I see it asked a lot on these forums: “Why would anyone still play World of Warcraft”? I can understand that sentiment enough, really. I mean, it’s almost eight years old and as the genre changes and shifts WoW’s mechanics and systems stay largely the same. But if there’s any reason at all I’m looking to play Mists of Pandaria, outside of professional duty, it’s because this latest expansion actually seeks to change WoW up… at least on some level. Mists of Pandaria is doing a lot to make Azeroth feel new, and I’m going to give it an honest shake down to see if Blizzard’s behemoth can captivate me the way it did with Wrath of the Lich King and those that came before it.
Yes, you can bet your ass that the elder game of Pandaria will still by and large be all about dungeons, gear treadmills, and raid progression. After eight years, you’re not going to fundamentally change what Azeroth’s PVE has become. And judging by the subscription numbers, waning or not, there’s no need to. People still love to dungeon-run and raid, no matter how “easy” it’s become in recent years. But what intrigues me most about this expansion, indeed what has made me curious since it was announced at Blizzcon 2011, is the fact that Blizzard plans on finally pitting the two factions against each other once more. Instead of making nice and teaming up against some big bad, Horde and Alliance are going to go at it and in the open world when 5.1 rolls around in a month or two.
This is what I’ve been missing since Vanilla WoW. If Blizzard can get it right, there definitely could be a revival of interest for me personally. Not enough to make me pick up stakes in other recently released worlds and move back to Azeroth, but enough to actually actively play my Huntard once more. Beyond the war efforts, I’m honestly really interested in Scenarios, the new faction quests and “faming” in Pandaria, and of course… the silly pet battles.
Anyway, Garrett and I will be digging into this expansion’s content for the next several weeks, and I’m honestly very optimistic about it. I think the Pandaren race is a safe fallback for the haters, but the Monk looks really enticing, the lore preposterously interesting, and the new additions to the core game seem like they could reinvigorate WoW at least for a little while. I just hope that patch 5.1 delivers whenever it lands. I want to feel what I felt in Tarren Mill years ago, and I hope that’s what I get.
Almost eight years ago I remember the WoW beta ending in preparation for launch. I remember focusing in so strongly on learning the shaman class. Thinking about the Orcs and reviewing what skills I might have. Now Mists of Pandaria brings in a new era for World of Warcraft. Is it a quieter, softer WoW we are entering in 2012? No I don’t think so. If anything Mists is doing more to separate the Alliance and Horde than the previous expansions. As I go into launch day I have a few things in mind and look forward to reviewing the game again.
The first is the new continent of Pandaria. The Asian theme really is cool and I think Blizzard is doing a great job in capturing some of the myths and monsters of ancient times. I am looking forward to exploring the continent more than anything else. Finding different factions and learning about the lore. I guess for me I am overlooking the Pandas and taking the full theme much more seriously. Just like the other expansions it is that first step into a brand new content that really gets you excited. I’ll be looking at levels 80 to 85 in the Review in Progress and hope to have frequent updates on each new zone. This is the part of the game I am most looking forward too.
The next is what new styles I can look forward to in terms of gear and equipment. As an Orc Shaman I still loved my Lich King set of armor, hopefully more exciting things will appear on the gear charts as I make my way through the zones. And with the Cross Realm Zone system grouping up with other players in the zones will really be easy and we can accomplish goals together. I remember with Cataclysm doing a lot of the questing by myself. With the Dungeon Finder system I think the experience of leveling will go much faster in this expansion, combined with all the other content Blizzard’s throwing at us in a few short levels. It always helps to have goals in mind when you sit down to play and I do think World of Warcraft is giving the right tools to players to accomplish everything they could want to.
There are a few other tidbits I’d like to mention. I love the welcome re-addition of world bosses roaming the lands. Also the Sha race look amazing and I cannot wait to explore their zones. I don’t know how caught up I will get in the Pet Battles, but we’ll see. As for Raids and Instances I will definitely explore as much as I can on both. With all of these elements sewn together, Mists of Pandaria really does give the WoW crowd a whole new outlook on the game. I do think Blizzard has done a great job with the expansion overall, the question always is how will players react?
With so many more games on the market now-a-days, will players come back to WoW? That really is the big question. I know I do agree with Bill that WoW is still one of the most playable MMOs out there. It just works, despite its age. I have a lot of fun in it when I log in from time to time still, and I think Mists will really reward old players hoping to join the game again. Level with us… what about Pandaria has you intrigued? What would you come back for in this expansion?