Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Mists of Pandaria: Thoughts

Alright. I'm going to do things differently this time just because my head is swimming with thoughts and ideas. I'm looking forward to the new expansion, Mists of Pandaria, for a lot of reasons - all of which I will attempt to neatly sort out here. That said, my feelings on this expansion weren't terribly obvious from the beginning. To be perfectly honest, my jaw dropped when I saw the trailer....in complete horror. Not that I didn't think it's a compelling story, because it really is - but the trailer I felt was quite terrible at bringing it across. What really sold me on this upcoming expansion is the designer's overriding philosophy that's driving it. It tells me that the designers are listening to players and learning from the past. After the cinematic for more details...

 



Goodbye Doom and Gloom

Consider for a moment, our current world. It takes no large amount of questing to show the pain and death that surrounds a player all through their time in Azeroth. When the team spoke of the last couple expansions being full of doom and gloom with the one big bad guy out to destroy the world, I couldn't help but think they were talking about this one more than the others. We have here, some of the most depressing quests and scenarios right from elves in Auberdine dying before you, to the homeless in Westfall, to witnessing the destruction of Taurajo, and the benevolent sacrifice that leaves you in tears in the Badlands. Amidst all of this crisis-mode and grieving atmosphere, there's no room for fun...and this is where Pandaria comes in.

For once, we have no sole bad guy out to destroy our world. We only have our factional disagreements, which are quite sufficient to start full blown war. Because hey, that's what we were doing anyways before the Legion, before Arthas and before Deathwing. Pandaria in some sense is a return to vanilla where we have images of battles not between monsters but between ourselves. This conscious attempt to steer away from depressing dark times, to revisit the idea of fun, says volumes about the team and how much they've listened to the players and how they don't intend to repeat the same trend.


To Tree or not to Tree...

Talents look to be changing yet again in 5.0 and while it might be somewhat inconvenient to have another overhaul in this section, I think the big idea driving this revamp is a good one. A couple things really struck home for me while listening to the team's thoughts behind the new system. The idea is to make sure that the decisions we make as players aren't predetermined by math or some sort of objective way where we choose our talents. I have to admit, the way things currently are, almost all resto druids look exactly the same in terms of spec - with only a point or two in differences.

The decision-making in the new system takes away this objectivity in the sense that there IS no right or wrong answer in your talents. If you're making a decision between talents in one tier, you will be comparing spells in largely the same category and this choice will fall more on personal play style rather than cold hard math. This takes care of two things at once: 1) It makes sure that key abilities a spec should have are taken out of the decision-making process - therefore, we will no longer have a holy priest who didn't spec into Chakra or a restoration druid who didn't take Wild Growth for example; 2) it makes your choices unique without having to give up key things like utlity or abilities.

In the current prototype for the restoration druid, we are faced with a choice in the healing tier. We don't have to take the 30 second tree cooldown if we don't want to. We have two other choices: healing treants or wild charge (which roughly allows you to leap to a target and make your next healing spell free). I'm not here to evaluate whether one of these is better than the other because I'm quite sure they'll change to be on even ground eventually. The point here is that I don't have to be a 30 second tree if I don't want to... and surprisingly, that made me happy. I always felt that with a tree it was all or nothing...either I'm a tree full time or I'm not a tree at all. The idea of having healing treants as an alternative is fantastic - I can make my spec unique without giving up key abilities.


A New Healer: The Monk

There's not much to say about this since I don't yet know a whole lot about how the class will work. I will say, though, that I like the story and feel of this class - bringing back balance and harmony into play. But most of all, its the fact that its a new healing class and I can't wait to get my hands on it to try it out! Although not much was said about the mechanics of healing I did get the impression that they wanted to approach healing in a more resource oriented way and also look to expand the role and not just have us heal the traditional way. Anything beyond this is really just speculation for now, but I'm looking forward to how healing will be developed in the new class, The Monk.


What are your thoughts on Mists of Pandaria and all the new things it brings?

1 comment:

  1. I'm really looking forward to see how they do healing for the Monk - how the energy bar and light and dark energy points might be adapted to fuel healing abilities. It sounds like a fun change of pace. =)

    I was really unsure of this expansion when they showed the video at blizzcon as well - so much so, that rather than go check out Chris Metzen at the Starcraft lore panel, I just had to stay and find out more. As they revealed more and more about Pandaria and the Pandarens, and gave more depth to that (yes it was pretty awful as an introduction wasn't it - gave me quite a scare!) video, I was relieved to discover the level of attention and thought that had gone into the idea. I absolutely love the throwback to what made wow a classic for me in the first place - that sense of adventure and discovery, and the simple yet compelling factional tensions between the horde and the alliance. Not only that, but I was very happy to learn that there was a lot more depth and complexity to the Pandarens as a people than it seemed at first. Sure, they're cute and a little silly looking, but they sound like a really noble race with a rich and intriguing history - I can't wait to quest in Pandaria and find out more!

    The new talent system looked interesting, but it definitely seemed a little rough around the edges still. I love the concept though, and I hope they continue to improve on it. Overall, I'm really excited about this expansion now, and I'm totally looking forward to what it has in store for us! =)

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