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World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria Review (Page 2)

Updated Mon, Oct 01, 2012 by Messiah

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Multiplayer

60Below Average

This is one area where World of Warcraft keeps separating itself from the genre that it apparently belongs to, and not in a good way. This separation started to occur way back in Burning Crusade and continued to escalate as each expansion released. The game keeps becoming more solo-based rather than MMOG-based. That would be fine if the game was marketed as an RPG and meant for solo gameplay, but it isn’t. As a massively multi-player game, it shouldn’t be experienced solo 80% of the time.

The obvious nature of the game as a solo game is apparent as soon as you start questing through the new content. While the quests and story line are really well done, and I give Blizzard major credit for their storytelling and quest lines, it is all focused on you as an individual. Through all of the major storylines and cut scenes you are treated as if you are the lone hero helping your cause, there is no mention of the millions of others out there. There are no group quests, no requirements to interact with other players, and you can essentially ignore everyone else from level 1 through level 90 if you choose to.

Blizzard even went so far as to ensure any creature that is considered a boss or elite that is involved in quests grants the kill or item drop required to everyone that participated in the kill, regardless of them being in a group or who tagged the creature. While this certainly helps players get through quests, by not having to camp specific creatures in the game, it takes away one more opportunity to group with other players.

Next up, there is a brand new group-based type of content called scenarios. You would think that being group-based would mean actual group play was required, right? Wrong. While I had high hopes for scenarios, they are essentially 3 random players thrown together to complete a few sequential quests to get some rewards. There is almost no cooperation or teamwork required to be able to complete scenarios and everyone can pretty much do what they want. While I can see what Blizzard was aiming for, I really believe that by not forcing role requirements the system falls flat of its potential, especially its potential as a way to group players together.

Another negative multiplayer issue is how the queue system has taken over everything. While I personally love the queue for being able to find quick groups whenever I have a few minutes, it is a horrible system for making any connection with players. Let me put on my grumpy old man mask for a minute and reminisce: In the old days, players actually had to know each other to group. They had to be polite, they had to be on the same server, they had to know how to get to an instance. These days, even if you wanted to find a group to go to an instance, most players wouldn’t know how to get there since they have never walked in the front door, they are too used to being ported there. Unless you’re in a guild, the odds of finding a group of players to get together with, talk with, and run a few dungeons with is pretty much zero. That is a real shame, as many friendships and guilds started through running instances together in the old days.

While the multiplayer content (and there is a lot of it) is great, the game seems to push you to play solo right up until the point you need to do heroics, raid, or PVP at the level cap. That strikes me as wrong for a game that is promoted as an MMOG. It is also a shame since the multiplayer content that Blizzard produces is some of the best out there.

Value

50Poor

This is another area that no one can really fault Blizzard on. They provide a lot of value for your gaming dollar, at least for the initial purchase price. More on this later. The overall look of the expansion is amazing, as is the music, sound, and storytelling. The expansion is polished and refined, and provides as much as possible as neatly as possible. There is a whole lot of content packed into this expansion, with way more quests than you need, a lot of instanced content available, and a lot of great cut scenes and storytelling to help drive the storyline forward.

The thing that prevents this expansion from getting a higher score is the fact that you only have 5 levels to work through before getting to the new level cap. Worse yet, getting those 5 levels can fly by in less than 24 hours of play time (on my server there were many players hitting level 90 within 12 hours), and without visiting all of the zones in the expansion. I would have much preferred the expansion either have 10 levels or that the experience rate was slowed down so that you were required to pretty much complete every quest in the new zones to reach the level cap.

The ability to skip quests or move around to different zones does, however have an upside, which has to do with alts. By being able to get to the level cap without completing everything, Blizzard has made re-playability much higher for your alts. Since you will not have completed all of the quests on your first character, it gives you some options on your second character so that you are not repeating all of the content.

MoP Screenshot

Ok, remember that comment about initial purchase price earlier? The score I would give Mists of Pandaria for value based on the $39 price tag and the content we get for that, which is very good, would probably be a 90 or 95. However, it is important to note that the $39 isn’t the only cost of the game and here is where it gets a little tricky. The issue is that we pay $39 once and then another $15 every month for the next 2 years given Blizzard’s track record for expansions.

That $15 should get us additional content on a continual basis, yet for some reason doesn’t. While we did get some really good raid content in the last expansion through patches and several really cool dungeons, we didn’t get anywhere near our money’s worth in my opinion. After all 2 years at $15 a month is $360 + the $40 for the expansion bringing the total cost to $400 for 2 years.

