World Of Warcraft Expansions Revisited: This Garrison Is Falling Apart

With World of Warcraft's Legion expansion launching next week, we finish off our tour of the MMO's previous expansions by saying farewell to the amazing strongholds we spent the past year and change building up.

Returning to the ten level jump of The Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King following a couple of five level jaunts through Cataclysm and Mists of Pandaria, World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor was exactly the epic chunk of new hotness players like me needed to draw us back in.

That's right, Draenor part two, electric boogaloo.

On paper it didn't sound very exciting. We were going through the Dark Portal to Draenor, just like we did in The Burning Crusade, but this was old-timey, alternate universe Draenor, back when more exciting things happened there than standing up to your waist in Zangamarsh.

Treading old ground? Yawn. Building fortresses and gathering followers? Whatever. You go ahead and release the most exciting expansion pack in the game's then ten-year history. See if we care.

We cared. A lot.

Moments later I was killed by random orcs.

Warlords of Draenor launches with the best marriage of story and gameplay Blizzard's yet managed. The player walks side-by-side with Azeroth's greatest heroes, charging into battle against the most dangerous assemblage of orcs in the history of history.

Gul'dan, because two captions wasn't enough.

Gul'dan, in case you couldn't read!

Again with the double captions!

Ner'zhul, the Nerziest of all Zhuls!

Blackhand, whose hand is black. Orcs aren't very creative.

We run roughshod over the greatest names in orc, decimating their forces with tanks and explosives and sheer force of will (more so the first two) in an extended sequence that culminates in blowing the f***ing Dark Portal to pieces.

Warlords of Draenor is WoW storytelling at its finest, a ten-level slice of fantasy alt-history that had me riveted from the get go, and the best part is the player is at the center of it. They're one of the Warlords of Draenor, establishing a garrison, building forts in all of the major world zones, calling in support, deploying tanks.

DEPLOYING TANKS.

The new/old Nagrand. Could use more floating islands, but otherwise quite pretty.

At every turn Blizzard worked to make the levelling experience something more than a series of basic quests. Flying dragons against orcish forces in grand scenario missions, rappelling from cliffs to infiltrate bases, going toe-to-toe with enemies that would have been raid bosses in earlier expansions.

Mission improbably.

For ten levels and then onward, my garrison in Shadowmoon Valley was my virtual home. What started as little more than a wooden fort in the woods soon grew to a bustling town, then a castle, stocked with quests and NPCs and resources — everything a growing warlord needs to get ahead in life.

My Gnome Hunter got her castle much faster than my Draenei Shaman did the first time around. She knew which quests to do when, where to find the hidden treasures that would give her the resources she needed to grow her fortress. She didn't bother camping two hours for a rare spawn that drops a mount. But she appreciated that all of that stuff was there for her, should she need it.

I didn't bother much with the ship building feature or the Tanaan Jungle zone, post-cap content in a game where the cap was about to be raised.

In many ways Warlords of Draenor was The Burning Crusade's Cataclysm, a chance to revisit and revitalize familiar areas. A chance to atone for what was a very pretty but rather empty first visit to the orc home planet. Not only did Warlords accomplish that mission, it raised the bar for World of Warcraft expansions altogether.

That's why players who've stuck it through this long are so excited for Legion next week. Either Blizzard tops themselves, which would be amazing, or they give us another ten levels just as rich and varied as the last.

I've gotten several characters to level 100 over the past few weeks, and each time I paused my demon invasion power levelling to play through those initial Warlords of Draenor moments. Each character leaves behind a garrison in various states of completion. With Legion's release, those beautiful bases we all built will be pretty much useless, packed with resources we don't need and quests that won't help us. But they will also be loaded with memories, and I won't be deleting my garrison hearthstone any time soon.


Comments

    On the whole of it I'm not really a fan of WoD, but I absolutely loved the new Shadowmoon Valley. I was so disappointed when I finished it and got to Gorgrond to find it so... disjointed, when SMV felt so fleshed out. Sadly none of the other zones managed to capture what I felt in SMV either.

    I would like to have seen the Garrison continue to play a part, like with dailies that go up in level or something.

