"If you could describe the upcoming expansion [Warlords of Draenor] in one word, what would it be?" I asked an anonymous Blizzard developer.
"Savage describes it."
They weren't kidding. I'll tell you why in a moment.
While everyone was off scampering towards the main stage and awaiting the opening ceremony, I lined up at the demo machines with a few other shrewd adventurers and waited as the opening ceremony announcements were going on. Now with Warlords of Draenor officially announced, the line to test the game started moving and I was eager to get my hands. There were three different demo selections. You could start the Alliance quests, the Horde quests, or form a 5 player team for a dungeon. I figured I'd have time to quest later, plus I wanted to put my skills to the test. My hand shot straight up in the air and I said "HEALER LFG NEW DUNGEON". Didn't take long before I was picked up by a group of 3 other players just in front of me who had a tank. Then I ran into Sally right next to us in the snake queue who offered to fill in and be our fifth. We dashed in and were seated at a bank of computers and were told "15 minutes, guys!"
I'm not a stranger to the test realm environment. There were a few pre-mades that were ready to go and I went with my original Dwarf priest. Everything starts off with the default UI. No problem! We found each other in-game quickly, formed a group, and immediately queued for the dungeon (We had to use an item to get in, there's no actual queueing). It was called the Bloodmaul Slag Mines, one of the new level 90 accessible instances. Once we zoned inside and faced off against two Bloodmaul Ogres. We didn't last very long to the first two trash mobs. Forgot to equip healing gear (and tank gear). We took a breather for 30 seconds and re-examined our inventory and talents and made sure everything was correctly in place. Meanwhile, I was flying through the keybinds window, activating extra action bars, and ensuring my talents were correct. I chose Holy and we started pulling trash again as I was busy dragging out icons and playing them directly from the spellbook. Managed to get through them, no problem! I quick check of my gear showed mostly shadow items were loaded into my trinkets and I quickly swapped those out. We chained pull as quickly as we could and ended up in front of the first boss! He didn't seem that bad to heal as he periodically summoned miners to come in and disrupt us. We would've been able to get him down but unfortunately we hit the real life enrage timer. The crew running the demo machines came by and said we had to wrap up and log out immediately because our time was up. I wish we had an extra 5 minutes to spare!
The dungeon itself was in a slave mine of sorts. There were ogres everywhere and they had captive draenei simply pounding away at the rocks and mines trying to extract minerals. The graphics were beautiful. Shadowmoon Valley (or Temple of Karabor) is where we first zoned into and it looks gorgeous. Looks like I arrived when it was night time (although it seems to always be night time there). Draenor is going to be a fantastic world to explore. Just the first glimpses of it were enough to take my breath away. Those of you that like exploring and wandering around will fit right in here. I know it was mentioned that Draenor is not an Outland rework. From my perspective, they just took Outland and restored it to the way it looked before Ner'zhul shattered everything (Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal).
Item squish is in effect too! Our tank had around 45k health. I had around 32k health. My Prayer of Healing was landing between 3k to 5k. My Flash Heal was around 2.5k and Greater Heal was about 4k and up. Our item levels still showed up in the 520+ range so my guess is that a hidden debuff of some sort was applied to drastically drop and reconfigure all of our stats down. My red gems showed 8 intellect. I guess this is the solution to the great ilevel bloat!
This is just the tip of a behemoth-sized iceberg. I haven't been felt this much excitement for an expansion in a long time!