Blizzard Prepares Its Playerbase for Pandaria

We are one week away from the release of Blizzard’s 4th Expansion Mists of Pandaria (commonly called MoP for short). Like the last 3 pre-expansion releases, Blizzard released a huge Pre-Expansion Patch on August 25 to get players old and new ready. Like the transition from Wrath of the Lich King to Cataclysm the pre-Expansion patch included everything EXCEPT the MoP-specific new features including Pandaria itself and the new Race and Class introduced.

To quickly recap what’s already been said to death on the official site as well as other WoW News Sites, here is a short list of what Patch 5.0.5 brings to the game. Please note you DO NOT need to upgrade to MOP to enjoy these new features. Before I go further I was in the Beta and had the chance to test out eerything listed below before they were added to the live version.

  • Accountwide Achievements. Got Friends in Even Higher Places or Traveler’s Tundra Mammoth like I do? Now ALL current and future characters on your account do. Got the Kingslayer, Jenkins and The Patient Titles? Now all of your characters do. In addition to these and scores more retoractively attained Achievements, there are several achievements that can only be attained with alts such as Double Agent (get an Alliance and Horde charatcer to 90).
  • Mounts are now accountwide with a few exceptions including faction-specific ones and crafted mounts that require a certain profession at a minimum level to use.
  • The weekly cap on Guild Reputation and Guild EXP has been removed from the game. In addition you now gain Guild Rep whenever you complete a quest. Said Rep is boosted if you have on the Account Bound Guild Tabards equipped. Not only that Guild EXP can be gained in dungeons and raids regardless of player levels as long as they meet the minimm guild member in group requirement (3 for Dungeons and 8 or 20 for Raids).
  • “Borrowed” from Star Wars The Old Republic is AOE Looting. Got a pile of dead hostiles to loot? Now you loot ALL of them at once in one window. Better make sure you have room to hold all that booty!
  • The Talent Trees of old have been removed from the game. Instead you wil be given the choice of one of three talents at 15 level intervals (15, 30, 45, 60, 75 and 90) regardless of spec. Unlike the old system each tier has a similar theme to al lof them but they work slightly different. For example the level 15 Warlock tier is about HP Recovery spells but they all work a bit differently. Soul Harvest (Replacing Life Drain) for example is an AOE version of Drain Life that when used essentially regens health faster than they can lose it.
  • All classes now automatically learn spells and abilities (including passive) automatically as they level up. No more having to retun to a Capital City to train new spells. They’re automatically learned as you level. Class trainers haven’t been removed, though–you’ll still want to visit one if you want to change a spec, reset your talents and/or train Dual Spec.
  • The MoP Interface has been patched into the game. I’ll leave this to your imagination if you haven’t played WoW in at least the last month.
  • Pet Battle Trainers have been added to the game. My understanding is you don’t need MoP to use the feature but you will still need to wait until September 25 for Blizzard to “Flip the Switch”, so to speak.
  • The Inscription Profession and Glyphs have been revamped: Prime Glyphs have been removed from the game. There are now only Major and Minor Glyphs, which were redone to balance out the removed tier. Major Glyphs change the way spells work while Minor Glyphs ar either aesthetic or add their own niche. For example the Death Knight Glyph Corpse Explosion brings the old favorite from Wrath back while the new Paladin Contemplation Glyph awashes theuser in a beam of Light.
  • The Druid Feral Spec has been split into two separate specs, making it the first class to have more than three specs in the game. You now have the Melee DPS Spec Feral (Cat) and the Tank Spec Guardian (Bear). Feral Cat Speced Druids do not have Vengeance (A Tank-exclusive Ability) or Savage Defense so don’t even think about trying to Tank if you’re a Feral Cat!
  • Shaman Totems have been reworked so that you can no longer have four totems active at once and they no longer last for 5+ minutes. Although Totems have been de-emphasized the Shaman has tweaked to compansate for this.
  • Paladin Auras have been removed from the game. Seals have been buffed a bit to compensate.
  • Warlocks now have a unique secondary resource depending on their Spec: Soul Shards for Affliction, Demonic Fury for Demonology and Denonic Embers for Destruction.
  • Regeants are no longer required for ANY Class spell/ability. Gone are the days of having to buy a stack of Symbol of Kings or farming a stack of Light Feathers!
  • Casters can no longer equip both Wands and Staves. at the same time.  They can only  equip one or the other at a time. In addition, Hunters can no longer equip Melee Weapons (Melee Skills removed) BUT there is no longer a minimum Range Requirement (!).
  • To help tell Friendly Pandaren from Foe, all players regardless of race now have Alliance or Horde under their Name and class when you mouse over them.
  • Pets and Mounts have a new shared interface.
  • The Fall of Theramore Scenario can be done at level 85 starting September 17 (item level 353 or higher required). It will be level 90 only starting September 25. Better get it done before the deadline, though: Doing the Scenario at level 85 is a Feat of Strength.

