World of Warcraft Getting Warlordier On November 13th

By Ben Barrett on August 15th, 2014 at 4:00 pm.

I would honestly not be surprised if the official name for this thing wasn't 'The Darker Portal'

I’ve spoken about the Blizzard cinematic siren before and it has gone off again. Yesterday evening at an event in Los Angeles (which, for some reason, was then simulcast to the Blizzard booth at Gamescom rather than just being ran there) the titanic MMO developer showed off the CGI intro to Warlords of Draenor, the next World of Warcraft expansion. Blizz announced its release date–November 13th–and spoke about what’s coming in the expansion itself. They also showed off the first episode of their new animated series about the eponymous Warlords. Find it all below.

Let’s start with the meat, shall we?

Cor, particles eh? On the off chance that, like me, you had basically no idea who any of these people were despite having played every Warcraft game and most of WoW, here’s a crash course. Four Legs McGee is Mannoroth, the green goo is his blood which enslaves but empowers those who drink it. In the original timeline (stay with me) Grommash Hellscream and his whole clan do so, then taking over Draenor and invading Azeroth. His kid, Garrosh Hellscream, shows up a lot later and is quite the bad guy, final boss of the last WoW expansion. He’s gone back in time (a dragon helped him) to this moment and altered history by explaining to his da’ what a bad idea the whole blood-drinking dealio is. In this alternate timeline/universe (nearly there) they instead use future tech to unite the clans and invade. Only the invasion comes into the current time and universe because Garrosh has a bone to pick with the heroes of Azeroth (aka us).

Who woulda thunk a time travel story would get complicated?

Anyway, if you happen not to care about all that, here’s the in-game trailer also released yesterday:

For how old WoW is, it’s not looking half-bad. It’s unlikely we’ll ever see a full graphical overhaul as Blizzard prefers iterating over time, like with Warlords’ new character models. Those are just the tip of the iceburg on the ridiculous number of changes coming when patch 6.0 hits around a month before the expansion release itself. Some of this was detailed in the livestream, which you can watch archived here. It also had the debut of the WoW animated series’ first episode, focusing on the ludicrously but very-Blizzardly named Kargath Bladefist. A trailer for the whole thing is here.

You can pre-order Warlords of Draenor for £34.99 over on Battle.net. It also includes the previously-released level 90 character boost, which they hope might drag a few screaming souls back into the murky depths. I’ll be resigning myself to at least levelling my old main up to 100, though there’s something about this expansion that has me more excited. You know, if I stopped eating, I could probably stop going to work, and I’d have more WoW time…

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38 Comments »

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  1. Orija says:

    Seeing that being high on tainted blood is what allowed Grom to kill Mannoroth in the first place, yea, don’t really see that happening. But then again, the entire lore of WoW has been one giant incredulously implausible pile of goo.

  2. Utsunomiya says:

    This just makes me want to play Warcraft 3 and TFT for some reason.

    Oh, and buggers, I’ll buy this one on release I think. Then play for a week or two, then forget about it until the next one comes out. The game’s been the same old for what, nine years already?

  3. Premium User Badge

    Hanban says:

    Is it just me, or does every expansion just make the Warcraft game world more insane? I used to think the background to the games was quite cool (admittedly I was like 10 when the first Warcraft came out), but now it just makes me sigh.

    • bleeters says:

      It mostly feels like an excuse to have the horde and alliance fighting without actually having the horde and alliance fighting. Because it’s a different horde this time, see! Alternate timelines and stuff! It also gives both factions a third party to pummel without that third faction being immortal super beings who were ancient when this world was young, which is something Blizzard seem to want to distance themselves from over the last couple of years.

      But yeah. It’s pretty wacky. I’m ok with it, but I also stopped talking the warcraft universe seriously a while back.

    • GenBanks says:

      I suppose there’s pressure to make things ever more exotic… Last time I tried to play I went to Orgrimmar and everything had changed so I left and came back to London :(

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      You say insane like it’s a bad thing…

      • Distec says:

        A lot of it is IMO. I won’t pretend that the Warcraft universe has been a paragon of narrative and worldbuilding, but whatever integrity it used to have is continually eroded by contrived developments and Blizzard’s insistence on throwing in every kind of exotic fantasy reference it can.

        Of course, barely a fraction of WoW players have any experience with the previous games. None of this matters to an audience that is mostly concerned with rep grinds and “purpz”. But I do miss the straight-up Orc/Human conflict of the series, before Night Elves, Space Goats, Old Gods, and all the other extra crap that’s been introduced. If I was responsible for making a Warcraft 4, I’d retcon the lot of ‘em.

