If you were a raider and finished the Siege of Orgrimmar in Pandaria, raided Ordos and the Celestials on the Timeless Isle, and completed Wrathion's legendary cloak quest chain, then the early zones will provide little combat challenge for you. Useful gear won't be dropping much until late zones or level 100 normal dungeons. Even my legendary cloak was still relevant at level 100. But new and casual players should get a decent workout in learning their class again and reap the rewards of some decent gear.
And exploration and discovery continues to be a mainstay of the game in the early going. There are plenty of treasures, hidden gear and characters to find throughout your journey to 100. Every zone also has an abundance of rare elites that will drop a decent piece of gear, although I miss gear drops being tailored to your class and spec. And where Pandaria offered the chance to upgrade gear with valor points, Blizzard has replaced that with a random number generator upgrade system that could allow a piece of quest gear to upgrade with a lucky "roll". An uncommon green can drop as an rare blue or epic purple, allowing for a bit of randomness when going through a zone multiple times with different characters.
Even a couple instances have had some extra thought put into them. One in particular, Grimrail Depot, has you fighting your way through enemies and bosses while on a moving train. I had to run several normal 100 instances to get my gear up to required 615 gear level to run heroics, and it rarely felt like a grind.
But perhaps the most interesting and fun part of the game for me was my garrison. You get it as soon as you get into the starting of Shadowmoon Valley (Frostfire Ridge for Horde). This really is a mini-game all to itself and expands greatly on the Sunsong Ranch farm mechanic from Pandaria. In the garrison, you can build a variety of buildings that will aid your character's professions, or produce resources for further expansion. By mid-level 91, you will be able to expand that garrison to Tier 2, offering you plots to build other buildings. By level 100, you can have a Tier 3 garrison with the capability of 3 small buildings, two medium building and two large, allowing you to mix and match buildings that will aid your professions and character progression. The garrison also eliminates the need for gathering professions, as every character will have access to a mine for ore, and an herb garden for herbs. A fishing shack and menagerie for pet battles rounds out the garrison structures. I have yet to use the menagerie, as I never got into the pet battle system, but I'm sure others will feel the same about the fishing shack.
Another aspect of garrisons that is incredibly time consuming (in a fun way) is the gathering of followers. As you quest, you will come across NPCs that want to join your cause. These followers can then be sent on missions -- in real time -- that will garner gear or experience for your character, experience for them, or resources for your garrison. If you are logged out, the missions are still going, and you can log back in to a roster of followers bearing lots of gifts.
I have thoroughly enjoyed Warlords of Draenor so far, already having a level 100, two 96s, and two 93s (purely for garrison gear and follower quest purposes). It will be interesting to see the raids that open up in a couple weeks, but given my initial foray into this expansion, I suspect they will be just as entertaining.
Recommendation: Warlords of Draenor provides a new look and feel to an old franchise. It may disappoint some of the hardcore in its apparent simplicity, but for the regular and new players, this expansion shows a lot of what made the game so appealing when it launched 10 years ago.
Bottom Line: Warlords of Draenor is a great addition to the World of Warcraft franchise.
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