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Mists of Pandaria Beta - Mind Changer or Major Flop?

Updated Wed, Apr 25, 2012 by Mem

With hate running rampant for the newest WoW expansion, can a simple trip into the beta help change the minds of even the worst detractors?

The Pandaren, cute and fuzzy pandas destined to become the next playable race in World of Warcraft, and hated more than Deathwing himself. Or at least that is the impression one would get from reading various forums. The Pandaren have been part of WoW since time untold. Popping up here and there throughout the game, players have mostly expressed fond feelings for this cute and cuddly, yet mysterious race of panda people. That is, until the Pandren were announced as the new playable race. That’s when the panda poo really hit the fan. However, with more and more of these players jumping in and experiencing the beta for themselves, could these negative opinions change?

Hatred of the Pandaren

I, for one, was never totally against the idea of the Pandaren. I had always enjoyed the few that graced us with their presence as we leveled up. The thought of getting out there and being able to explore their world was more than a little intriguing to me and while I did think “Kung Fu Panda” more than once, I was willing to give the Mists of Pandaria expansion pack a fighting chance. However, based on the forum chatter, I was amongst the minority in this ideology.

When Mists of Pandaria was announced players came out in troves, denouncing Mists of Pandaria, the Pandaren race, and Blizzard itself. The vehemence of this disapproval stunned me more than a little. Especially considering the positive reactions the Pandaren had usually garnered from players. However, upon thinking it over, I realized that Mists of Pandaria, unlike even Cataclysm, was really tossing us into the unknown.

While Pandaren’s have popped up in WoW’s vast lore bank from time to time, they have been thus far a miniscule blip on the map compared to say; Kil‘jaden. Hardly mentioned in books, and only making a small appearance in one of the Warcraft games, the Pandaren are not something players have had a chance to get comfortable with. Take for example the introduction of the Death Knight; a new class, that was met with little resistance, because Death Knights were not new to WoW lore, nor to players.

With Mists of Pandaria we find ourselves face with a new race, a new class, and even a whole new world that no one has really heard much about before, except in vague references. This is understandably a rather big bomb to be dropping on unsuspecting players who were perhaps expecting something a little more predictable; like a showdown with Queen Azshara perhaps?

The strange and unusual has always brought ire from all around, and Mists of Pandaria is no exception. It was difficult to imagine the world of Pandaria and the Padaren civilization as a whole because they were something that we had never seen before. In many player’s imaginations, Mists of Pandaria would be nothing more than a child’s cartoon. Sure, the Pandaren sound a tiny bit ridiculous when you talk about them, but no more so than giant talking cows, blue space goats, or zombies.

Giving Pandaria a Chance

As I mentioned previously, I was not totally sold on the idea of Pandaria either. That was until, I got my beta invite. From the moment I entered the world with my freshly made Monk I was in gamer love. Pandaria is a vibrant, visually pleasing world of wonder unlike anything we have ever seen before in the game. My love of this newest expansion thanks to the beta is mirrored on blogs and forums across the internets.

In lieu of this I have come to one conclusion; that in order to change the mind of the naysayer’s out there, and turn them into panda loving crazies like myself, they must experience Mists of Pandaria for themselves. Pictures and second hand accounts simply won’t do; only first hand experience can really make the world of Pandaria come to life. As the old saying goes; seeing is believing and it certainly holds true in Mists of Pandaria.

As beta invites pour out, more and more players will have the same chance I did; to explore Pandaria for themselves. Hopefully this chance will help to redirect the hatred for the Pandaren into a love for the game and the brand new world created for us to explore. While the reports thus far look promising, I am still not sure if the changing opinions of the beta are the norm, or if perhaps the positive reviews are just outweighing the negative. We will just have to wait and see.

How did you feel when Mists of Pandaria was initially announced? Has your opinion of Pandaria and ultimately the Pandaren changed since then? Has the beta played a critical role in the changing of your opinion? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!

For me, it has been a rough go so far.

I took a break from WoW to try SWTOR. I'm now almost max level in SWTOR (yeah, I know I'm slow) and at the point of deciding which game to stick with (or maybe try GW2).

