I’ve been playing World of Warcraft on and off since day 1. The hours I’ve sunk into this game during my college years are ridiculous +1. But I don’t regret any of it! It’s probably the most fun I’ve had playing a video game. In fact, if it wasn’t for these years, I would have never met Catherine and probably would not be writing this review today! Nostalgia is probably the reason I always go back to the game, so when the most recent expansion was released, I had to get back into it and see everything that was being offered!
It’s incredible to think that this game is 10 years old, because it sure doesn’t look like it at the moment. In fact, the only thing that was holding the game back, from a visual standpoint, was the character model for each races. Blizzard did an amazing job redoing all of them (except for the newly added Pandaren, Worgen and Goblin races). But they didn’t simply up the polygon count, they redid them from the ground up; adding an amazing array of facial expressions, some of which are very well made, some maybe less.
However, what I like the most is that they kept the soul of these races. Even with all the upgrades, it remains unchanged. The same can be said for the environment. There is no going around it, this is a Blizzard game. The texture work that made them famous is simply stunning; like in the frozen plains of Frostfire Ridge and the lush forests of Gorgrond areas.
Questing to level 100 is remarkably fun. Other than Guild Wars 2, this was the most fun I’ve had leveling a character to max level. The story for each zones is interesting, the characters are engaging and the quests are actually fun! Don’t get me wrong, you still have the classic kill 12 rabbits and bring the ears to the quest giver, but you also have one where you ride a dread raven in the air and bombard enemies on a platform below you, causing complete chaos. Spoilers, it’s really fun! There’s also plenty to do while leveling, apart from the actual leveling. There’s a ton of rare mobs in each zones that always drop something special; either a pet, some gear or just gold. It’s very exciting to see that little skull icon on your mini-map and then trying to figure out how to get there. Removing flying mounts was the best decision they could make, it makes the game that much more immersive.
To me though, the most fun and innovative part of the expansion are the garrisons. After many many years of asking for it, player housing has finally come to World of Warcraft. Blizzard took their sweet time, waiting for 5 expansions, but they’ve done a great job implementing it. While questing, you build up your garrison with professions building, lumber mill, barracks and all sorts of useful things to help you progress and eventually gear up once you’ve reached max level. You even get to recruit followers during your questing that you can then send out on missions for gold, gear and resources.
It’s still too early to tell if this expansion is my favourite, I have yet to dive into the raids and everything they have to offer, but so far, it’s a very close contender. If they can deliver regular content update and keep up with the great quality they’ve come up with Warlords so far, we’ll have a new winner. Move over Burning Crusade, you’re being replaced in my heart!