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?