I was very surprised by the Pandaria announcement. Combined with the talent system simplification, I was seriously wondering whether Blizzard was surrendering the adult/teen market and repositioning WoW as a tween/starter MMO. I'm a 41 year old man with three children, all girls. I love my kids - don't get me wrong - but I'm often surrounded by a Dora/Barbie world. MMOs are a nice break where I get to kill big ugly non-girly things (even if they look a little cartoonish). Playing a panda bear (or even an expansion oriented around them) sounded unsatisfying.

Like the author, I decided to try the Pandaria beta to see if it'd change my mind. Three attempts at installing it all resulted in error, and I've never managed to get it successfully downloaded. Panda bears plus tech issues? Strike Two.

So for now, I'm just waiting it out a while until I get in the mood to try installing the beta again. And I'm in no rush, because if I hit Strike Three, I may end up walking away. And that'd be a shame with all the time I've invested in WoW over the years.

I guess we'll see how it goes.

SWTOR is by far the worst mmorpg ive ever played. Ever played the pvp in there? Makes you want to pull your hair out at how unbalanced it is

SWTOR is by far the worst mmorpg ive ever played. Ever played the pvp in there? Makes you want to pull your hair out at how unbalanced it is

SWTOR is by far the worst mmorpg ive ever played. Ever played the pvp in there? Makes you want to pull your hair out at how unbalanced it is

I have been a beta tester of MoP for several weeks now and whilst I found the start-up area for panda chars solid, absorbing and largely trouble free, that is not the case with transferred chars. My level 85 mage which I have tried to use to test the high level areas has shown the game to lead a tremendous amount of work to even make it stable. I have found that so far MoP crashes all the time, today even whilst trying to leave an Inn. Come on Blizzard you must do better if you expect people to pay for this when its released.

I cannot believe this and the love for Pandaria. I have played the BETA and it is like playing in Disneyland. The graphics are great yes and always have been. Wow was a game for mature players not for 7 to 8 year old kids, but hey now even the most ardent mother can now play with their 7 year old. Wow has ruined the best MMO ever created with their fail expansions. Most areas are only blow byes now to get to the Outlands and back to Vanilla. It is not required to complete all areas to hit maximum level. They have watered down instances so that anyone can just run through and those who earned coveted blues and purples can now have them quickly without any skill. All of the great Epic quests are only memories. It was a game that required skill and cooperation. Blizzard has succeeded in taking an amazing game and turning into KungFu Panda what a joke. I have played this game since Vanilla Wow and have not returned and will not return since experiencing their Beta MOP. I know many other that feel the same and will not return. Congratz Blizzard you have jumped the shark! Please someone out there create a game with the wonderful graphic level of WOW but for mature players and keep it mature.

Tried eve online or are you a carebear?

Good one, no not a Care Bear and have not tried Eve online

I agree with you on this one, it seems WoW is getting more and more watered down. The old days were so much better. With all the complaints they are getting, they still fail to make the game more challenging. I wish they would listen.

How can you say they are not listening about making the game harder?

Take Firelands as an example, the last patch I played WoW under. Putting down Ragnaros took an age? How can you say its not difficult!

I did not say there were no aspects to the expansions that had any difficulty to them. But then again if you were used to playing a more challenging game, your skill level might have been higher and it would not have seemed as difficult. It really must be a challenge now to face named npc's in the game like Durn the Hungerer who can now be soloed (joke). What I am saying is that overall they have made the game simpler to play - no challenge for the most part.

I think that you are finding "Kung Fu Panda" because its what you want to see. I do not believe they made KFP out of this expansion, but they did their best to try to match what it was. You have to remember, the reason you see KFP is because it is more recent than, say, WC III. Blizzard made the Panda Monk first, not Disney.

Graphics, they have always been a joke to me. I have never liked them because they looked like a cartoon. I prefer graphics that are more like GW. Not the, "OMGIAMSOBRIGHTANDSHINEYLOOKATME!!!" But that is my 2 copper on that.

As far as content and complexity, spot-on. I concur 100%. I started playing WoW about 3 months before the drop of BC and loved it. Then, BC hit...then, WoLK and, then to my final disappointment Cata...I left WoW after giving them just over 5 years of my time about 4 months ago and haven't looked back. Things have changed too much, and not for the better.

