I was a skeptic. I really was. At BlizzCon, while excited about all the new stuff coming to Azeroth, I too wondered if Blizzard was jumping the shark with Mists of Pandaria. But then this past week, I was privy to more info on their latest expansion than I ever expected. I also got to play around with the Monk and some level 85s for a good long while. In today's List, I'll recount the five best things I learned and discovered about Mists of Pandaria during my trip to Blizzard HQ.
5.) CLOUD SERPENT RAISING
It may be fluff, but it's fluff that I feel like Azeroth has been missing of late. In the Jade Forest zone, players will be able to find an egg, hatch, and then raise their own Cloud Serpent, which basically looks like one of the cool Chinese Dragons you seem to see everywhere you go that has Asian décor. You'll have daily quests to help raise the little guy, and he'll go from tiny little baby dragon to medium dragon that can fight beside you, and finally he'll turn into a massive mount you can race for fame and fortune on the Jade Forest circuit.
4.) SCENARIOS = CASUAL GROUP CONTENT!
The team talked about missing the days when group quests were something you did a lot in WoW, but believe that the original design was one that lead to people just not doing them, because spamming the general chat for a group wasn't fun when you could just skip the content. Scenarios fix that, and give group-oriented players a whole new way to play that doesn't require rigid roles or even a full group. Like LotRO before it, WoW's scenarios are a fantastic way to reintroduce the idea of small groups into Azeroth. I for one, hope they're a huge hit.
3.) PET BATTLES = POKEMON AND I LIKE IT
Blizzard won't ever say it, but come on... it's Pokemon. And that's not a bad thing. Like the cloud serpent raising before it this slice of fluff is really well designed and for the folks out there (there are many) who love to collect these little non-combat pets will finally be able to do something with them besides stare at them. Still a work in progress, the battles are straightforward and easy to grasp and I can already envision community run tournaments. There are even whispers of NPCs spread across the globe that players will be able to challenge for exclusive titles and even more pets. Hardcore raid folks might not give a damn, but this kind of superfluous detail is exactly what would keep me in Azeroth long after I've hit the cap. More so than just another gear treadmill.
2.) THE PERSONAL FARM
In the Valley of the Four Winds, players will make nice with The Tillers faction, and eventually be able to get their own farm to plant crops, create gifts, and possibly even more non-combat pets to use. Again, it's a little detail, but it just shows how much Blizzard is trying to deeply layer their game with content in this expansion. It seems like if you can't find something to do in Pandaria, you should probably stop playing MMOs.
1.) THE PROMISE OF WAR
We weren't shown anything, just teased with the mention of Patch 5.1 bringing all out AvH war to the shores of Pandaria. But I'll be damned if the mere mention didn't give me glorious flashbacks to Tarren Mill and Southshore. If Blizzard can take all they've learned from Wintergrasp and other attempts at world PVP and bring back that feeling of "I want to kill the other side" to WoW? Well, ladies and gentlemen, I'll be one happy former WoW-head. It is called World of Warcraft after all, and if any one detail from this trip got my blood boiling it was learning that war was coming back to play a big role in this expansion. I can't wait to see how.