Pandas in the Mist – Mists of Pandaria thoughts. (SPOILERS!)

Okay, brain hurting much less today, although here’s a tip for any aspiring fitness fanatics – careful when doing weights. My lower back is killing me.

Anyway, to business. Mists of Pandaria – the upcoming WoW expansion. And I noticed some good, some bad and some downright ugly lines coming from Blizzcon.

To the good – I think it is absolutely time for the redesign of all races and visuals in Azeroth. When you consider that each race will need redesigned models with new textures and frames to operate with the Monk class, it seems the time has come for Blizzard to be brave and just spread that across the board.

I think many of us have felt for some time that the newer models are just… well.. prettier. Worgen are sweet, the Goblins are funky, the Blood Elves and Draenai also look better than vanilla races. And now joined by Pandaren, there is no excuse now not to turn their attention towards giving the vanilla races some sweet, sweet love. Long overdue sweet, sweet love it must be said.

Also good is the new class – Monk, although it will need some testing to make sure it doesn’t end up Druid 2.0, and by that I mean a class that is a nightmare to balance in every respect.

Okay, now to the bad.

The talent tree system has finally been boiled down to its most basic concoction – a system of just choosing a new ability every 15 levels. The sad thing is, from the perspective of a rogue, even in this Blizzard have failed. For maximising DPS, there is only one talent in each tree that even comes close to performing the necessary survival and utility required for a raiding build. That is largely unforgivable.

So too is the insistence on expanding the Raid Finder, with the intention of
making loot indistinguishable in future. Now, I am all for this, especially since I feel the guild system they introduced in Cataclysm was a big plate of horse poo and a green salad, but I’m pretty sure this will drive wedges into guilds. If it locks people, it will divide. If the raid finder in future doesn’t count towards a weekly lockout, it will certainly unbalance the loot system.

With all the new challenge modes, improved dungeons and heroics and the intended ideas for the Looking for Raid system, it will be even easier to get endgame loot in Mists of Pandaria. The colour of loot at endgame isn’t even remotely necessary anymore. There is no real distinction to be had.

The following will have lore spoilers, so more after the jump.

If you’re still here, to the ugly – I am aware that the lore in the Warcraft universe is sometimes a little hard to follow, and I am aware many times I have argued that Garrosh Hellscream is a massive bellend who struggles to handle his enormous ego. That said, I find it curious, if not amusing, that Thrall is going to depose Garrosh.

This is hardly a shock to many of us in terms of lore, as we’ve known for some time that a green-skinned Garrosh texture is already encoded within the game files. But it seems that Garrosh is, indeed, going to end up feeling the wrath of Thrall – and Garrosh, butthurt and embarassed, will seek a new power to fight for and win back what he now sees as HIS Horde.

Meanwhile, King Varian Wrynn will also have his own personal problems – he will be subjected to what has been described as a violent ritual (another one, Lo’Gosh anyone?) which will fundamentally change him as a person. There is no word on what will happen to Anduin, his son, but one would assume that Anduin will take the reins for the Alliance for a little while whilst the storyline comes to a natural conclusion.

So, the two biggest egos in terms of characters are getting knocked down a peg or two in Mists of Pandaria – Garrosh will be banished from the Horde, as he did with Thrall, and Varian Wrynn will be subject to a traumatic event which will change him forever.

And then there is Theramore, which will be destroyed.

Poor Jaina isn’t going to catch a break here, but her beloved port will be demolished by the Horde, this will likely precede the Garrosh vs Thrall line, as it is unlikely that Thrall would do anything so recklessly daft.

Not to mention, finally, changes within The Forsaken. Tired of waiting, the Forsaken will begin to show their true colours in Mists of Pandaria that threaten not only their alliance with The Horde, but all races on Azeroth. And about time too, it must be said. I think The Forsaken have been very under-utilised, despite their extreme motives and measures (The Wrathgate, using the Val’kyr to forcefully turn human soldiers into Forsaken etc). Thrall will not only have to contend with a war likely started by Garrosh, but also dissent in his own ranks, as the Tauren revolt, the Forsaken turn evil once more and it is likely this will affect the Blood Elves and Trolls as well.

These are big sweeping proposals to not only drive the story onward, but likely to even close it. The Forsaken, the hint that the Burning Legion may offer Garrosh power to reclaim his Horde, the change to Wrynn, Thrall and his life-mate Aggra, Jaina resettling elsewhere and the conflict between the Horde and Alliance coming to its climax on the Pandarian continent, it all hints that this is a means to an inevitable end.

With the hint that Illidan will make a final return, much of what is being proposed is simply just tying up loose ends. And that may be no bad thing, mind you, if not for the fact they’ve got another expansion lined up – if they tie up too many loose ends, they may not have scope for a final expansion!

Most of this is from the Blizzcon Q&A and such forth so it is, of course, subject to details being fleshed out in the coming weeks and months – but I worry that World of Warcraft is coming to an end.

It is an era coming to a close, and with the proposals for a real-money AH and other mechanics changes, it appears that when it is over, it will become F2P.

Hopefully, just in time for Project Titan…

… which was once again notable by its absence.

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