World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria is Blizzards best expansion yet.
Introduction and Questing
World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria is finally unleashed and it’s beyond fantastic. Blizzard welcomes you to the new continent called Pandaria, Pandaria is located in the south end of Azeroth and it’s a new land with beautiful zones and awesome questing. The peaceful Pandaren are now a playable race and Monk is a new tri-spec class that you can play as. The Sha are the main enemies of this expansion along with the Mogu and the insect humanoid Mantids.
Once you begin your adventure to go to Pandaria the Horde and Alliance are introduced to the mysterious continent in a in-game cinematic and story driven manner. Both of the factions begin their main story quest in a zone called “The Jade Forest”, it’s a gorgeous zone with a lot of Asian influence, lush green land, islands, temples and new monsters to kill. Questing in Mists of Pandaria is quite linear however, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s much more story-driven, fully voiced and a lot more immersive than the previous expansions.
You have your usual fetch quests as always and that’s fine. Few quests actually made me get into control of different characters and play through their story, some quests would ask you to follow a certain lore character and listen to what they have to say. Bombing quests have also returned in the expansion, but they’re much better now because you don’t have to fly multiple times until you have bombed all of the targets. As you continue questing you unlock new quest hubs, access to flight paths, introduction to new zones as the story continues and eventually factions to get reputation with at level 90. After I was done questing The Jade Forest, I was introduced to a new zone called “Valley of the Four Winds”. Valley of the Four Winds is a farmland, with a lot of grass, hills and different kinds of beasts roaming the zone. This zone is a lot different from previous zones in World of Warcraft history, simply because of the fact that this is the zone where you can own you’re very own farm with the Tilers faction and I will get into that a bit later.
After your done questing in Valley of the Four Winds you are a given a choice of either going to Krasarang Wilds or Kun-Lai Summit. This is the only part where questing breaks up a bit, however both of the zones are important for character progression. Kun Lai Summit is one of my favorite zones, fantastic flow of the quests and zone design that consists of mountains, snow, fall and even summer in some areas.
Krasarang Wilds is more of a dark jungle type zone with a lot of rivers and ponds. Questing in Krasarang Wilds is fun, a lot of interesting lore and a ton of presence of the Sha. They’re a source of negative energy that has been called into existence by the Horde and Alliance because of their conflicts. Whether you choose too quest in Krasarang Wilds or Kun-Lai Summit the player will still have a ton of fun exploring both areas due to the fact that each zone is filled with rich lore, fun quests and just a pleasure to adventure in.
Once your character has finished the main quest line in Kun-Lai Summit you will be introduced to a new high level zone called “Townlong Steppes”. Townlong Steppes was a ton of fun to quest in because this place felt like a war-zone majority of the time. The Pandaren, Mantid and Yangol are at war with each and a lot of the quests involve you taking them out and trying to win for the Pandaren side. Once your completely finished in this zone you will be introduced to a new faction called the “Shado-Pan” and get a quest to go to Dread Wastes to get to know the Mantid faction that go by the name of “Klaxxi”. Klaxxi are the none-evil Mantid that are having issues with their own Mantid race that has been corrupted by Sha.
Dread Waste is what I’d like to call the “Halloween” zone of Mists of Pandaria. You got your gloominess turned up to 11, a lot of Sha, spiders and the corrupted Mantids themselves. This zone’s main story quest asks you to go and rescue each of the Klaxxi’s Paragons. Every time you free a Klaxxi Paragon you have the right to ask them too buff you with their special abilities. These passive bonuses can only be used in Dread Wastes and they help you out when you’re doing your daily quests for the Klaxxi. Overall my only issues with quests is that some of them were bugged and I wasn’t able to complete them until a week later after the weekly maintenance. I couldn’t attain some of the achievements because of that and was forced to wait.
Reputation Factions and Dailies
One of the biggest additions to World of Warcraft’s new expansion is the vast amount of brand new reputation factions and daily questing. The original 25 daily cap has been completely removed from the game which allows players to finish all of the existent dailies that they can do for that 1 day before the next reset. This lets people choose which factions they want to work on and when in a very flexible manner, you are no longer forced work on one particular faction at a time. If you are a hardcore player and would like too max everything out as soon as possible then you are able to do so as opposed to in the previous expansions. Doing dailies also lets players earn valor points which were previously only exclusive to heroic dungeon runs. Each daily rewards 5 valor points and considering there are over 35+ dailies to do a day there is a ton of Valor Points to go around for everyone per day if you are a quest addict.
