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So…Pandas. November 14, 2011

Posted by Stormy in Classes, Leveling, Zones.
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Call me fashionably late. Call me smart for waiting until the dust settled on Pandapalooza 2011. Call me a moron for not jumping to cash in on the flurry of panda-monium. Call me a slacker for not taking a few minutes to sit down and hammer out a blogpost when the content was still relevant. Just don’t call me late for dinner.

WARNING: Long, rambly post ahead. Don’t expect much organization or a coherent train of thought…but then again, you never expected that from me anyway, right?

I’m so excited about the actual continent of Pandaria that I could plotz. There is so much that Blizzard can do with an entirely new Asian-themed continent, and from initial reports it looks like they ran with it. While we’ve certainly heard a lot of complaints lately about class balance, raid setups, and other “mechanical” aspects of the game, no one quibbles with Blizzard’s ability to create a beautiful and immersive game universe. It’s what they do best. If you don’t get a little tingly looking at the fjords in Howling Fjord or the imposing facade of Orgrimmar as seen from Razor Hill, you need your head checked. I saw the preview video for the Stormstout Brewery and I was instantly excited for Mists of Pandaria.

One of the biggest failings of Cataclysm, in my ever-so-humble-opinion, was that it lacked the scale and wonder of an actual expansion. We got a few new zones that were just kind of glommed onto existing territory, a new vertigo-inducing water zone that was a much better idea on paper than it was in practice, and the vast wasteland of Deepholm. Once you were done kissing Therazane’s ring there was no reason to go back to Deepholm–and I will never, ever, ever go back to Vashj’ir except under extreme duress–so the world just isn’t any bigger and doesn’t hold any wonder. Once you finished the six new reputation grinds a month into Cata there was really no reason to ever leave Orgrimmar or Stormwind except for raiding or dungeons.

I think Blizzard learned that lesson and is heading in the right direction with Pandaria. There’s an entirely new world to explore, new races and factions to get to know, and an entirely new subsection of WoW lore for us geeks to loregasm over. It’s possible to wander around Outland or Northrend for hours exploring little nooks and crannies and finding new, out-of-the way quests and things to do, and this experience was totally missing from the Cata zones.

As for the Pandaren themselves…meh. I love the idea of a completely new, well-developed faction we currently know very little about, but the screenshots I’ve seen of the Pandaren are far too cutesy. I’ll definitely roll one to see the new starting experience, but if it’s as horrifying as Kezan, count me out. While I’m personally not looking forward to rolling a monk–melee is not my friend–I appreciate that we’re getting an entirely new class to monkey around with, and I hope a whole new crop of monk bloggers joins us here in the Twisted Nether.

I think the biggest wild card in the game is going to be the new talent system. Part of me wants to march into Blizzard HQ and find Ghostcrawler and shake him; “Stop. Dude…just stop. Stop messing around. Stop burning it down and starting over. Just…stop.” Part of me wonders if Blizzard’s idea is an amazing one that’s going to crash and burn not because it’s a bad idea, but because of the community’s inability to let go of the min-maxing, “there is a right spec and a wrong spec” mentality we’re so used to. I think their current philosophy is to basically equal out the damage and/or healing done by a particular spec and then let us use talents to add utility and customize our specs so that no two paladins/priest/druids are the same, but I doubt the WoW community is going to stand for that. We’re so used to theorycrafting and poking around for the “right” spec, and I doubt that mentality’s going to go away. That said…Divine Star and Bear Hug? YES PLEASE.

For now…I tread water. I’m glad this Gnome Clone project came along, and I’m having a total blast with it. Every night this week I’ve logged in to check on things on my home server and I just feel instantly bored and want to go play with my Lillies. I transferred my orphan priest from Moon Guard to Durotan last night and I may actually start a new fleet of Alliance 85s over there (I know, I know). I’ve found that I have a ton of things to learn about how the Alliance works–the boat system in SW completely vexes me–so I’m looking forward to throwing some energy into that. Still, bring on the Pandas, and the sooner the better.

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