        That this actually bothers me shows that I haven’t fully murdered the young Blizzard fanboy inside of me, despite how little love I feel for them now.

        PS. Bring back Zul’jin, you shits.

        • Nevard says:

          At least 2/3 of those were in Warcraft 3, weren’t they?
          There were definitely Elves and Old Gods in that one.

          • Distec says:

            I like Warcraft 3 well enough, but I still don’t care for Night Elves. I did think the Lich King was a good addition, even if he basically just made a convenient third party to fight. His whole arc ended with a disappointing fizzle though.

            I remember that you encountered Old Gods (or their minions in WC3), but didn’t they only appear for, like, one mission? I guess I don’t mind references and whatnot, but how Blizzard utilizes them for never-ending chains of “Ancient Evil has corrupted so-and-so! They are now insane! Kill them for loot!”. The Crazy card is pulled so frequently, and more often than not it’s due to some influence of some bottom-dwelling deity. Yawn.

        • FTC says:

          The night elves where a huge part of Warcraft 3, so was the Lich King, and the story talked about in the article.

          Both Hellscream and Gul’Dan(also in every other Warcraft game, but maybe not by name?) was in Warcraft 3. There were even some kind of Draenei in the outlands mission iirc. Up to and including Wrath of the Lich King, they didn’t really add any new lore, just expanded what was already there, except in Outland where they obviously had to create some new stuff.

          Since Cataclysm they have done tons of crazy stuff though. Even if I don’t like the things they did, I like their attitude that they make the game the way they want it, regardless if it “fits” with lore, just change the lore after the game.

          What they did to the Goblins, and the Worgen are imo some of the weirder things they’ve done, along with the general silliness of the world after Cataclysm, you can’t actually take the story “seriously”, it’s just a bunch of weird shit. The Old Gods where a good addition btw (back in the original).

          I don’t mind Pandas, as long as they stick to their own continent and have their own story, it’s all cool. I haven’t played the game since they released that though.

        • marano says:

          Zul’jin never left. He’s warchief now by the way. The introduction of the draenai (space goats) and the night elfs was an obvious step directly linked to the (imo awesome) lore. Just in case you didn’t know; kil’jaeden and Archimonde were Draenai before being corrupted by Sargerass. Velen fleed to Draenor (the Orc and Ogre planet) with a select few Draenai to spare them this corruption. Sargerass eventually found them and used Ner’zul and Gul’dan to persuade the Orcs to decimate the remaining Draenai.

          In short, the introduction of the Draenai and Night Elfs was a perfectly legitimate step in the game and up until Wrath of the Lich King (and arguably Cataclysm) the game was perfectly in sync with the lore.

          Granted, Mist of Pandaria pissed me off. The whole Chinese theme being forced down our throats just to ‘attract’ Asian audience was a low blow and quite frankly it didn’t work.

          While time travel is a cop-out in general, it will allow WoW players to once again be active in the most thrilling time of WoW’s lore. I’m no fan of time travel and/or alternate dimensions, I am however thrilled to leave the horrible Chinese theme and be thrown in the thick of WoW’s original lore. For that reason I will indulge the time travel nonsense.

    • Zekiel says:

      Because I’m a Boring Old Man I basically consider everything that happened to the lore after Frozen Throne a bad thing. Suddenly the “Horde and Alliance make an alliance to fight a big bad evil” (which was actually moderately new for Blizzard at the time, remember) got retconned and suddenly every hero in the land had to belong to one of exactly two factions. So this then led to nonsense like the Forsaken and the Blood Elves allying with the Horde (what?)

      Bar. I’m just bitter that the success of WOW basically ended the possibility of ever seeing a Warcraft 4

      • Fiatil says:

        Preach it. It’s pretty sad.

      • Quiffle says:

        How about I one-up you a bit on being an old fart and say that Arthas’ character entirely was garbage, and often reminded me of a dimestore prequel Darth Vader? Warcraft 3 was fun as hell, but I didn’t care for its story at all.

  4. Beva says:

    This makes me wonder if this is a good gaming site or a bad gaming site, for some reason.

  5. Koozer says:

    Snazztastic!

    Not a fan of demons since I spent half of Outland hitting angry glowing green things, but the theme and plot (*gasp!*) may be quite interesting. Reducing the ability clutter has been long overdue, and the personal base could be fun. But…buying an expansion AND a sub is a little too much.

