Kurn's Thoughts on Mists of Pandaria

Well, I’m not sold, yet. That’s a little bit troubling. I haven’t had to be “sold” on an expansion so far. I loved the trailer and concept for Burning Crusade, was left with goosebumps after the WotLK trailer and was downright pissed off at Deathwing for his attack on Stormwind and, you know, breaking the world. I was invested. I didn’t need to be sold. It wasn’t a question of “will I play this expansion” but rather “what what I do in this expansion?”.

Now, I’m still debating whether or not to play.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I got the virtual ticket for BlizzCon so I spent most of Friday afternoon staring at my computer screen and tweeting like a crazed fool (until I went over my twitter limit for like, two hours!) and trying to soak in everything that I was hearing.

Right from the start, I was intrigued by the WoW Annual Pass. This could be billed monthly and would entitle you to a free copy of Diablo III and would give you some fancy WoW mount. But most interestingly to me, guaranteed access to the new WoW expansion beta.

I signed up for it when my Real Life Friend the Resto Druid reminded me that the earlier that year-long commitment starts, the earlier it’ll end. Since I was probably going to pick up D3 and since I’m definitely playing through 4.3, it’s probably worth it. Plus, hey, beta. So I signed up for it, but not because I agree with it existing, not because I have faith in the expansion, not for any of those reasons. Just because I know I’m probably playing for the next 6 months at a minimum and I may as well get something for that.

Moving on, when I saw a green-shaded World of Warcraft logo, my immediate thought was “Well, it’s gotta be The Emerald Dream!”


Mists of Pandaria.

Complete with playable pandaren.

I am disappointed by this. The thing is, I’m still trying to figure out why that alone has disappointed me. Maybe it’s like what some of the panelists were saying — the last couple of expansions have been very dark and this is a lot lighter and “fun”. They’re moving away from the “big bad” at the end of the expansions with this one. BC, your goal was to kill Illidan, even though Kil’jaeden showed up later. In Wrath, it was all about Arthas. Arthas was everywhere while you levelled up, while you went through dungeons. It was ALL about Arthas. In Cataclysm, it’s about revenge and getting back at Deathwing for breaking the whole damn world apart. (I personally plan to kill him for destroying Auberdine. That’s where Kurn grew up!!)

While the “big bad” thing is old and stale at this point, because it’s been going on for nearly 5 years, I’m not sure I like what’s replacing it.

Trouble is, I don’t have a lot of ideas that could replace that formula.

All right, let’s talk about the pandas.

I am not wholly opposed to Pandaren. I am not at all opposed to monks either, but we’ll get to that.

I didn’t play the RTS games. The only Pandaren I have had contact with is my little Pandaren Monk non-combat pet (and BOY, will I get to THAT later…). Thus, I have no idea where they fit into the story of WoW. I’m not a huge lore person — what matters to me is recognizing things that I’ve already seen in the game. Fighting Ragnaros again is AWESOME because I fought him before. Seeing Onyxia resurrected in Blackwing Descent was AWESOME, because it was ONYXIA and I remember how terrified I was when I first stepped into her cavern and saw the emote: “How fortuitous, usually I must leave my lair to feed!” Hell, killing Staghelm was great because I remembered him as that douchecanoe who sent me to Un’Goro an ungodly amount of times.

The draenei, well, I’m still not thrilled with them, but we had them in-game before, as the Lost Ones and such, as I understand it. And blood elves are obviously related to the trolls and the night elves, just by virtue of the ears. ;) So it was easier for me to accept those races. The Gilneans, I was aware of Gilneas and the wall, so that’s also fine (and having played the start zone, I understand how they became the Worgen) and goblins are all over the place.

But pandas?

Less enthused. And they just look so silly.

I was griping about this on twitter, before I went over my daily limit and SomeRocketeer said “What? We play a game with talking cows and dogs and cats, how are Pandas any worse? lol”

A fair question.

I guess my best response, for now, is that they just look goofy.

And one of their racials is “Bouncy”. I’m not kidding. “You take 50% less falling damage.”

Sorry, that calls forth images of pandas falling out of trees and bouncing around. Like Gummi Bears or something. My RL Friend the Resto Druid cannot WAIT to see if they actually bounce.

So, not thrilled by the Pandaren themselves, so far, but I DO really like the fact that they start out as a neutral race. As it was explained, from 1-10, they are neutral as they level up, then they pick Alliance or Horde. I think that’s awesome.

Questions: What about guilding a level 1 alt immediately? Can you do that even if they haven’t chosen a side? I’m guessing not.

