With Boose's post about the changes to the World of Warcraft talent system, and changes to MMOs in general having been made, I decided to focus on a couple of the key announced features in Mists of Pandaria and share my opinion about what I’ve heard. Before I get into that, let me share some of my WoW credentials.
I’ve been a longtime player of WoW. I’ve dabbled in every class, have more than one max level character, and I love reading and learning about the lore of the game. I stopped playing several months ago due to a simple lack of interest. For me Wrath of the Lich King was the highpoint of my WoW experience. I was too low level to raid in vanilla by the time Burning Crusade was out, I was part of a casual raiding guild that mostly ran Karazan in BC, but I was one of the top DPSers in the Icecrown Citadel when I raided in WotLK. Then came Cataclysm. Like so many others, I was excited about archaeology and being able to fly everywhere and all the new maps to explore…but it got old, and VERY fast. I actually leveled my shadow priest from 80 to 85 doing nothing but archeology, and my Death Knight ripped through quests so quickly that I was 85 inside of two weeks. I thought that the expansion was going to give me all sorts of new and exciting stuff to do, yet two weeks into it I found myself back to the daily grind. Sure, the instances and dailies were different from the ones in WotLK, but why was I paying $15 dollars a month to play a game that felt more like work than my actual job? Cata killed my WoW experience, and Mists of Pandaria sadly doesn’t seem interesting enough to bring me back. That being said, let’s move on to the features of MoP so I can go more in depth about my lack of enthusiasm.New Race: The Pandaren
Considering that this race began as an April Fools Day joke, I have to say that I’m actually disappointed with this decision, especially when you remember that idea of the Emerald Dream/Nightmare has been hovering around since the days of vanilla WoW. But apparently enough people (not including myself) wanted this race so badly that Blizzard finally gave in. The Pandaren were supposed to be the last truly neutral race on Azeroth, and while that starts out as true, players will be able to choose which faction they’re on at level 10. This will be the first time that one race can be a part of either the Alliance or the Horde. Some people argue that this will cause confusion with PvP. But let’s face it: everyone knows what armor styles the Horde and Alliance uses. Not only that, but if the name above their heads isn’t blue or green, they’re not on your side! Problem solved! To me though, it seems like a far stretch that a race that was completely neutral now is divided against itself. To me, it would have made more since for the Pandaren to actually be the enemy of the Horde and Alliance, considering that their war has spread to this once peaceful island, and is now exploiting it. The fact that a rogue faction of Pandaren that split from the main city is now being even more wayward by dividing themselves seems silly and unrealistic.
The Pandaren have no faction leaders, they’re just kind of out there in the world and, according to the devs, when the meet each other in battle it’s supposed to be a “hey there old friend, what’s up, want to spar?” kind of reaction. So basically, they’re fighting for a faction, but they don’t really care. If they did, there should be some malice between them. That says to me that Blizz was more concerned with producing fan-service by just making the race and their area than actually working on story and content. What’s even worse is that the Horde and Alliance Pandaren can’t talk to each other, even though they speak the same language. Why? Because Blizzard thinks that’s the way it should be. They think it will cheapen the game experience by allowing the factions to communicate. You can argue that because they’re on different sides that they wouldn’t want to talk to each other, but let’s face it: if two Pandaren of opposing sides are fighting and one of them decides to insult the other’s mother, they’re going to know what was said. Heck, the factions talk to each other all the time in the comics and movies that Blizzard themselves publish. For a game that’s supposed to be an MMORPG, that seems to be a major flaw in the RPG design aspect.
