We don't exactly know how we're going to get to Draenor just yet. On the beta, players simply talk to an oversized version of Khadgar, conveniently located in both faction capital cities, and he just teleports players in. There should be far more context in the actual live release, as far as that goes. But first impressions, after Khadgar's convenient teleport? The Dark Portal is huge. Comparable to the size of the one located in Outland, and maybe even a little larger than that. The skies are suitably red and foreboding, and the steps of the Dark Portal contain piles upon piles of very, very angry orcs.
But that's really just the beginning to it all. Players have to deactivate the Dark Portal before any of the Iron Horde forces can break through to the other side ... and what you have to do to accomplish this task is quite possibly one of the most dubious actions you will ever take in this game, something that will surely come back to haunt you at some point later in the expansion. Once the Dark Portal is deactivated, the chase is on to find some semblance of safety, preferably far, far away from the Iron Horde. Progress through these areas is honestly a lot faster than I would have originally surmised -- the introduction may take an hour, but it really doesn't feel like that long at all.
As you level through the experience, quest rewards involve the usual gold, XP, and occasional pieces of gear. But for fresh level 90 boosted players, it offers something in addition to that -- spells are given as quest rewards, similar to what you see in the death knight starting experience. Once all of your class spells have been learned, you'll start getting your talents, section by section. By the time the Tanaan experience is completed, you'll have all your spells, all your talents, and a fairly good idea of what to do with them all.
What don't you have? Profession trainers, vendors, or anything remotely resembling support. Rather than being a hindrance to the process, it honestly kind of helps the whole thing along, from a tone standpoint. There's an intense feeling of desperation involved in the whole introduction, but it doesn't quite have the context built in as far as Azeroth is concerned, just yet. I have a feeling that once we see whatever world event that kicks off Warlords, it will all fall into place.
The quests themselves are fairly easy to accomplish, the mobs aren't too concentrated, they don't seem to be too tough, if you happen to have some Raid Finder gear. I don't think players really need to worry that much about being geared enough for Draenor -- those few Mists pieces that you might find yourself missing or being a little lacking will likely be replaced fairly quickly. I would recommend upgrading your gear with Valor while you still can -- it'll give you a little more of a boost in Draenor, even if you're just upgrading Raid Finder gear.
I have to say the Tanaan introduction works far, far better than anything we've seen before, as far as introductory experiences in every expansion to date -- Mists included. You really get a sense of what exactly we're up against, a feeling of perpetual danger, and a far clearer idea of what the Warlords expansion is all about. We didn't really have that with prior expansions. Mists gave us an introduction to Pandaria that slowly had us dipping our toes in the lost continent of Pandaria and its rich history -- Warlords is a stark contrast in which we are thrown into the fray with little warning or knowledge pf what to expect.
In this way, we're all on equally shaky footing, here -- whether you're a seasoned veteran of WoW, or someone who is picking up the game for the first time and starting out with a brand-new level 90. For more screenshots of Tanaan, be sure to check out the gallery -- and keep an eye on the site for more zone reviews as the beta progresses.