However, the dailies are not for everyone and I have met a lot of people during my adventures that expressed their negative feelings towards reputation grinding. Dailies are the only possible way to earn reputation with the 8 new factions in the expansion, each faction rewards valor gear, recipes for professions, exclusive mounts and tabards. If you are trying to achieve everything at the same time, it will take you quite a while considering 2 of the factions actually require you to gain revered with one of the other factions to even unlock their progression. This is a big dream come true for the hardcore grinders (such as myself), but a nightmare for casuals. Sometimes, you just cannot make everyone happy.
There are 8 new reputation factions in Mists of Pandaria: Klaxxi, Golden Lotus, Augustus Celestial, Order of the Cloud Serpent, Tilers, The Anglers and Shado-Pan, The Black Prince and the Lorewalkers. Each faction has it’s own lore, rewards and exclusives bonuses. Hitting exalted with the Order of the Cloud Serpent will grant you access to buy the cloud serpent riding skill which allows you to ride the brand new serpent mounts, it will also reward you with your very own cloud serpent with a color of your choice, the other two you can purchase later if you wish.
Golden Lotus will be your primary reputation faction because this is the faction that you need to hit revered with in order to gain access to start earning reputation with Shado-Pan and August Celestials. Golden Lotus are located in the Vale of Eternal Blossom which is one of the new zones where the main hub cities take place for both the Horde and the Alliance. Shado-Pan reward you with valor gear that you can buy with your hard-earned Valor Points and multiple Shado-PanTiger mounts that look extremely bad-ass. August Celestials reward you with 2 new cloud serpents, profession recipes for enchanting and tailoring and more valor gear that you can choose and pick from. Here is a screenshot of the Alliance hub city in the Vale of Eternal Blossom.
Tilers are one of the most unique reputation factions implemented in the game. This faction allows you to have your own farm where you can plant different type of seeds to grow crops and harvest them for cooking profession. Doing dailies and harvesting crops are the two possible ways to earn reputation with these guys. You can only grow 4 seeds at a time in the beginning but, later down the road as you hit honored, revered and exalted the Tilers give you a bigger farm space and allow you to grow up to 16 seeds once you hit exalted. In Mists of Pandaria the cooking profession has received great attention.
Tilers is where you plant and harvest ingredients to level up your cooking to the new 600 skill cap. Cooking now has 6 different specializations, you can specialize in brew, wok, oven, grilled, steamer and pot, you don’t have to pick one over the other, you can do all of them if you wish but it takes a lot of time, materials and patience. Tilers is an awesome faction, leveling up your cooking is now a fun process as opposed to how it was in the past, plus you can get a goat mounts once you hit exalted and a Tilers tabard.
Overall the new reputations and dailies give you plenty of stuff to do everyday. Some players feel that they’re forced to them everyday while others could care less and just enjoy it. I am totally happy with the current daily system and have no issues with it whatsoever. I enjoyed it everyday and if I wanted to take a break for a day or two I did, there are many different things you can do in World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria other than daily quests. While we’re on the subject of other things I think we should talk about dungeons, heroics, raids, scenarios and pvp.
Dungeons, Raids and Scenarios
Mists of Pandaria is no short of any PvE content, there are plenty of dungeons, three raids with a total of 16 bosses, challenge modes and scenarios. Mists of Pandaria has 6 new dungeons and32 revamped dungeons from vanilla. The 6 new dungeons are Stormstout Brewery, Gate of the Setting Sun, Shado-Pan Monastery, Mogu’shan Palace, Siege of Nuzao Temple, Temple of the Jade Serpent and the three revamped dungeons are Scarlet Halls, Scarlet Monastery and Scholomance. The revamped dungeons are fantastic, great design refreshing and it’s nice to come back to the old world sometimes. However, majority of the new dungeons kind of lack in my opinion because some of the boss fights take too long and some are just plain boring. Mogu’shan Palace, Temple of the Jade Serpent and Siege of Nuzao Temple and Stormstout Brewery are the enjoyable and fun to do, while the others are not as much.
Majority of the fights are your typical tank and spank, there are mechanics involved but the dungeons are so easy that you can ignore them half the time and still get through. Despite how easy the dungeons Blizzard has implemented a new system called Challenge Modes where the dungeons are actually harder than heroic difficulty and you cannot out-gear the content either, because all of your armor and weapons get normalized to a specific item level. This is where the true challenge comes in because you must race against time through the dungeon as fast as possible for bronze, silver and gold medals. If you achieve gold medals you will be awarded with awesome looking transmog sets, achievements and mounts. Thanks to Challenge Modes I can easily forgive Blizzard for their super easy difficulty on normal and heroic dungeons. If you are a true hardcore then Challenge Modes are for you, come and get your reward and prove how good you and your friends are.
