World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria - Three weeks in
World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria - Three weeks in
In week one I became a monk and acquainted myself with a new skills system. In week two I explored Monk Healing and lamented the stagnation we've all felt in the Outlands. Three weeks has felt so long, but at times also so short. The finish line is close. As I write this, I am a mere 10 levels away from hitting the cap.
While I am nearing the last leg of the 1 to 90 levelling process, I thought I would spend some time sharing my thoughts on some of the other changes Mists of Pandaria has introduced into the game. There have been many changes made to existing in-game functions with the expansion pack’s release - more than I could ever hope to cover in one article. Some of the changes Blizzard have made I agree with while others I have a love-hate relationship with.
One of the first things existing players may notice is the changes which have been made to the way trade professions operate. In the past, there have been tools required for each profession and were required to be carried around, like the mining pick, blacksmith hammer, fishing pole and skinning knife. This is no longer the case in Mists of Pandaria. Blizzard has done away with those bag space hogging tools and now allow you to carry out your profession without them. No longer will I be the victim of my own poor planning as I begin a new character, kill a few beasts and try skinning them only to find I forgot to buy a skinning knife.
The profession tools aren’t gone from the game entirely, they simply operate in a slightly different capacity - now, carrying a profession tool will instead provide bonuses such as an increase in skill level. I am so pleased to see a rethink in the way professions are approached. Professions used to be a vital method of earning gold and the need for gold often necessitated more than one profession. As a result, trade professions often felt like the bane of my existence.
The idea of a blacksmith who wanted to gather his own ore had to not only carry around a mining pick but also carry around his blacksmithing tool seemed clunky. That clunky feeling became more apparent as you progressed through the earlier expansion packs which introduced dual specialisations and the idea of carrying a second set of gear. Bag space is a big deal and, before ‘mobile’ personal banking was an option, using the bank wasn’t very practical.
Achievement mechanics have seen changes, too. Instead of each character you create needing to go through the effort required to gain the listed achievements individually, most achievements are now applied account-wide. This means you only earn your achievement points once. However, while all your characters will earn criteria based achievements, this doesn’t mean you will be able to begin an achievement on one character and complete the same criteria achievement on another character.
A few small exceptions apply to this rule though and it gets a little messy once you start talking about meta achievements. There are a few achievements out there I know I would never want to have to complete multiple times for each of my characters to earn them. For achievements such as ‘complete 2,500 daily quests’ or ‘earn 250K honourable kills,’ Blizzard seem to agree that expecting players to do this on each of their characters is simply too much. In those cases, the combined efforts of all your characters would apply towards the criteria count. Rewards gained via achievements earned will also be shared at the account level.
This brings me onto the next change that provides ‘shared’ access: mounts and vanity pets. As you log onto each of your characters, purchase mounts and obtain pets, you may begin to notice no matter which character you log onto, your mounts and pets are all ready and available for you to use. This is one of those changes I ‘love-hate’. I feel so conflicted by this change. On the one hand, part of me is happy to know I don’t have to grind all that faction reputation or go through the criteria required obtain the mount I am after. On the other hand, this change really disappoints me and decreases the value of those mounts and pets.
Yes, I know they’re only vanity items but that’s not the point. When I created my monk and discovered the new mount and pet interface, I saw my Swift Razzashi Raptor staring at me. A mount my very first character, my Priest, earned back in vanilla World of Warcraft out of sheer luck during a Pick-up Group raid on Zul’Gurub. When the mount dropped, the entire raid agreed on highest roll wins as the only requirement to win. The raid had all rolled their dice with varying numbers competing. The raid leader had rolled 97, topping all of the rolled numbers. My heart pounded as I saw his result. I had waited until everyone had put their cards on the table, before I did the same. I typed /roll completely giving in to the idea I would be unlikely to beat him. I rolled 98.
This is an experience I shared with my Priest, not my Monk or any other character. That raptor is part of what makes me love her, because I had that adventure whilst playing as her. That mount was a unique representation of her story and it’s a mount model you can’t obtain in the game anymore. Similarly, it felt awkward for my Monk to be able to fly around on a Vitreous Stone Drake, a mount obtained as a rare drop from a Cataclysm dungeon boss, which my Hunter had earned after many, MANY runs of the Stonecore dungeon. My Monk was able to use something not even available to earn until Cataclysm well before he’s even seen any Cataclysm content.
Blizzard’s logic behind making achievements, mounts and pets revolves around their concern of character abandonment. They’re worried if one particular character has a certain mount, achievement, pet or is close to earning one of those things the player would then favour playing that particular character over any of their other characters. I totally get it. Most players with a character on the final step of earning an achievement/reward would be unlikely to swap over to another character for the benefit of a party or raid, if they’re keen on earning a specific achievement or reward.
Having said that, I don’t think trying to equalise which character you play should be done by cheapening the experience overall. Maybe this is a bit quirky but when I play my characters, I see them as individual from each other with their own journey to complete. I attach different experiences to each one based on what I went through with that character at the time. I don’t mind having to run the same dungeon over and over again in hopes of seeing the Vitreous Stone Drake again and potentially walking away having won it. Maybe it will drop for my Monk the first time I visit Stonecore, maybe it will be 50 runs later, but at least let me have the opportunity for it to be a story to tell.
These ‘account-wide’ changes make me feel as though this game is becoming less about each of the characters you have and more about the single identity player behind them. That’s not necessarily a bad thing but it does remove an element of fun and point of difference which previously existed in the game.
All mana using classes have a set amount of mana. Healers have capped mana pools of 100K and no amount of intellect will push you beyond this amount (though it will increase your spell power and how much your spells damage or heal someone). So, aside from spells, the way your character physically looks and their name, these days there just isn’t much else that makes your characters any different from each other.
The closer and closer this game gets to simply being ‘an account person’ the less detailed and enriched the player experience will become overall, in my opinion. There needs to be a clear balance of ensuring Blizzard help minimise the amount of ‘nigh-impossible’ tasks needed to be repeated without causing characters to skip content because of the previous actions of another character you’ve played before. The last thing I want to feel is “played one, played them all.”
Comments on this Article
Fri 19 Oct 12, 12:38pmTooTs
Posted: Fri 19 Oct 12, 12:38pm
Fri 19 Oct 12, 2:45pmAudi
Posted: Fri 19 Oct 12, 2:45pm
Fri 19 Oct 12, 3:40pmTooTs
Posted: Fri 19 Oct 12, 3:40pm
Fri 19 Oct 12, 4:17pmAudi
Posted: Fri 19 Oct 12, 4:17pm
Fri 19 Oct 12, 4:34pmTooTs
Posted: Fri 19 Oct 12, 4:34pm
Post Your Comment
Recent News Entries
The War Z now Infestation: Survivor Stories, still not worth playing
We did it? Microsoft capitulates on internet and used games
Skulls of the Shogun coming to Steam, beta available with pre-purchase
Torchlight for free, up to 85% off 500+ other games in GOG's Summer Sale
E3 2013 - Interview with Infinity Ward