Now that I’ve had some time to process and reflect upon all of the information that Blizzard shared with us over the past weekend, here are a few of my thoughts, wishes, questions, concerns, etc…
First off, I am really excited about this new expansion. Probably the most excited I’ve been about a WoW expansion… ever. I really like that they’re putting a priority on fun, rather than progression. The fun factor is something that’s been lacking for some time, in my opinion. Don’t get me wrong… the game has always been enjoyable and always will be, I’m sure, but it hasn’t been as much fun as it once was.
When I first started playing WoW there was a sense of awe and wonderment that went along with exploring the world of Azeroth. There was a lot less content back then, yet it seemed like there were far more options available, as far as ‘fun’ game play was concerned.
The Burning Crusade, I thought, was a fantastic expansion. It ushered in one of my favorite elements of WoW – the PvP arena, it gave our mounts wings, we got a new profession, and it also introduced us to what is, and perhaps forever shall be, the greatest WoW dungeon ever… Karazhan.
Wrath of the Lich King was also a great expansion. Northrend is an amazing zone – both thematically and visually. A lot of the stuff that was added in WotLK were things that really enriched the game. We got the achievement system, a scheduled world PvP zone, some great raid content, and of course… Spirit Beasts! 😉
Cataclysm has been fun, but I feel it’s been the least exciting expansion to date. Sure, there have been a lot of world-shattering changes to the game, with loads of new content that’s been added, etc… but at the end of the day, it’s just a lot of the same ol’ crap. Blizz has been putting a new paint job on a lot of existing themes, which is nice for awhile, but I feel they’ve been losing the momentum required to fuel this beast. The game needs some innovative change to give it the kick in the ass that it so sorely needs.
Each major content patch and expansion has been a nice ‘fix’, but the high they provide has lessened over time. Blizz needs to give players back the rush they felt when they ventured through Azeroth for the first time back before the portal opened… before we ventured to Northrend, and before the world was torn asunder by Deathwing.
Mists of Pandaria I think will be a nice reset.
It brings back the Alliance vs Horde rivalry that was so ever-present and enjoyable during the early days, and it’s going to get players back out into the world. I love that they’re focusing on that. Azeroth is a beautiful place, but unless you’re an alt-o-holic, there isn’t a whole heck of a lot to do out in the world at present. At least that’s how I see it, anyway.
Once I hit 85, and even before 85… Cataclsym has mostly just been a few instances, a handful of arenas, and a bunch of BGs… all surrounded by one big queue time. Obviously, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but hopefully you see what I’m getting at. A lot of what’s been added is just a stale rehash of existing content, built upon an aging model.
Sure, there’s more content, but not a lot of it is truly fun – it’s just more. In other words… something to do. I’m sure a majority of players would agree, which would probably account for the increased irritability, hostility, disrespect and general malaise that’s been exhibited by players over the past several months.
The game needs an enema, and I think Mists of Pandaria will get things flushed and flowing harmoniously again. Great analogy, right..? 😉 I also think it’s going to reset the player base – leaving us with a much more pleasant social gaming experience overall. All of the haters that are opposed to Blizz adding Kung Fu Pandas to the game and Pokemon pet battles can GTFO, as far as I’m concerned. This game is meant to be light, humorous and fun… if you want a darker, more serious, gear and bragging-rights based game, then go play Diablo 3 (which I will most definitely be playing as well) or whatever… point is, I think the players that shall remain are those that want to enjoy the game and have fun.
I for one, am very much looking forward to having some fun in this game once again.
Alright… so enough of the rant… here’s my two cents worth…
Awesome. Love it. The look and feel of the landscape is simply breathtaking. It will be nice to explore a region that’s, for the most part, filled with positivity. I can’t wait to dive in.
I think they’re great. The concept may seem silly to some, but seeing them in action… it just works. The vibe and character of the Pandaren is wonderful. I will definitely roll one.
They look pretty fun to play. Based upon what I saw in the game play footage, I think it will be another popular support class. 😉
Talent System Overhaul
This has been long overdue. Blizzard is exactly right when they say that WoW has far outgrown the game’s original talent system. It’s undergone many changes over the years, culminating in the much watered down iteration of the talent trees we have today, yet a full rebuild from the ground-up is what has been long needed. I’m glad they’re delivering on this.