Mists of Pandaria launched with 3 different raids and not all of them are open yet. The very first raid Mogu’shan Vaults was open 2 weeks after Mists of Pandaria was released which let players get ready for raiding. Mogu’shan Vaults is a perfectly balanced raid with 6 bosses, well-tuned difficulty level and a excellent progression pace. The bosses are challenging enough, fun and really make you think what’s the best way to handle a certain mechanic with your raid composition and how to go about the fights. There are other two raids in Mists of Pandaria but they have not be open yet because people are still progressing through the first raid, however, I am very impressed with the raiding content so far and expect more great boss fights in the near future. The next raid Heart of Fear opens up on October 30th and the final raid Terrace of the Spring will be unlocked once you have beaten Heart of Fear on normal mode.
Blizzard has added something new to this expansion called Scenarios. Scenarios are instanced mini-dungeons with their own story and this is the first time where your group does not need a tank or a healer as opposed to regular dungeons. Scenarios are designed for no more than three people in a group, you can queue up solo of course to get matched up, queue with your friends or guildies. Scenarios are fun, they’re quick and can be rewarding sometimes. One of my favorite scenarios is called Ungo Ingoo. This scenario puts the adventurers on the shore of Krasarang Wilds where they have to fight of the monkeys and collect brew for the Pandaren.
At the start of this scenario the group talks to to the Pandaren to listen to the story and recieve objectives for the first stage. Scenarios are divided into multiple stages and each stage has a different objective for you to complete. The first stage asked the group to escort the Brewmaster Bo to a certain location fighting alongside him and killing any monkeys that come in the way. It’s very simple to follow objectives in the scenarios because they’re always to the point and simple and there is no confusion going on what you have to do next.
Once we hit the second stage we were asked to collect the stolen brew from the mini-bosses and return them to the Pandaren so he can fill up the cauldron to go to the next stage. The bosses were displayed with a skull marking on the map so it was very easy to find them. One of the group members needed to stay with the Pandaren and protect him from oncoming attacks from the monkeys, while the other two party members go around killing mini-bosses and collect brew. Once the required amount of brew was returned the final stage begun. The final stage you fight against the end boss of this scenario with all of your party members and after that you win.
At the end of a scenario you always get valor points, a bag that may or may not contain gear but always has gold. Scenarios are something completely brand new to World of Warcraft and I really like the simple concept of them. I am really hoping that Blizzard can take them to the next level, because the scenarios have a lot of potential to be something great later down the road.
World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria returns with two world bosses that. Sha of Anger that roams in the Kun-Lai Summit and Salyi’s Warband that spawns every 1-3 days in Valley of the Four Winds. These bosses cause some world PvP due to factions trying to fight for the kill and loot. The mechanics of the fights are really basic, there is nothing special about these encounters at all. However, they’re a lot of fun to do because they drop fantastic loot and world bosses have been missing from World of Warcraft since Burning Crusade. These bosses really bring back the nostalgic feeling of classic World of Warcraft and make the world feel more alive and involved.
Pet Battles and Monks
Pet battle is another new system that is being introduced in World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria and it’s a fun one too. When I first heard about pet battles I wasn’t too keen on the idea or how it would really work out, but once I tried it, I started having a blast. Pet battles is simple but at the same time quite in-depth, there are up to 500 companions to collect in the entire game and majority of the come from taming pets in the wild. Then you have the exclsuive pets that can only be earned during holiday events and by completing certain achievements. You can identify world pets by a green paw over their head, this means you can engage the pet in combat or capture it.
Once the battle begins the interface changes to your pet’s abilities. Every pet in the world has their own unique skills, pets can also level up to gain new abilities, the level cap is 25. For example in the screenshot above I have the Hopling pet that I earned from an achievement in one of the new dungeons in Mists of Pandaria. I managed to level up my Hopling to level 5 and I am going against a level 6 Water Snake. If I manage to beat the enemy pet that’s higher level than me then my pet gain extra difficulty experience bonus. Once you start getting a hang of the system and keep on leveling up, you will eventually unlock three pet tabs. Every player is allowed to have a team of up to three pets, this means that you can swap out to a different pet in a middle of a battle if one of your pets is hurting. This adds a strategic element to pet battles and the experience is very rewarding of you’re a smart combatant and know when to attack, or change pets.
