your Garrison in many ways. Levelling them up by sending them on quests (which net rewards for both you and them) is a game in itself. In fact, if anyone from Blizzard is listening, the followers stuff would work super well in a mobile app…

Something I was unsure of when I first heard about it, but am now a huge fan of, is the Garrison.

Once you do hit 100, there are of course plenty of things to do - starting with getting good enough gear to get into heroics (ilvl 610), the temporary Molten Core LFR raid (615) or regular LFR raids (635). It’s interesting that you can cheese it super easily, should you not be interested in the grind, as there are vendors in Nagrand that sell ilvl 660 gear for 50g per slot. You can’t actually use it anywhere that will help you, but if it’s in your bag you can get into the harder instances. Just keep in mind you won’t be that useful in there, and if everyone else is doing it, you’ll be in for a world of hurt.

That’s the bit I’m up to now, mostly; getting my gear up to scratch for Molten Core, then LFRs (I’m at 614 already.) I said mostly, because a bunch of us also decided to level hunters together, which is hilariously good fun, and I’m easily distracted.

I will of course report back soon with my findings. If there’s anything in particular you’d like to learn more about, let me know in the comments, otherwise, feel free to entertain me and the Gameplanet community with your own experiences.

Are you playing World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor? Share your impressions with us in the comments.