world of warcraft

Mist of Pandaria Initial Thoughts

My paladin is now at level 90 and I’ve been working on my druid as my next alt in line (mostly because I need an herbalist). My paladin has done the main quest lines and is now rep grinding with various factions while I’ve been working little by little on my alts’ professions.

The leveling process is quite long and arduous. I would say that the average zone can take 4-6 hours easily maybe more. Despite the amount of experience, everything is relative so those numbers really have no meaning at the end of the day outside of a general calculation that factors in the number of quests, mobs and gathering. People already are complaining about the length of time required to level.

Truthfully, I think it’s perhaps slightly more arduous than Cataclysm. Cataclysm would allow you to gain about one level per zone (except for the starting ones). But usually, I would do one level per day on a toon. But it’s hard to say since the way the zone achievements are handled now aren’t by count, but by completing quest lines.

In terms of the questing zones themselves, I felt that only the first two areas were enjoyable. Dread Wastes definitely was a horrible zone. I attempted to finish leveling my paladin to 90 there but I found the quests to be difficult because of the mobs being level 90. So I had to step back and focus on the Townlong Steppes. Quite frankly, towards the end I gave up trying to read every little quest and just plowed the remaining levels to 90. I figured with my other 9 level 85s, I had plenty of time to read each quests down the road.

Right now, I think the mobs are pretty tough. Many have a ridiculous amount of life so you won’t be able to faceroll through them, especially as you’re leveling. Sometimes it can get really frustrating with all the people leveling up. That causes high respawn rates. So quite often I’ve found a ninja spawn right next to me while I’m downing another mob (or two).

The quests themselves are more or less the same. Some are irritating but I don’t think I’ve found any that were as frustrating as a few Cataclysm quests. I do like some of the cinematics though. The best ones by far was the kung fu training sequences. As a fan of old school Shaw Brothers, I couldn’t help but smile as we saw a nod to the training sequences.

While leveling, I’m also occasionally working on my professions. My mining and blacksmithing are already maxed out. This time around the amount of mats have significantly become more profound. So as I gather spare ore with my paladin, I’ve been sending them to my Death Knight and Warrior (who are jewelcrafters and engineers respectively) to work on their professions. Already, I’ve maxed out my JC skill while my engineer will eventually need to level to progress any further.

This expansion is definitely a massive grind. There’s an understated emphasis where Blizzard hints for you to “slow down.” Some say that it’s because they don’t want people to consume content too quickly. However, I feel that’s the wrong approach because of alts as well as those who simply lack the time to spend attempting to max out their characters.

For one thing, the upper content is tied to rep grinding, where the best gear is associated to various factions. So in order to obtain that gear, everyone will be required to do daily quests to unlock venders and additional factions. The dailies are pretty much an advanced form of the Molten Front and there’s no easy way to get around them as tabard rep grinding isn’t allowed in this expansion with these factions.

Also, the amount of Valor Points gained in instances is quite small. Once per day for doing a Heroic, you only get 60 as opposed to the 150 in Cataclysm. You still are capped off at 1000 per week. However, the way one can hit that cap every week is through the combination of running heroics, doing scenarios (which gives a small VP award too), LFR, but most importantly doing your daily quests. I haven’t done a complete calculation, but with the current factions that I have open, I estimate that I can receive around 60 VP from dailies (where each daily provides 5).

You can attempt to do a VP grind via Heroics. However, the reward is pretty insubstantial after your initial one as it’s reduced to 30. Unless you’re gear grinding, running heroics for anything but gear and the daily is pretty much a wasted effort.

The other massive grinding aspect is the way Motes of Harmony are handled. As they are BoP, you pretty much have to grind with each individual toon to receive any. For crafters, Motes of Harmony are pretty much a nightmare. While any mob can drop them in Pandaria, the rates are pretty low. There are some mobs that have a higher drop rate, but those are typically elites so you’ll find it pretty challenging to farm them reliably.

