Friday, October 12, 2012

Through the Mists (Part 4)

Townlong Steppes

After the long, dull quest lines of Kun-Lai Summit, I'm more than happy to finally be able to move on. The next zone is Townlong Steppes, where you'll mainly be helping the mysterious Shado-Pan, an organization dedicated to protecting Pandaria, and all who live there, as far as I can tell.

As you go on, the zones seem to contain fewer and fewer storylines, with Townlong checking in with only five, and the zone after it with only four, I move through them at a fairly decent clip, and they take you throughout the zone, keeping you travelling every now and then. I actually started to enjoy the story, and the voice acting, again here, where I'd become bored fairly early on in Kun-Lai, soon enough I've done the storylines for the achievement, and ding 89. Onto the Dread Wastes!

Dread Wastes

The Dread Wastes is a zone behind a giant wall errected to try to keep a race of insectoids known as the Mantid at bay. Before this point you'll have fought off the Mantid in Townlong Steppes likely, but there's a group of Mantid known as the Klaxxi here that you'll be helping out. Early quests mostly focus on you waking up a few of their champions they've incased in amber hundreds of years ago, and also one line follows Chen's pursuit of his family.

The lines continue to be interesting, though they lose a bit of speed in about the middle of the Klaxxi line, honestly. I know I'm not saying much on these two zones, but there's not too much to say that I've not said already about earlier zones. High points include the storytelling, which has been improved across the board, even in zones like Kun-Lai they kept you going for the story, with the low points being the fact that after doing a series of greatly designed quests, you'll be told to go kill ten of these, or collect seven, or eight, of these items. Items seem to have the Burning Crusade problem of low drop rates, on certain quests, as well, adding to some frustration.

Ding! 90

Of course, everything before 90 has just been building up to it. It's everything after 90 that is what's meant to keep you occupied, and let me tell you, the amount of content opened right at 90 is a tad daunting.

First off, you'll get to pick your last talent. I'm a bit disappointed by the Death Knight talents. None of them open up an avenue for damage. The first choice "Gorefiend's Grasp" is very similar to our current Death Grip, which pulls and taunts an enemy to us, except it can be used on up to five friends/enemies in an area, and sadly, doesn't taunt. The second one will be familiar sounding to anyone who's fought the Lich King, Remorseless Winter. It doesn't cause damage, but upon use will circle the player in a giant, personal ice storm. This will begin to slow nearby foes with a debuff, which will stack the longer they stand next to the Death Knight, and if it reaches a high enough stack, the foe will freeze. I see this getting use in both PvE, and PvP. The last choice is Desecrated Ground, which forms a circle on the ground that while the DK stands on it, they will not suffer any movement impairments. I see this one being popular in PvP as well.

After that, you're most likely going to want flying, which will run you 2,500 gold. Not too steep, considering the fastest flights go for 4,000. And then come the dailies.

There's about nine new factions giving you dailies to start off, in Mists of Pandaria. Two of them will be locked out until you get to Revered with another. You'll likely have come across the Tillers, farmers working out of the Halfhill Market in Valley of the Four Winds, already, and their dailies seem to revolve around planting herbs and such on your farm (more on that in a bit), and helping around by scaring off vermin and the like.

The Anglers are located down south in Krasarong, focus on fishing. The Golden Lotus are focused on defending the Vale of Eternal Blossom, where your factions new capital is located, and the Order of the Cloud Serpant is sort of like the Netherwing, in that you'll be grinding up their faction for access to Cloud Serpants, this expansions drakes as it would appear. The last one, the Lorewalkers, want to learn, what else, more of the lore of the land. This is done mainly by discovering giant scrolls which will reveal to you the continents past, and through Archeology.

If that doesn't sound like enough to do, you'll also have about nine new dungeons to run. Once you hit 90, there's no such thing as a normal dungeon to you. You can go back and do them if you're running with friends, I believe, but you won't be able to queue for them in Randoms. Every dungeon built for 90 is of the Heroic variety. This can also all be done in the new Challenge Mode, where your party is given standardized gear. You'll race to the end for the lowest time, and be ranked on new leaderboards.

If that's not enough for you, you'll also be given access to the new game..Type..? Mode..? Uh...Something, called Scenarios. These are smaller, three man instances, that can be completed by any arrangement of class/spec/so on. They're meant to be shorter than dungeons, and work sort of like miniture quest lines that can be completed as a group.

Beyond that, there's a new arena season, which looks to be the usual, with 2v2, 3v3, and 5v5 matches. With that comes a new set of gear. There're three new raids that Blizzard is staggering out over the coming weeks, complete with Looking For Raid, Normal 10/25-man, and Heroic 10/25-man. Also two new BGs. All of that's about par for the course, LFR version of the raids aside. Beyond that, you can train, capture, and battle new and old pets, try the new monk class, and the Pandaren race.

What I'm getting at by all of that, is that Blizzard seems to have tried their hardest to give players an insane amount of new things to do. Whether casual or hardcore, PvE or PvP, there's likely something that you should find enjoyable.

On the quality of that content, though, I can't honestly say. The dailies, Golden Lotus aside, seem to be very high in quality. They're short enough to keep you interested the first few times, with the rewards keeping you in for the long run.

The Tillers' dailies feature you working on your own farm, which before MoP dropped I heard comparisons to Harvest Moon, and something that made me cringe, Farmville. After trying them, it's actually a great distraction. The further you progress with the Tillers, the more plots you'll have to plant things, that you'll actually get use out of. You'll slowly make friends with people in the market, a new, more personal, version of a reputation, who all have their own items for sale, and once you hit the highest rep you can with them, they'll give you a nice little doodad for your farm.

I've yet to start with them, but from what I'm hearing, the Golden Lotus are apparently very grindy, and it's not good design to put two factions (one of which is the intriguing Shado-Pan) behind a locked door until the Golden Lotus allow you through.

Beyond this, once I've tried more of the 90 content, I think I'll be ready to "review" this expansion. Though "review" to me doesn't mean give it a score. I'm just not a fan of scores.

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