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I’ve been playing World of Warcraft on and off since the initial release of the game. Generally I get excited when hearing about details of an upcoming expansion pack — however with the details being released on Mists of Pandaria I wasn’t happy at all. I felt that jumping on the Kung Fu Panda bandwagon and releasing an expansion based on a small part of the lore of the world was a mistake, and it didn’t help that the released intro for the expansion had comedic elements to it. So I had decided this would be the first expansion I wasn’t going to play.
That was until someone decided it would make a good birthday gift.
So I decided not to waste it and loaded it up. Maybe it’s because I was expecting a disaster, but Mists of Pandaria is a mostly well made expansion. Blizzard seem to have figured out that questing is good for delivering story: voiced character conversation and cutscenes are used more in this expansion then any other. Because of this the gimmick type quests, ones that involve vehicles and weird quest items, are few and far between. I liked it this way, however some people have complained in game about it being too monotonous.
Cyrinno has also made a video version of this review, if that’s your thing! Enjoy.
Dungeons are generally well made, but they feel unchallenging. Half the dungeons you can access while levelling up and the others are heroic only. Heroic isn’t what it used to be, crowd control isn’t really necessary and everything still gets AOE’d down. Blizzards attempt to add danger and difficulty usually involve just avoiding new AOE and cone attacks.
Scenarios have been added too, which essentially are three player quests that are in an instance instead of out in the usual questing zones. These also have no challenge at all and are only good at pushing the story onwards — but just barely.
There’s also the raid finder. Most raids start off easy, but it does ramp up. Even though I found it still too easy, the raids are still the hardest content that is non-hard mode and found it enjoyable. Here we see the problem: when most of the game is easy, there is no challenge and there is just grind. By having the game so accessible and with there being so much competition, I haven’t felt the need to move onto hard-mode content as I have with previous expansions.
Then there are Pokemon style battles between player pets which is good for killing time while waiting for raids, but the system — while well constructed — lacks flash. Combat moves from pets in the battle system just re-used already existing assets with very simple moves, and I found this disappointing. X-COM: Enemy Unknown has shown what a few good cutscenes can do even in turn based combat.
The new class added to the game is the Monk. The new starting area is, again, well-constructed, but I found it disappointing having to level up from scratch again. Starting off a bit higher such as the death knight would have been welcome. When levelling up as a monk you aren’t really given that many skills to use, and it can feel a bit dull. The tanking spec at low levels seems to outdo the DPS spec by a large margin as well.
Last of the big changes is the talent system. They have removed talent points, and instead added a system where you choose from one of three talents every 15 levels or so. The idea is for the player to make hard choices, but it generally doesn’t come down to that. Usually the talent that you want to choose is very straight forward. I never came to a point in the game where it was a hard choice. The system really should have been implemented instead of the glyph system and kept in combination with passive talent points.
With the new system of talents, however, levels are starting to lose all meaning. Mists of Pandaria advertises that it includes five extra levels, but it may as well just be one level. The other four are essentially meaningless, although at least you can pat yourself on the back.
Overall, I found the expansion to be serious, and of generally high quality. The questing is well made and so are the dungeons, and the new talent system works but is underwhelming. Mists of Pandaria makes the game feel far too accessible, resulting in a been-there, done-that feeling. Unfortunately, there is a lot of competition these days in the MMO market — and I felt there wasn’t much of a reason for me to keep playing the game after I had completed it.