I will be the first to admit; I was not super excited about anything in particular in WoD. I was looking forward to getting out of SoO more than getting into any new content that was coming. Honestly, I thought WoD would be boring both story and content-wise. I will also be the first to admit I was completely and utterly wrong.
WoD has completely blown me away. It’s probably the best WoW expansion I’ve ever experienced. And I believe this is due to three aspects that hit the nail on the head.
(Side note: Yes, I have hit 100! I have only done alliance side questing thus far, and have completed Shadowmoon Valley, Gorgrond, and Talador, and am about halfway through Spires of Arak. I will be finishing Spires and going on to Nagrand to finish the stories!)
The first aspect that nailed it is questing. Never before has the questing be as immersive as it is now. The cutscenes combined with some fantastic writing has made questing the star of the show. I stayed in zones long after I had outleveled them, just to experience the story.
My favorite zone so far has been Shadowmoon Valley. The overall story built up very well, and the final cutscenes and the attack on Karabor were very impressive. Yrel is now my favorite character of all times. But the thing that really made the zone for me were all the side quests. The one with the podlings was both horrifying and enthralling; it was like watching a car crash. The botani area was really pretty… until I found the pile of dead bodies in the middle of their sparkly pool. That was properly chilling, and the area felt much more constricted and closed off (very effective storytelling!).
I know I made fun of Blizzard for overusing this word, but Draenor really is savage. I was afraid to let any NPCs out of my sight, lest they get killed from some dangerous enemy. Whenever I had to go find an NPC, I always assumed they would be dead or injured. All the zones felt dangerous- not game-playwise, but lorewise. Like if I weren’t an adventurer, I would be dead by now.
I think the best (and by best, I mean most horrifying and stomach churning) quest chain was in Gorgrond. You are sent to the Crimson Fen to check on one of the Rangari groups who hasn’t checked back in a while. Upon arriving, you find that all but the leader are dead or missing. What follows is the most awful but fascinating quest line I’ve ever done. Basically, you watch as the Rangari captain slowly gets infested and taken over by the fungus of the Crimson Fen. And the worst part is, you are actually helping him get infested by following his orders. The atmosphere of the area (a dim but foggy orange underneath huge mushrooms) and the quest text made all the difference. When I finished that chain, I actually had to take a break from the game for half an hour. It was just so CREEPY! Gave me the chills! Very, very well done!
The second aspect that is making WoD such a great experience is, surprisingly enough, garrisons! I know when this was first announced I had no interest in them whatsoever, but I’ve really come to love them. The amount of customization as well as all the little details (Ray D. Tears and Pepe comes to mind) make it really feel like my own thing. Plus, everyone calling me Commander certainly helps!
My only grip is that I have all these level 100 follower missions, and only two level 100 followers. This means that I have a lot of missions sitting in my backlog. I’m hoping they do not get deleted, because I really want to send people out on them!
The last aspect that I love about WoD are all the treasures and details in the world. Finding purple items or downing rares is a very satisfying experience. Also, it really gives a player the incentive to go out and actually look at the world. Go to the end of that cave instead of looping around the front. Go inside and look at those orcish huts, there could be treasure.
Basically, this expansion has been the perfect melding of lore, exploration, and solo content. Everything I loved about MoP has been increased by a thousand! I can’t wait to finish all the quests, and run it again on horde side!
Addendum: Yup, I leveled up entirely as a shockadin (as per the vote) and I found could do acceptable damage to mobs. I’ve also done a bit of healing in dungeons, but nothing above normal levels. What I’ve done so far has been pretty hard but I know my gear isn’t great, so it’s too early to make any judgements. And nope, haven’t stepped into the new Molten Core or the new battleground yet!