Look Like Panda, Talk Like People…
Man, oh man. Did you see that Heart of the Swarm trailer? Wasn’t that… oh. You don’t want to hear me talk about how Kerrigan is awesome, do you? You want to hear about the fuzzy wuzzies don’t you? Fiiiine.
So like most folks yesterday, I was frantically trying to keep up with the news flowing out of Blizzcon – to the detriment of my job, naturally (WoW > Job, yes?). I had been telling people for weeks that ‘Yes, there will be pandas.’ Now, how those pandas manifested was unsure. You couldn’t just give them to one side. So they’d have to do something wacky with a neutral race or they would be a NPC faction/enemies. Honestly, the idea of a bunch of pandaren kung fu masters snatching up members of the Alliance and Horde and dragging them off into the recesses of the dark wilderness would be pretty cool.
However, I had no doubt in my mind – not a smidge – that the next expansion would be the Mists of Pandaria. My guess from back when the great old one known as the internet unveiled a vision of a copyright being registered was that World of Warcraft was possibly going to start moving away from “Here is your villain, this is the story” and focus more on “Here is this new place, lets see what there is to find here.” I was however, not expecting the continuing advancement of the Alliance and Horde war consuming the globe. It makes sense, but it had never occurred to me to push that.
Otherwise, here’s my two silver (my opinion is worth that much! Don’t laugh!) about the rest of the stuff announced, in a convenient bullet point list!
- Pandaren: They’re big and fuzzy. Here’s hoping the females look good. Can’t be hard. Just copy the Jack Black movie. They did alright with male and female pandas in the second one. The neutrality thing is neat, and I’m curious about the story leading into making the faction choice.
- Monk Class: A new tank/melee healer/melee dps class? Hmm… No auto attack? Uses Light and Dark energy to fuel its attacks? That sounds familiar. HMMM… Honestly, it’s not shocking with the Pandaren being added that this would come too. There’s some neat ideas behind the class, and I’m interested in how a melee healer would work. Also, gnomes can be monks. So that’s pretty awesome in my book.
- Pet Battle System: It’s Pokémon. This is not a bad thing. Pokémon has survived the initial backlash from its surge in popularity and has becoming appealing to a range of people because it is fun to collect and the battle system is fun and requires strategy. This should be a fun addition to the game.
- Challenge Mode: You scale down your gear and time trial dungeons for transmog gear and valor points. Not a bad idea. I foresee lots of complaints about ‘rehashing content’ with this. Could be a fun activity.
- New Heroics and No Normal Dungeons: Yes, apparently there will be no normal dungeons in Mists. Apparently that will be made up with endgame questing and dailies. How exactly you have a ‘heroic version’ of a non-existent normal dungeon is beyond me though. Also there was some news that Heroic Scarlet Monastery is a new lv 80 heroic and Scholo is lv 90. I wonder if that’s a typo honestly. Seems odd to add a Wrath level heroic in.
- PvE Scenarios: A fascinating concept really. Small group events without the need of dedicated roles for VP? I really like the idea. But they can’t be like dungeons. You can’t just have 5-6 of them and then say “done”. Because from what they’re proposing, without a sense of freshness being injected now and then or enough total to avoid excessive repetition, these could more annoying than dungeon grinding.
- Level 90 Cap: Five levels don’t bother me if there’s stuff to DO at the end. If all the above pans out, this won’t be a problem for me.
- More focus on Endgame PvE: They said this about Cata too. It was supposed to be the trade-off for only having 5 levels. In turn we got a couple of daily grinds, 5 new heroics post-launch over the course of at least a year, a couple of amusing but short story quest chains, and 2 new post-launch raids. I’ll be happy if they can deliver, but I’m not holding my breath.
So, I’m sold right? Put me down for that silly 12 month contract? Uh… no. Sorry. As much as my finger twitched over the renew button on my Battle.Net account page, I am still going to let my subscription lapse in late November. Why you ask? When so clearly this is a dream come true for the casual, PvE orientated, semi anti-social, achievement hunter like myself? Because I remember.
I remember Blizzcon of years past. I remember the ideas proposed for Cataclysm. That there was only going to be five levels for more focus on endgame content, that there would alternate progression paths through the Path of the Titans, and all the wonderous potential and fun that Archaeology would bring to the game. Call me jaded and cynical, but Blizzard has earned my interest with all of this but not my trust. I will withhold giving them any money until I see what actually becomes of all this – the stuff that actually makes it in – when it goes live on the servers.
At best, coming back to WoW for a few months has become a definite possibility when I tire of other games. Which is more than it was getting before the announcement.