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Review: World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria (video) 204

Posted by Soulskill
from the yes-actual-panda-men dept.
In this video (with transcript) we review the newest expansion to World of Warcraft, titled Mists of Pandaria. This is the fourth expansion to Blizzard's successful MMORPG, and while the quality of the content remains high, it's becoming increasingly apparent that they're basing it on a game that's been under development for over a decade. On top of that, the MMORPG genre itself is evolving, and though World of Warcraft remains a juggernaut of the industry, juggernauts are tougher to steer, and less adaptable to players' changing demands. The question for the success of an MMORPG expansion isn't simply "does it entertain?" It is: "does it entertain, and for how long?" Mists of Pandaria succeeds on the first count — it refreshes the gameplay, dangles new carrots in front of the players, and brings much-needed improvements to older systems. But keeping players engaged for a long time will be much more difficult. Hit the link below to watch/read our review.

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World of Warcraft is almost 8 years old. In the time since its launch, Blizzard has released four expansions to the original game. The most recent, titled Mists of Pandaria, came out at the end of September. Now that some time has passed, we’ve decided to do a review of the new expansion.

Mists of Pandaria has all the familiar trappings from previous expansions: an increase in the level cap from 85 to 90, a new continent full of zones, hundreds of new quests, a new set of dungeons, raids, and PvP battlegrounds, and a host of new items, gear, and spells. It also introduces a new class: the Monk; and a new playable race: The Pandarens. Unlike all the previous playable races, which were restricted to one faction, Pandarens can be members of either the Horde or the Alliance. Monks have the advantage of being able to take on three different roles: a tank, a healer, or a damage dealer.

The leveling experience is similar in style to the previous expansion, Cataclysm, but Blizzard has made a few design changes. First, there’s only one “starter” zone, unlike the previous two expansions, which both had two zones from which you could pick. This created some congestion issue in the days immediately following release, but now that the leveling rush is mostly over, the population has thinned out. However, even on crowded servers, Blizzard’s quest design changes kept things mostly sane. They've further refined their “phasing” tech, which allows two different players standing in the same spot to see different things. Quest givers and objectives were phased to a greater degree this time around, and sometimes only visible to each user individually. This effectively reduced wait times.

Blizzard’s quest philosophy evolved — as it always does — from the previous expansion. They felt Cataclysm was a bit too linear, so there are now more options for how you proceed through a zone’s quests. Instead of simply shunting you from one to the next, you’ll frequently get a choice of several different quest hubs, and you can pick whichever sounds the most interesting. Some places don’t even have so-called “Breadcrumb” quests to lead you to them, and you simply stumble upon them while exploring. This gives leveling-up in Pandaria more of an exploratory feel than existed in Cataclysm, while still keeping you focused on specific areas at one time, so you aren't spending most of your time travelling.

This time around, Blizzard has spent a bit more time with the lore than in the past. Leveling in Cataclysm and Wrath of the Lich King felt like slowly pacing through a particular story. In Mists, they focus more on the backstory and on developing particular characters and factions. If you enjoy getting immersed in the story, you’ll probably quite like the leveling process. If you don’t, it will be tedious at times while you listen to some NPC ramble on about the historical panda-politics of something.

Now, for many, the game really begins when you reach the level cap. At level 90, you once again take up the primary objective of most MMORPGs: the endless pursuit of items. I’ll go through some of the different avenues one at a time. First, dungeons. In previous expansions, Blizzard has gone live with a number of 5-player dungeons that you can experience as you level, and then again in “heroic” mode once you hit the level cap. These heroic versions have historically been significantly harder, and awarded appropriately better loot for completing them. This time around, Blizzard chose to make four new dungeons with normal modes, to explore while you level, as well as revamping three classic dungeons with added heroic modes.

One difference this time is that there are no normal mode dungeons specifically set aside for level 90s. Once you reach the cap, you simply dive right into heroics. Consequently, heroic modes are much easier this time around than they were in Cataclysm or The Burning Crusade. Gear acquired from leveling and a basic knowledge of your class are more than enough to succeed. Personally, this is not my preference; I liked it better when it was a bit more challenging, and the ease of starting into heroics was a disappointment. That said, there are many people who prefer heroic dungeons to be quick and painless, and for that segment of the population, these changes are welcome.

As far as the experience of playing through these dungeons goes, if you’re familiar with dungeons from previous expansions, the new ones will feel very similar. The process was refined to a fairly strict formula a few years ago, and these rarely deviate. That sounds perhaps more uncomplimentary than it’s meant; I don’t mean to say that they’re bad, just that they didn’t bring many new things to the table. You pull a few packs of trash mobs, then fight a boss, then repeat. There are new boss mechanics, as always, but they generally fit the mold of WoW boss mechanics.

The gear you acquire through heroic dungeons is intended to put you in a place to participate in raids, should you so choose. Raids, too, have gone through refinement over the past several years. When Blizzard released the Dungeon Finder system, which matched players automatically for dungeon groups, sparing them the pain of tracking down other people who wanted to do the same thing, they realized there was a massive demand for a similar system for raids. Halfway through [Wrath of the Lich King], they launched their Looking For Raid system, which is their best attempt yet to bring raiding to the casual population.

