Daily Thoughts: Mists of Pandaria First Impressions

I wanted to give a few days of being max level before attempting to post my commentary on the expansion. My opinion, however, has not changed since I reached level 86 to level 90 and to now. Mists of Pandaria is a solid upgrade and addition to World of Warcraft. If you read my last post, or feel like going to read it now, you’d have seen that I was indecisive regarding what character to make my ‘main’ for MoP. In the end, my Death Knight won out over the rest. I leveled from 85-86 as Unholy, but quickly switched to Frost. Howling Blast, hitting all targets for decent damage and applying dots, is simply one of the most superior AoE options available right now – particularly for questing, given the heavy movement that comes from running to and from mobs/nodes/etc. Questing was easily the most enjoyable that it has ever been to me, possibly with the exception of when I started playing back in The Burning Crusade. I wouldn’t think this is because TBC quests were better (they weren’t), but just for the new factor at the time. The zones were amazing. It’s been quite sometime since some visage in WoW made me think, “Damn, that’s pretty awesome looking.”

Naturally, I started my leveling process in the Jade Forest as it’s the only starting zone. I played for an hour at launch, which was a little crazy and frustrating due to the massive number of players in the single zone, but by the next day after work it was a busy area but still pleasant. The zone is gorgeous and was a great introduction to this would-be peaceful new land. Players are quickly exposed to the Sha and their affect on making these negative emotions manifest as killer enemies. Horde or Alliance, we really wreck this place just by showing up. I moved from there to the Valley of the Four Winds. This zone definitely was a little more bland. One could almost go as far as to say boring. I understand the idea was to introduce us a little more into the daily life and culture of the Pandaren, but the whole zone is almost all farmland. Krasarang Wilds, however, much more interesting. The quests here were also pretty compelling (I’m looking at you Life – spoilers in the comments on that link). Kun-Lai Summit was enjoyable at the time, but I’m finding it hard to remember anything special in that zone. I skipped Townlong Steppes entirely in favor of the Dread Wastes. Getting to go kill a bunch of mantid seemed like a fun time. Also, the adventurers’ interactions with the Klaxxi is fairly entertaining and a little unusual (they almost kill us before offering us quests to do). I played just a couple to a few hours per night Tuesday to Friday after launch then reached max level after a few hours on Saturday. It wasn’t too long, it was easy to feel the flow and direction of quests without being quite as linear as Cataclysm quests. Many quest hubs offered you multiple quests directing you to different new hubs.

My experiences so far haven’t been limited to questing.  I went with 4 others and just demolished the regular dungeons – a few mechanics were interesting, and the dungeons themselves are cool looking, just very easy. The heroic dungeons I’ve experienced have not been incredibly difficult either, though there are several places where not understanding what the boss is doing can get you and your group killed. So, far they’re all fast-paced and fun. Finally, there’s everyone’s (well, maybe not everyone) new little guilty pleasure – Pet Battles. As of this writing I have the Building a Team and Experienced Pet Battler achievements and am definitely looking forward to knocking a few more of those out. I’ll write in a little more detail about dungeons and battles later on.

So, to anyone on the fence about getting MoP – go for it. It’s everything you loved about WoW with a little more polish.

Oh, and one more thing; AoE looting is pretty much the best thing to come to any RPG game ever. Grab a bunch of mobs or chain pull them, pile up the bodies and loot everything in range with on click. Makes questing and dailies so much less “grindy” to me.

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