  6. Ivan says:

    So I know this’ll never happen, but a nostalgic part of me really hopes that one day, when BlizzardMMOv2.0 comes and supplants WoW once and for all, there’ll be some kind of rehashed, single-player, non-sub version of WoW that can be bought and messed around in.

    If nothing else, Blizzard puts a lot of love into their games, and while pretty much everything about BlizzardMMOv1.0 got too ridiculous for me even prior to the release of Burning Crusade (basically once I figured out that Blizzard had thrown its hat in with the “We want everyone to do group content, even if it means trivializing it” crowd as opposed to the “Some people want to play a Warcraft RPG by themselves, and what’s wrong with that?” crowd, I lost interest fully and completely), I’d gladly pay a pretty large amount to be able to experience everything from start to finish at my leisure.

    I still get the nostalgic itch to go and kill some crabs for crab meat or whatever the boar tusk du jour is occasionally, but then I go and look at what the game has become now and am quickly put off, realizing that Blizzard’s decision was that people didn’t like harvesting crab meat and that that aspect of it should be excised from the experience.

    • Taidan says:

      Yeah, it’s a strange thing. As Blizzard got better and better at making the game they wanted to make, and as systems got more streamlined and accessible, I got less and less interested in it.

      The part I don’t like about the modern World of Warcraft is the part where most of the actual world has become a mere obstacle that you see flying by during the accelerated levelling process, at which point the tiny section of it you actually sit in (Org, Stormwind) becomes little more than a glorified lobby for the same group of instanced Dungeons you run over and over. The few sandbox elements that did once exist in the game seem to have been fully erased in favour of a full Theme-Park experience.

      • Ivan says:

        On the flip side, I guess my wallet can thank Blizzard for quest markers. One sad winter while my girlfriend was out of town for a while (this was when WotLK had just come out) I decided to use one of their three-day free trial thingies to quell the boredom. After leveling at a pace probably something like 4-10 times faster than I was used to in vanilla and beset on all sides by quest markers and glowing things shouting at me, in all but text, “CLICK HERE TO GET EXPERIENCE NOW SO YOU CAN DO RAIDS INSTEAD OF ANYTHING ELSE!” I quickly closed out of the game and let the rest of the trial expire.

        Further hypothetical request to Blizzard: when, in some alternate reality, you do create this single-player WoW-clone for me to enjoy, I also humbly petition you to potentially leave the current raid encounters and their strategies intact; however, please provide me the ability to create and level multiple characters, and then take them into a raid together, utilizing a real time-with-pause system and character-switching in order to challenge the encounters. Thanks!

      • bleeters says:

        Yeah, that. It’s one of the things I’ve liked about games like Guild Wars 2, even if it has been oddly reluctant to include new areas to explore and has instead pushed out story updates despite story being one of the weakest parts of the game. I can make a character with the express purpose of just poking around the various corners of the world and still have that be a valid experience in its own right instead of That Boring Thing You Must Slog Through To Get To The Real Game. It’s not a sandbox and it’s not Skyrim, but it does let you wander off the beaten path somewhat and generally has there be things to see and do if you decide to do so.

      • Zamn10210 says:

        They didn’t understand that while all of the individual convenience changes made sense in isolation, in combination they destroyed the atmosphere of the game.

        When the game first came out it was seen as a bit of a masterstroke to have no fast travel, instead making players fly over or travel through the world. The loss of conveniece of was worth the gain in immersion. That idea seems to have been well and truly abondoned by the time WotLK came out.

      • Ibed says:

        I just wanted to basically agree with everyone here. While the story has started grating (and I have found that I care about Warcraft lore a lot more than I thought), I think the most important reason I’ve lost interest in WoW is that it has lost so much of it’s worldliness. All the quality of life-improvements (levelling as a theme park with little exploring, the looking-for-group tool so that you don’t have to travel to the dungeon, flying mounts) have perhaps made it a better game, but a worse world. To be fair to Blizz, they have admitted that the flying mounts were a mistake IIRC, and part of the reason the game feels so much smaller these days is because the playerbase is so much more experienced now. But I still feel Blizzard fundamentally chose the game over the world, and I think that the world was the reason that so much of the progress you made (levelling up, getting gear, learning new spells) felt so important.

        One example: the overhaul of the talent-system, to make fewer, but more meaningful choices. Or the fact that you no longer need to learn new skills at a class trainer. From a game-design perspective this makes perfect sense, streamlining or removing the parts that are not core gameplay. But with these changes, the game lost that sense of growth, a weight to the game. Part of me feels that WoW is now more honest about its Skinner-box-like nature, not camouflaging it anymore. But to another part of me, that camouflage was maybe the point.

