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World Of Warcraft: Mists Of Pandaria
April 11, 2012 | Ted Bade

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As of this writing, only the Jade Forest was available to play. I tried crossing a bridge into the next zone, but was immediately teleported back to the starting camp. I can only hope that some of the higher areas have interesting quest strings like the Harrison Jones one found in Cataclysmís Uldum or the dragon related one in the Twilight Highlands. I did bump into what looked like trainers and some very Chinese looking dragons. They told me to come back when I was higher level. You can see them being flown in the Jade forest area, so perhaps they are the local flying mount. As expected, your current flying mount refuses to jump into the air in Pandaria.

Players will also find that Blizzard has once again changed the talent system. I believe there intention is to simplify the process of leveling a character. However, I find this changing of the talent trees tedious. I have a handful of level 85 characters. They all work very nicely. Now, I once again have to try to decipher Blizzardís attempt to yet again simplify the talent tree. I never understand why there isnít a button I can press that tells the game, I like what I had before the expansion, give me the closest equivalent to that. I will figure out the next couple of talent choices when I gain some levels. While some people will complain about the changes, the new process essentially lets you choose from the best and most used options for your class.

You can visit the Blizzard website to learn about the new talent tree. As before you choose one of three specializations, The change is that instead of getting a point to spend every couple of levels, every 15 levels you choose one of three possible talents that add to your specialization. Granted, under the current system, there werenít a whole lot of choices to use that point on. The new system recognizes that and simply allows the player to choose one of three items, rather then piecemeal adding a point here and there to accomplish the same thing.

The new Monk class is interesting in that your choice of talent tree can make it either a DPS, tank or healer. At higher levels when you can turn on the second talent spec, the Pandaran could master two different major aspects, say tank and healer. Which would be terrific for people who like to get instances going! The Monk class uses an energy called Chi. The three aspects of the Monk are called Brewmaster for tank, Windwalker for healer, and Mistweaver for the DPS.

Another simplification is with the spell book. Perviously, there were four tabs. One each for the three aspects of your character class and one general tab. With the new expansion there are now just two tabs, one showing passive abilities and one showing active ones. There are also a lot less items in the list. I didnít look at how this affects every class. I did notice my rogue no longer has knives to toss.

Where Mists of Pandaria truly shines is in the scenery masterfully combined with the audio, both music and environmental sounds. I found myself dazzled as I wandered the lands of both the starting area of the Pandarans as well as the new higher level Jade Forest. The scenery is often breathtaking, giant waterfalls, bamboo forests, sculptured gardens, statuary of a more Asian nature, and quaint villages combine with soft Asian music and good quality environmental sounds to create a charming atmosphere.

The Pandarans introduce two new types of air taxis, a kite which one rides between flight master points and the hot air balloon. No, not the massive Zeppelins of the Horde, but small basket hot air balloons. Very cute.

There are other aspects being added to the game with this update. While I havenít seen them personally, I have read about them. Obviously there will be new raids and instances in which to gain higher level gear. Apparently, there will be glyphs that add new forms to the Druid class. There have been rumors of a companion combat system. Players will be able to have those cute pets they acquire through various means, battle those of other players. I am not totally sure exactly what value this adds to the game, but I did hear about it. There are also rumors that players will be able to tame certain wild creatures and turn them into companions. (I noticed the ability to track wild companions, but havenít been able to do much with that.)

Overall, Blizzard has made a good attempt to provide new and entertaining content to the World of Warcraft. I will definitely buy and play the update when it arrives. I am hopeful that the higher level areas that havenít yet been made available will offer some new and innovative quest strings. If you arenít part of the beta test, you are probably more of a casual player and will probably enjoy the simplification of the training and talent systems.

World Of Warcraft: Mists Of Pandaria
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment


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