All the classes have been tweaked in various ways. I won’t list all of them but in most cases certain abilities/spells are now locked to a particular spec. I listed those six I did because of how significant they are in the grand scheme of things.

As many of you know, 8 months passed from the time Dragon Soul went live to Patch 5.0.5. It’s the longest stretch WoW went with absolutely no new content and Blizzard has promised that will not be repeated. The naysayers will say that extended period of no new content is the reason Blizzard is down to 8.1 Million Subscribers as of this month. I’m alot more optimistic personally, more so since the majority of those lost numbers are based in China and as many are aware there is a booming Gold Selling Industry targeting US Players there. I doubt those numbers will be missed.

Now to highlight some of what we know about the new expansion moving forward:

  • A new Continent, Pandaria (Level 85-90) is introduced. Also the homeland of the new Playable Race, the Pandaren.
  • The New Race Pandaren is the first Race to start Neutral. After finishing the Pandaren Starting area you will be prompted to join the Horde or the Alliance and will automatically travel to Stormwind or Orgrimmar, respectively to meet with King Varian Wrynn or Warchief Garrosh Hellscream. Pandaren can be any class except Paladins, Druids, Warlocks and Death Knights (Lorewise, The Lich King was unaware of the existence of Pandaria or Pandaria at that).
  • The new Class introduced by the Pandaren is Monk. Having leveled a bit on a new Horde and Alliance character on one of the older races to test it out but not enough to spoil myself, it’s mighty impressive. And Fun. Monks, like Paladins and Druids can play one of the three Roles depending on the spec–Brewmaster for Tanking, Mistweaver for Healing and Windwalker for Melee DPS. The Mistweaver is also the first Healer Spec that requres Melee DPS to fully utilize. Pandaren Monks have traveled to the Faction Capitals to teach their new allies the ways of the Monk. All races except Goblins and Worgen can become Monks (Though Blizzard did leave the door open to changing that down the road).
  • MoP focuses on the ongoing war between the Alliance and the Horde. The destruction of Theramore at the hands of the Horde scarred Jaina Proudmoore on the inside and out. The other leaders of the Horde are growing even more resentful of Thrall’s successor. Blizzard has already announced the Expansion’s Endgame Raid will be a seige on Orgrimmar by the Alliance and the Horde to remove Garrosh Hellscream from power. Could this usher in reconciliation or the beginning of the end of the Horde as we know it?

That’s it for now. I have purchased Mists of Pandaria as a Digital Download so I’m good to go next Tuesday. If you’d like to add ne to your friends lis my Battle tag is Brendan2k5#1845. Be sure to tell me in-game how you added me so I don’t remove you from my friends list after 7 days!



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1 Response to Blizzard Prepares Its Playerbase for Pandaria

  1. John Sanders says:

    I discovered your homepage by coincidence.
    Very interesting posts and well written.
    I will put your site on my blogroll.

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