Missing Pieces in the Pandaren Starting Zone
you have read any of my
previous articles regarding World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria, you
will know by now that to put it simply; I adore it. You name it about
this expansion and I love it. From the oh so cute Pandaren, to the
brand new Monk class and the vividly detailed world of Pandaria, I have
been unable to find nary a bad thing to say about this newest
This is especially true in
regards to the Wandering Isle, the Pandaren’s starting zone,
and one of my favorite experiences during beta testing. However,
looking back on my journey through the Wandering Isle, I feel like
there were three major things missing along the way to making the
player’s time here go from great to truly amazing.
Missing Pieces in the Pandaren
The Wandering Isle is, for all
intents and purposes, well done when it comes to a starting zone.
Players move quickly through quests that are both simple and
educational while still guiding the player flawlessly through the
storyline. If the quests aren’t enough to convince you of the
solidity of the Wandering Isle, the breathtakingly beautiful landscape
surely will. However, the problem arises when we take the time to stop
and compare the Pandaren starting zone to other starting zones. It is
then that we realize that while the Wandering Isle is undoubtedly well
done, it still manages to fall a bit short of the mark.
style="padding: 5px; float: right; width: 250px; text-align: center;">
the Wandering Isle's relative tranquility be shattered by phasing?
One of the things I most loved
about the Goblin starting zone was the phasing. From the moment you set
foot in Kezan and start to meander your way through quests, the area
changes and evolves around you. By the time you reach the epic finale
that ultimately lands you and the rest of your Goblin kin ship wrecked,
you feel totally immersed in the story line. You can literally see
first hand the impending doom as well as the panic that goes along with
Sadly, as of now, the Pandaren
starting zone is severely lacking in the phasing department. Sure there
are a few instances of phasing seen near the end of the zone, but up
until that point things pretty much remain the same. No matter how many
quests you complete, it never feels like you have accomplished much of
The lack of phasing also
affects how in touch with the storyline players actually feel. Even
though the Pandaren’s beloved Wandering Isle is in danger,
there is never any real sense of this. Things around the island remain
pretty docile even as the story grows more and more desperate and
things really start to heat up. This is a far cry from the scenes found
in the Goblin starting zone, where players actually feel, (thanks in
large part to the phasing process) that by the time they leave the
island they are actually running for their very lives.
Considering that the Wandering
Isle is the newest, and only, starting zone coming to Mists of
Pandaria, it could be assumed that this is the time for
Blizzard‘s phasing to really shine. Why Blizzard has chosen
not to infuse this zone with the magic of phasing is a true mystery
that we may discover the answer to.
Horde and Alliance Conflict
Part of the appeal of the
Pandaren race is that both Horde and Alliance players can choose to
play it. Pandaren of both factions begin their journey together on the
Wandering Isle. When level 10 is reached the Pandaren are forced to
make a choice; to ally with either the Alliance or the Horde. However,
by the time they get there most players will be wondering how they can
even make a choice at all.
Alliance and Horde are present in the Pandaren starting zone, little
conflict can be seen between the factions.
Both Horde and Alliance are
present on the Wandering Isle and the Pandaren will eventually meet up
with both factions. However, we never get to really know them, nor do
we really get to see the infamous tensions between them. Sure at one
point some conflict is hinted at, however, both Horde and Alliance
easily drop their grudges on a dime to help save the Pandaren island.
While it is nice to imagine that this would really happen, the
expansion of Mists of Pandaria is all about the rising strife between
the factions. Horde and Alliance are literally on the verge of war, and
their willingness to stop fighting and join forces, even temporarily,
strikes a sour note when considering this.
Even if you can ignore the
passivity of the factions, you cannot ignore the fact that at the end
of the day you have no idea what the Horde and Alliance really stand
for. Yes, at level 10 a handy dandy little box comes up explaining the
beliefs of each faction, but other than this, you never get to *know*
the factions while questing in the Pandaren starting zone. This seems
like a major let down and a case of taking the easy way out.
This build up to ultimately
choosing a faction seems like the perfect time to outline the flaws and
strengths of each faction. Not to mention to make things more
realistic, the player could potentially have had to choose to do quests
for one faction or the other as the quest line progressed. Instead the
conflict and differences between the factions gets glossed over and
players will find themselves wondering why they even need to choose a
faction at all.
While I feel both conflict
between the Horde and Alliance and phasing are major aspects missing
from the Wandering Isle, my former statement still holds true. I am
still in love with the Mists of Pandaria expansion, as well as the
Pandaren starting zone. Considering all that could have went wrong with
this expansion and this starting zone, these two flaws are minor in
comparison. Sure, the addition of these elements could have made the
zone even more amazing, but sometimes we don’t always get
everything we want. I will still be purchasing Mists of Pandaria and am
looking forward to purchasing the game and checking out the Wandering
Isle on a live server hopefully in the near future.
Have you had the opportunity to
try out the brand new Pandaren starting zone? Do you feel that the
addition of the elements mentioned above would have made game play on
the Wandering Isle better? Was anything else missing in your opinion?
Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!