Review: Mists of Pandaria

The way Jade Forest’s Storyline ended and the way The Vale of Eternal Blossoms begins you’re told the next phase of The War for Pandaria will commence in two months. Blizzard released the Patch (Titled Landfall) almost two months to the day the expansion went live worldwide. I am including my revieew of Landfall with this review of Mists of Pandaria (henceforth will be referred to by its acronym MoP) overall as well.

To start, for me MoP was two steps forward one step backward. Unlike the majority of WoW’s Playerbase who started playing halfway through WotLK and the beginning of Cataclysm’s respective lifecycles (when they were current content) I’ve been playing since late Burning Crusade. Take it from someone who raided The Black Temple and The Sunwell when they were current: Forcing players to do raids in a specific order just to satisfy the egos of a vocal minority who want to feel like special snowflakes just doesn’t make alot of sense. Having said that, I must commend Blizzard’s Forum Staff (sometimes called Blues or Blue Posters) for the pushback over the spring and summer when the game was being Beta Tested. One thing I can say for sure is when push comes to shove Blizzard doesn’t back down. They’ve more than earned my respect for their Trio of Franchises (WarCrarft, StarCraft and Diablo) and the sequels each of them have spawned, all of which I play. I have StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty and got Diablo III for free for signing up for the Annual Pass last year, which included Tyrael’s Charger, a flying mount for WoW.

Anyways as I said at the top of the previous paragraph MoP is two steps forward and one step backwards. Revamping the Cooking and Archeology professions to make them less painful to level is awesome. Focusing on the conflict between the Alliance and the Horde in MoP is Awesome Sauce. Turning the endgame PvE into a grindfest: Not my idea of fun! It’s turned me off from it to be blunt. It goes without saying Blizzard is simply going out of its way to prove to its playerbase the 8 months of no new content this year will never be repeated. My problem with that is it’s turned getting the Valor Points and Justice Points to get the gear to get INTO Heroic Dungeons and Raids into a major pain in the rear.

To those new to Raiding or don’t Raid much, let me give you the rundown:

  • The first thing you want to do once you hit Max Level is get yourself to the minimum level to get INTO the lowest-tier Raid of the Expansion as soon as possible. The logic in that is if you’re geared enough for say, Blackwing Descent you can hold your own in most Heroics (excluding the Troll and HoT Heroics of course). In Cataclysm the Magic Number was 353. In MoP it’s 463.
  • On average a Level 85 player could get sufficiently geared enough to pull his/her weight in raids/heroics in about three weeks time. This is assuming he/she does all of the follwing, which doesn’t take more than two hours a day to do:
  1. Heroic Dungeons (HoT once your Overall Item Level allowed it).
  2. Traded VP for Chest, Neck, Helm and Shoulder Slots. Everything else can be attained sufficiently via HoT Heroics and Raids. Heck, VP Bracers and Legs could be bought via AH for next to nothing.
  3. Have or have access to Maxed JewelCrafter anbd Enchanter.
  4. Have or Have Access to a Transmute Master Alchemist (Truegold was worth more than Chaos Orbs the entire Expansion. The reason: One could only make one Truegold Bar a Day unless they were a Transmute Master and would some times make 2-4 at a time per day!).

Of course this got sufficiently easier if you had max level Alts with maxed professions (saving an arm and a leg in paying someone to craft for you) like I did. Of course I’m obsessive in that way and I can agree with those who feel having to level Alts to support your main is redundant.

In Mists of Pandaria this isn’t enough.

The new must-have currency is Spirits of Harmony, which is created by gathering 10 Motes of Harmony. Until or Unless you fully unlock all of the plots of land in your farm in Halfhill the only way to do this is to destroy every hostile NPC is sight for Motes of Harmony. Once you’ve opened up all 16 plots of land on your farm you can plant Songbell Seeds, which produce Motes of Harmony the next day. What’s so good about Spirits of Harmony? Oh, not much. Just EVERYTHING!

Not only can it be traded for more crafting ingredients but it’s required to craft the more rare-quality goods you might find/learn for your Primary Professions. All the more reason to stockpile them as soon as you land on the shores of Pandaria for the first time.