I don’t mind paying a premium price for good content. For example, I gladly pay the $70 for each Gears of War, Halo, or Drake’s Fortune that comes out and promptly play through it in a day or two and then pack it away. I view the $70 for 10-20 hours of solid entertainment through new content as well worth the $3.50-$7 an hour. The issue with WoW lately is that they’re charging the equivalent of almost 6 premium titles over the course of 2 years, but not providing the same amount of different content. I know we all spend more time in an MMOG trying to get that next piece of gear while running the same raid for the 40th time, but that isn’t new, it’s just replaying the same game.

I feel that for the money we pay on a continual basis we should be either getting the expansions for free, or an expansion every 10-12 months with the same patch content in between. Either way would greatly increase the value of the game.

Considering ongoing costs, and the lack of solid content updates frequently enough to keep players in fresh content, I have to give Mists of Pandaria an overall value score of 50. Remember, based on just the initial cost, it would be at least a 90, and if you are just getting it to play for a month and then putting a hold on your subscription it is an awesome deal for great content. If you plan on keeping your subscription active all the time, realize that World of Warcraft is a very expensive game.

Lasting Appeal

70Okay

The lasting appeal of World of Warcraft in general has already long since been proven. Any game that can stick around and still be relevant almost 8 years after its initial release has some serious staying power. But what about Mists of Pandaria as an expansion?

If this were the first World of Warcraft game and you had all of the level 1-90 content to do, there is no doubt that it would have a 100 rating for staying power. It isn’t though, and most players have already completed 1-85 several times over. That means that MoP’s lasting appeal must be based on its 5 levels of new content and the end game PVP and PVE content that it provides.

Given that Mists of Pandaria does provide a huge amount of new questing and zone content, a lot of new daily quests to do, and many new dungeons, scenarios, and raids, it does have a lot of lasting appeal, at least to me. Don’t forget as well that Blizzard already has several additional raids already in the works for upcoming patches, meaning that there will be even more end game content coming.

However, once you get to the end game, there is still limited content to work with, and after years of the same cycle, many players do not spend the same amount of time in the game as they once did.

So in the end, while it certainly has a lot of lasting appeal (and more than most games), due to the age of the franchise that lasting appeal is fading from what it once was.

Pros and Cons

While some of the sections above may sound either fanboy-ish or cynical-old-man-ish, that’s simply because there are so many either really good or really bad things that come with Mists of Pandaria.

Pros:

  • Once again the collector’s edition is gorgeous. Blizzard does CE versions very well, and this is no exception. Sure it is a few extra bucks, but for that you get a great looking box, a nice art book, a mouse pad, a DVD, a soundtrack CD, and an in game mount and pet.
  • The new Pandaren race and Monk class are both really nice additions to the game. I love the whole panda thing, and have since they were introduced way back in Warcraft as an April fools joke.
  • The Monk class is cool as well since it offers another hybrid class that can tank (my favorite spec). Better yet the tank spec is completely different than any other tank spec, making it a whole lot of fun to play.
  • The overall look and feel of the game, as well as the music, voice, and storytelling aspects. There are so many more cut scenes included that the game feels like I am participating in a movie rather than just playing a game. It also helps that once again Blizzard has nailed the story lines in each zone, and that really pulls me into the game.
  • The new dungeons and raids look stunning and are a whole lot of fun to play. While the dungeons are not as hard as the Cataclysm ones were initially, they do have a lot more going on in them. Blizzard has really started to add more abilities to dungeon bosses since Cataclysm, and that makes them much more interesting to fight against.
  • For once the launch went amazingly well! The game just flowed right into the launch and while there was some congestion at key points in quest chains, there was never a serious holdup. This was probably the best launch yet for a WoW expansion.
  • Cons

    • The leveling in the game is once again way to fast. It is just insane to me that after all this waiting for a game players can power through it in less than a day. Sure there is a lot of end game content, and that is what most players want to get to, but it was still too fast by far.
    • The whole idea of adding Pokemon to the game is more than a little strange to me. While I know the idea is popular with the younger crowd, it seems downright disrespectful to the more serious gamers.
    • While scenarios looked to be an awesome idea, they fall seriously short. They are way to easy and require way to little cooperation to offer any serious lasting enjoyment.
    • The simplified talent system is just way to simplified. While I do agree that it offers more meaningful choice when compared to the old talent system, it does so at the expense of a feel of accomplishment or customization. Getting 1 talent every 15 levels doesn’t feel like you are accomplishing anything or able to customize your character at all. Worst of all, all specializations for each class all have access to the same talents. I can think of only one word to describe that: lame.