When queueing through the LFR system, you get matched with players from other realms who want to do the same raid. The difficulty is toned down, of course, and so is the quality of loot. The major refinement brought by Mists is a revamp of the loot system itself; now your chance of getting shiny new items is independent of other people in the raid, which excises much of the remaining tension between players. Still, it doesn't mean you’ll necessarily get the item you want.

But that’s only one part of the loot treadmill. Blizzard has continued on with its slow-and-steady gear acquisition scheme in which you buy the items you want with points that you can only acquire so many of per week. You can get these points by running dungeons and raids, or by doing daily quests. In fact, you’ll likely gain a lot through daily quests, since most of the items you’ll want to buy require you to increase your reputation with various factions, and daily quests are how you do that. It’s actually quite odd; in the past two expansions, Blizzard had implemented a system where you could choose the faction you wanted to work on, then run dungeons to build up your reputation. There were a limited amount of daily quests, and you could choose whichever method suited your preferred playstyle. In Mists, Blizzard reverted it to only daily quests and made a ton of dailies for each faction. If you don’t enjoy repeatedly running a handful of quests, you’re just out of luck. They say they want players to interact more with the story, but this move surprises me. Now, if you don’t want to log in and do a specified amount of repetitive content every day, you don’t progress at all.

Reputation grinds have been something Blizzard has struggled with for as long as World of Warcraft has been out. It continually astonishes me that reputation isn't account-wide. If you go to the trouble of getting in good standing with a faction on one character, you’re rewarded by having to do the exact same thing again on any other character you end up playing. Really, it’s part of a larger problem, one endemic to the MMORPG industry in general, which is that developers still require excessive amounts of content repetition if you want to use multiple characters. Mists makes minor gains in this regard, but frankly, not enough. For example, I leveled my warrior to tank in PvE situations. I enjoyed it quite a bit. Now I’d like to try some PvP, but I don’t really enjoy it on the warrior. I have much more fun on my priest, but the thought of spending all that time leveling through the same zones, running the same dungeons, and building the same rep makes me cringe. And even if I had the motivation, I wouldn't have the time, and I suspect a lot of players are the same way. Asking for a 30-hour time commitment so that I can log on and PvP for 30 minutes is just silly. But, again, this is a problem with the entire genre, and if anything I’m surprised Blizzard hasn't solved it yet.

But enough about reputation — what about your character itself? Well, Blizzard has once again revamped the talent and specialization system. Now, when you pick your spec, that sets in stone the vast majority of your abilities, and when you get them. Blizzard has done away with the talent tree system entirely. In its place, you simply have one choice to make every 15 levels. You pick one of three different skills, and the other two are henceforth unavailable to you, unless you respec. It’s an interesting system, and has its advantages and disadvantages over the old system. On the plus side, the choices themselves are generally pretty interesting. If there are two abilities you really want, you have a tough decision to make.

On the other hand, there just aren't that many total options to choose from. While you theoretically have 729 different permutations for talent choices, in reality you’re frequently picking between an obvious player-versus-player talent and a player-versus-monster talent, or between a damage dealing talent and a tanking talent. Once you figure out what you want the spec to do, the number of realistic choices drops drastically. On top of that, while Blizzard made a good choice in excising the boring talents that increase your damage by 1% for every point you put into it, there are still occasionally talents that are obviously more desirable than their alternatives, so your choices are restricted even further. For experienced players, I don’t think the talent system is significantly better or worse than the old trees. For newer players, its simplicity makes it a little bit better.

In terms of gameplay, Mists of Pandaria brings another interesting new feature: scenarios. These are intended to be small, quick events that can be accomplished by a group of three players, regardless of their roles. Unlike a dungeon, you don’t necessarily need a tank and a healer. This means you can instantly find a group for one at any time. There’s not much of a purpose behind them, and they’re not terribly difficult, but Blizzard plans to keep rolling out new and different types. It’s worth keeping an eye on to see what they come up with.

Another new features is called “Cross-realm Zones,” which aims to solve a population problem that’s plagued MMORPGs for over a decade. Over time, players tend toward the level cap, so the early leveling zones tend to become rather empty. This sets up some cognitive dissonance with the “massively multiplayer” part of the game. Now, Blizzard scans zones for low population counts, and when there aren’t a lot of people around, they’ll merge players from several different servers. It makes the world feel a bit more alive and populated, and potentially more perilous for people on PvP servers.This is actually a very clever move on Blizzard’s part. One of the worst things that can happen to an MMO, from a public relations perspective, is the announcement of server mergers. Blizzard found a way to funnel players together while keeping the servers themselves separate.

On top of all this are the expected quality-of-life improvements that come with any WoW expansion. They've implemented AoE loot, done another pass on item stats, implemented Battle Tag support, and made mounts, pets, and achievements account-wide. The buff system is easier to keep track of, the ranged item slot is gone, and you don’t need to train new skills every time you level. These are all nice things to have. They won’t make or break the expansion for you, but it’ll remind you that Blizzard does keep trying to find ways to polish the game.

If you’re the kind of player who enjoys vanity items, Mists is something you’ll enjoy. There’s a ton of new mounts and pets, and a bunch of vanity items that do small but interesting things. One gives you a buff to let you move around faster underwater, one turns you into an untargetable statue, and one lets you vanish from combat entirely, something that will make Rogues jealous. There are a few dozen items like this, and it’s nice to see Blizzard creating some more items that are just fun, instead of being either aesthetic or powerful. It’s also provides a nice contrast to any part of the game that can give players an advantage — abilities, gear, encounters, professions — which have all been balanced within an inch of their life. Blizzard is in a tough spot here, since with such a huge playerbase, a non-trivial number of people will seize on any perceived advantage and take it to the extreme. But unfortunately games just aren't as fun when everything is mathematically equivalent to the third decimal place.

