In all of the talk about World of Warcraft vanilla servers and the desire to go back to an earlier era, it’s made me think about how the game has indeed improved for the better over the years. I was talking with someone the other day about how we don’t acknowledge all of the quality-of-life improvements that go into MMOs until we see the game in an older state or are forced to go without them. We’ve just gotten used to their presence, how they make the game more user-friendly, and become blind to those changes when we call for the return of how things used to be.
Anyway, since questing through Warlords of Draenor over the past couple of months, I’ve noticed many nice changes that have made the game a lot more enjoyable to experience. Some must have happened since I left in the Wrath era while others are older but still post-vanilla. Maybe everyone who’s been playing Draenor for two years now are immune to noticing these, but I’m definitely liking them.
(1) The chance for quest rewards and drops to upgrade in quality
Getting loot is one of the little thrills of any MMO, and I think WoW has a good idea going here by giving any dropped or quested gear a chance to spontaneously evolve to a higher rarity level (green to blue, or blue to purple). Once in a while, that gear I thought I’d be vendoring ends up being useful because it goes through this on-the-spot upgrade, and that’s pretty dang nifty.
(2) Rare monster hunting
Rare monsters have always been in World of Warcraft as far as I can remember, but they haven’t been as enjoyable to hunt down as they seem to be now. I definitely like how they pop up on the radar as little skulls, always prompting me to drop everything and make a beeline to them. I’ve gotten so many interesting drops from these mobs, including neat transmog pieces, pets, and utility items.
(3) Storyline chapters
Is this a new thing? In going through each zone in Draenor, I notice how there is a counter on the quest tracker for the number of storylines that I’ve completed. It seems like every area has at least a half-dozen or more story arcs to be completed. The size of them hits the spot — not so small to be insignificant but not too big to get lost in. You get beginnings, middles, and endings, and I’ve gotten engrossed in a few of these as a result of the pacing.
(4) The music
Terrible official album release aside, Warlords of Draenor has a memorable in-game soundtrack. A few of the tracks are haunting and catchy, and I’ve kept the music on for the entirety of my questing so far.
(5) Remote quest turnins
While this is only a once-in-a-while occurance, it’s certainly welcome for WoW to catch up with modern MMOs and offer remote quest turn-ins. Sometimes you really, really don’t need to be running back to the quest giver for piddly activities, and it’s welcome to get rid of the quest on the tracker right there and then.
(6) Selection of quest rewards
It feels like WoW’s gotten better about changing up quest rewards so that they’re not always disposable gear. Sure, lots offer on-level armor and weapon upgrades, but I’ve been seeing a lot more reward screens that spit out followers, pets, resources, and other useful trinkets.