1990 Silicon Dreams Games and Movie Reviews: What to expect from Mists of Pandaria: Preview

Thursday, March 8, 2012

What to expect from Mists of Pandaria: Preview

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What is behind a great MMORPG? Blizzard's World of Warcraft stands tall as the leader on the market for Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games, but is there something that's missing recently? With the Mists of Pandaria expansion that's up and coming in the fall, the outcries of the WoW fan base have been louder than ever. Sure there's always been dissatisfaction among the fans whenever a change has been introduced to the game, but this time it seems the angst has reached an all-time high. So what can we honestly expect from the expansion?

                                             Mists of Pandaria Preview Trailer

Here's a list of the changes:

- new continent in Azeroth
- new race, shared by both the Horde and Allience - Pandaren
- new class - Monk
- a completely new Talents System
- abandoned stats 
- new levels of duifficulty for dungeons
- entirely new Vanity Pet Combat System and random exploration vanity pet encounters

Seems like a lot, but Blizzard has shown a tremendous dedication to putting out new content in a timely manner, when it comes to World of Warcraft. Starting from the last point on the list, the new Pet Combat System is something the several million WoW players have been stupefied by from day one. The associations with Pokemon are inevitable. From the point of view of my current experience of WoW I could never imagine myself standing in the middle of Stormwind, engaged in an epic duel between a Mini Diablo and a Mini Tyrael. But then again I could not imagine myself, back when Wrath of the Lich King first came out, chasing after achievements just for the sake of it. In hindsight I've got a couple 85 characters and one of them has pretty much every achievement that doesn't require raiding. I made World Explorer in a single day, right after I got my Red Drake mount. I've also spent countless hours (unsuccessfully) fishing for a Sea Turtle mount in Northrend.

The New Talent System and stat changes personally don't bother me that much. I'm not a hardcore WoW player, and as such am not too interested in the minute details of balance in the game. At the same time I hear a lot of people complain that the new talents system (which closely resembles that seen in Diablo 3 beta) is going to oversimplify the game, by reducing the number of choices players have in customizing their characters. Blizzard here responds with the usual spiel that it is yet another effort to get rid of cookie-cutter builds (for those not familiar with the term, cookie-cutter refers to the practice of advanced players testing out different builds as early as public Beta, before a patch or expansion pack and releasing the best performing combinations on-line where everyone can copy without as much as having played the game for an hour).

The Mists of Pandaria Talent System itself is a list of tiered skills and effects that become available in groups of three at certain thresholds in-game. After level 15/30/45/60 etc. players will have a choice between one of the three skills for the tier, which should affect gameplay in a less-predictable (and copyable) manner.

The most rigid critique that's been coming from the fans recently is with regards to the decision to reduce the difficulty of Cataclysm content, which as I remember it from the days after the expansion came out was almost unplayable. Groups in RDF failed miserably at their roles, either because they didn't know the tactics or because all members alike were eager to try out the content, with only a basic set of two or three quest greens from the Expansion. It was not pretty. But then a couple weeks on people gradually learned what they were supposed to do, and after the new questing areas got a little bit more deserted, the dungeons became more manageable. We'd still wipe once or twice in a dungeon, but we'd finish it in a respectable time frame. The problem a lot of people saw with what Blizzard did only a month or two onwards was that even with the Luck of Draw buff that was supposed to make up for the random player factor, when queueing in RDF, Blizzard opted out to reduce the overall difficulty of all Cataclysm dungeons in one swift motion. Effectively Cataclysm was reduced from an epic battle to the same snorefest all too familiar from Wrath of the Lich king dungeons lvl 70-80.

                        Totalhalibut, among many others, unsubscribes from WoW

So now instead of having to choose between catering to either the new/infrequent players or the hardcore raiders, Blizzard has decided to add a New Difficulty Level to dungeons, so people that feel like they're having it too easy, alongside the casual folk can get a taste of what they really want. In my opinion, that's a step in the right direction, avoiding both the suffering of wipe after wipe through the first two weeks of the new content, and the uneventful grinding that inevitably follows after that.

After all of the above has been said, I have good expectations for everything else, Blizzard has proven itself in creating varied and interesting content as far as the quests and lore go, and a whole new continent, race and class in the face of the Pandaren can only be a step in the right direction. From what I've seen so far the setting is going to be inspired by Chinese/Asian culture, and ultimately, I'd love to see Blizzard's take on real-world areas such as Canton and Tibet. Beyond that I'm eager to see the new content as in new tiered armour, new quests and lore, and most importantly new dungeons and raids to break up the monotonous grinding of Cataclysm Heroics for the dreaded Sack of Exotic goods, that has a chance to drop the rarest in-game pet. Don't get me wrong, I loved Cataclysm, and despite the inevitable changes I can't wait for the next set of content to arrive.


  1. Blizzard depresses me with their new content. I LOVED WOW during BC then WOLTK ruined for me then the thing after that one just made it awful all my friends quit I'm looking forward to GW2!

  2. Blizzard was good, before Activision came in.

  3. While I am interested in the idea of a neutral race, all the other changes just make me think it's good I got out.

  4. I like the enw panda character!


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