There are two more systems worth noting. Pet Battles makes all those non-combat pets that have existed for years into their own mini-game. It’s apparently reminiscent of Pokemon. I haven’t played that, so I couldn't say how similar or dissimilar it is, but it’s another pointless diversion within a pointless diversion, and many of my guildmates find it entertaining. The other system is Challenge Mode dungeons. This brings time-trial racing to heroic dungeons. You queue up with a group of friends, and you try to complete the dungeon as fast as you can. Times are recorded on leaderboards, so you can compete with other groups. Your gear is normalized while doing the dungeon, so everybody is on the same playing field. (By the way, this technology is long, long overdue, not only for PvE, but for PvP as well. With as much effort as Blizzard has put into WoW PvP being a valid e-sport, I can’t believe they still haven’t implemented something like this for battlegrounds and arenas.) The challenge modes bring another mode of play — competitive racing — to established content, and that’s a good thing.

World of Warcraft continues to be the standard by which other MMOs are judged, but it’s becoming apparent that the game can’t go on forever. New content, even good content, will necessarily hold players' attention for less and less time in light of an aging graphical engine and an aging genre. Grinding is inherent to this style of game, but since Ultima Online came out back in 1997 — over 15 years ago — player willingness to put up with it has been steadily dropping. Blizzard has made cuts to this over the years — good cuts, needed cuts — but they’re slowing when they need to be accelerating. Having played this expansion for a few weeks, I look at it and see all the things I can’t do, rather than what I can. Has it been worth the price? Well, given the fun I've had and given the time I've spent — more than on pretty much any game I've bought this year — I’d have to say yes. But this game has an ongoing price, and I’m not sure I’ll be able to justify keeping a subscription active much longer.

This concludes our World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria review. Thanks for watching.

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Review: World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria (video)

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  • by RogueyWon (735973) * on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @10:55AM (#41968169) Journal

    The review touches upon the issue of the ridiculous number of daily quests required. I've been playing MoP myself and I can confirm that Blizzard have got something very, very badly wrong here. The daily quests are too numerous, too essential and far too boring. With a small number of exceptions, they all tend to be variations on the old "kill six snow moose" themes. Except this time it's panda-mooses. And you usually have to kill more than six of them.

    It's worse still if you play as a tank or healer. DPS players can at least blitz through individual enemies quite quickly. As a tank or healer, the health pools for enemies take so long to chip down that the daily quest grind can actually take hours. Plus the daily quests are tied into the valor point system, so unless you are a hardcore raider, you're more or less tied into continuing with daily quest grinds even after you max out your reputation. JOY!

    In all honesty, I can't see myself sticking with this much longer. I returned to the game in the late Cataclysm era, having quit in the late Lich King era, thinking I'd stick with it on a casual basis. MoP has just turned that into a chore.

    It's hilarious to watch the official "blue" forum posters try to defend the daily quest overload. They can't claim that it's fun or enjoyable. They can't claim that it's interesting. All they can do is keep coming up with new ways of saying "yes, it's a boring timesink, but we're not changing it".

    I suspect Blizzard are desperate for ways of getting WoW development costs down so they can focus on other things. Their end-game content model is horribly inefficient and expensive. They create new raid and dungeon content, go through an exhaustive and exhausting testing and balancing process, release it, then have it rendered obsolete by the next tier, 4-6 months later.

    I suspect the best thing Blizzard could do in the longer term, if they really do want to concentrate on other projects (including a WoW successor) without cutting off their income stream from WoW subs, would be to get to more of a steady-state end-game. Stop raising the level cap (leave it at 100, perhaps, as that's a nice round number) and move from the current "vertical" end-game into more of a "horizontal" model, like the one used by Final Fantasy XI and some other older MMOs.

    They could re-tune all of the old raid content up to level 100 standards (which requires some work, but less than creating entirely new assets) and add multiple progression paths. They'd then be able to get away with adding new raid content far less frequently, while giving the player-base something to do that isn't an endless, tedious grind of soloed daily quests.

    • by alen (225700)

      blizzard sold out to activision

      they need to make their money back by keeping you playing and paying every month

      • by subanark (937286)

        Blizzard did not sell out to Activision. Their parent company used a large chunk of their stock in the company to get Activision while retaining controlling stock. Yes, Activision's president runs the new "company," but in reality they aren't involved in Blizzard's games aside from physical distribution in Europe. Activision knows that Blizzard is a company that knows how to make good games, and they aren't going to kill the goose that lays that egg.

        As to your second statement, yes, Blizzard is a company, t

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          No, they did indeed sell out. There was a noticeable decrease in developer competence and quality of gameplay corresponding with the sale.

          It's not development staff that swept through, it's precisely the management you point out. Blizzard was the talented people who were there for Starcraft, Warcraft III, and Diablo 2. Those people aren't there anymore.

      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        People still play this shit? As if life weren't filled with enough drudgery.

    • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @11:20AM (#41968555) Journal

      I have said it before but MMO's need to kill players. Well, their characters at least. D&D always had the issue that at max level, you were a god. And god isn't fun to play. Superman has this issue, he is unstoppable, so you have to keep coming up with their weirdest stuff to make him at least temporarily vulnerable.

