I never thought that I would get called to the plate. I have always been a gamer, but I tend to contribute my intellectual talent to reviews and my day job rather than talking about the games I play. Over the past few years, I have added my name to the “beta test” lists and have never expected to be called upon to contribute. Last night, lightning struck and I recieved an email informing me of my Beta Access to Warlords of Draenor – the upcoming expansion to World of Warcraft. I was even more suprised when I started Googling and found that Beta Access Keys started going out just over two weeks ago. I am not the first one on the scene in the Beta Realms, but I am still getting in when most testers will be leveling.
As soon as I read the email, I signed into my Battle.net Desktop Application on my Alienware m16x r2, and tried to boot the Beta. To my surprise, I had to download the game again or at least 28gb of it to start the Beta. Since it was already late, I started the download and went to bed a little anxious for the next time I could play.
Now I am awake, the game is primed, and I am logging into Warlords of Draenor.
As I fired up the game, I was happy to find a Beta access level already available to me. With that, I created my first toon on the Beta server. I wanted to make sure that I used a character that I was really familiar with so that it would not be a problem stepping into instances and raids when I hit the level cap. There were three options I was considering: Blood Elf Hunter, Tauren Paladin, and an Orc Shaman. My first toon was an Orc Shaman and I have always been partial to the healing and dps options offered by the class. Unfortunately, with changes in gameplay mechanics over the past few years, I have not been playing my Shaman too much. After Mists came out, I had been working on my Alts (the Elf Hunter and Paladin). I finally decided on the Tauren since I had just leveled up my vanilla Tauren to 90 in the past few weeks and I am most familiar with the Tauren story.
When I first signed in, I was only given access to create a level 1 WoD Toon. I was a bit surprised, but decided it would be worth it to see the new models and try out the new server build. After the gripping flyover introduction (which is somewhat of a warn out way to start the expansion – as that seems to be the way they start them all) I was deposited on the ground in Mulgore.
I started questing immediately. After about a half hour, I had killed a number of Quillboar and turned in a handful of quests to get up to Level 5. Here is my toon Terukasa (the name of my first toon in all of Warcraft):
One of the biggest things that Draenor has been promising is new models and textures for the original races and classes. The new textures are amazing! The new model for the Tauren is awesome. I have been impressed with the level of detail on the model and my ability to see the details in the environment. When I started playing the game in college, it was great, but since then I have played a number of games that had better graphics and tutorials than WoW. It was clear to see why so many people stopped playing the game. This additional set of textures and models has brought the game – especially the starting phases up to speed with other games. Each screen is layered with a set of tooltips and guides to get new players started.
I am very excited to be a part of the Beta, and I will continue to upload images and reflections as I continue to play so stay tuned.
I am hoping that as they release more builds, I will have access to the level 90 toons to test and possibly even port some of my own.