I spoke too soon (Warlords Of Draenor)

Warlords-of-Draenor-WallpaperGood afternoon everyone, and welcome to the Geek Infusion.

Today, Matthew is going to be eating his own words and performing a complete mea culpa. He doesn’t do this very often, so stay tuned to watch the rending of clothes, gnashing of teeth, and the placing of ashes upon his head.

So, as most of you are no doubt aware, my first post on this blog several months ago was a tirade against World of Warcraft and why I was quitting the game permanently. Let me assure you, this was written with a genuine desire never to funnel digital heroin into my veins again.

Sadly, I have fallen off the wagon, as most addicts do from time to time. (I’ll stop belaboring this analogy now).

Last week, Blizzard rolled out patch 6.0.2. This is to say the pre-Warlords of Draenor patch. Having seen the tantalizing videos over the previous weekend in Blizzards “Lords of War” YouTube series, I had to admit, I was impressed. I was ensorcelled. Bewitched, bemused and befuddled.

Surely, I thought to myself, surely Blizzard wasn’t returning to the format that made the world of Azeroth great. Surely not. Really? Back to all-out war? I was going to be able to fight a clear evil that wasn’t some God or Dragon or Demon? WE were going to the story this time? Not the also-rans next to Thrall and company? Interesting, I thought. Very interesting.

Then my wife began to near the end of her time at work as she prepares for the unenviable task of giving birth. (Please note I am not making a statement on womanhood, I am merely saying I couldn’t endure that level of pain and so I do not envy it.)

She needed something to do, and she was running out of illicit episodes of “Arthur” to watch on YouTube via my Playstation. So, I suggested she re-open her WoW account.

I had two reasons for doing this:

1. I wanted to see what I needed to do to her computer to make it viable for WoW this time around (she needs RAM).
2. I wanted to get my grubby little hands on the new content and take a look around.

Suffice it to say, I was suitably impressed. Level 90 characters with health under 100k? Reasonable numbers for damage going out and in? A return to form with the story? New character models? I felt like I was booting up Vanilla WoW for the first time, only without the overwhelming desire to roll a Night Elf Druid… I rolled another Paladin instead.

I must say I’m more than surprised. I’m more than pleased. I’m more than willing to go back to WoW when my Alienware Alpha arrives.

What I am more shocked at, and what you came here to read about, is how subtle yet effective Blizzard’s PR campaign has been and why I’ve been drawn back into the fold of WoW.

I am largely going to congratulate Celeston for this.

Ever since Ghostcrawler departed for RIOT Games, I have found the communication between the development team and the community as a whole to be far less confrontational. Celeston ignores trolls (while GC fed them) and uses his time to actively engage the community, even those who are lashing out in anger. He states he disagrees and calmly lays out Blizzard’s current design philosophy.

Make no mistake, I am still a fan of Ghostcrawler. I loved his wit, and his way of speaking, but it was acidic in the extreme and did nothing to garner support for the company.

In addition to this, the short stories featuring the Warlords of Draenor were well done. They featured high-resolution models of both Maraad and Varian, and, using Blizzard’s customary art style, delivered concise information and background about the Orcs themselves.

This is a switch from the intro to Mists of Pandaria and indeed every other WoW expansion so far. Blizzard listened. We needed context, we needed to know the why behind the how, and they delivered. No more do we need to trek to WoWPedia, to have played the previous games or read the novels. This is especially true where Cataclysm is concerned. To grasp that, you’d have needed to read Richard Knaak’s sorry excuse for exposition, something I wouldn’t curse my worst enemy with.

They also took player feedback a bit more seriously this time. We told them why we didn’t like MoP, what we missed from previous versions of WoW and Warcraft in general and they made an expansion that is, so far, all of the best parts of Vanilla, BC and Wrath combined.

I have my dedicated tiers of raiding, with the “real” raid gear going to players who have earned it, not having it drop from loot pinatas.

Abilities have been scaled back, and the clutter is now gone from my interface. No more over-loaded action bars or bags.

Updated graphics. This was huge. WoW was looking dated and, while I was sure it wasn’t that big of a deal before… it kind of was. Now, characters have actual facial expressions and a greater range of animation, which is going to do wonders for the story-telling of this game.

Blizzard seems to be finding the “balance” again by taking their own advice given to Bungie. “There shouldn’t be one way to win.” Due to this, I’m hoping to see cookie-cutter builds finally bite the dust.

And last but not least, they brought the feeling of Warcraft back. It just feels like Azeroth again and this time I’m going full-out. That Paladin I rolled yesterday? Not a Blood Elf, not a Tauren. It’s a Draenei. Time to get some good, old Alliance vs Orcish Horde going on in this house again.

Will I stick with it this time? I can’t say. As I push to make this blog and all its various additions a going concern, I would hazard that “yes” would be a valid guess. But we shall see.

In the mean time, I’m glad I’ve found a reason to play again, and I hope Blizzard can live up to its promises.

See you on Saturday where I’ll be discussing how Destiny needs to grow to continue to be a viable game.

Until then, take care!

I spoke too soon (Warlords Of Draenor)

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