      In MMO's, the level cap keeps being raised, more content is tacked onto the end and the players despair of having to grind yet another set of gear, yet another factions reputation while all the fun has gone from the game.

      D&D solved this, you are NOT supposed to keep the same character around for ages. Hell, most games fixed this. In the Sims, your characters age and die, in Sim City and Transport Tycoon and Civilization, you start a new game when you "won" the old one. Only in MMO's do you keep the same character and play with it long after you "finished" the game.

      So, get rid of it. Create a game with a tutorial area, a mid level and an endgame that kills you. Then you restart the game, skip the tutorial and try a different path.

      Expansions flesh out the middle, where everyone is playing. New players find a busy active world and not everyone huddled at the end game claiming they are bored.

      It is a simple tried and tested mechanic but MMO's have become filled with people who want to wave their e-penis around no matter how much they hate the process of getting one, they want to show of their raid gear. Because putting in a hundred hours grinding makes them leet.

      WoW is for those gamers, the rest have long since left. Not that most other MMO's dare to offer anything different. First Lotro introduced gated content, now GW2 is doing the same.

      And all over, gamers are playing regular games with no grind, just for fun. Are MMO developers so insecure they feel they can't rely on the fun of their games rather then gated content and raid gear?

      • I don't think this is too much of a problem for WoW, since you can always start up an alt that's a different class/faction. (And of course hours and hours of grinding on one of your max level characters)
        • I don't think this is too much of a problem for WoW, since you can always start up an alt that's a different class/faction. (And of course hours and hours of grinding on one of your max level characters)

          To put this into perspective, WoW has 13 playable races (Alliance: Human, Dwarf, Gnome, Night Elf, Draenai, Worgen; Horde: Orc, Troll, Forsaken, Tauren, Blood Elf, Gnome; Both: Pandaren) and 11 playable classes (Warrior, Monk, Paladin, Rogue, Hunter, Druid, Shaman, Mage, Warlock, Priest, Death Knight).

          The problem is that there are only so many choices for zones to level up. This is particularly obvious once you enter Outlands at around level 60... your only zone choice is Hellfire Peninsula in Outlands. I

      • by N0Man74 (1620447)

        D&D had resurrections too. If you lost your D&D character because of a dumb reason, a DM has the power to hand wave them back. In D&D a DM can say, "Ok, you can start your new character at level 10". In D&D, sometimes people pull out their old characters, or DMs will have them make cameos in a new campaign.

        In an MMRPG, people don't like to lose a character that they've invested hundreds (or thousands) of hours in because someone turned on a microwave and caused them to temporarily disconn

        • I mean END OF LIFE dead, reach lvl 50, go on end game epic quest, die/retire/ride into the sunset.

          In D&D you did have resurrects BUT once you reach a silly high level you were supposed to roll a new character, not keep playing a lvl 20/40 character over and over.

          So not dead because you fell of a bridge but dead because your hero's journey has com to an end.

          And yes, I agree, MMO's are about grinds but if you keep begging for the grind, don't be suprised that is what you are going to get.

          Be ready to let g

          • Be ready to let go of your lvl 80 blinged out alt

            But ... you can already do this? It's not like anyone is forcing you to keep playing with your maxed out toon.

            I guess the main problem is, coming up with enough content to make it interesting to re-play everything again.

            And, yes, you can play another class. But that's what almost all players do already anyway. There is only a limited number of different classes ...

        • In a single player game, you usually save your game quite often, or it does it for you (or both). So if you fuck up, you are back at the checkpoint, not back at the beginning. This is how most popular MMOs work. If you fail to kill a boss and wipe out, the boss resets. You cannot move on through repeated failures, but nor do you move back.

      • by RogueyWon (735973) * on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @11:40AM (#41968845) Journal

        Saying that WoWlike MMOs need to have permadeath is like saying that fighting games should incorporate city-building elements. It's a gameplay mechanic that simply doesn't fit with the genre.

        Contrary to the general cynicism displayed in these parts, WoWlike MMOs do have a fairly solid gameplay core that is much more than just "keep people playing the subs". Leaving player-vs-player aside for now, they are, at heart, large-group co-op games (and often very difficult ones).

        At the heart of a WoWlike is raiding. And at the heart of raiding is fighting against bosses. Leaving aside casual-oriented "raid-finder" modes, raid bosses are generally tuned so that, at the level of gear players will have when they are first encountered, they are challenging fights with little room for error. The satisfaction in the game comes from overcoming that challenge and working with others to defeat the bosses. The level of co-operation required goes far beyond that found in most other genres. I have no shortage of criticisms of WoW, but I can attest from personal experience that the "rush" associated with my first kill of certain bosses (Illidan, Kil'Jaeden, the Lich King) was like nothing else in gaming - and that was irrespective of whether I got any gear from it.

        But with the difficulty tuned as high as it is, death is inevitable and very much part of the game. You learn from your deaths and adapt accordingly. Imagine Dark Souls with permadeath? A WoWlike with permadeath would be like that... but worse.

        • by xhrit (915936)
          If WoW had permadeath they would not need to make the drop rates so low. People could play through an instanced dungeon 1 time, and if they lived, they get the loot.
          • by RogueyWon (735973) *

            You've missed my point completely - it's absolutely nothing to do with the loot.

