Shadowmoon Valley will open soon enough, I'm sure. When that opens, we'll get a better idea of the Alliance's role on Draenor. I believe that zone, which is the Alliance starting zone in Warlords of Draenor, is currently undergoing some level of redesign. I don't know if that means a rebuild from the ground up or just making adjustments to fix the ebb and flow of the zone. It's also important to remember this is an alpha.
This is pretty standard to the alpha/early beta experience. Just because the other zones are closed off doesn't mean no work has been done on them. It's entirely possible all of those zones are as far developed as Frostfire Ridge. Areas tend to get closed off or otherwise restricted in the interest of focused testing. While they put more work into developing the other zones, they collect feedback and squash bugs in Frostfire Ridge. When Shadowmoon Valley opens, they might decide to close off Frostfire Ridge for awhile in the interest of focused testing.
Has there been any word from Blizz about making the Cloud Serpent mounts usable by alts without the rep?
Yes! Developer Watcher mentioned on Twitter, back in May, that Cloud Serpent Riding will no longer be required in patch 6.0.
What's your take on garrisons so far?
I think it's too early for me to form a solid opinion. My kneejerk reaction was to be disappointed, but that's only because it wasn't what I expected. We all have our own image of what the garrison should be, but we're only just now getting a glimpse of what it really is. I expected it to be more personal, beyond choosing which structures you have. I expected the follower system would be used to populate my garrison, starting from nothing and building a team of badasses -- picking and choosing who I wanted on my team.
Instead, the garrison comes with a substantial built-in population. You start out with oodles of nameless soldiers defending your stronghold as well as laborers. You don't ask the followers to join your team, they just sign up after you've done their quests. It's a subtle difference, but still a difference. I didn't feel I had any agency in whether they were there or not. It was their decision, not mine as a commander. And once they're in your garrison, you might see one of them from time to time, but they're drowned out in the dense sea of NPCs already there. In addition to that, a handful of prominent fan-favorite NPCs are there from the very beginning. There are spoilers in the very next paragraph, so stop here if you don't want any spoilers at all.
Your architect is Gazlowe, the guy that built Orgrimmar. For me, then, it feels like he isn't my architect, but rather on loan from Vol'jin. That feeling is even stronger when dealing with the coordinator of the follower missions. The mission leader is Saurfang. Freaking Saurfang. There will be players that find that totally awesome. In time, I might find it totally awesome, too. When I first saw him, though, he made me feel very small. The garrison stopped feeling like this intensely personal venture and more like a quest hub where I answer to the Horde's big dogs. I think I would have preferred it if it was a bunch of new guys who were created to be the player's inner circle.
All of this isn't necessarily bad. My first reaction was to feel that way, but the feeling faded as I played. I adjusted to what the garrison actually is instead of what I dreamed up. It's also an alpha without the full garrison implementation, so the final picture may be quite different.
Boy, that was a lot of words about garrisons.
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