When the enemy pet gets below 25% of their health you can risk the chance of trapping the pet and capturing it. If the trap goes of successful then the enemy pet is added to your collection and this will be your main way being able to collect everything in the game as fast as possible. If the trap is unsuccessful you can try again but you must take in considering that your pet’s health points are getting low. Some pet’s may resurrect themselves and regain a certain of mount of health, other pets may have abilities that heal them overtime as the battle goes on.
The Monk is a new playable class that’s being introduced for the very first time in Mists of Pandaria. The monks have great combat animations, easy to play and fun to master once you get to higher levels. Monks can specialize in Brewmasters, Mistweavers or Windwalkers. Brewmasters are the tanks, Mistweavers are healers and Windwalkers are the damage dealers. One big thing that Blizzard got right this time with a brand new class is that the Monks are very well balanced. Unfortunately I didn’t get to play with a level 90 Monk because it would take quite a while to level one up, however I did manage to level up a Mistweaver to level 17.
Monks mechanics are kind of similar to Rogues but a bit different, everything is based of the Jab skill and the energy consumtion. When you hit an enemy with a Jab you generate a source of energy called chi, but you consume regular energy to use Jab. A single jab generates 2 chi, you can only earn to a total of 4 chi, you consume chi when you use your other abilities such as Tiger Palm that requires 1 chi or Blackout Kick that requires 2. Its a very simple mechanic that’s easy to understand, but the hard part is mastering it for maximum damage output. Generating your regular energy to use Jab and managing your chi properly to use specific abilities at the right time is what going to make a difference between an amazing player, or a bad player. Monks feel very unique, beautiful animated and they can be one of the most 2 important roles in a raid.
Mistweaver Monks gain a new stance called Stance of the Wise Serpent. When you go into Stance of the Wise Serpent your energy bar switches to mana so you can start healing and consume mana, it also gives your healing a huge boost. Stance of the Fierce Tiger brings your Monk back to the usage of Chi and energy that is mostly used for easy questing and leveling. A Brewmaster gains Stance of the Ox that allows him to generate more threat and have damage reduction. Everything about the Monk class is really simple, they’re great to play and I welcome them to World of Warcraft.
Battlegrounds and Conclusion
Mists of Pandaria adds two new battleground to World of Warcraft. Kot’Mogu and Silvershard mines, both are completely unique in their own way. Kot’Mogu is a new style battleground where your team must control four different balls during combat. In each of the four corners are 4 different colored balls, blue, green, orange and purple.
When a player clicks on the ball and captures it he or she does 50% more damage but also takes 50% more damage. If the player holds the ball closer to the middle of the map the more points the team gains. Once a player has been killed with the ball, the balls respawns back at it’s originally location waiting to be picked by another person. Kot’Mogu is an awesome battleground because its fast paced and combat heavy, especially if you go into the fray in the middle of the map. This is one of my favorite battlegrounds now, it looks gorgeous, plays great and is completely unique.
Silvershard Mines is a new battleground that focuses on capturing mine carts and defending them until they get to their final location. Once the carts have reached their destination they respawn and the whole re-capturing and defending cycle begins again. Silvershard Mines is what I would like to call Arathi Basin or Battle for Gilneas on the go. You capture and defend as you go along with the carts, it’s definitely a new twist on capture and defend gameplay. This new addition to capture and defend mechanic requires more team management and communication.
World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria is my favorite expansion in this great franchise of all times. No other expansion had this much content and fun packed into it. There are so many different things to do in Pandaria and even gives you a reason to go back to Azeroth to tame new non-combat pets. Pandaria is an awesome continent, its rich of beautiful waterfalls, mountains, grassland and everything else you can imagine in a fantasy setting. Blizzard is really kicking up the lore in this expansion, a lot of cliffhangers and excitement is bound to be happening as more patches come out and lead to the final raid.
Raid progression feels challenging and well paced, pet battles give you something to do while you wait for a queue to pop for a dungeon. Pet battles can also become an addiction of it’s own that can take days of your life to find every and conquer every single pet possible in the game. Monks are balanced and they can do pretty much every important job in the game. I think Monks are a fantastic addiction to the classes of World of Warcraft. Overall, amazing expansion, keep it up Blizzard!
The game was reviewed on the PC.
Beautiful art style, fantastic gameplay, great raiding content, pvp is awesome, pet battles are a great addition, scenarios are interesting, plenty of content to consume, Monk is fun and balanced
Quests were buggy at release, dailies are not for everyone, heroic dungeons are way too easy
World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria is Blizzards best expansion yet. New Reputation Factions, Dungeons, Raids, Battlegrounds, World Bosses Pet Battles, Monk Class, Pandaren, Scenarios are more than enough to keep you busy for months and years to come until the next expansion.