I have to apologize for the drought in content, and thank a lot of your for your feedback. We received more than a few comments this week about front loading all the coverage, but unfortunately, this is the way of the Alpha. Its important we get everything we can out as soon as possible, as well as anything else we subsequently find after that.
This goes for written content, youtube, twitter, streaming, everything.
Unfortunately, the reason behind this extended drought is Blizzard’s lackluster preparation.
Just went I praised them two sessions ago about being further ahead then they let on, and potentially seeing 100 servers concurrent with leveling, we get handed this horrendous set back.
For those of you who aren’t following, lets recap in timeline fashion.
Wednesday, June 11 – Announcement via Twitter that Horde and Alliance starting zones will swap in upcoming build.
Tuesday, June 17 – Typical patch day, announcements about lag batch changes and level 100 internal test dummies.
Thursday, June 19 – Alpha servers go down, patch is estimated around 9EST for return. Around 10 EST, its cancelled and they claim an issue with stability. Servers remain down.
Friday, June 20 – Patch is deployed around 8 EST, live for around 30 minutes when gamebreaking bugs tear the world and servers apart. Statement issued that build will be scraped and servers will return after the weekend.
Monday, June 23 – Wait all day for alpha, eager for testing and coverage. Once again postponed due to build issue. Claims today will be the day
Tuesday June 24 – Day this article was written, instead of new alpha coverage…
Of course it is early in the day, but regardless, what can ya do? Its really quite comical to me, as I had literally just got down speculating so heavily about the speed of this process and potential. After reviewing this timeline, it seems as I was completely wrong, doesn’t it?
Well maybe not…
Another wrench in the theory is their strangely timed Tanan Jungle Preview.
The reason it is so beleaguering is because of the Shadow Moon Valley preview last week. Obviously, it was meant to coincide with the alpha build, but perhaps this means that Tanan is being added as well, and they just utterly scraped the content plan they had previously to add more into it?
One can only hope, because Tanan jungle is arguably the most important zone in the expansion. It is the restored “Hellfire Peninsula” pre corruption, but its very much just as brutal. We learn a few very interesting things about the zone as well, that helps place this on an even higher pedestal.
The big reveal is the zone’s central location for boosted level 90s. Early in the week, we discussed the whole process of acclimating these players to a brand new game, as they promised they would. It appears it will take place there, and is likely to yield and an entirely different starting experience.
This is exceptionally exciting for me, because I really love the concept that our characters are actually important this time around. In the past, we have always just been Thralls 25 friends or something like that, but in Warlords of Draenor, we actually get acknowledged by major lore figures as operator of the garrison, and as a recognizable piece of Horde lore.
The trend seems to continue in Tanan, and its very likely that those with fresh boosted characters will receive a different type of welcome, suitable to their character’s new status.
Either way, it is also confirmed that the zone will be the entry to Draenor, via the Dark Portal, just like Hellfire. Where it differs is, this time it appears we attempt to close it immediately after opening it. I would imagine the story to be along the lines of:
Garrosh opens time rift through portal
We go through, but want to stop others from following so we close.
We are engaged by natives and Garrosh supporters and are forced out of the zone before the task is completed.
This seems logical based on what we saw from the early text in Frostfire Ridge. We met the Blind Frostwolf Far Seer Drek’thar, and he seemed to already know Thrall and Kadghar. It was out of sequence then, but after reading this preview it seems obvious to me that our timeline’s heroes accidentally mix with those of this world and we have to take some drastic action to escape after our plan fails, or perhaps succeeds but hits a snafu afterwards.
The final confirmation is that, while this is technically the “starting zone” its not the real level 90 quest starting zone, and nor is it the last time we see it. My imagination tells me that we will spend 30 minutes or so in the zone and then be spirited away to our respective areas in Frostfire Ridge or Shadowmoon Valley. From there, we progress like in pandaria, through a world that is seemingly unaltered by our conflict, until we get deeper and deeper. Eventually, we are max level and can find our way back into Tanan Jungle for perhaps a Timeless Isle type questing and exploration area? It seems reasonable to me, as when we saw the zone in the Alpha Sandbox demo, it was horribly unfinished, so much so that the land wasn’t even shaped or textured past the area around the dark portal. This screams to me that the main purpose of this zone will be pure max level content, and not just regular quests.
Hopefully, if they do allow us to test Tanan in this next patch cycle, we will be able to explore it a bit more and get concrete answers to these questions.
Well, hopefully we are able to test anything in any patch cycle.
The servers have been offline now 5 full days, and I have a sneaking suspicion they will be off for even more. Its hard to take sides on Blizzard’s behalf, because as soon as you are sold out for them, they flip you on your back and roll you down a hill. And then later on when you are so certain things are falling apart and they have no answer to the destruction, they completely redeem themselves with magisterial action. And then it cycles over and over and over and over…
Here’s hoping we have something to cover by this time tomorrow. See you there.