Pandaria revives Azeroth
Published: Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 2, 2012 21:10
After two years of battling the dragon Deathwing and his minions, the mists surrounding Pandaria have receded, and it is time for the Azeroth’s adventurers to explore the lost continent. On Sep. 25, “Mists of Pandaria,” the expansion pack to the hit, massively multiplayer online role-playing game, “World of Warcraft,” was released.
Deathwing, the Destroyer, has been defeated, and the citizens of Azeroth are optimistic. It is this hopeful optimism that leads the two factions in the game, the Horde and Alliance, to resume their brutal war with the goal of eradicating one another. It is this war that eventually leads each group to the mystical, recently discovered land of Pandaria. Each group is intent on preventing the other from gaining the strength that the new world has to offer, bringing with them their bitter battles and painting the new continent red.
The major update of the expansion is the new race, the Pandaren, and the new “Monk” class, a Kung-Fu style warrior. I sampled the class for around 20 levels or so, and could scarcely recall a time I’ve had more fun in the game. From flying, spinning crane kicks, to thousand palm strikes and soaring around on a floating cloud, the class has everything that one would want out of a mystical Kung-Fu master. I do, however, have a few issues with the Pandaren themselves. Although the race is funny and interesting, I’m really not fond of Blizzard’s choice in making them a neutral race. Players are given the opportunity of having each Pandaren join either the Horde or Alliance, rather than keeping them on one side or the other, as is the case with all other possible races (elves, dwarves, etc.). It feels awkward to run into various Pandaren, each either trying to hug you, or hug the life out of you.
With any new expansion, however, most players are interested in the new instances (dungeons), and although the raids have yet to be released, if the new heroics dungeons are any indication, it’s going to be a challenge. Luckily, players have a whole slew of new spells and abilities to choose from in order to best any enemy they may encounter, ranging from the Sha, which are dark incarnations of negative emotions, to the Mantid, a race of giant bug men. On the negative side, obtaining gear is slightly more obnoxious than before, as all pieces of armor now have specific reputation levels associated with them, something previously only associated with a much smaller pool of gear.
In terms of PvP combat, Blizzard has heard our concerns. World PvP has been taken to a new level, with the removal of any sanctuaries in Pandaria, and the removal of elite guards. Players can engage in combat with other players at nearly any time. We’ve also received two new battlegrounds, both of which provide interesting new ways to combat the enemy. Unfortunately, there are still quite a few balance issues among the classes, but these will hopefully be worked out in time for the next arena season.
Pandaria itself is possibly the most beautiful environment that Blizzard, developer of the Warcraft series, has ever created. As one traverses the endless, intricate, Asian-influenced continent, it’s hard to not think of the thousands of hours that Blizzard developers must have spent meticulously working on it. Everything from the smallest billowing bush blowing in the wind, to the gargantuan Jade statues guarded by Shado-Pan Monks has been intricately detailed, and interacts with the environment in their own individual way. As I look out onto the snow-peaked, mist-coated mountains spotted with the occasional dojo, I find myself amazed at what we can create with a computer.
We’ve also gotten some minor updates that have been a long time coming. Getting to loot everyone in a given area, rather than one at a time? We’ve been waiting for that for a long, long time. The talent system has received a massive overhaul, giving players much more freedom in what they choose to put their points into, and making the whole system much more streamlined and players can now interact with players from other servers, making the community much greater.
Overall, I would say that this is the best expansion Blizzard has put out. Aside from a few balancing issues, the expansion is great. There’s new lore to learn, new cities to explore, and new enemies to fight. So get out there, you Allies and Hordies, and find every secret that Pandaria has hidden away.