I also find it interesting that it’s not a hero class like the DK — they start from level 1. What a grind, man. 90 levels. Eesh. Still, that might cut down on the number of noobs. It seems like an awful lot of DKs are still idiots. (That’s not all DKs. If you actually tank in the dungeon finder groups as a blood DK, in blood presence, in PVE tanking gear, for example, as opposed to frost in frost presence, in PVP gear, you are not an idiot.)

Okay, let’s talk about levels. Another 5-level expansion. Blech. I hope they learned their lessons about the mistakes they made with this 5-level expansion, some of which I gripe about in this old post.

They did say that there are no more level-cap regular dungeons. You’ll have dungeons in which you level up, then you’ll have heroics at level 90 and then you’ll move on into challenge dungeons, if you like, which is something I’ll talk about in another post, I’m sure.

There’s other stuff to discuss to do with PVE (challenge dungeons, scenarios), PVP (a new arena, a new style or two of BGs, perhaps), but I want to get a couple of the major class changes.

But a major change for hunters — minimum range is now GONE.

However, because of that, melee weapons for hunters are now also GONE. I think it was Ghostcrawler who said “we’ve gone from ‘everything is a hunter weapon’ to ‘nothing is a hunter weapon’.”

Similarly, ranged weapons for everyone else are GONE, as are relics.

Wands will become a new main-hand possibility for casters, statted the same way daggers, swords or maces would be.

Rogues and warriors will use their melee weapons for their ranged abilities (Fan of Knives, Heroic Throw, etc, I would imagine).

Druids become the first class to have a fourth spec. Feral will be kitty DPS, balance will remain moonkin, resto will remain the healing tree, but you’ll now have the Guardian spec, which will be a tanking spec.

You will no longer have to learn spells at the trainer, you’ll be able to do so wherever you are when you ding.

Looking over all of that, and I’m sure that there’s more, I’m realizing two things:

1) I’m not at all excited for the expansion.

2) They’re basically making things so you can’t be dumb.

Forget about my excitement for a bit (because I know you care oh-so-much) and let’s look at my claim.

One of the devs, although I’m not sure who it was, said that if you didn’t take Raging Blow, I think it was, as a fury warrior, you weren’t being daring or experimental, you were just being a bad fury warrior.

Blizzard’s solution to that? Make sure that if they’re fury and max level, they have all the key abilities they want you to use, such as Raging Blow.

All max-level holy paladins are, for example, going to have Divine Plea, Beacon of Light, Holy Light, Divine Light and more.

On the one hand, good. I’m glad that I won’t have to see another dumb paladin out there who doesn’t have, I don’t know, Beacon of Light, Light of Dawn and Divine Favor, for instance.

On the other hand, bad. A spec is one way to tell a good/knowledgeable player from a bad/uninformed/lazy player. Who does their research? The one with the good spec. Who just drops points in? The lazy/etc player. Granted, with Cataclysm, the requirement of placing 31 points in your talent tree made it hard to screw it up, but hey, people still did screw things up on a regular basis.

While I am glad that players will have all their “required” abilities, I’m not glad that Blizzard is like “here, you’re too dumb to pick the right specs and pick up the right talents. JUST TAKE THEM AUTOMATICALLY!” I would much prefer that they spend time educating us about these abilities/talents/etc rather than just handing them to us.

The learning curve in WoW has always been a bit steep. There’s nothing in-game apart from “Miss!” that lets us know that hit might be important. Competant, good players could get to a raid and not be hit-capped for a boss and just flat-out not understand why they’re missing. The stat sheet with its “chance to miss” thing is a nice touch, but how does anyone know that a boss level mob is level 88? Sure, us older-school players know that a boss is, mathematically, 3 levels above us, but we didn’t just know that all of a sudden. We had to learn, either from other players or from various websites.

The same goes for expertise — who innnately knows that expertise should be at 26 for each weapon? Who innately knows that expertise is for melee only? It certainly sounds like something you should have a lot of, doesn’t it? Who doesn’t want more expertise, when you don’t know what it does?

I’m not asking Blizzard to say “okay, expertise is something melee classes and perhaps tanks should take a look at”, but I’m saying that the reason that some people seem so … what’s the kind way of putting this … completely brainless about things is that the in-game resources for such things don’t exist. What they further don’t seem to understand is that by removing the choices (as with the talents), they are removing the player’s ability to learn and understand why, for example, Raging Blow is required for decent fury warrior DPS.

This, in my not-remotely-humble opinion, is going to lead to dumber players.