In regards to Pet Battles: Despite the quirky WoWkemon Add-On I installed to make it more entertaining, I think it could have been implemented later in the expansion. It certainly did its job of being a huge timesink/distraction, I’ll give it that. The new Monk Class fits a nice niche. Unlike when Death Knights were introduced two expansions ago I haven’t seen any major complaints for the class. Pandaren are another story but it;s mostly people doing the Kung Fu Panda Comparison. Completely different medium but it is what it is.

I haven’t level a Monk to max level yet but I have played all three Specs. You’ve got the Damage-Dealing Windwalker, Tanking Brewmaster and Healing Mistweaver. The Mistweaver is the first Melee Healer and to me it opens the door to maybe getting a ranged Tank someday. I think something needs to be done to help with their survivability questing levels 1-30 for all races though. The Mistweaver is the only one that could realistically outheal damage from a mob of players and this is assuming the player isn’t trying to overstretch themselves and chain pull. A panic button/emergency self-heal would help. Tanks could use a burst heal to help, especially since they don’t get a proper healing ability until the mid-30s. Windwalkers just need better survivability. They hit hard and have Touch of Death yes but they’re still taking too much damage with and without Heirlooms.

In case it isn’t obvious much of that last paragraph was directed at Blizzard specifically.

Getting back to Patch 5.1, one thing I really do appreciate is now being able to actually solo Old Raids. Previously you had to be in a Raid Group to enter a Raid. This is no longer required. In addition, All of the Raid Bosses whose mechanics assumed two or more people are present have been adjusted with one person in mind. Before you jump on your Retadin and walk into Obsidian Sanctum to farm Drakes it’s simply possible to solo Raid Bosses now. They were not made easier. For example I soloed Onyxia 80 (using my DPS Spec for speed) last weekend. I downed her in 9 minutes but her mechanics were unchanged. I simply outhealed the damage with Word of Glory (never used Lay on Hands) and spammed Exeorcism and Hammer of Justice when she was in the air (which was why it took me 9 minutes). Interestingly, this was about how long it took me to solo Onyxia 60 with the same Paladin at level 80.

In terms of weather MoP is worth the time investment I will say yes it is. To those who left WoW for other MMOs (*COUGH* Vanilla/TBC Babies *COUGH*) because they disagree with the direction Blizzard is taking WoW, this is not your game. Unless you are a stockholder, no one held a gun to your head and forced you to start playing WoW. I know Blizzard’s answer when asked “Why don’t you tell people who don’t like the game for X Reason don’t play?” is and personally I disagree with it. Their answer is “Let’s find something you DO like and go from there!” and to be honest, I think they should be blunt and just say “Look, if you don’t want to play WoW no hard feelings”.

If it sounds like I’m getting defensive, I am. The paid critics on IGN and Game Informer say with MoP, WoW is showing its age (though GI was more polite about it). I don’t see the problem with sticking with what works. There’s a reason WoW is still the king of MMOs. Many MMOs have come and gone with the hope of taking that spot and all failed: Warhammer, Rift, Aion and Star Wars: The Old Republic to name a few. Until this time last year I would have agreed with the belief Blizzard doesn’t believe in giving discounts. Now you can get the base game and the first two expansions (TBC and WotLK) for $20. Not only that, the current and previous expansions were on sale for $20 each last month. I’ve even seen Game Gards for character transfers and mounts (also available in their online store) in Gamestop and Best Buy alongside Prepaid Time Cards.

Overall, I will give Mists of Pandaria a 9 out of 10. The increased time investment to get geared for endgame Raiding/Heroics and their hard stance on Flying before level 90 on Pandaria prevent me from giving it a perfect 10. Blizzard said they will not do what they did with WotLK and allow players to buy a tome using their main charatcer to allow their lower-level alts to fly in Pandaria (unless they have something else and don’t want to reveal, which I hope is the case) like the did on Northrend. The argument against this is they (Blizzard) went out of their way to ensure no quests during the questing experience require flying to do. Honestly there is no legitimate reason to NOT allow this. This is 2nd and so-on playthroughs we’re talking about!

…Anywho, I’ve gone on long enough.

MoP’s worth playing. Either come back to Azaroth or enter the World of WarCraft for the first time. You just might like it.

 

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