Mists of Pandaria: Report from the First 48 Hours

World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria

By on September 28, 2012 at 1:21 pm

Mists of Pandaria marks the fourth expansion for World of Warcraft, a game that has been around for close to eight years. Despite World of Warcraft‘s long reign as the most popular subscription-based MMO, it’s tough to ignore the shifting trends of its slowly shrinking audience. These first days in Pandaria have shown, quite starkly, the effects that other high-profile MMO launches have on World of Warcraft since it reached its launch-peak with Cataclysm.

Anyone who had played during a previous expansion launch will recall how chaotic it is. Thousands of players funneling into a couple of specific zones, all competing for a limited number of quest objectives. You can barely get anything done, because it feels like every possible monster spawn-point is being camped round-the-clock, even during off-peak times.

Mists, by contrast, has felt quite empty. There are still people, but the terrain isn’t crawling with them the way it had in Cataclysm, Wrath of the Lich King or The Burning Crusade — and the last two even split players into different areas in an effort to make it less chaotic. Pandaria only has one primary arrival area. That’s not to say that it’s bad, because everything I’ve played so far has lived up to Blizzard’s high standards, and many innovations from other MMOs in the last couple years have been implemented to various degrees. But it does feel a little sad. Even the Pandaren starting area lacks hordes of new Pandaren Monks.

the reality is that the Pet Battle System is indeed basically a Pokemon side-quest. And it’s great. I’m genuinely, unironically enjoying it.

Putting that aside, there have been relatively few launch issues with Mists of Pandaria. Servers have mostly been stable, and although I’ve seen screenshots of hilarious-looking bugs that cropped up in the first few hours (see above), I have personally only experienced a minor issue where the victory theme from the Pet Battle System looped instead of actual battle music.

Actually, the Pet Battle System has attracted more of my time over the past couple days than it perhaps should have. Anyone who had paid attention to Blizzard’s announcement of the feature knew how similar to a certain monster-filled Nintendo series it sounded, and the reality is that it is indeed basically a Pokemon side-quest.

And it’s great. I’m genuinely, unironically enjoying it.

And, strangely, although Cataclysm‘s setup seemed darker and everything leading up to Pandaria seemed to be quite tongue-in-cheek, the general tone has been much more grim than most of what we’ve seen in World of Warcraft. There’s no looming threat like Arthas or Deathwing — instead it’s you and your faction causing strife in what was previously a very peaceful land.

After this long playing World of Warcraft on and off I was ready to go into Mists and hate everything about it, but I’m slowly being charmed. There are certainly some questionable elements – some of the dialogue and accents strike me as, well, a little racist – but World of Warcraft‘s undeniable charm is ever-present. And while some of the usability upgrades Blizzard added in the past, such as the Raid Finder, have been controversial, the changes to the Talent and Glyph systems seem to be almost universally preferred, and have made playing my mage a substantially more varied experience.

I’ve barely scratched the surface of what Pandaria has on offer, so look forward to a review in a few weeks where Pandaria is thoroughly disassembled for your reading pleasure.

How is Pandaria going for you? Share your experiences in the comments!

11 comments (Leave your own)

Ah reminded me of the old vanilla WoW days.. position in queue 2300 lol

It’s been fun so far, plenty of players cruising about, a tonne of them in the new starting zone. I’m enjoying the questing and the execution of the expansion in general. The servers and tech are a lot more robust these days so it’s nice to not see the problems that plagued other expansion releases and who can forget the first few months of the original WoW? servers down for long periods and frequently.

I wasn’t thrilled to hear about pet battles originally but it is surprisingly a fun distraction and it’s at least for the time being entertaining enough to be a good distraction.

Things are different enough to make it seem fresh and all though when rolling a new pandaren you only get 10 – 12 levels of content that is initially “new” it feels fresh enough to not make the prospect of then heading to Westfall or the Barrens one to make you burst into tears – though I imagine this will become more of an issue for those of us who have played for a very long time and questing becomes more of a barrier to what we want to do rather than something you want to do.

World PvP is back! Of course in most people’s eyes World PvP = ganking and they haven’t disappointed. Of course reverse ganking is always the most fun and I salute that Shadow Priest who held off a party of 5 Horde, all 86 plus, and then we proceeded to kill the lot of them when I came upon the comedy on my little Gnome Warlock.

MoP is off to a good start so I guess time will tell if it retains players.

 

It’s been fantastic so far, the only real bad point was the stupidity of the first quest which many people were stuck on for 40+mins.