      Conclusion

      I know that this is said of every World of Warcraft expansion, but once again it is probably the best expansion to date. While nothing is there that pushes the game beyond what it already was, that is not necessarily a bad thing since World of Warcraft is already the most successful MMOG to date. What Blizzard did was refine their winning formula even more.

      MoP Screenshot

      Sure, I don’t agree with a few of the choices (pet battles and the new talent system as examples), but those choices really are up to Blizzard. What I like in the game, I really like; what I don’t like, I hate. Maybe that is just a sign of a good game, that we can hate parts of it but still find enough to love so that we want to play it for a long time.

      Overall I give Mists of Pandaria two thumbs up and a high score alongside that. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t perfect, it has glaring issues with value for money on an ongoing basis, issues with an old graphics engine, and for me at least the ongoing simplification driving harder core players out of the game. However, it is still the best and biggest MMOG out there, and despite any issues is still a whole lot of fun to play for hours on end.

      It does leave me with two questions though. The first is the overall look of the game leads me to wonder what could Blizzard do with a newer more modern game engine? If Mists of Pandaria looks and feels this good now, what would it be like with a good engine? Secondly, back to the value for money, while I understand that time is required to produce quality, surely Blizzard could bring out content faster than they do, after all it has been almost 2 years since the last expansion. A yearly cycle would surely keep players in the game more consistently.

      Messiah Review at Ten Ton Hammer

      • Game Name: World of WarcraftMists of Pandaria
      • Review Date: October 1st, 2012
      Back to Page 1Metacritic

And to think subscriptions means more content, well 9+ months of DS and nothing else added in says hello. 70-463 exam Actually impressed with Rift and how much they pour out in their much smaller studio. Even then a subscription gives you what? LoL and GW2 70-463 practice test is actually proving that this 70-464 exam micro-transaction model works and the old $15 a month is becoming an outdated model. All it is now is a source of revenue, not entitlement 70-464 practice test for extra content and paying for development costs.

Graphics engine is 8 years old with few 70-459 exam upgrades and wow still looks fresh and fabolous. Every expansion have superb breath taking views. Could be because of trademark "cartoony" 70-459 practice test look that never gets old, as stand for me, does not need any upgrade. All is working completely smooth with all settings on max, not even minimal 70-460 exam lag on my computer. Had pretty a lot of problems with many engines, mainly Aoc, War, TSW,. 70-460 practice test Many. No problems with wow, Rift and Gw2.

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I'm playing WOW from months now, but i bought it only few days ago. I was waiting for it to has lower prices. And finally - i bought it for €19 at http://www.go2arena.com/ . I don't regret it at all. There is so many possibilities in Pandaria!

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"While the quests and story line are really well done, and I give Blizzard major credit for their storytelling and quest lines, it is all focused on you as an individual."

Has this guy even played WoW before? The quests have always been about YOU saving the world. They have seldom referred to the 10 million collective of other heroes. You're saying that it's a bad thing that it makes the player feel involved in the story? You can still do all these quests with friends, nothing has changed.

"The thing that prevents this expansion from getting a higher score is the fact that you only have 5 levels to work through before getting to the new level cap. Worse yet, getting those 5 levels can fly by in less than 24 hours of play time"

So you're making this judgement on the number of levels, and not the content?
Just an FYI, players have been reaching the level cap within 24-48 hours of an expansions release since The Burning Crusade. There are 5 less levels but the EXP required is probably substantially higher than your standard 60-65 or 75-80.

You also state that you level up quickly without seeing all the content, so whose fault is that? Go back and enjoy the game instead of rushing through it to write your bias review.

How can you criticize "value for money on an ongoing basis" on an expansion that just came out? I know Cataclysm was sparse in the new content department, but Patch 5.1 has already been announced as coming soon to the PTR. It just seems like an unfair prejudice rather than a valid criticism that has any place in a serious "review." Also, I'm a 29 year old "serious gamer" and I quite enjoy the Pet Battle System. Just putting that out there.

Wow graphics are great, that cartoony look make them evergreen. Simple as that. No need to change anything unles for some small tweaks. Besides working on any computer.

B-O-R-I-N-G-G-G-G!!!!

A game geared for pre-school kids with Disney cartoons which also has been altered to the point, one finger is all you need to play the game. It's been completely watered-down.

According to WoW's constant inflated figures, they currently have about 10 milliion subs but all they've sold is over 2 million of this new content. Let's see...2 million into 10 million.

Seems to me there's about 8 million smarter people in WoW. They themselves are not too smart to begin with since they still pay for this crap of a game. But at least they're a bit smarter then the 2 million who paid for this new garbage.

