World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor - Everything there is to know so far

T.J. Hafer at

The fifth expansion for World of Warcraft has been announced. Warlords of Draenor will take players to the orcish homeland before its destruction at the end of Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal. Through the meddling of the time-traveling Bronze Dragonflight, former warchief Garrosh Hellscream has created an alternate timeline beyond the portal in which the orcs never sided with the Burning Legion, and are now united into a new, Iron Horde.

Wait, what? Just hang onto your epic helm. We'll get to that. First, here are the major features.

Level Cap Raised to 100

Gone are the days of five level increments, and apparently Blizzard has finally figured out how to fit three digits in the level display. Also in tow are a new set of level 90 talents. Yep, 90. So you'll be able to pick out your new toy right when you log in to your Pandaria veteran to begin your journey into Draenor.

But wait, what if I'm not a veteran of Pandaria?

Skip the grind. Entirely.

If you purchase Warlords of Draenor, you will be granted one Get to Level 90 Free card. This can be applied to a character of any level—even a brand new alt. If you have a character you abandoned somewhere in their mid-60s because of a place that rhymes with Shmoutland, this bump will also be nice enough to clear out your quest log, clean up your bags and hotbars, and provide you with a set of level appropriate gear.

New player character models

World of Warcraft is a nine year old game, and it wasn't exactly the cutting edge of visual fidelity when it came out. Over time, the environments and armor sets have gotten prettier and polygonier... but the original playable character races have remained static. No more, with the expansion's accompanying Patch 6.0. Every race up to and including the Blood Elves and Draenei are getting a visual overhaul, with about five times as many polygons and new emotes and animations to bring them up to spec with the Pandaren.

The art team assures they've taken great pains to preserve the "soul" of every face, beard, hairstyle, and horn accessory. Your character shouldn't look like a complete stranger when you log in—just less like a muppet. As for the Worgen and Goblins? It's undecided if they'll receive an overhaul, as they were already rendered in higher detail than the previous races.

Player housing with RTS elements

And there's the bombshell. Remember back when Warcraft was a game where you built a base and sent out your dudes to kill things? Warlords of Draenor will let you build a base and send out your dudes to kill things. You will gain access to a Garrison, placed in a zone on Draenor of your choice. It will begin as a simple encampment, but can progress through three tiers to eventually stand as a mighty fortress.

You will have a limited number of building plots in your garrison, which can be used for things like inns, lumber mills, and barracks. Each building (which can also be upgraded through three tiers) grants you resources, limited access to professions you don't have, or followers. These followers are recruitable NPCs who can be sent off on missions. They level from 90 to 100 just like you do, have their own gear progression, and let you finally order other people to save the world instead of having to do it yourself for the 600th time.

Hold on! Can we get back to the part about time traveling dragons and Garrosh's head not being on a spike?

Oh, right. That. Turn the page.