Questing was bearable, if a little predictable, but the character and variety is top notch. A lot of the quest hubs quest/design felt very similar to me. Heroics are very easy, I’ve finished and am bored of all of them already. World Bosses have caused a good bit of drama so far and hopefully they keep adding new ones.

Challenge modes have yet to be really explored with most people still gearing up. All in all a good first few days and looking forward to next week when the fun begins with raids and new pvp season.

 

I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would, lvl 85-90 I didn’t die once and I could literally pull as many monsters as I could target. My voidwalker just doesn’t die or lose agro it’s pretty crazy, he can even do dungeons. So yeah leveling was really boring because it was so easy.

Then there is the dungeons which are also just faceroll easy. I have no intentions of raiding again and I am dissapointed by the lack of difficulty. I remember my first heroic 5 man in BC and we had to have all 3 dps crowd control every pull just to manage it, you can do the MOP heroics in your leveling greens just aoe pulling everything.

 

lol a little racist? Pandaria is clearly meant to have an Asian (specifically Chinese) type feel to it? How is giving the characters a Chinese accent ‘racist’.

It’s no more racist then the fact that all the Emperor’s finest (Star Wars) have British accents or that all the Members of the Rebel Alliance are amercians or aliens (usually with american accents).

You find me a ranking officer on a Star Destroyer without a touch of class and I’ll… be surprised?

 
Village idiot

I think im going to crack and play it just because it is the only WoW exp i don’t own (and the fist ive not had on pre order). I may just buy it to level thought it and see what its like. If i have no expectations, i guess i cant be disappointed.

 

I’ve played WOW off and on since it first came out. I thought Cata was a bit dark, but I’m loving the MOP areas. I was first on at midnight, after taking a year break and the initial bottleneck with a zillion players trying to do first quest felt familiar but since then things have evened out and you do a few quests and get sent to the next village so that is spreading things out. Still a few areas where you have to wait for things to spawn, but the respawn rate is pretty good, so not very frustrating at all, even though there are lots other players collecting or killing in same area, so much less frustrating than other expansions.

I started a new Panda and haven’t brought up a character from 0 for a long time, so I’m enjoying the questing at a low level again, there are flight paths to everywhere, you get heirloom pieces so you level really fast, a mount at 20, I’ve hardly played her and I’m at level 16.

I would definitely recommend starting a player in the panda area, it was fun to see, you can always change race later if you don’t want to stay a Panda :-)

I like the new talent/glyph system, etc, wish I had collected more heirloom stuff, esp the new agility staff, but hey, hindsight :-)

Just thought I would post my 2 cents, I’m having fun, like it better than Cata, but then I did enjoy WotLK so that means my opinion is entirely worthless :-)

I’ve enjoyed playing with my guildies again who have started playing. It’s like getting back together with old friends. I hope more start to play again, we had a very good time.

Whatever you play, I hope you have a great time doing it!

 

Still havn’t bought it yet we’ll see.

It just feels like there’s no Warcraft left in WoW.

When the game first came out I really felt I was in the universe, but now it seems WoW is more WoW now then warcraft. Designing a whole expansion over 1 unit in the previous strategy games just seems like they just ran out of ideas?

 

I know what you mean Cyrinno, I was really attached to Vanilla, BC and Wrath because of WC3 + TFT. When cata came out I felt I didn’t care at all for it because they were trying to create new lore where you really had zero connection playing through in a world where everyone did the same thing, it was a lot more personal in WC3 for me. What I like about MoP is that they aren’t going for the lore aspect so much, as an all out war between Alliance and Horde, and that’s something I can connect with after playing the RTS. I’m going to pick this up after exams I hope I can get in to it as much as pre-cata.

 

I agree with both cyrinno and vand to a point. I like how WoW used to be about the Warcraft lore and used recognisable characters. However there is a limit to what they can extract from WC3 + TFT so they’d eventually need to create new characters. I suppose you could just call this the expansion of the Warcraft universe.

If anyone has read the history of Warcraft that Blizzard had up once upon a time you see Deathwing and how he was born (and Malygos and the other dragons for the matter too). I’ve got a copy here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/tjnpq8frbfo7636/Warcraft%20History.pdf

 

How is Cata not an expansion on existing warcraft law? Deathwing has been part of warcraft cannon since the first warcraft game, he was always going to be a player at some stage.
Illidan and Arthus are dead and the burning legion has been pushed back (for now). Even Kil’Jaden was banished for the time being. What other lore evil could they possible bring in besides Sargareas himself?

 

Considering buying it but after the last three Blizzard releases just left me disappointed and bored (SC2, D3 & Cata) I wonder why I think this will be any different.

 
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