Obviously you do not have a clue and have never really played wow. At very start did not loke to much cartoony graphics, but after short time have discovered they are incredibly well done and fun. And big bonus, they will never be outdated. Btw, I'm 50.
About your one button only shows maybe you never even watched some video of wow. You just hate wow. Because main reason so many love wow is complexity and need for at least 2 full toolbars where nearly every button have some use at some time. Ok, there are some builds that do not require really so many, i.e. fire mage build or rogue, but still need decent combination of speels.

As far as the Multiplayer aspect goes seeing other people questing is what I cherish more than having to group willingly or blindly with them. I really like the fact that I can go complete nearly every quest in the game solo if I choose. If you do have trouble you can grab a guildy or a local in the area. I would like to see public events like they have in Warhammer. Doing what GW2 would be going to far but something that gets tossed in every once in awhile that is dynamic to a extent would be fun and a welcomed addition.

Not sure why comment disappeared ... will try in short.

Graphics engine is 8 years old with few upgrades and wow still looks fresh and fabolous. Every expansion have superb breath taking views. Could be because of trademark "cartoony" look that never gets old, as stand for me, does not need any upgrade. All is working completely smooth with all settings on max, not even minimal lag on my computer. Had pretty a lot of problems with many engines, mainly Aoc, War, TSW, ... Many. No problems with wow, Rift and Gw2.

Sub model will (hopefully) never die. Would be tragedy. Trash games however I agree could never ever even live on sub model. I.e. gw1, Aion, Rappelz, ... I just hope so called f2p plague never gets to wow, Rift, Swtor. GW2 is here first exception of great game on P2P model. Exception.

You can comment negatively about wow as much as you wish, is still no. 1 and will stay there for long. I agree on drop on subs, but there are many more games out there today so I guess this is also completely natural.

Many people just have this strange satisfaction when something goes wrong, instead of simply enjoy.

Anyway ... many thing I do not like in changes to MOP (or Cata even more for this matter).
I personally do not care even minimally about "8 years old engine". It is GREAT and in this form could stay for many many more years. That "cartoony" style is preventing completely wow graphics to become old or outdated.

About subs dead ... yes, for very low quality games only. For premium quality games they will exists imo for ever. You can not run quality restaurant feeding random visitors from streets for free for ever. There is ALWAYS some price to pay.

Only surprising exception in positive sense over all this years I have been able to find is GW2.

I agree with most of the review up until the multiplayer score. I haven't played an MMO that required grouping to advance to max level since EQ1. While I agree that queues have taken a lot of the social scene out of servers, You still find guild members grouping up and joining the queue and no longer required to find that last person to run a heroic. I do miss the skill required to be a top level performer, the game does still require coordination and teamwork to succeed in heroic mode raids and is available for those that want it.

I do agree fully that subscriptions are dying out and that Blizzard should be looking at alternatives similar to what Sony has done with EQ2 and other games. Though I really don't see Blizzard moving to this model until its required to stay profitable. Currently their subscription base is so large it would make no sense to move to a f2p model at this time.

Overall I think MoP will only help to extend Blizzards success. My guild went from 1-2 players on at a time to 40+. Even if this only lasts for 6 months it will still add revenue to help with continued development of WoW and further development with project Titan.

WoW will continue to be the game that you either love or hate but there will never be a valid argument to it's failure after 8 years of being the big dog out there. One day it will fade into the past but that day is still far away.

If someone would have told me in 2003 that WoW would have the impact that it did and that I'd stop playing EQ I would if thought you were crazy. I honesty can't wait for the game that dethroned WoW because it will have to be the greatest MMO of all time...

If you say GW2,... Been there, done that,.... Playing WoW again.

Surprised WoW is still classified as an MMO. It's more or less like a console game where you join a queue and group up with random people never to see again.

And to think subscriptions means more content, well 9+ months of DS and nothing else added in says hello. Actually impressed with Rift and how much they pour out in their much smaller studio. Even then a subscription gives you what? LoL and GW2 is actually proving that this micro-transaction model works and the old $15 a month is becoming an outdated model. All it is now is a source of revenue, not entitlement for extra content and paying for development costs.

See I disagree about the pet battle thing, that is one thing that makes those of us collectors (211 Pets plus (Unique)) some additional interest after leveling several toons to 85-90 range. Something more to kill time with as Archeology can still be tedious and boring.

The graphics engine is antiquated today, sure, but 8 years is an eternity in the PC world.

I remember the days when WoW's graphics used to put some serious strain on my then-2-year-old Alienware Laptop.

I'm amazzed how good looking MOP graphics is. They do always one step further with same engine. No need to change anything for years and years to come. Maybe more textures or some finess, but nohting that wow would really need.

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