    • lordfrikk says:

      I’d buy that in an instant.

    • Meneldil says:

      I just wish they’d make a Warcraft 3 already and retcon all the shitty WoW moments (such as the constant need to travel back and forth in time to give us excuses to fight that old legendary dude that’s supposed to have disappeared).

      Why? Because Warcraft 3 was a damn good RTS (much better than SCII). Because WoW’s world, despite its blandness, is kinda cool. Because I wish I could find a way to live those old Vanilla/BC memories again. Sad part is, there won’t be any guild drama and cyber flirt, but heh. A decent RTS will do I suppose.

  7. Niko says:

    Hmmm. I remember orcs in WC3 cutscenes looking less ugly.

  8. Freud says:

    I quit playing five years ago. Switching to flying mounts killed a bit of the game to me. No spontaneous world PvP and no real emergent gameplay.

    It turned into daily quest grind with a bit of raiding. Not enough to spend money and that much time on.

    • Distec says:

      Battlegrounds just killed world PVP. Wintergrasp certainly doesn’t count..

      I have vivid memories of my guild forming up in Orgrimmar and marching down to Crossroads in a procession, eventually taking a ship to Stranglethorn, and getting some chaotic and great PVP at its infamous lake. Then we’d savage each other in the Gurubashi Arena. We had similar outings to Tarren Mill and other hot spots on the server.

      There’s just none of this in the game any more. It’s too busy putting you on a treadmill for tokens and points that there’s no space or incentive for making your own fun like that, assuming you can actually get a sizable group of people who’d be interested in doing the same.

      • rexx.sabotage says:

        I think you nailed it. I enjoyed WoW for providing me with tools and a backdrop to make my own fun. Finding new ways to break systems and jump the rails they meticulously laid out before me was the most enjoyable part of the game for me.

        I could never get into the the gear, grinding and grouping (for more gear and grinding) instead I was a perpetual scrub, exploring the rarely traversed sites (old unfinished Azshara was a personal favorite) doing dumb things the game never intended (like slow-falling from Teldrassil to Darkshore) and devising hair-brained schemes to be an insufferable nuisance (like using a diving helmet to hide underwater while I use eyes of the beast to accost hapless passers by with my pet)

        Cataclysm really took away everything I loved, it gentrified my favorite dives.

    • Moraven says:

      Flying mounts will be not usable in Draenor, for at the very least until patch 6.1. Possibly longer if players can agree it is a good thing. Flying in Burning Crusade had a huge money block so at first not a lot of people had it. And if they did, they only had slow flying speed which is slow as hell. It was a great way to open up new areas that you could farm or do other quests. Once epic flying was standard and basically free in Wrath, it killed any sense of exploration or quality world pvp other than dive bombs.

      I wish they would have went further with the honor and dishonor (kill lowly players and guards 5+ levels lower.) I was really hoping for some neat PvP. The battlegrounds at first were not so bad. You had to fly to the instance and each server was very populated, you got to know the people you were fighting each day. We even had swim parties in Alteric with the Alliance, as the BG went on a 6 hour long stand still, sometimes days. With servers losing so much population over half of the servers could never have that again. Once they added dungeon and pvp queue server pvp communities died off.

      I do look forward to the Tauren Mill vs Southshore battleground. I did like the idea around World PvP locations that gratned temp access to short raids and better farming. Sadly they did not try that again in MoP.
      5.0 fights over Galleon were pretty fun. Gave back a good sense of world PvP.

      The 5.1 pvp/pve quests tried to get world pvp going again, but it only lasts a couple months once people have moved on from the quests and reputation.

      Recently got to playing again and the Challenge Mode dungeons are great. Like a raid boss for 5 people to achieve Gold. To bad the current ones will be retired and not rebalanced for the item squish.

  9. xfstef says:

    I have to admit, I’ve been “clean” for 5 years now, but this plot and pitch has gotten my interest.

  10. gi_ty says:

    This I will never understand. Why would I pay a sub just to clear content in a co-op manner? There are literally tons of games that let me do this for an upfront cost and in many ways are superior . I enjoyed WoW during the trials, and I very much enjoyed the Elder Scrolls online but when it comes time to buy that sub I just cant justify it. Plus it makes you feel like you have to play it or you’re wasting your money.
    I think if you want me to pay a sub give me a stake in the world. Darkfall was a brilliant fun concept with horrible execution. EVE could be epic but its core game play gets in the way. Where is a sandbox MMO that actually feels like a living world and not a theme park or grind-fest? If there was something out there that felt like I was actively taking part in player driven content and was fun to play, you could double the sub fee and I would pay it with a smile.