On top of all this, the Pandaren themselves just seem like a silly idea in general. It’s hard for me to get over the obvious similarities to both Kung-Fu Panda and The Last Airbender. In addition, I just watched a movie showcasing the fighting style of the monk, and what did I see? The Tatsumaki (hurricane kick) that Ryu, Ken and every other shotokan practitioner of the Street Fighter series uses. Really, Blizzard? REALLY? Apparently they weren’t joking when they used the phrase “street fighter feel” when it comes to the monks. Not only that, but how long do you think it will be before the trade channel is flooded with the phrase “sad panda” over and over again. “Oh no, I lost out on an epic loot roll. Now I’m sad panda.” I thought the Blizz Store pet was pretty awesome, especially since half the money went to charity. But again, it just goes to show you that this race wasn’t really meant to be taken seriously. Where’s the Tauren pet? Where’s the Night Elf pet? In my opinion the Pandaren were meant to be a novelty joke/non-canonical option for the pen and paper Warcraft game, and they should have stayed that way.New Class: Monk
Ask anyone who knows me and they’ll tell you that I wanted monks to be a part of WoW even before they announced the Death Knight as the new class. I figured that Arthas would have his DKs as rune wielders, and the Alliance and Horde would have to resort to other rune users to counteract the threat: monk-like warriors known as Runemasters. I even started to write a movie script style fan fiction that centered on the idea of Death Knight versus Monk! And while the idea of monks being a part of WoW is exciting to me, it’s not going to be enough to pull me back. First and foremost, I don’t understand the reasoning behind removing their auto-attack. I know they wanted players to have a more “street fighter” style feel when playing as a monk, but why take away the auto-attack? If anything else, it just makes them look like they’re dishing out more strikes. From what I’ve seen, Monks will be able to fill any party role: tank, healer and DPS. Considering that they’re leather wearers, I’m going to assume that for tanking we’ll see the revival of the vanilla Rogue’s old dodge-tank style. Healers are going to be “melee healers”. What that means, I have no idea, but I’m interested in seeing what the plan is for that. So while they don’t use Runes, they’re going to have a new Light and Dark Chi system. I’ll be paying close attention to this mechanic, but I’ll probably never experience it, short of Blizzard inviting me back for a free weekend or something like that.Talent System Revamp
We’ve al heard the phrase “cookie-cutter spec” before. Well apparently this is Blizzard’s solution to that. Being a raider, I know the importance of researching talent tree build and the best glyphs to use, etc. I’ve seen sites where people worked out DPS ratings and rotations that took into account fractions of numbers in their equations to show the best way to mechanically play your class. Well, with this new revamped system, all you have to do is decide what roll you want to play at level 10, and everything else is done for you. No more visiting the trainer at every other level to learn new abilities and increase the level of old ones. All of that is done for you. No more worrying about which spells to take or specialize in, because everything you could possibly need to do your job will be handed to you. In addition, every 15th level you’ll be able to choose one of 3 talents that all have similar effects on your abilities. As of right now, they’re designed to basically have effects that are more suitable to one spec over another. So for a class like a Paladin, your options are clearly defined. Classes that can only DPS have a little more room for free choice, but for the most part it will all depend on your spec. While it’s great that Blizzard has taken all the guesswork out of character builds, they’ve also taken away almost all room for customization and individual play style. I personally always designed my own talent trees, even if they didn’t conform to the cookie cutter specs that all the raiding guilds wanted you to have. I added my own flare to the design and despite the fact that I didn’t have the same spec as everyone else, I brought something different to the table that the raid party turned out to appreciate. That’s not going to happen anymore. Now it’s all a matter of gear and rotation. I’m a fan of keeping things simple, but to take away a player’s options like that seems like a step backwards to me.Pet Battle System
If I wanted to play Pokemon, I’d buy a Nintendo DS! For the small handful of people that don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s the rundown: Players will now be able to train their novelty pets and do battle with other Players or special NPCs called “trainers” pets. You can teach and equip them with 3 abilities that they can use in the fight. You level them up, teach them new abilities and keep dueling to make them stronger. I’ve even heard there will be team battles as well, allowing you to use up to 3 pets in a single battle. You can also encounter pets in the wild that you’ll capture and keep as your own if you defeat it. The idea is to capture as many pets as possible, train them and win battles. This can all be summed up in one word: Pokemon! Honestly, this probably would have been better served as a smart phone app that you could link to your account and have something to do in your downtime from the game. If they can have apps for the Auction House, Guild Calendar and in-game mail, why not this too? The way they’re doing it almost feels insulting to me.
The expansion pack was just announced, so obviously nothing is set in stone and anything could change at a moment’s notice. But as of right now, I am severely not impressed. Right now I am patiently awaiting the release of Star Wars: The Old Republic. 1600 hours of game play? Yes please! A completely new world to explore? Awesome! A heavily lore based game that has the potential for infinite expansion? Why not!