Friday, 30 March 2012

World Of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria

The upcoming Mists of Pandaria expansion is poised to add a cornucopia of fresh content to WoW, as well as make clever and sensible tweaks to game balance and utility. Pandaria, and its native Pandarens, are markedly distinct from the classic lore and aesthetic of the game, bearing an exotic, colourful oriental presence to the Warcraft experience.

Pandaria is a surreal, mythologic continent where the titular humanoid Panda-like race dwells in cities and villages comprised of Asian-inspired temples and pagodas. Pandarens enjoy a very Zen environment consisting of venerable mountains, lush jungles and grand waterfalls. The Pandarens, like their real-world inspiration, tend to be on the tubby side, and spend an inordinate amount of time eating. The jolly bipeds gain a substantial bonus to the benefits gained from consuming food, and are natural cooks, having a greater than average ability in the Cooking skill.

The Pandarens are not gluttons, oh no, they also have an extensive and profound spiritual culture. They are naturals for the newly introduced Monk class, a lightly armoured warrior proficient in fighting with their bare hands and feet, and performing finishing moves with staves, as well as one handed maces, axes and swords. Quaking palm, the Pandaren-exclusive ability, makes them well-suited to the Monk class (although it will no doubt find use among other classes due to its ability to put enemies to sleep for a few seconds), but all races with the exception of goblins and worgen can also pursue a monastic calling. The Monk class is flexible, able to perform the tank, dps and healer support roles, depending on which of the variegated specializations you choose: brewmaster, mistweaver or windwalker.

So what does the game add to existing players, besides the new Monk class? Pandaria is a five-zone continent, with a central hub that will allow you to access all the facilities (including auction houses) that you expect from a cosmopolitan Azerothian settlement. These areas promise unique dungeons, creatures, quests and exterior raids and events. Expect exotic creatures such as fish-men and giant insects.

Mists of Pandaria offers a PVP and PVE pet battle system, an all-new Pokémon-inspired battle system that sees you competing against other players in turn-based duels. The potential for pets to develop, to accompany you, and to be used by any character on your profile; make it an exciting development.

A huge list of fixes and tweaks to talents, battle rules and class features make the game more balanced, adding interesting options while removing junk talents. Essentially, they want to move away from an experience that pressures players to focus on cookie-cutter builds to be effective, and move towards one where every choice can be compelling.

Pandarens, interestingly, are the only race which is neither alliance or horde aligned. The corpulent fellows are fairly neutral in temperament and take no stance in the omnipresent war between the Alliance and the Horde. That is, until you reach level 10, by which time your Pandaren character will have to throw in his chips with one side.

The Mists of Pandaria beta is now live and full of players, although not all members may be able to get in.
Although the new content is a marked change in tone, Mists of Pandaria offers an intriguing and vivacious new experience brimming with content. It does not force changes on the original game, besides, what appears to be, welcome streamlining and diversification.

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