            If all of the dungeons in an MMO could be beaten with no deaths on the first attempt, the game would be seriously lacking in challenge. The actual fun in WoWlike MMOs (and yes, they can be a lot of fun) is in overcoming difficult (sometimes extremely difficult) fights in a large group by the use of co-operative tactics. You're going to die. Repeatedly. That's part of the game. If you want permadeath, then you've either made the

            • by xhrit (915936)
              In order for a perma death RPG to be challenging the dungeons need to be extremely hard. See Nethack.
              • by RogueyWon (735973) *

                Nethack is not an MMO. No persistent world, no game economy. Saying MMOs should be like Nethack is like saying Street Fighter should be like Sim City.

                Nothing wrong with either game, but they have fundamental and irreconcilable differences.

      • And all over, gamers are playing regular games with no grind, just for fun.

        Yep. I spend most of my gaming time on Minecraft these days. I'm tired of the same old WoW gameplay mechanics, even more than the grinding. The low level players never want or need any help because it's too easy. I don't want to spend a lot of time learning each boss's tricks and having to run back countless times.

        Still, I love the lore and I love the world and music and characters Blizzard has created. Give me a game with

      • Almost agree with everything 100%.

        > Are MMO developers so insecure they feel they can't rely on the fun of their games rather then gated content and raid gear?
        Shhh! You're not supposed to let the MMO dirty design secrets out that MMOs are just "all about acquiring virtual power via fake items and let men* play virtual doll house! " ;-)

        Ask any player who has more then 1,000 hrs of L4D gameplay why they keep (kept) playing? ;-)

        * Yes a lot of women play MMOs.

        > I have said it before but MMOs need to kill

      • The MUD that I played for years in college had a system where you could "re-mort" and level again. You had to be at max level and complete a series of fairly difficult fights and challenges. If you succeeded, your character returned to level 1. You essentially rerolled at that point and started from scratch, except with a new ability available only to those who remorted. You could do this multiple times, with a new unique spell or ability each time.

        This MUD also had death traps that would claim all of y

        • by mlts (1038732) *

          I used to help run a Diku based MUD (CircleMUD OLC, Merc/Envy as the main engine) which did the remort thing as well. You have to be the top level (which was 30 back then [1].) Then you remorted to another class. You ended up level 1, but you had some abilities:

          1: You had all your talents and practices.

          2: You could use any weapons/armor -- no level restrictions.

          3: You had your HP.

          4: You gained an "emblem" which allowed you into areas where others who were not remorted couldn't enter, and the areas ha

      • by MtHuurne (602934)

        So, get rid of it. Create a game with a tutorial area, a mid level and an endgame that kills you. Then you restart the game, skip the tutorial and try a different path.

        You can end a character without killing it: in our pen and paper role playing group we've had several characters that retired from the adventuring life. It can be an individual goal that has been achieved (avenged my brother's death) or a group goal (defeated the big evil), but at some point it just makes more sense for a character to settle down than to continue as an adventurer.

        It could even be done on a world scale: if all players together defeat the big evil or if one faction defeats the other, the serv

      • I think that MMOs need to look at characters that age, and can have descendents. Create a heritage for your kids, pass on items, establish a family history, etc.

        Also to survive, gameplay needs to be emergent. The things you can do in game should give rise to the fun you can have by letting you be inventive, letting you interact with other players and make changes to the world.

        I have recently started playing the SWGEMU (www.swgemu.com). I am in the process of being elected to be the mayor of a player city, I

    • Just because the quests are there does not mean they are required. Then again this is like any other feature of an addictive MMO, players feel cheated if they don't.

      Far too many people are convinced they would be part of the elite if they only just... and then did ..... and they had ....

      So yeah there are a bazillion quests, but guess what. Given Blizzard's track record your going to have two years before the next expansion and honestly, do you need every grade of shiny purple items, items that usually ar

    • by NotBorg (829820)

      It's worse still if you play as a tank or healer. DPS players can at least blitz through individual enemies quite quickly. As a tank or healer, the health pools for enemies take so long to chip down that the daily quest grind can actually take hours. Plus the daily quests are tied into the valor point system, so unless you are a hardcore raider, you're more or less tied into continuing with daily quest grinds even after you max out your reputation. JOY!

      Two things. 1. Blizzard has made it easier than ever t

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Are we sure the OP even plays? Tanks having to chip away at mobs HP? Clearly he's never seen a pally, monk, or warrior tank.

    • by js3 (319268)

      The previous expansion had a limit. People complained they had nothing to do after doing the first 25. So they whined, then blizzard made it unlimited and they whined some more.

      • by NotBorg (829820)

        They whined about not having the option to do more. The trouble now is that people feel like it's mandatory to do more than before. So they switched from not having the option of how many quests you do to not having the option of how many quests you do. People don't like feeling that they absolutely have to do X amount of quests a day if they want to stay relevant. Esp on a week day. People like the option to do more on their days off but that doesn't mean they want to always do more in their after-wor

    • by ShakaUVM (157947)

      Oh, lord. Dailies. Hated those damn things.

      Thank you for inoculating me against any desire to buy Pandaren. =)

    • by Anguirel (58085)

      They can't claim that it's fun or enjoyable. They can't claim that it's interesting.

