Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Mists of Pandaria, in Review

Overall, I thought Mists was a pretty good expansion. It never quite pushed over the line into "great" though. This was one expansion that I really did not do a lot in. I never raided seriously, and I ended up leaving WoW at the beginning of this year.

The Good:
  • Initial questing - I thought all the initial zones were very well done, and quite interesting.
  • The Pandaren - Everyone expected a joke race, but the pandaren turned out surprising well.
  • Patch 5.1 - I really like the way the story was woven into the dailies in this patch.
  • Thunder Isle - Another good zone.
  • All Raid Instances - All the raids were pretty well done, I thought. There were no tiers that were distinctly disliked.
  • Flexible Raiding - An outstanding innovation.
  • Legendary Questline - I really liked this questline, and how it worked over the course of the expansion.
  • The Farm - I really enjoyed building the farm and those series of quests and dailies.
The Mushy Middle:
  • Dailies - I know that a lot of people would put this in the bad column, but I think that is excessive. The dailies were very optional, in my mind, and were fairly fun to do if you did a faction at a time or so.
  • The Isle of Time - I didn't really like this zone, but it seemed like a lot of other people did. I just prefer zones with stories, rather than random wandering around. Basically, if I wanted self-directed gameplay, I'd play Eve or another sandbox.
The Bad:
  • Pacing - Each of the early patches should have had an extra month, and the last patch should have been a couple of months shorter. The length of time Siege of Ogrimmar was current was way too long.
  • Spoiling the End Boss - I think the biggest mistake Blizzard made was revealing Garrosh as the end boss before the expansion even began. They should have done their best to keep it a secret until 5.3/5.4. I think revealing it so early caused people to overlook Pandaria itself, instead focusing on the ultimate end.
  • Excessive Focus on the Horde- Orcs, trolls, orcs. This expansion was too focused on the Horde side. There is a whole other faction, Blizzard.
There was a lot of stuff I didn't try this expansion. I didn't do any challenge mode dungeons, or any raiding other than LFR. Basically, I was super casual. But the Pandaria core of the expansion was lots of fun. However, the pacing and later focus on the Horde weakened the overall experience.


  1. I find I agree with basically everything. I am in the camp that prefers zones with a story (Isle of Thunder) to zones that are thrown in basically to give you something to do (Isle of Time). It felt to me like it was thrown in as a "Here, have something to grind on." But apparently a lot of people enjoy that, and it at least did have a variety of things to do, so not all bad.

    Definitely agree re: Horde focus. We keep getting promises that the Alliance will get some time in the limelight but at this point I have stopped believing it. We know that this expansion is going to be all about the orcs (even if they throw Draenei lore in there, it's still taking a back-seat to the Warlords). The races that make up the Alliance have always been essentially the antagonists to Thrall et al's story, with the exception of the Night Elves who occasionally spring up to be the quasi-protagonist in the past and cause of why everything has gone to shit.

  2. It was better than Cataclysm, but not by much.

    For a non-raider, Mists was dailies and not much else. I found the emphasis on scenarios weakened the instances to the point where I didn't bother running them, which used to be my favorite part of the game.

    You also missed Pet Battles in your analysis, which became the entire point of the game for a certain subclass of player.

    And as far as the Horde goes, you can expect even more Horde focus in the next expac. It seems that Blizzard can't get away from a Horde bias in the storyline, even when one shouldn't be there. Now that I think about it, the least Horde biased storyline were those found in Vanilla, which is kind of sad.

  3. I especially agree with you about the pacing. I wanted more time in the early raids, and I think we all got tired of the Siege of Orgrimmar during the summer long before the Iron Horde showed up.

    I liked the farm for about a month, then grew bored with it. I expect the same from my garrison.

    As for the excessive focus on the horde, expect more of the same (with bells on) in Draenor. Still, I like killing orcs.

  4. While I don't disagree with the complaints about Horde focus, I still actually find them a little amusing myself.

    I mean, the expansion's story was almost literally "The Horde shit over Pandaria more then the Alliance did, so the Alliance had to clean up the mess."

    Yes, there was more story involving the Horde around, but it was almost all to set them up as the villains so the Alliance can sweep in and save the day in the end.

    Overall, though, I felt that while I liked Mists a lot as a whole package, it seemed Blizzard was more interested in using the expansion as a large test-bed for ideas they were working on. A lot of the additional content seemed to have been designed around concepts they wanted to test, but not build a whole expansion or other large piece of content around. Breaking up raids into smaller chunks for Flex or Raid Finder, randomly generated "Diablo-like" loot and grinding zones, small-scale party instances, legendary questlines, personal property, stat customization, and more.

    You can see how they are iterating on these, taking what worked in Mists into mind while discarding what didn't. It's an interesting way to handle an expansion, though I think the story and content suffered a bit as a result. I'm interested in seeing what they plan to do in Warlords.

  5. I found I didn't like the story being hidden in the dailies, it made me feel like I was missing out on story if I wasn't constantly grinding dailies. I missed a lot of story during levelling because it wasn't clear what was 'main plotline' and which was 'side story that you'll never see again' when everything was optional. And one of the bits I skipped was the bit that opened up the Pandaria main cities. Oops off on a tangent.

    I suppose my main problem was that I was playing a healer and incompetant at my DPS offspec, so dailies were painful, while at the same time I skipped so much of the levelling content that I had no idea what was going on in half the dungeons, compounded with being more or less unable to form a raid team, but being unwilling to charge through raid finder without knowing the fights very well. So like you I quit early.