Thursday, September 27, 2012

Through the Mists (Part 1)

I have journyed into the Mists, dear friends/readers/whatever you would prefer to be called, and I have returned in one piece, and let me dismiss a few rumors about this yet to be discovered land:

  • No, the island is not a secret base where horrible experiments are being preformed(as far as I know THUS FAR!)
  • The land within the Mists is not, and let me repeat, not made of ham.
  • Here there be dragons. Though you won't see too many during your first day or two there.
Ahem, sorry. Joking aside, I've had quite a bit of fun with my time in Pandaria, and I've just hit level 86 about half an hour from typing this. I've been taking it very slowly compared to some.

For the sake of this look over, here's what you get when you purchase Mists of Pandaria:

  • Access to a new race, the Pandaren, who can join either the Alliance or the Horde (Actually, I believe all races have been made open to everyone, despite which expansion you've purchased)
  • The new class, the Monk, which focuses on a more martial arts style of combat, uses Energy as a resource, and generates a secondary resource called Chi, which is used to power stronger attacks.
  • Your level cap will be raised to 90.
  • You will have access to the new continent Pandaria, with its seven new zones.
  • Six new dungeons, and two(one is split into two halves) remastered dungeons, three new raids(not including two world raid bosses), and four new Battlegrounds.
All in even if there's a bunch of content included, it doesn't really matter if you aren't getting your $40 worth, now does it. That's what you get with the expansion, you also get access to a new, I'd call it a minigame, dubbed "Pet Battles" even if you've yet to buy MoP. So first off lets just go over how your first step into the new content will be, and how I felt about it.

5.0.4 and the changes it wrought

The largest change that comes to mind that MoP kicked off with was changing up the talent system. Instead of the old points system, where about every other level you were given a single point to shove into a tree, you are now given a choice of three talents every 15 levels. Like in the old system, at level 15 you'll also choose your specilization, of three, or four if your a druid. Like in most MMOs, your spec will either shove you into the category of Tank(taking large amounts of damage), DPS(damage per second, pretty much killing things quickly), or Healer(Healing people). If you're a WoW veteran, or MMO vet in general, you likely know how that goes. But where did the talents I would've got from shoving points into line in my talent tree you ask? Why you just get them at fairly even increments as you level, instead of having to put the points in, what's even better, is that you don't even need to go talk to a trainer to do so.

Mana was also capped, meaning that no matter your gear, you will have the same mana as everyone else at your level, and also a few new attacks were introduced, and few taken away.

That's what I can think of off the top of my head.

Into the New Zones (Possible Spoilers! I'm trying to keep it fairly simple, but you never know)

While I have only seen the Alliance side of things(I only play Alliance, Horde scum), things actually start off with a bang. This zone is mainly meant to introduce the Alliance and Horde to the natives of Pandaria, which, even though that's what the name implies, is inhabited by things other than the Pandaren, and vice versa.

You'll start out on a fairly focused chain, which is about your faction of choice wooing one race of natives, Jinyu for the Alliance basicly fish people that sort of remind me of Jar Jar Binks but better, and the Hozen for the Horde a race of monkeys. Considering the only thing I ever did to them was murder them, the Hozen didn't really seem interesting to me, but they're in an existing conflict with the Jinyu, and oddly enough the Alliance gets stuck with the faction on the losing side of that. I honestly did like the Jinyu, and I'm not going to say Horde favoritism, because the two sides once the Horde and Alliance are introduced to them, get fairly balanced out.

Once you've assisted your factions new friends, you'll be sent to do something else, which for the Alliance is something I won't spoil, but it left me scratching my head. From there your off to a lovely village called Dawn Blossom, which is where the true experience started for me. Once you get here, you'll be given a few quests, which will lead you to different places, and different stories.

This highlights one of the strengths I've seen in MoP. There's a larger focus on story, even to the point where you won't get an achievement for a zone until you've completed all the stories open to you, instead of just doing 80 quests or something. There's a lot more voice acting then I recall in Cataclysm, though honestly, I didn't care enough for Cata quests to keep my sound on, favoring simply listening to music on YouTube. Here though, I actually feel like I'm part of something, I'm interested. Of course, this is just the first zone, I've yet to venture from it, so we'll just have to see how intact that feeling is by the end of the last zone.

You'll also be restricted to the ground for all of this, until you hit the new level cap of 90, and honestly I don't miss flying. The world feels bigger when seen from the ground.

Pet Battles

Even if you've yet to buy MoP, you'll be able to enjoy the new feature called simply, Pet Battles. If you've played Pokemon or one of the many games it inspired, you'll be in a familiar place here. Your vanity pets will enter the field of battle against another pet(or up to three for both you and your opponent), and they will duel to the death. If they are victorious, they will gain experience, and over time level up, up to a cap of I believe 25. They will also eventually unlock six moves, with three slots for those moves, and a choice of two moves per slot. As in Pokemon, certain pet types will be weaker against other types, and stronger against yet another type.

You're also given the ability, once you've brought a pet up to level 3, to capture pets you'll fight in the wild.

It sounds a bit odd, doesn't it? In action though, it's extremely fun. WoW's questing system pretty much encourages you to go it alone, but I think this encourages playing with others even better than a raid or a dungeon. It's much more casual, as if you beat someone you challenge, your pets won't gain experience. I palled around with a guy from my guild, just trying different combos, and I didn't care if I lost or if I won, it was just fun.


That's my thoughts thus far. Personally I'm enjoying this much more than I thought I would. I'll talk more in depth about the Monk class next time, hopefully(just hit 15), but honestly, I won't be taking a dive into the playable pandas. I wasn't too big on them before the expansion hit, and I'm not too big on them now. Though their NPC counterparts have actually made me laugh, literally out loud on some occasions, and are interesting.

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