Players will be spending less time researching builds or playing with sub-optimal ones, and spend more time actually playing – learning to become more proficient with their class. Cataclysm took a few nice steps in this direction, but this specialization system we have now still feels a bit broken – especially for us hunters.
Although I do like the idea of perfecting a particular build with multiple choices available, I do not like having to make pre-requisite or ‘filler’ choices just to move down the tree towards a better talent. From what I’ve seen so far, all 18 of our proposed talents are worthy of taking. I also like that they are all primarily based upon utility and survival, allowing for maximum customization, without greatly affecting our primary role… MSQoRDPS.
Being able to select only 6 talents by max level may seem a bit too basic or ‘dumbed down’, but it’s actually brilliant and wonderful in its simplicity. By themselves, the talents may seem to not offer all that much, but when paired with the different abilities unique to each tree, those 6 talent choices can really affect the outcome of a build. In this next expansion, I am looking forward to seeing a lot of varied builds and parity amongst the three specs – for all aspects of play… something that hasn’t been commonplace for a long, long time.
In my opinion, this new talent system is going to be a godsend for both new and veteran players alike.
I liked what was said at BlizzCon concerning the new PvE Scenarios. For those of you that maybe haven’t heard… PvE Scenarios are world events that are more challenging than a group quest, yet require less time and fewer party members than a dungeon. They’re an instance-based form of game play that’s more accesible to casuals who are up for a challenge. At least, that’s what I gleaned.
Anyhow… Options… I love ’em.
Challenge Mode Dungeons
Just as PvE scenarios act as somewhat of a bridge between group questing and 5-mans – Challenge Mode Dungeons are kind of like a step between 5-mans and raids. They offer the sense of accomplishment and challenge of a raid, as well as a feeling of progression, but without the time-sink and coordination required to schedule and manage a 10 or 25 man run.
What’s so nice about all of these Challenge Mode Dungeons is that they will be available to pretty much everyone. You won’t necessarily have to be in a progressive raid guild, or have to schedule hours and hours of designated play time each week. All you’ll need is a decent group and enough time to run a 5 man. Part of the mechanic of the Challenge Mode Dungeons is normalized gear, meaning players entering the ‘challenge mode’ of an instance will be donning appropriate gear for that instance, rather than the sub-par or overkill gear that you might otherwise be wearing.
What this means is, players cannot have gear advantages when it comes to challenge modes… it’s all skill, coordination and communication baby.
Challenge Mode Dungeons will feature a three-tiered reward system based on how quickly you finish the instance. The rewards will be gear with no stats (WTF?!), but… it will be amazing looking, and available for Transmogrification. In essence, the challenge mode gear rewards will be trophies more or less, allowing players to display their true PvE awesomeness based solely upon ability… not gear.
I think this idea kicks ass.
New Battlegrounds, Arena and Other PvP Bits
I love both of the proposed BG concepts they revealed at BlizzCon. The STV Diamond Mines looks amazing. The map and terrain look fantastic, and the game play objective seems like it will offer some hot Alliance on Horde action. I also really like what they’re intending for Valley of Power. That looks like an unrelenting-PvP-adrenaline-rush-arena-style-slugfest.
The Tol’vir Proving Grounds looks like fun. It’s too soon to predict the state of Hunter PvP in MoP, so I won’t offer too much opinion on this arena. The four pillars could be a nightmare for us, but we’ll just have to wait and see.
For more on the new BGs, including maps and concept art, please see my earlier post.
The proposed resilience change seems like a nice idea – allowing PvE’ers to get in on the action without feeling the need to ‘have to’ farm for PvP gear in order to be competitive.
For those that aren’t privy… Blizz intends to make resilience a base stat just like stamina, agility, etc… but players will only have a certain amount of it. Resilience will also be on gear, for those who want to stack it for competitive PvP — it just won’t be ‘as necessary’ as it is now as far as PvE’ers are concerned. The idea here is to get away from players getting burned down within a few global cooldowns just because they weren’t wearing any PvP gear. This is a good change.
Blizz mentioned a hopeful return to world PvP, reminiscent of the old Southshore/Tarren Mill, Crossroads and Astranaar standoffs. I really, really hope this comes to pass. Those spontaneous events were so much fun. If anything, I’d love to see another contested zone like Halaa. That was another bit of PvP content that I truly enjoyed. A zone like Halaa, located in Pandaria, is definitely on my expansion wish list.