I am so sick of everyone saying it was so much better in the past and they want it more difficult. They seem to forget 40 man raids and the pain they were to even get going or how fun it was to just give out buffs the whole time or Druid to be a battery for other casters. Also, the reason why most left during cata was due to the fact zag's were so hard to do, specially fir pugs. Give it a chance and quit whining the last patch with the hot's and lfr were great let's see what is next first.

Gimme a break PUG's are a problem because half of the people don't know how to play their toon's and spend more time whining about Gear Score for failure. Hmm funny thing is when you lose the mouth pieces the group normally succeeds. 40 mans could have simply been changed to 25 man instances and changes to class did not have to dummy game difficulty.

I like the new areas for my level 85 transfers. Graphics are great. Pandas, I don't care for much and will not play one in the expansion. (Don't care for undead much either, but we all play what we like.)
Don't like the new talent system. I actually miss having to go to train, as sort of a right of passage. It is nice to get new abilities automatically and free, but there is something about going to the trainer that says you have passed a milestone.
I also agree that the game is getting simpler (and not always better). It is nice that 7 year old's will able to play, but I really don't want to pug with them in an instance. Will I continue to play? Yes. Will I enjoy it as much? Probably not, nor as often.

Why anyone would complain that a 7 year old can play MoP starter content? My 7 and 5 year olds do that in Cata so what's the problem now?
Are you to level 90 in beta yet? Have you been through THOSE nightmare dungeons yet?
If you say you can hop, skip, and jump thru them with your "Carebear", then you Obviously have not played them.
As for the changes to the Timing of each talent; So what? So earch one comes every what 15 levels now? Now perhaps you'll actually have enough time to get really good at Using it BEFORE the next one comes along.
And wasn't that a gripe too? That the last "REAL" character Talent customization choices were in BC before they made you pick out of a specific tree, and you could pick any talent you wanted?
Now each Class regardless of spec, chooses out of the same tree and customizes those talents based on the way the individual plays, not the class as a whole. (Personally, I just don't use roll or torpedo that much, so I'm Not going to choose it, however making extra Chi spheres IS a really, really good thing for me.)
Also one of the biggest complaints I have seen on any (and every) forum has been "I'm bored with just doing (whatever you do) as a (pick your class) in a dungeon/raid/leveling/dailies."
Panderans take care of that noise too. They are ALL capable of dps and healing not just for themselves either, but for their group too, along the way.
Imagine a boss fight where every panderan in a raid pops out their three healing orbs in the fight area, before the fight starts. Guess what you'd run into when you are moving to get out of that pernicious, never-to-be-sufficiently-damned crap on the ground?
The Healing Spheres. That's right folks! 15+k worth of healing in each one. Healers Rejoice.
Healers! Are you Tired of being stuck in the back forever and being really "Squishy"and "Crunchy"? Be a Panda healer! Kill stuff while you're at it! Change stances for a second to Blast the bad guy with 140+k death touch, to help put the big baddie down. Then switch right back to heal the your group!
You all (those of you who are whining), need to stop your whining and actually PLAY the game and find all the cool, non-ordinary things that you can do now.
And you Whiners about Vanilla this and Vanilla that, Panderans ARE from Vanilla.
That they are an actual, playable, Race AND more badas* than your normal mere smear, Races/Classes is just a bonus.
Enough said.
Get your Panda and Game On!

Your a bad parent it you let your 5 and 7 year old children play a game that is rated for a mature audience, not necessarily because of the content, but because they will not be able to comprehend the concepts of the game itself...

Your 5 and 7 year old children lack the cognitive skills and abilities to be able to understand the concepts of an MMO and are the main reason why hardcore players have dropped this game. As the droves and droves of kiddies climb aboard the Warcraft franchise ship for a jolly time the more real players ditch WoW and look for better MMO's.

This is the Disneyfication of WoW, the end of an epic game, all we have left now are the memories of the good old days. Same thing happened with MTG, now they sell that shit in Kmart kids section, back in '93 it was the best game ever. Now its just junk targeted at kiddies, why? Because dumb parents spend a bucket loads on whinging brats to keep them quiet because they cant be bothered parenting them properly. So Blizz and Wizard just cash in on this...