    • Stephen Roberts says:

      “EVE could be epic but its core game play gets in the way.” This is like a burning caveat in my mind when I play Eve. The way their server works on this ‘1 tick per second’ mechanic makes most interactions feel sluggish and unresponsive. It’s really sad because it truly is a phenomenal sandbox.

  11. HisDivineOrder says:

    Hard to justify $13-15 per month on a single game when I can buy MULTIPLE games with long stories for just ONE of those $13-15 payments.

  12. Askis says:

    Since I haven’t played WoW in years, I don’t really care what goes on in the story, I’m not really interested in SC2 since competitive MP RTS’ aren’t my thing, Diablo and it’s like have never held my attention for long…

    Yet all of these full CGI cinematics that Blizzard creates are absolutely splendid and I wish they’d start putting out full length movies.

  13. malkav11 says:

    People are weird. Yes, a lot of people seem to think the endgame is the only interesting part of WoW and Blizzard has done a lot to make those people able to skip the actually interesting part of the game. That’s a shame, but they still have the best solo content on the market outside of Secret World, and they have a whole lot more of it than Secret World does. It doesn’t suddenly stop being worth playing just because it -can- be ignored. Flying mounts don’t kill the immersion, they make the single best, most immersive travel experience in any MMO to date. Certainly, I wish Blizzard would ditch the subscription, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth paying while I’m actively engaged with the game, because I’m sure not getting the complete WoW package from any other MMO.

    I do wish they’d ditch the idea that there must be a raging conflict between Horde and Alliance, though. It became increasingly futile and senseless the more the two factions had bigger threats in common, and the story beats they introduced to that end were pretty blatantly convenient excuses to go back to the desired status quo rather than actual compelling plot developments.

    • Hebrind says:

      I’ve played WoW since it was released in the EU, and I’ve actively subscribed for perhaps 7 or 8 of those years. I’ve raided at top level, and I’ve RP’d with newcomers to the game, and only in one other game (Ultima Online) have I felt that there was always something to do, always something I hadn’t seen before, a way of playing that I’d not encountered. It sounds silly but I’ve still not got round to playing the Death Knight, Monk or Warlock classes properly (I was almost exclusively a Paladin until the end of WotLK).

      Everyone who says “WoW is a bad game” or “Blizzard have ruined Warcraft!” is speaking from a purely subjective point of view – I think the Warcraft world is rich, beautiful, interesting and utterly, utterly bonkers. If I wanted a more “traditional” fantasy MMORPG I’d probably go and play LOTRO – and I have done, and while that is a good game in itself and has a lot of stuff going for it, WoW is always the game that brings me back. I keep checking on it, I keep returning in the same way I’d return to an old neighborhood. I walk the streets, I visit a pub I liked, I talk to old friends, I see old sights.

      I’ve had a mixed relationship with the game – it got me through a dark time in my life, and it also introduced troubles and worries to my life. The friends (and enemies) I’ve met on WoW have shaped my real life in a way I would be hard pressed to fathom, and I wouldn’t change a thing. I don’t see how a game that has taken up over 7 years’s worth of my free time can be a bad game. Bad games don’t do that, good ones do.

      Do I agree with everything Blizzard do? Of course not, some of the changes don’t make sense and some systems are janky, they don’t fit in well but at the same time, I can live with them. Even the mistakes are introduced with such polish and style that they finally become part of the game that I don’t think I’d change.

      I’m looking forward to seeing what this new expansion brings, just as I have done with every expansion bar Cataclysm (we didn’t get on well at all.)

      Endgame is all well and good, but a lot of people wear blinkers to the journey itself. They don’t take time to smell the flowers, or even read the quests. I can’t imagine not taking my time with it, if I’m honest – my biggest regret from MoP was hitting 90 quite as quickly as I did. So I did it again, only slower, and thoroughly enjoyed it.

      • Themadcow says:

        Yeah, WoW really is a mixed bag of emotions for me too. I quit 6 years ago but WoW certainly supplied me with most of my best gaming memories, but easily the worst trade off in terms of real life impact (almost split up with my wife because of it, took a year off work costing me about £50k… pretty major stuff).

        I’d like to return to WoW one day but not while I’ve got a job, marriage and kids intact – it’s just not worth it in the long run!