      They're still in it in Legion I've heard, just not forced down your throat as much. Thank god, I hated the garrison stuff and really wasn't feeling the shipbuilding bits either.

        In a really minor way, yeah. The mechanism is there in Class Halls, but otherwise mostly you get sent out instead of followers.

        The legion garrison stuff is less a chore and more a campaign and story that just happens to require you to stop in from time to time to check on your little group of heroes you have gathered together. It "does" have a garrisony section to it if you want it to be that (you can send out your champions on missions to get you rewards) but if anything, it feels a little more like starcraft 2 and researching new units and buildings and going on missions to discover new areas and so on.

        I actually liked the Garrison stuff, but I can totally understand that many people would feel like it is a chore.
        I think that in part is why I would like to see the old Garrison return in some way (even if it is minor) because there is a lot of invested time in it. I will concede though that the time spent there with subsequent characters was a lot less then my main though.

        That said, it is doubtful that the Draenor Garrison will make a return in any form in any expansion.

    Garrison stables give you some pretty awesome mounts. Just got all 6 of mine and my dwarf is looking damn fine atop his monstrous Icehoof.

    Garrisons were a grind that got on everyones nerves escpecially if you had lots of alts... telling NPCs to play the game instead of yourself was stoopid but was too rewarding... with Legion my garrison is relegated to some old material farming, and maybe leveling tradeskills.

    Left before Ships and Tanaan Jungle so will go back and do that, farm some rare mats and make some old things for the collections I missed.

    Hopefully they learnt enough not to make Class Halls a pain.

      you got to admit it was pretty sweet to be raking in 50K+ gold each week though =p

      there's less check in for the Class Halls... granted what Blizzard has done (as far as I can tell) is just to ramp up 90% of what you do to be 8hr+ (missions, research)

      Last edited 24/08/16 4:26 pm

        It was insane on both a gold inflation and wierd mechanism to be rewarding players with easy gold is a huge problem in mmos.

        God... coming back to legion I dont even know what players price things, whats poor, whats average or what is stinking rich. How much does a 1% own ???

        What is say one million gold in the bank worth when WoD players are farming that much for over a year.

          there's a mount in legion that will cost 2million gold... take that as you will =p

    I just resubbed after years and years and the ability pruning is horrifying.

      This is probably the only complaint I have with Legion, from playing beta. You do get a decent number of abilities back from the artifact weapons, but right now the rotations for most classes are shallow. Guardian druid has a pretty nice rotation these days though, I hear.

        Yeah but what happens when we're not using artifacts anymore? The second or third patch after they're introduced will probably make them useless, lol. To top it off the artifact (at least for ret) is mostly passives, with a single new ability that seems more suited to pvp/aoe encounters.

          You'll be using your artifact through the entire Legion expansion, through all its content patches. When Legion is finished the artifacts won't be used any more, and they have another ability pass planned to go with another stat crush at the start of the next expansion.

          I haven't played ret paladin since vanilla so I can't really comment on that one.

            look at all the PVP level talents.... thats where its at now

            sad if you only PVE

    WoD was great in the early days. The leveling content, the early end game, even the garrison stuff - everyone loved it. Yes even you did.
    It was just long term that things fell apart - content got grindier, then dried up. Garrisons ended up replacing too much actual gameplay with click and forget stuff, then got exploited and destroyed the economy.
    But the first few months were great fun.

    For someone who hasn't played since Wrath of Lich King, none of this makes sense.
    I've recently re-activated my account... only to create a new NE druid to revisit some old areas... Nearly everything is different. I suppose ill go get my original Huntard past level 80

    MoP was the better expansion and Blizzard's main fault with MoP was making the Pandaren be so...Pandaren.

    The story telling was better because there was, well an actual story! It's not surprising though because whenever you are using time travel as a key plot device you are basically stuck for fresh ideas. It's questionable if Blizzard even knew where they were taking WoD as prior to WoD's release they were touting the line that if the content was beaten there would be no ramifications to the main timeline.

    MoP cops a flacking but it was certainly more interesting and creative and distinguishes itself from the rest as not relying heavily on nostalgia. Even the raid mechanics were more daring. That said Imperator is definitely my favourite raid boss.

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