Through the Mist is a regular column covering not just the new expansion but pretty much anything else of interest in the game. We’re thrilled to welcome Through the Mist’s writer, Luke Le Page. Luke is going to writing the column regularly, starting with an overview of the upcoming Mists of Pandaria expansion. Welcome Luke!
As this is my first piece I was having some difficulty in determining how to start it. Blizzard have managed to do it for me by announcing the release date for World of Warcraft’s fourth expansion; Mists of Pandaria. This also leaves me with a lot of content to cover and not much time in which to do it. Mists will hit shelves and for the first time in the franchise’s history be available digitally on September 25. The digital version will enable players to log in the second that the servers are ready and eliminate the need to wait in line at various retail stores for midnight launches. Thurday’s press release also detailed the different version of the game and can be found here.
I will start by summarising ten of the major changes to be found in the upcoming expansion and unpack them in more detail on a weekly between now and release.
There have been a number of complaints over WoW’s lifespan regarding character customisation, which was partially addressed with introduction of the barber shop where players could, for an in-game fee, change the look of their characters. This was advanced further with the recent introduction of transmogrification – which allows characters to transmogrify their equipped items into something entirely different. This feature was warmly received and has seen a huge differentiation in the items that many people display on their characters giving them a more unique feel. Despite these other additions the actual character creation had not changed since the initial launch of WoW and it was past time for this feature to be updated.
While the changes in Mists are by no means ground-breaking they offer an exciting new feel to making a character and I have spent some time on the beta playing with the new functions.
The talent tree has received a major overhaul. Veteran players will be familiar with having to adapt to a number of changes with the release of past expansions, but the new system is something completely different. We still see the 3 major tree’s for each class, but it is the talent trees themselves that have seen the major changes. Players will now receive a talent point every 15 levels giving them just 6 talent points overall. Each tree has 6 tiers with 3 choices per tier, offering just 18 talent choices in total, however only one talent in each tier can be selected. Many of the old talents are now incorporated into abilities passively and are acquired as characters progress through levels. This change has seen a lot of discussion across various message boards but when people ask me what I think of it I describe it as ‘less is more’. These changes can already be seen on the PTR.
Pre-release world event:
I will not go into any real detail on this as I do not wish to spoil it for anyone but we all love a great in-game event and the Mists of Pandaria launch event is set to be excellent.
This is one of my favourite changes to the game in its life span. MoP will see the introduction of cross-realm zones where players from multiple realms will be able to see, interact and play with one another. This will help solve the issue of sparsely populated levelling zones and shows promise towards the introduction of a fully shared game world where guilds and friendships can be formed across realms.
Account wide mounts and achievements:
This feature may not impress everyone but for me personally it is a major selling point. I have well over 100 mounts on my Rogue, including a number of rare and no longer attainable ones, so it is nice to be rewarded for this hard work on all of my characters. This feature is still being worked on but it looks promising for release
In this expansion we see the introduction of a new race, the Pandaren. The Pandaren come with a rich back story and breathtaking new starting zone, which I will preview prior to release, and is available to both factions. I was quite impressed by the dynamics of the Pandaren race, though their movement felt somewhat bobbly to me.
MoP will introduce us to the class of Monk. The Monk is a new melee class with the ability to fulfil all three roles in the game i.e. healer, tank, dps. I will preview the Monk in full prior to release but so far I have found it an extremely fun class to play.
This is an extremely fun mini-game. I hate to bring up another game but many readers of this site will be familiar with the high demand for a Pazaak mini game in SWTOR and the disappointment that accompanied its exclusion. While Pet battles is not Pazaak it seems that Blizzard have taken note of the demand for mini-games and decided to try their hand at it and the result is a lot of fun. Again this is by no means a ground breaking advancement of the modern MMO, it is simply another way to have fun in the game.
This is a feature I am extremely excited about. This feature sees the introduction of challenge modes to dungeons where players will race against the clock to complete instances as fast as possible. Rewards will vary based on the speed with which the instance is cleared. Gear will also be normalised to a level appropriate to the dungeon ensuring that challenge modes remain difficult throughout various tiers of gear. The only downside I see to this is that it encourages “zerging” of the challenge mode as the rewards are based on speed and not the difficulty of content.
Lastly we have the customary introduction of new zones. We see the introduction of eight new zones in Mists of Pandaria and all of them are breathtaking. If, like me, you enjoy exploring the world, MoP offers you spectacular scenery to enjoy and explore.
This is by no means all of the changes that are coming with Mists of Pandaria and I will attempt to cover everything I can in the time until release I felt that these 10 points were the major changes that have me excited to play.
Over to you: have you been involved in the beta and if so, what have you enjoyed the most?