So it’s begun again, a new adventure in the world of Azeroth with World of Warcraft’s latest expansion Mists of Pandaria. Although Blizzard has had a rough run with World of Warcraft in the past year or so, Mists is looking to turn things around and from what I can tell, it seems to be working.
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Title: World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Release Date: 9/25/2012[/toggle_box]
The Story - With Deathwing defeated, Azeroth’s heroes were ready to settle down… but it’s never that easy, is it? King Varian Wrynn wants nothing more than to destroy the Horde while Garrosh Hellscream is leading the Horde to battle against the Alliance. Things don’t exactly go to plan though when both the Horde and Alliance come across an island that brings them with a race of people who value tranquility. This expansion introduces us to the island of Pandaria and the Pandaran race (they look like Pandas).
- Pandaria - Probably one of the best looking environments Blizzard has made to date. Blizzard put a focus on Asian lands while still trying to keep it fit in with the rest of Azeroth and they did a good job.
- Monk Class - Blizzard added a new class as usual with this expansion in the form of the Monk. As stated before, the Pandaran value tranquility, so the addition of the Monk was an obvious choice for the developers. While people expected it to be a new Hero Class, Blizzard wanted players to experience Pandaria from the ground up, and Hero Classes tend to skip a lot of content because you typically start at a higher level. The Monk is a multi-purpose class with a tank, DPS, and healing roles. While the monk is probably best played on the Pandaran for lore purposes, it has been opened up to all races except the Goblin and Worgen.
- Challenge Modes and Scenarios - One of the new gameplay elements Blizzard brought to the table to add alongside instances. Challenge modes are instances that you complete as fast as possible for rewards. These instances will normalize the player’s gear so that everyone who makes the run will be on equal footing. Scenarios are roughly the same thing except it is more in the form of a 3 person group that tries to complete a “mission” of sorts.
- Pet Battles - Like Pokemon? Then this is for you! No really, this is essentially Pokemon for WoW. You level up your mini-pets and run around to fight, defeat, and capture other creatures to fight with. I definitely give this a plus because it is a fun system and it works as intended. It also gives players something to do in their downtime and it feeds the collectors out there to catch them all.
- Leveling - Nobody really likes to level, this is a given, it takes time and it is rather repetitive. While this sounds like a negative, there is a positive to it and that is the sheer fact Blizzard didn’t make players go a whole 10 levels again but rather another 5.
- The Rise of Digital - This new addition adds the first expansion to push full on digital sales for day one. Blizzard allows users to upgrade to the regular or digital deluxe versions at the slight tip of the hat and it is easier than ever. The downside is that if you have disc versions of every expansion, you will likely want a disc version here too, so there comes the sacrifice of convenience for consistency.
- Talent System - While many new players will love the new Talent System, how many new players are out there? The talent system has been streamlined to be very easy with little options and this probably isn’t the best way to go about things. Players tend to like having that customization because they can make it better fit their play-style but as it is, everybody is more of the same. It is nice to not have to debate but honestly, that’s one of the best aspects of the old system.
- Same Old, Same Old - All in all, even with the new additions and the changes, WoW is still the same and it has gotten old. It feels repetitive and it doesn’t feel fresh anymore. I think many critics are right when they say WoW’s worst enemy is itself. People are sick of paying $15 per month and the game is just too old. I think Blizzard should learn from their drop in numbers that re-calibrating the subscription plans would be a smart move.
- Visuals - While WoW used to really work well with its visuals, I feel that is has finally become a little too outdated. With repetitive gameplay, the visuals are starting to die out with the game. Visuals aren’t everything, but with one or two little engine changes over the years, the visuals aren’t going to hold up.
Well, Mists of Pandaria does hold up as a whole and is a welcome addition despite a few flaws. But these flaws aren’t so much on Blizzard as they are on the game just becoming old. It has been around for 7 whole years and as it stands, Blizzard wants at least another 2 out of it, if not more. Can this become a 10 year MMO? Who knows. While there is no Blizzcon this year, expect one next year with the new MMO announcement (we hope) as well as the final WoW expansion.
[box_light]We believe that the score is the least important part of a review. It’s tough trying to assign a numerical value to an experience. Furthermore, is there really a difference between a 7.5 and an 8? Gamers place too much importance on arbitrary numbers. This is why our scores are hidden by default. Only look at them if you absolutely need a number between 1-10 to see if a game is worth your time. You can read our review guidelines here. A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.[/box_light]
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Replay Value: 8
8/10 ‘Great’ – Many strive for greatness, and fail. Not this game, it looked greatness in the eye and lived to tell about it. We recommend purchasing it.[/toggle_box]