Wednesday, September 26, 2012

World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria Review in Progress

Impressions of Blizzard’s latest expansion as we play for review.


IGN - Editor's Note: The most recent impressions will always be posted at the end of the article.

If you're a PC gamer, it’s likely the mention of World of Warcraft affects you in some way. Maybe it triggers pangs of regret over dumping years of your life into Blizzard’s virtual theme park, rosy nostalgia of the vanilla days, earnest anticipation of what’s coming next or a confusing mix of them all. With this fourth expansion, released in a climate of dipping subscriber numbers, Blizzard seems to be building out the end game, adding in many dungeons and long-form progression tracks to keep players busy well beyond launch.

If you still play regularly, maybe you checked out a lot of Mists’ content in beta testing earlier this year, and have been eagerly waiting for launch. Or maybe you’re one of the many who left World of Warcraft behind some at some point during its nearly eight year run, and were waiting for this expansion to log back in.

If you’re part of the latter crowd, expect a longer than usual readjustment period after logging back in. Blizzard recently patched in a significant change to its talent system, getting rid of the old talent trees entirely. In place of the old trees, every fifteen levels you’ll get a choice of one of three new talents, a system where there isn’t necessarily one single best choice.

Take my 85 Paladin, for example. The level 15 tier of talents includes Speed of Light, which boosts move speed by 70 percent for eight seconds, Long Arm of the Law, which spikes move speed up 45 percent for three seconds after a Judgment, and Justice, which gives me an always active 15 percent movement speed bonus with additional percentage bonuses for stored charges of Holy Power. I’ve so far been using Speed of Light to help get away from attacking Horde after stunning them with Fist of Justice (another talent, essentially Hammer of Justice with a halved cooldown), but can see where the other choices would be useful.

Many of the old talent tree abilities you may have been used to have been rolled into class specializations, where you're given different abilities depending on which role you choose for a class.

In addition, the Glyph system was adjusted. Prime Glyphs are no longer in the game, so expect to spend a little more time figuring all that out before getting into the rhythm of leveling and dungeon running again.