Moving on, I want to talk about my experiences with Heroics. It was said that Heroics would be tuned to Wrath of the Lich King in terms of difficulty. I think that’s not entirely true. It’s definitely a mix between Cataclysm and WOTLK. I think the mechanics are more intriguing than the facerolling mechanics in WOTLK. So that aspect is closer to Cataclysm. However, I think removing the one shot mechanics is probably where Blizzard is attempting to be more forgiving on this end. I did Scarlet Monastery and Temple of the Jade Serpent on Heroic mode. Those weren’t bad but I was with a friend’s guild. However, when I pugged Shado-Pan Monestary, despite making through it, my PUG experience was quite frustrating. Most of that was because the healer was a jackass and the tank had an attitude towards the end. So if the intention was to make the pugging experience better, then I still think it’s something Blizzard needs to work on. Or perhaps just kill the LFG and LFR and promote more CRZ.

Next is scenarios. I tried two outside of the Theramore one. One wasn’t bad but the other (the brewery one) was bad. I think it’s because no one had any idea what to do. I got blamed for not healing some jackass warrior, despite the fact that there were these healing circles that you could use to replenish one’s health. So these two experiences have led me to believe that the pugging experience in general is something that Blizzard needs to work on.

Here’s the thing. PUGs simply have a certain mentality about them. The problem is that you’re queued up. There’s no real complex logic outside of perhaps your class combination and perhaps some timing logic. But the whole LFG, LFR and now scenarios situation are massively problematic because of the sheer randomness of the type of players that group together.

The interface for these things need to be upgraded. You need an advanced tab that functions more or less like a dating service. It needs to survey the players in the type of play style and personality type. The thing is that dungeons can be as easy or as hard as Blizzard wants. But with the way groups are put together, then they’ll never resolve the core issue, which is the social experience. I’m certain that everyone wants to experience a fun game at the end of the day. But you really need the right type of people who want to play together.

Going back to MoP content, one thing that I thought was great was bringing back world bosses. I got into a PuG for the Sha of Anger and it was great. I believe we had around 37-38 people. But I thought that was far more fun than LFG. I think the reason why it’s fun is that you’re basically grouping up with a ton of people, you’re zerging, there’s no thought process, it’s action based and you don’t have to worry about being blamed because of the people requirement.

That kinda reminded me of the end of WOTLK where you had the raid of the week. By that point, most people had outgeared the older WOTLK raids. So the incentive was to give some frost badges and vanity loot. But you just had to get into a group and get through it. When you were done, you gave each other congratulations and would see each other the following week. That’s the structure of gaming that Blizzard should aim for imo.

Besides that, I want to go into pet battles. This probably is one of the best things they’ve done in the game. It’s simple and fun. No real stress where people have to jump around, avoid stupid shit, etc. Just grab your pet and go beat up other things in the wild. I think the real why it’s fun is that it’s simple. But that’s what I think can make a game great. I think when Blizzard adds all these fancy mechanics to fights, they really just are shooting themselves in the foot. All they do is just attempt to appease one group, which is the hardcore players. So the only thing they should focus on for them are the challenge modes. I refuse to do them for the same reason I like the pet battles.

There’s also their version of farmville. I haven’t gone very far into it. I heard it’s tied to the new cooking mechanics. But it felt more like a daily grind than something I could enjoy. But then again there’s a lot in the game to do at the moment so it really isn’t a huge priority for me.

The mechanic that I have enjoyed thus far is Cross Realm Zones. Although I know there’s a lot of complaints and that the phasing issue really screws things up, the main positive that I see is inviting friends from another realm into yours. An example is how my friend’s wife is on a PVP server. She was getting ganked on her realm. So I invited her to my realm and she could quest peacefully. Not to mention I could help her out. The only issue that I’ve found in CRZs is the logic behind invites and where people end up. I think that the realm of the inviter should by the destination. Doesn’t matter about the level, number of people, etc.

That said, one thing that might be interesting in the future are cross realm guild linking. Meaning that it would be interesting (and cool) for guilds in different realms to be able to link together. I think for things like 25 man raids, this could be a huge boon.

Anyway, my main goal now is just gear my paladin up while leveling alts and professions. The grind won’t be fun. However, I am looking forward to the next patch. Not sure if that’ll help but at least the new content sounds promising.