      They can and do. Regularly. What they won't do is claim they're fun, enjoyable, and interesting for everyone. They understand a lot of people don't like all aspects of the game. They equally can't claim that raids are fun and enjoyable and interesting for everyone. Or PvP. Or Exploration. Or Dungeons. Point to any single aspect of the game, and there's probably someone that plays WoW that doesn't like that part, and never does anything with it. Even basic combat [battle.net]. I've enjoyed the variety of dailie

    • by bidule (173941)

      I suspect Blizzard are desperate for ways of getting WoW development costs down so they can focus on other things.

      And it shows: http://www.wowhead.com/quest=31254 [wowhead.com]... Dire straights indeed.

      I understand being lax in casual conversation, but not when millions will pay to read you. I never ever saw this kind of crap in the previous expansions and I've seen half a dozen in MoP.

  • OK, we've been beating these dead horses for more than a decade. At this point I'm not even sure who HASN'T been bored by these over-expanded, over-merchandised universes.

    • So go play some Achron, Splunkey, DwarfFortress, X-Com, Slash'em, Dungeon Crawl, Braid, Cortex Command, FTL, Aquaria, Minecraft, Cave Story, Defcon, SpaceChem, or whatever floats your boat. No one is stopping you. But if people enjoy the classics, don't hold that against them.

      Don't get me wrong, I understand where you're coming from. I'm kind of a hipster when it comes to Pen&paper RPGs. I enjoy inner-party conflict, sleeper agents, plot twists, revolutionary tactics, and story-based motivators. And
  • shouldn't this slashvertisement appear around september 25 or so ?
    • Funny thing about reviewing MMOs. You really need to play it for a while to get a good grasp of what the game has to offer.

    • Not really. And here's why:

      We're just a little over a month before Christmas, a MAJOR point in times when people buy stuff. Even people who couldn't be bothered buying something for September, are likely to buy stuff for Christmas. Either for themselves or for someone else.

      So I'd say expect to see more of this kind of advertising over the next month. Or actually more accurately: PR firms and departments generating buzz. In fact expect it to ramp up over the next month.

  • by crazyjj (2598719) * on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @11:03AM (#41968303)

    I'm not a big WoW fan, but I have to ask, was this whole "Kung Fu Panda" thing supposed to be a joke in a Blizzard meeting that somehow made it past the joke stage, or something? Because that seems like a REALLY silly addition to me in a game whose players ostensibly take very seriously. A mean, little bits of humor are one thing, but I wouldn't add a little blue race to the Halo universe called the "Smurfias."

    • by nomadic (141991)
      Thank you! I have been wondering the same thing; I don't play WoW so I could be wrong but I thought its whole aesthetic sense was just stolen from Warhammer, and anthropomorphic pandas seem tremendously silly for a dark fantasy theme.
      • Pandarians themselves are fine, and fit into the Warcraft universe pretty well. However, basing an entire exansion on them was pretty stupid.
      • by xhrit (915936)
        Warhammer 40k is far more dark then normal Warhammer Fantasy, and 40k has a race called the Jokaero; a race of hyper advanced psychic orange-furred apes. Also, dwarf space bikers, called 'Squats'.
      • It really feels like they took a vanity pet (there was a panda pet) and used it for the basis of an entire expansion. Wait until they base an expansion on cat and dog pets.

        I stopped playing but I agree that it seems like the whole atmosphere of the game has been shot to hell.

    • by Nidi62 (1525137) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @11:13AM (#41968443)

      was this whole "Kung Fu Panda" thing supposed to be a joke in a Blizzard meeting that somehow made it past the joke stage, or something?

      Basically, yes. The Pandaren were added in (I beleive) WC3 as something of a joke/just to have a little fun (think Cow Level in Diablo II). However, they actually became rather popular within the fan base. The fact that they were added into WoW, though, tells me that Blizzard was running out of ideas (and players), and threw in the pandas as kind of a finger in the dike scenario, and to try and lure back players that had left. However, as a poster above noted, its new content, but same old carrot on a stick grinding gameplay, which is what drove many people away in the first place. It really isn;t enough to bring people back, myself included.

      • I think the Pandas aren't as bad as some people made them out to be. It also adds some asian based cultural references to the game which makes the MMO appear more global in nature.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Its actually part of the lore and is not a joke. Kungfu panda came out years after blizzard bought the rights for pandaria.

    • >> "Kung Fu Panda" thing supposed to be a joke in a Blizzard? .. game whose players ostensibly take very seriously.

      The two things I loved most about WarCraft is that it never took itself seriously ("you never touch the other elves that way") and that it happily tossed backstory and convention aside to stage battles ("OK, so here's an orc vs. orc battle"). The beer-breathing panda in WarCraft III was...well, kind of par for the course, so here you go.

      Please don't tell me anyone's taking the World of

    • Well... Sorta (Score:4, Informative)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @12:02PM (#41969245)

      It -is- a joke, Blizzard's joke in fact. Back in the early days of WoW they did an April Fools joke, saying that you'd be able to order food from Panderan Express (a play on the real company Panda Express) in game with the /panda command. More info: http://www.wowwiki.com/Pandaren_Xpress [wowwiki.com].

      It was a joke at the expense of Sony, who really had implemented a /pizza command in Everquest 2 that would call up Pizza Hut's web page so you could order pizza.

      However apparently Blizzard is completely fucking out of ideas, and forgot it was a joke, and so now kung-fu pandas are part of WoW.

