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World of Warcraft Column: Securing the Isle

By Reza Lackey on March 11, 2013

Last week, Blizzard released Patch 5.2: The Thunder King (check out the full patch notes here). If you have been keeping up with the development of this latest patch for Mists of Pandaria, you are probably well aware of just how large this content update is. I tried to get as much game time in as I could before having to complete this post. Here are some of my thoughts about what I’ve experienced so far in 5.2.

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Surface Attack

I first want to point out that I rarely preview content on the PTR so my experience in Patch 5.2 is very fresh. The only time I really check out PTR’s is to look at UI updates because I find that kind of thing very fascinating. In terms of actual gameplay and story content, I try to hold off until it hits the live servers so the first time experience is more impactful. That being said, I decided to use my Horde character on my first outing to the Isle of Thunder.

Logging in, I was immediately given a quest to visit a member of the Sunreaver faction near the Shadow-Pan Garrison in Townlong Steppes. If you’re level 90, all you need to do is travel to or through the Vale of Eternal Blossoms to get this quest. When I met up with one of the Sunreavers, we took to the sky on Dragonhawks and made our way to the Isle of Thunder.

As you may know, this new zone doesn’t allow the use of flying mounts, and as your Dragonhawk approaches the shores of the Isle, you quickly see why as Blizzard created a thematic reason for this restriction. I landed on a Sunreaver ship just off the west coast of the isle where I picked up my first set of daily quests which essentially ask me to speak to three NPC’s spread through the zone. Clicking on a portal brings me to the shore where I find the first NPC I was asked to find. Here I grab another set of quests to complete in the immediate area. The other NPC’s that I have been tasked to speak with are also daily quest hubs. Like other faction dailies in Mists, the quests may be different from day to day which is refreshing.

Some of these quest hubs offer some interesting gameplay mechanics as well. For example, in a Zandalari encampment, there are potions scattered around that when consumed, increase damage output by 25% for one minute. This adds a surprising amount of fun as you try to find more potions to keep the buff up while you pull tons of enemies. In another area you are transformed into a Saurok to disguise you from the enemy. Transformed is the keyword, not disguise, as you gain the Saurok ability to leap far distances.

There is also a new solo scenario that may very well be my favorite piece of content that I’ve seen thus far. If you’re lucky enough to find a Key to the Palace of Lei Shen, you can turn it in for a chance to enter the Troves of the Thunder King and grab as much loot as you can within five minutes. Traps and enemies will attempt to interfere with your loot spree and special keys found inside will unlock larger treasure chests near the end that can potentially offer even greater loot, but they are heavily guarded. There are also consumables that can be purchased with Elder Charms that can help you avoid traps or CC enemies. This single player scenario has tremendous potential that I may delve into further in a future article.

The Isle of the Thunder is unlocked in stages as players complete daily quests to contribute to the war effort. As each stage unlocks, more content and geography in the zone becomes available. There is also an interesting stat to see what percentage of players in your faction are contributing. If you were playing World of Warcraft during the Gates of Ahn’Qiraj world event, you may find this very similiar. I have greatly anticipated the return of such an event and this makes me really excited. Also worth mentioning, the story elements that accompany the completion of the various stages will be viewable even if you aren’t logged in during their unlocking unlike the Gates of Ahn’Qiraj event.

I can’t talk about this new patch and not mention how awesome the art and music are. There are tons of new art assets and models all over the place. The lightning looks great and there is this new, very cool looking effect when trees are struck by lightning and the surrounding ocean has waves that tumble towards the cost. It’s amazing how much Blizzard squeezes out of this engine. The music is also fantastic and hopefully will be offered as a download at some point because I kind of need it. If you run the single player scenario, make sure you have the music on and the volume up.

What are your thoughts on this latest patch? Do you think it’s too much content too soon? I would love to hear what you think.

This weeks throwback item: Dreamwalker Headpiece.

Follow me on Twitter: @rezalackey


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