Questing was described as an integral part of the game, often being used to continue a storyline or lead the player through the game.[21] The high number of quests in each location was popular, as well as the rewards for completing them.[10] It was felt that the range of quests removed the need for a player to "grind", or carry out repetitive tasks, to advance their character.[20] Quests also require players to explore every section of the game world, potentially causing problems for social gamers or roleplayers seeking somewhere quiet.[21] Quests that required the player to collect items from the corpses of creatures they had killed were also unpopular; the low "drop rate", or chance of finding the items, makes them feel repetitive as a high number of creatures need to be killed to complete the quest.[20] A large number of new players in a particular area meant that there were often no creatures to kill,[21] or that players would have to wait and take turns to kill a particular creature to complete a quest.[10] Some critics mentioned that the lack of quests that required players to group up made the game feel as if it were designed for solo play.[83] Others complained that some dungeon or instanced group quests were not friendly to new players, and could take several hours to complete.[20] Upon release, a small number of quests had software bugs that made them impossible to complete.[10]
Han pasado cinco años desde los eventos narrados en Warcraft 3. La Alianza y la Nueva Horda viven en un estado de guerra fría, y mantienen una frágil y quebradiza paz, mientras reconstruyen sus reinos y tratan de recuperar su prosperidad. En Ventormenta, el rey Varian Wrynn ha desaparecido en circunstancias misteriosas mientras viajaba en misión diplomática a la isla de Theramore, por lo que en su ausencia, es nombrado rey su hijo Anduin Wrynn, todavía un niño, asumiendo la regencia lord Bolvar Fordragon y la misteriosa lady Katrana Prestor. En Orgrimmar, el jefe de guerra Thrall lucha por sacar adelante a la Nueva Horda.
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