I may even just go back to playing advanced D&D... At least your not gonna have a bunch of 5 and 7 year old noob scrubs playing with you.

Okay, I am not going to criticize your parenting style because every parent chooses to raise their children their own way. On another note, the game has been getting easier, that is a fact and the idea that blizzard seems to be targeting a younger audience seems annoying to many of the older and often more mature players. I know that just because people are older that doesn't necessarily make them more mature but if they can't be that mature then what makes you think children can be? Honestly, would you argue that your children are that mature where they can run raids and be on vent with people and actually be taken seriously? And no one is arguing that the game doesn't have certain difficult aspects but that is just learning to play your character and get gear. To be honest I liked that I could go partway into talent trees in BC, that was the fun of it, this new talent system is as stupid as it gets to me, every 15 levels? Any player worth there stuff knows how to use a talent just by reading it you dont have to take 15 whole levels to "really good at using it", do you know how long it took me to figure out how to play a holy pally, even though I have never played one before and this was level 85 in a raid? 15 minutes, so yeah, if you level at a rate of a level per minute maybe it takes that long to get good at an entire CLASS but a single talent give me a break. There are many classes that are capable of duel roles and no one is arguing that that is a bad thing, but dont act like it is specific to pandas, that is naive. The argument that everyone should switch to a panda healer is ludicrous, I love my tauren druid and I will continue to, so don't try to argue that making one race that is so obviously superior is not going to ruffle feathers. On another note, pandas may have been in vanilla, but the argument you have is just plain ignorant, no one is arguing the class of vanilla, they are arguing about the difficulty and the teamwork that was required in vanilla, also your last comment about them being "more badas*" than the rest of out classes is part of what is ruffling so many feathers, if you dont get that people have loyalty to their choices in race/class than you are either an new to WoW (in which case have no business on a blog about new WoW) or as stupid as blizzard for pandaria, your choice.

The only real issue for me is that the "beta" is really still the alpha. It's just too unstable for serious play. I gave up when I was cooking in Goldshire Inn and it died. That was just one too many times for me. I liked the starter area and I may roll a character there. One other thing that really ticked me off. I copied one of my BM hunters over and lost all my exotic pets, plus I couldn't fly. Someone in game said that they heard that flight will only be available at level 90.

My issue was with the lackluster expansion and finale of the Lich King. I knew Blizzard was putting less effort into the quality of WoW because instead of actual cut scenes like from the Warcraft series, we were getting machinima. I know there were no cut scenes in vanilla or BC, but this third expansion was supposed to be epic. The lich felt like just another boss. And then with the announcement of cata, reworking the landscape and rehashing a bunch of old and low level material, I thought WoW was feeling like it was being placed on the backburner and it was all a slippery slope from rise of the lich king. Cata was alright and I had a lot of fun leveling through to 85, but to be honest, the idea that I would be ragnaros again did not bring a sense of nostalgia to me but instead made me feel as if all that work from 60 to 85 was pointless because I would only see the same old content. The whole point of endgame for me is seeing and exploring new content. Not traveling back in time, or running old dungeons again. In consumer science, it's always better to retain loyal customers than completely focusing on gaining new ones. An expansion centered on pandas just felt like something of a marketing ploy for new players. A business strategy focused on winning new players. I will give it a chance though. But the only thing that has my attention is that this is new content. Content is King!

I'm sorry to say, but my WoW journey ends with Cataclysm. I won't be experiencing MoP, and that is a decision I feel is long over due. Time for this behemoth to finally fall, and though it is nowhere in sight one can still hope. WoW had it's day and its many charms but all these years later it is more shallow and dry and goofy as ever. Cataclysm destroyed this game for me, actually the patches leading up to it already left me with one foot out the door. Now it has turned into something completely for rainbow babies, carebears, and the countless people who literally live in this game and not at all in reality anymore. Fact is the game is as simplistic as pac-man, only glorified a hundred-thousand fold. Run around in circles gathering pellets, why? No one knows. You just do it. Pellets, gear, elves, panda bears, a yellow circle with a mouth, colorful ghosts/monsters who try to stop you from getting your pellets/gear, it's all the same. Genius is what it truly is. Absolute fah-qing genius.

