Posted Thu, Mar 22, 2012 by Xerin
Mists of Pandaria beta just went live and the team here at Ten Ton Hammer has charged head first into the latest incarnation of World of Warcraft. Currently, testing is limited to the Pandarian starting zones, so we’ll bring you more as the beta opens up. Staggered content releases are rather normal, so it’s something that we all should expect. What’s available though, I dare say, is breathtaking.
I haven’t needed to install WoW in a long time, so it was a shock to see how fast the Beta Client started up and had MoP ready to go. It literally took about ten minutes for the initial download to complete and the game to reach playable status. The battle.net tools for moving characters over are quick and easy to use without any bloat, making the process smooth and streamlined.
First, the new Pandaren models are absolutely fabulous. Both the male and female models are adorable, cute, and fit snuggly within the background setting. Seeing a Pandaren in Stormwind isn’t odd or discouraging like many thought, but actually very apropos. The models have even improved since we’ve last seen them live and the female model is especially surprising.
The graphics are, again, top notch. We’re definitely seeing Blizzard’s A-game when it comes to this expansion. It’s like walking through Nagrand again, which is a good thing. The bright and vibrant graphics haven’t been seen since The Burning Crusade anyway, with the cold harsh landscape that Wrath of the Lich King brought and the gritty ash covered themes that came with Cataclysm being in our recent memory. This makes gameplay a lot more refreshing and fun.
Of course, they’re still WoW graphics and the game engine is showing its age, but at least we’re still see improvements, which is important to the overall health of the game.
The Monk class is fun. Sadly, I wasn’t able to snag one of the premades before they shut the system down, but we here at Ten Ton Hammer will bring tons of coverage about this class we expand our playtime with it. My experience breaks down into two parts: the starting zone and the class itself.
The starting area, The Wandering Isle, was fun and streamlined. I liked the approach that they’ve been fine tuning since TBC. You start off with a few introductory “how to play” quests that present basic combat, equipment, movement, and world interaction. Then you move into the meat and potato storytelling and adventurering, both of which are smooth.
The only issue I found was that the area hasn’t been properly tuned for the zerg rush of new adventurers. I had to search for some enemies, wait until others were taken care of, you know the usual thing. I’m sure that the zone will be brimming with enemies by the time the game is ready for primetime.
The Monk, at least in lower levels, is a fun departure from your standard classes. It works much like a Rogue and Death Knight merging together into a fisticuff friendly class. The energy allows you to build chi points (which are like runes / combo points) that aren’t time / enemy sensitive. Your chi points synergize with your energy skills to create a fluid rotation.
Of course, the animations for the new skills look fantastic and have a lot of neat motion to them. They’re actually, at least at the lower levels, more graphical than a lot of the other spells for other classes. Of course, that could just be the new shiny class syndrome sitting in that makes you drool over something because it’s new and different, so take that for what you will.
I’ve played with the talents in MoP for a little bit so far and I have to say the new system is nice. I’m not going to go into if the viability of class specific talents, but I will comment on how slick the talent picking UI is. Many times I’ve nearly gone cross eyed from staring at the large lists of talents, but now everything is easy and very user friendly.
Although, I don’t believe in dumbing down game components to make them more accessible, so it isn’t a change that I’m entirely comfortable with. I am, however, happy that they’ve executed their ideas very fluidly and the entire system is easy to use and very intuitive.
This is only covering our day one thoughts on MoP. Stay tuned to Ten Ton Hammer as we continue to cover the expansion and bring you the latest and greatest content from Mists of Pandaria.
What are your thoughts about the expansion so far? Looking forward to the panda rush or dreading the new talent system? Let us know in the comments section below.