During my time at Blizzard’s HQ in Irvine, California I was treated to quite a metric ton of info when it comes to World of Wacraft’s next expansion: Mists of Pandaria. In the first part of our preview today we gave you a look into the mind of Blizzard and why they think Pandaria is the right place to bring back the war between the Horde and Alliance. In this second part, we’ll dive into the new Battlegrounds, the new dungeons, the Pet Battle system, the Monk, the new Talents, scenarios and Challenge Mode dungeons. In short, we’ll briefly cover all we learned about these new systems coming to Azeroth hopefully later in 2012.
The New Battlegrounds
The first new battleground we were shown was the Temple of Kot Mogu. This is a brand new game type for Blizzard, and essentially it revolves around a Mogu artifact. The team that wields this artifact is continually gaining points towards the winning point total (yet to be determined). The interesting part? If you try to hold the artifact off in the periphery of the map, you’ll be earning points very slowly. If on the other hand you try to hold the artifact in the dead-center and wide open defensively middle of the map you’ll earn points at breakneck speeds. The tough part is then staying alive. The map looked very open and laid out very evenly, with lots of potential hiding spots for those who’d prefer to try and play it safe. The architecture was all stylized after the Mogu who used to rule Pandaria 10,000 years prior. It’s definitely shaping up to be a fun take on the “capture and hold” mechanic.
The second battleground is the Stranglethorn Diamond Mine. The idea behind the fight here is that each side obviously wants to control the valuable resources within. How do they do this? At any given time, there will be three mine carts moving on tracks through the mine. You’ll fight over control of each, and the goal is to have control of the carts as they reach their destination. Along the way, you’ll fight off other players, but attacking forces can also direct the tracks path by hitting turning levers to give themselves a bit longer (or shorter) to try and take back control of the cart. We didn’t see these battlegrounds in action, outside of flybys on the test server, but one thing’s for sure: they’re both very different and unique additions to the BG rotation.
The Monk and the Talent System
Greg Street stood up during the opening presentation to give us some more (and reiterated from BlizzCon) information on the Monk and changes to the Talent System. Ghostcrawler opened up by saying he understood why players might be scared of the pared down talent system, but reiterated that over time the talents have gotten too complex and that in doing so they really lost any sense of customization that they might have had. The team believes that talents had become too much about “you need this build to play this class” and too much about the math and percentages to offer any real customization. This new talent system will inherently add more choice and customization from character to character in that it will allow players to focus on what tools they want to use on their character and worry less about “I need this talent for the 1% extra DPS”. In short, the math is gone and it’s all about the spells and skills now.
Greg then showed us how re-specs will work this time around. Using a consumable called “Tome of Clear Mind” players will be able to re-select any one talent. They will cost some gold, but not much, and you won’t have to re-spec an entire build with each use.
Next up was some talk about the new class: The Monk. This was mostly information we’ve heard from BlizzCon, but he stated again that this is a class intended to bring a sort of “Street Fighter” mechanic to the game. You charge up Ki points, and different skills will cost different amounts of Ki, so you’ll have to balance out what skills you use for each situation, as well as keep track of how much Ki you have. Every ability has its own brand new animation, and they’re different for each race as well. We were treated to a nice video of these new animations, including the “Breath of Fire” skill which makes its return from WC3. Lastly, Greg reminded us that each different specialization of the Monk is like a different class. The Windwalker is melee DPS focused on punching and kicking. The Brew Master is an avoidance tank focused on high mobility. And the Mistweaver is a melee-damage dealing healer that uses a number of different heals including doing damage to heal his allies.
Stay tuned later today, for the third and final preview of Mists of Pandaria straight out of Blizzard’s HQ during last week’s Press Tour. If you missed it, read the first preview here.