I quit this game at the beginning of the year and have never looked back. WotLK was fun, but ever since Cata, the game has gone to hell in a handbasket.

Pandaren? May as well call this sequel "Kung-Fu Pandacraft." Yes, I know Pandaren was around before Kung-Fu Panda was, but I swear, you play a video of both of them, you don't see a bit of difference.

The Pokecraft that has been incorporated with pets shows Blizz has decided to prioritize marketing for children rather than the hardcore players. This fact has been further confirmed when they added "Raiding for retards (aka Raid Finder with ridiculously nerfed raid content)." When I saw pugs down Deathwing before our hardcore raiding guild even had a chance to log-on and meet up, that was pretty much the point where I was over it. Sure, our content was more difficult, but who cares? Dead boss is dead boss! When grouping up with dedicated raiders no longer offered you the opportunity to explore the content before the casuals, my interest in the game rapidly declined.

I could give a few dozen other issues as well, like Blizz ignoring the customer (and even admitting at times that they do), $15 a month for graphics that are outdated by 8-9 years now, redundant content, horrible imbalances, and the list goes on.

Quitting WOW was one of the best things I had done in a long time. I know the Blizz apologists and the children they are now appealing to will defend the game to the bitter end. However, trust me when I say once you get away from it, you will regret not having spent that time playing WOW on much more productive things.

I'm done with WoW as well. I've been playing since Vanilla, and the development changes over the past year have been absolutely horrible. Blizzard's business practices have really annoyed me as a consumer, especially their vertical marketing (telling the story of the game through their $26 books and NOT in the game, selling pets, their real money auction house in D3, selling mounts/pets) and their sluggishness with adding new content (they lost 1.1 million players in Q2 in part because of this). I thought EA Games was bad with their rampant DLC, but Blizzard has become far worse in my opinion.

Mists of Pandaria is probably THE worst idea Blizzard has ever come up with. It's bad enough they've dumbed down the game to the point where it's boring, but now they're bringing in panda people that were nothing more than a FOOTNOTE in WC3 (people who say they've been in the lore for years are grasping in my opinion).

To say that "The strange and unusual has always brought ire from all around" is why people don't like the idea of MoP is a sweeping generalization that I believe simply isn't true. There seems to be a campaign being waged by fanboys and fangirls of Blizzard to discredit those of us who think this new expansion is a horrible idea (one has only to read the WoW forums and the indignant hostility towards anyone who expresses dislike for anything Blizzard puts out to see this). People who pay for a service are ALLOWED to have an opinion and express it.

What makes this expansion so horrible for me is how bouncy pandas cause a literary dissonance within me when looking at a fantasy-genre game. They belong in a children's story/film, not in an adult fantasy game. WoW has consistently had an epic feel about it, focusing on dark themes and making the player feel like their aim is to rid their world of danger - demons, evil dragons, the undead, cultists and other supernatural baddies gone wild.

Pandaria is an abrupt shift in a direction that I feel doesn't fit the game and feels more slapstick and cutesy than epic and dangerous. It would be like bringing a race of falsetto-voiced mice and angry sailor ducks with no pants into Lord of the Rings. WoW has its slapstick aspects, but they're more subtle and consistent with the thematic elements. The cinematic for MoP was more comedic in theme and didn't produce any enthusiasm within me at all, while all previous expansion cinematics were darker and exciting.

I unsubscribed last October after the MoP reveal, but renewed for one month to check out the Fall of Theramore scenario to see if perhaps I was a little hasty in my gut reaction to MoP. I found it to be lazily written (you have to read the book to know what the hell is going on) and poorly developed - you basically kill a bunch of trash mobs and easy elites, and it was a profound disappointment. I think this is a harbinger of the fail to come in the new expansion. As a consumer, I'm simply not inclined to put money into a game that no longer appeals to me and a company that keeps finding ways to nickel and dime their customers with their "value-added" products while putting out low-quality content for their game. No thanks.

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