Pet Battle System
I think this is going to be a blast. I’ll stop at that, and just refer you to this site if you want to know more.
Hunter-Specific Changes (i.e., the important stuff)
Minimum range gone
Considering the fact that they’re taking melee weapons away from us, this is obviously a welcome change.
Melee Weapons… Gone
This along with the minimum range removal are the two most significant changes in the Hunter department. This change is something I’m not entirely crazy about, but I see it as a necessary sacrifice for the good of the game. There will be less arguing during loot rolls and many of the raiders will be able to stop whining about their DPS dropping when they have to stack on a boss.
I believe this move was telegraphed long ago when Blizzard began pigeon-holing us into using 2h weapons, then eventually polearms. I mean really… polearms for hunters..?! WTF. Hunters should be packing hatchets or daggers, in my opinion. Melee is a last-resort, survival mechanism for us… we don’t go out into the wilds, or enter a battle carrying a big-ass polearm. Anyway… enough of the RP take on this…
Having melee abilities made us interesting. We didn’t have to utilize them all that often, but I felt they added more uniqueness to our class. However, our melee has been pretty weaksauce since before WotLK. In TBC we could actually use it to finish someone off in PvP, if needed. Nowadays it’s a joke.
I would have rather they buffed our melee abilities than take them away, but that’s just me.
Quivers and Ammo Pouches
Quivers and ammo pouches will likely return, but be merely cosmetic. I preferred when our quivers and pouches actually buffed us in some way, but it will be nice to at least see them on our toons again – if only for aesthetic reasons. Also, I think it would be really cool if these items were obtained via some reward system, with amazing looks available on them to signify the varying feats that were associated with obtaining them. Maybe some hunter-specific solo quests or something…
Back when I was heavily into twinking, those of us who knew about and had obtained the Quiver of the Night Watch by level 19 were considered somewhat pro-style. The quiver stood apart from all other quivers at that level, and offered only a minute boost to DPS (used to offer a slight boost to attack speed back in vanilla), but still… it was better, and it signified that you knew how to hunter.
The same can be said for that Rock Dollar quest that some of you raiding hunters completed back in the day. I wasn’t raiding back then, nor was my guild even remotely close to entering MC, but I’ve been told that bow was only attainable by hunters who were worth their salt. 😉
At any rate… I’d like to see them add some epic-style hunter quests that would reward these items. That would be a fun diversion for hunters.
Pets will not be tied to a tree
I remember Blizz mentioning this two years ago, but it looks like they finally plan to do it. Hunters will choose a ‘family specialization’ for their pets. This means that turtles will be able to DPS, cats will be able to tank, wolves maybe will have Roar of Sacrifice and be viable PvP pets, etc… This sounds pretty cool as long as they don’t standardize the family specializations as they’re doing with us. I’d still like to be able to build my pets. It’s not a huge necessity, but to me, being able to talent our pets how we want them is another of the things that makes hunters special and unique – further setting us apart from other pet classes.
Random thoughts and concerns
I’m happy that they’re moving towards account-wide achievements and items. I think that is a terrific move, and one that will minimize the ‘work’ portion of the game, thus maximizing the ‘fun’ factor. I’ve not been one to want to grind out the same old achievements or gather the same items for multiple alts, but I know players that do. That just seems like a lot of wasted time to me. I see my characters as a vessel to enjoy the game as a player — the play-style and feel of each one can be unique, sure… but I don’t necessarily want to treat each one as a new instance of ‘me’. I like that my in-game achievements can be reflected across my fleet of toons, and that they’ll all have access to my collective of pets, mounts, etc…
I sincerely hope that Blizzard fixes our pet issues once and for all. I’m almost certain they will, but it is something that’s definitely on my mind. This new invisible pet bar thing is upsetting and the 2 second pet-one-shot window while their health is trying to scale after a dismount, has me going batty.
All in all, I think that Mists of Pandaria is going to bring some welcome change to the game, and WoW will be all the better for it. I have complete faith in the Blizzard team and I think they are going to reinvigorate us as players by presnting us with the best x-pac we’ve ever seen.