      • by Omestes (471991)

        Actually the Pandarens are older than that, they were in Warcraft 3's expansion (as mercenaries, and silly flavor). They actually were first brought up, as a joke, in 2002 before the actual release of Warcraft 3 (much less Kung-Fu Panda). They've been a running gag for a very long time, though originally they were more "Japanese-style" samurai types, and not more "Chinese-style" monk types.

        This doesn't make them any less stupid as a basis for an expansion, though. It does feel like they were really gras

      • by Anguirel (58085)

        It was a joke at first, sure, but a popular one, and much earlier than the Pandaren Express one. If you want the original joke, it was this: http://classic.battle.net/war3/pandaren/ [battle.net]

        And then... they actually did add the Pandaren to Warcraft 3 - The Frozen Throne, just not as a full race. The bonus campaign "The Founding of Durotar" includes the Brewmaster Hero unit Chen Stormstout (one of the major NPCs in MoP). Earlier, you may have seen a quest in the Barrens for Chen's Empty Keg (a reference to this).

    • by Guru80 (1579277)
      WoW has every popular pop culture reference (as well as some so dated you probably wouldn't even understand what it is if you just started playing) out there tucked into every crook and cranny. How ANYONE can take the game serious is beyond me.
    • by BriggsBU (1138021)
      The Pandarans were actually in WoW as early as Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne. (Note: This far predates "Kung Fu Panda")

      So, no, it's something that was referenced years ago and that they finally expounded upon within WoW.

    • by twocows (1216842)
      Shit, modded this wrong. Reverting.
    • by Anguirel (58085) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @02:13PM (#41971591)

      It was a joke at first, sure, but a popular one, and made a long time ago for Warcraft 3: http://classic.battle.net/war3/pandaren/ [battle.net]

      And then, despite that being a joke, they actually did add the Pandaren to Warcraft 3 - The Frozen Throne, just not as a full race. The bonus campaign "The Founding of Durotar" includes the Brewmaster Hero unit Chen Stormstout (one of the major NPCs in MoP). Earlier, you may have seen a quest in the Barrens for Chen's Empty Keg (a reference to this). They've hinted at adding in the Pandaren race for years (and nearly did so for Burning Crusade), and have included them in other elements of the game, such as the Pen&Paper RPG books and the Trading Card Game.

      Point being... They've been in the lore for Warcraft long before there was a World of Warcraft. Their inclusion was neither unexpected by those that had been following the game, nor even a major break in lore (like, for example, the Draenei were). Death Knights as playable characters make less sense than Pandaren in the game, and they seemed to be accepted just fine. The Pandas will be accepted just as well by anyone that enjoys the game in general.

  • by Baloroth (2370816) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @11:12AM (#41968437)

    Just wanted to say thanks to Slashdot for adding the transcript, some of us can't watch the videos, and it's nice to have an alternative.

    Now, down to the meat:

    They say they want players to interact more with the story, but this move surprises me. Now, if you don’t want to log in and do a specified amount of repetitive content every day, you don’t progress at all.

    Why would this surprise you? The entire point of an MMO like WoW is to get you to log in as often as possible, ideally every day, for some period of time. It's not even important to Blizzard what you do, really, just that you log in and do something. That drives up the server count, and ensures you are playing continuously, rather than brief spurts now and again. It's part of the MMO grind system. Blizzard likes WoW to feel full, even if it is just people repeating the same action over and over again. Same reason for this:

    Really, it’s part of a larger problem, one endemic to the MMORPG industry in general, which is that developers still require excessive amounts of content repetition if you want to use multiple characters.

    That isn't a problem from the developers point of view, thats a feature. Literally anything that gets people to spend more time in the game, and more importantly to spread out their enjoyment over a longer period of time (rather than getting a large enjoyment at once), is a fantastic thing from their point of view. It's basic addiction 101: give people small rewards over a long time with the promise of potential future rewards, rather than giving them a large reward all at once for relatively little effort. Keeps them addicted. You see the exact same methodology employed by Zynga and in tons of F2P and MMO type games. That's why they do that sort of thing, and it won't change so long as they keep charging (and people keep paying) a monthly fee. It's also why (from what I've heard) Guild Wars doesn't do that: because there isn't a monthly fee, they aren't trying to get you to grind as much as possible every day, they can give you the end rewards all at once.

    Finally:

    They've further refined their “phasing” tech, which allows two different players standing in the same spot to see different things. Quest givers and objectives were phased to a greater degree this time around, and sometimes only visible to each user individually. This effectively reduced wait times.

    Nice to see Blizzard implementing only the latest MMO techniques... that were Lord of the Rings Online (only an example, others may have done it earlier) featured 5 years ago.

  • I had a guild and we did raids. We weren't the best but we tried and sometimes got lucky and succeeded purely through determination. But Cataclysm changed that. People with years of experience and WotLK elite gear were like babies in a minefield. Cataclysm was no longer for casual gamers, it was for elitists only. The twitchers and the number counters. I did ok, but it alienated a lot of people. People I liked to play with. So what's the point of doing dailies alone all the time? I want to go with my guildi
  • Too many dailies (Score:4, Insightful)

    by someones1 (1580023) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @11:45AM (#41968933)

    As the current top comment states, there's wayyy too many dailies. Let's see if I can remember them all... Klaxxi, Tillers (which have a half-dozen individuals with their own rep meters mostly independent of the main faction -- so when you get exalted with Tillers, you might barely be a bubble up on half the members!), Golden Lotus (which you must grind to then open up more grinding with Shado-Pan and August Celestials), the Lorewalkers, the Anglers, and the Order of the Cloud Serpent. For some of them, the set of dailies can take up to an hour to do (I'm looking at you, Klaxxi, with your stupid 40-kills and wing pieces).

