In one of those “fools rush in… and get the best seats” moments, I got home from work yesterday, started up my computer, launched World of Warcraft, logged in, and started playing.
No fuss, no muss, no queue, no problem. I just logged in, decided to go with Vikund as first into Draenor, took the quest, and off I went.
I am not sure you can actually refuse the quest. I tried with another character and the game seemed pretty persistent. Anyway, I was in the game and headed out on my first try.
This happens to me once in a while, where I wander into a minefield and pass through unscathed by sheer luck. I know that many people were having problems, and my luck is not in any way to say that everything was fine. My daughter was interested in a level 90 on another server, where she ended up in a queue nearly 4,000 players deep and estimated to get her to the front of the line in about 7 hours. She watched that for a bit then decided to join me on Eldre’Thalas, only to find that logins had been locked for the server. So there were problems in my own house, and I had to hear my daughter moan about how she couldn’t get in while I was happily playing.
Because I was on and in game, which at that point appeared to be the big hurdle. The server itself was only listed as “medium” when it came to load and I found Earl already on and level 91. He had passed through the starter area and now it was my turn. It is through the portal and off to work with Khadgar and Thrall.
The intro zone is a short, story driven event meant to give you the “why we fight” look at the expansion. I was interested in the emphasis placed on the “bad” guys, the leaders of the Iron Horde, the so-called Warlords of Draenor, who were each introduced in a very cinematic fashion, like an 80s ensemble cast complete with action shot pose and dramatic name reveal.
The special guest star was the Eye of Kilrogg, which played a supporting role.
I won’t try to record the details of the intro zone. I am sure there are guides out there, should you need one. It was a quick lark. As always, I took every opportunity I could to pose with Thrall.
I have built this “Homer Simpson/Mr. Burns” relationship with Thrall in my brain over the years, where we have interacted on many occasions yet, whenever we meet, Thrall doesn’t know me. I just need an orc version of Waylon Smithers (or maybe a goblin) to start reciting past events to Thrall like, “he helped you escape from Durnhold Keep, he once shot you with a BB gun, you sent him into Deepholm to save Azeroth, he was on the team that brought Garrosh Hellscream to justice…” to complete the scene.
I was interested to see that Vikund’s gear, which is mostly Siege of Orgrimar LFR level purples, was not immediately worse than what was being handed out for the first few quests. Vikund is probably better geared, sitting at the end of Pandaria, than he has ever been, so not trading up immediately was a new experience. Eventually, he got something that was the same item level for one of the garrison quests, but it lacked a gem socket, didn’t have an enchant, and was otherwise almost identical, so I let it sit in the bag with the rest of the stuff.
I was a bit disappointed that, for no good reason, the game client refused to take screen shots during one of the cinematics where all of the orc warlords were standing together at the top of a cliff in a rather epic pose. A movie poster level of positioning. But Blizz seems to be odd on that front. Sometimes screenshots work during cinematics, sometimes they do not. I will have to run Fraps with the next character into Draenor.
Anyway, I thought the whole thing was nicely done. Though it was probably a lot of work for a relatively short encounter, it does lay the foundation for the expansion.
I made it through and was dumped on the beach in Shadowmoon Valley, where I was given a “you made it” achievement. There should probably be a special “you made it through all the technical issues” feat of strength achievement for getting there within 24 hours of the launch, but that might be rubbing salt in the wound.
From that point the game was very determined to get me into my garrison. This does not appear to be an optional thing, but a requirement to progress. Granted, I wanted a garrison, so I did not explore much when it came to “can I bypass this?” but it sure seemed like a requirement. You end up at the site of your Garrison… with a few dozen other people in my case… where you have to collect some resources and kill a few things. The resources were not consumed when others collected them, so it wasn’t an all out race grab them. You basically flagged trees to be cut down, and with each you got an old school Warcraft RTS peon response.
The mobs to kill were contested, but were available in abundance as well. I was thankful once again that Blizz made special quest mobs available to everybody who got in some damage, as there was a huge mob waiting to slay the one named guy we all needed.
That went pretty quickly, and I was soon standing before my garrison.
There were, naturally, some quests waiting within. I went out to collect some things, kill some other things. I built a barracks and visited the various vendors that are present just to see what I had. And then it was time to head off to a school event for my daughter. My wife is the PTA president, so we can’t skip this sort of thing, we need to be there to support her.
So I logged off.
A couple hours later, when we returned home, I wasn’t able to log back in. I managed to get into the server selection, but for quite a stretch it would not connect to a server.
My daughter was similarly locked out. She gave up and went to bed while I sat around reading the various news stories and blue posts about DDoS attacks and unexpected issues. Some of it was out of Blizzard’s hands and some of it was stuff they weren’t going to find until we all hit the game at once. Then again, there was at least one Blizzard note I read that mentioned a problem caused by too many people being at the same place in the game, which got a big eye roll from me, since that was the system they designed. Everybody ends up standing at that spot where the garrison is built, as an example.
As usual, some people were philosophical about the whole thing, while others were complaining that Blizzard had effectively stolen their money or other over the top statements.
Yes, it was bad at times and Blizzard should know we don’t appreciate it. They own a lot of the problems. In all likelihood Blizz will comp everybody a day or two to cover this, and the storm will pass shortly. But if you are bitching about having skipped school or taken a vacation day for this… well, I have to ask if this is your first online game. I did that once, called in sick for a video game launch. I think it was in 1989, when Gemstone opened up on GEnie after having been in the beta for a while. It was an unplayable disaster on day one and my time was wasted. Nothing has changed in 25 years. If you are smart, you do that once and you learn your lesson.
Anyway, in the midst of all of this, while my screen sat in the trying to connect state on the server selection page, a tweet came through from Blizzard CS suggesting that people log out and back in. I was hesitant, but had nothing to lose. So I gave it a shot and, sure enough, I was able to log back in just fine, I was back in the game, back in my garrison, and ready to go.
I ran off and got my first follower, whom I sent on a mission which got me a second follower. I sent them both off and rode out to the first town/quest hub. There is kind of an interesting moment when you ride out of your garrison and down the road and you hit the point where you exit what is essentially the instance your garrison occupies and load into the shared world. As it happened I was riding my chopper down the road and hit that transition point to find myself riding right next to a guy, also on a chopper and headed to the same location.
I saw Potshot online and he was able to get into the game at about that time as well. However, there seemed to be a problem with people getting into the starter zone then, and he was stuck in the Blasted Lands getting the same automated message, “The portal you are trying to access… Draenor… is busy or out or service, please try again later.” So all was not yet peaches and cream. But Blizzard has a downtime today and some patches to do. Tonight should be better than last night, and tomorrow night better than tonight, and at some point in a couple of days it will be a complete non-issue and we’ll move on to complaining about something else.
After a bit more running around, it was time for bed at my end. And so ended my first look at the new expansion.
Others looking at day one:
Friday Night Addendum:
Oh, now I feel your pain. Now I know the rage and humiliation of having to sit in a queue.
Big changes from Blizz incoming. This should be… interesting.