    And they're boring as hell. But it seems near impossible to really advance without getting just about all the reps up to exalted. I hate doing it on my main character, more than ever before in previous expansions. Now I can't imagine going back through this on my alt. This review brings up an excellent point -- it's time to make rep apply across all of your characters of the same faction. Account-wide pets and mounts was a good start, but now it's time to do the next logical thing and give us account-wide rep.

    • by kdogg73 (771674)
      If it's too easy, you get bored. If it's too hard, you get bored. If it's too repetitive, you get bored. If the dailies aren't each revolutionary, you get bored. I hate dailies, but let the reward justify the hard effort? Kinda like life, or are we all expecting the silver spoon. I love this expac. And I hope it takes me a while to get through it all. :) BTW: I hear if you reach Revered/Exalted on your main, your alts will gain rep twice as fast... starting in patch 5.1? But that's what I've heard.
  • by ip_freely_2000 (577249) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @11:49AM (#41969001)
    and i completely agree with comments about the future of the game. While I've had fun running two toons to 90, the grind for my other toons may not happen at all. I'm tired of it. Blizzard needs to make XP and rep for alts, once you've run through content once or twice, greatly accelerated. Then I'd have more fun with the end game content.
    • Blizzard needs to make XP and rep for alts, once you've run through content once or twice, greatly accelerated.

      Isn't that what heirlooms are for? You max a char, buy heirlooms, and then power level alts with them.

  • As much as I'd love to spend every one of my 15 mod points furiously thrashing this whole thread, I think a much better justice will be done by first asking:

    1. Really? Now you are going to post a review on a game that has been out for almost a month? Nevermind that the beta was well published and visited by many who got to buy their way in. Nevermind that WoW at this point has almost more websites devoted to it than cats. Nevermind that the game itself is PTR testing the next major patch. Now, now /.

  • by billtom (126004) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @01:08PM (#41970427)

    My review of Mists comes down to dividing players into four groups:

    1. You are an active WoW player.

    Well, you don't need a review of Mists because you most likely already bought it.

    2. You are a former WoW player, and you're kind of thinking that you'd like to come back to the game.

    Then please do come back. Blizzard did a pretty good job with this expansion. Lost of the rough edges have been smoothed. There's some good content. Fun to be had.

    Will you stay with the game for months? I don't know. But you'll be playing at that point, so you can make up your own mind.

    3. You're a former WoW player but you're still pretty down on the game.

    If the very thought of being told to "kill 10 panda-moose" makes you sick to your stomach, then for god's sake, don't come back. While Blizzard is on their game for this expansion, it's still basically the same game you left and the things that made you leave are mostly still going to be there.

    4. You've never played WoW.

    Well, my advice for all multiplayer games (MMO's, FPS's, etc, etc) is to play whatever your friends are playing (real-life or online friends).

    Online multi-player games are infinitely more fun when you play with your friends. So if your friends are playing WoW, play WoW; if your friends are playing Team Fortress, play that; if your friends are playing Hello Kitty Online... well, make new friends.

    • by Jintsui (2759005) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @01:30PM (#41970841)
      I happily quit WOW in February after almost seven years of playing. So I can tell you that I know something about the game. I've played all expansions through Cataclysm and I can tell you for fact, each expansion was worse the the previous one. Burning Crusade was an incredible expansion. Everything went downhill from there. MOP is sickening to almost all die hard players that played from vanilla on. Its clearly apparent that Blizzard has taken the carebear route to gaming. Instead of putting out quality content for both hard-core and casual players, they are appeasing the casual playerbase. Kung fu pandas? Seriously? I could understand a panda like race, that are similar to pandas, yet with a more ferocious aspect. Thin muscular race, with claws and fangs, sort of like Worgen but still different when compared. That is what they SHOULD have done. But no, they went with the Kung fu panda to attract the kiddies. Pathetic really..
      • by billtom (126004)

        Great, you're in category 3. And according to my review system, you should not come back to WoW.

        I don't understand why you used a reply to my post as the place to put your general rant about the direction of WoW. I wasn't defending the game in general.

  • by jeff13 (255285) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @02:46PM (#41972149) Homepage

    Is the server up yet? *sigh*, I hate Tuesday maintenance.

  • Sorry, left WoW a while ago and am really enjoying Guild Wars 2. GW2 isn't perfect by any means, but it looks like they did a lot of thinking about WoW's (and other MMO's) plusses and minuses and they kept most of the plusses and rethought/fixed the minuses. Not sure why I'd step back to a game like WoW that was fundamentally flawed in so many ways.

  • By producing these videos, you've actually given me several years of life by actually reminding me how boring and repetitive WoW really was and why I refuse to waste any money on it.

    I actually spent yesterday downloading the entire client (all 20Gigs of it). I was going to revisit to see how things had developed. But I now know that WoW is a waste of lifespan. I think I'd rather do something useful with my free time, like learn a new language, improve my memorization skills, train for a professional cert

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