A few weeks ago, I was being healed on my baby paladin (who was tanking) through Heroic Shadowfang Keep. By a druid who was wearing a lot of cloth. A lot of PVP cloth. Just the other day, I healed a “tank” who was a frost-specced DK who was dual-wielding 1Hs and was in frost presence the whole time, during Headless Horseman. One heal and things turned to look at ME.

The cloth-wearing druid claimed he “didn’t need the 5% bonus intellect” wearing all leather would get him and that resilience was good for PVE because he would get hit a lot by mobs.

The “DK tank”, and I use that term loosely, was either a complete moron or just a stupid DPS who decided to “tank” things (seriously, not even blood presence, dude? Really?) because it afforded him a faster queue.

This is what’s wrong with the game. This is what the new “talent” system is going to lead more of. If people are too dumb to know what talents to take, TEACH THEM WHY those talents are important. Don’t just wave the little white flag and give up and give them all the talents you feel are required because some people aren’t capable of doing a little bit of research to see what spec might be better.

I understand wanting to break up cookie-cutter specs, so they’ve gone and made the “talents”, such as they are, be much less of a thing. Talents are now optional things that you should be able to do any encounter without having. Sure, some will make things easier, but it seems as though regardless of what talents you pick, you should be able to finish out PVE encounters. Blizzard has removed our choices that they felt were meaningless because people were choosing wrong (and that meant that there was a Right Choice and anything else was a Wrong Choice) and have replaced them with 6 choices (one every 15 levels — geez, I remember getting a talent point every level once I hit 10!) to make from 18 abilities that are completely meaningless. Who cares if I pick Clemency (5m CD but on use will remove the cooldowns on your HoFreedom, HoSac and BOP) versus Acts of Sacrifice (passively reduces mana cost and CD of those spells by 20%)? Either way, it means more use of those abilities, but the idea is that encounters can be done without either of those talents by virtue of picking up Veneration, in the same tier as Clemency and Acts of Sacrifice, and Veneration means that when you drop your Consecration, anyone standing in it is immune to movement-impairing effects for six seconds.

So that means that whether I pick Veneration, Acts of Sacrifice or Clemency, my choice ultimately doesn’t matter, because there’s not supposed to be a “Right Choice”.

How does that make for more compelling options? I think what’s “compelling” is that every paladin can get Ardent Defender and Repentence, or that all rogues could get Shadowstep or Prep or that even prot warriors can get Bladestorm, while DPS warriors can get Shockwave. I don’t find that stuff compelling. A bit nifty, perhaps, but not compelling, not all that interesting.

Similarly, being able to train anywhere we like might be a “quality of life” thing, but I can’t believe it is. I think it’s to encourage people to effing train and take their abilities. One of the devs said that they didn’t like seeing someone who hadn’t trained in 20 levels because they couldn’t be bothered to go back to a trainer.

Whenever I dinged back in Vanilla, BC, Wrath, Cata, I ALWAYS went back to train. ALWAYS. I might have finished my dungeon or quest first, but I ALWAYS went to the trainer and trained. It was fun, it was exciting and I was smart enough to know I was improving my character by doing so.

Now, trainers are literally just going to be for respecs and people won’t have an excuse to not train. First, they get rid of ranks of abilities (after the failure that was so prevalent in Wrath of the Lich King, I can’t really blame them), then they made it really obvious that we got new abilities when we dinged (with the displays upon ding, etc) and now they’ll basically allow you to train things as you ding. If that’s the case, why not just automatically give the abilities to us as soon as we ding? Why bother have us learn skills when we can just gain them automatically? I’m not wanting to go in that direction, but it seems that, sooner rather than later, we’re going to be able to start a new toon at 80 or so and will gain all required abilities as we ding and will have three choices in terms of “talents”.

Overall, I’m not sold yet. I’m looking forward to the beta to see more of what this whole expansion is going to be about. But I am not yet excited, and I really, really want to be. I wish I were. But I’m not. Regardless, holy paladins can keep coming here for info and I’ll be providing everything I can until 5.0 drops, at the very least. It’s just beyond then where there’s some uncertainty.

Having said that, Anafielle said on Twitter during the initial announcements:

And hey, you guys are allowed to like it and disagree, that is interesting. But quit telling me I am not allowed to be unhappy!

This. 1,000,000 x this. Don’t tell me to stop my whining or complaining or thinking out loud. I’m a paying customer, same as you, and I have responsibilities to people in the game that will keep me playing through until Mists of Pandaria comes out at the very least. What they are doing is changing some very core portions of the game and I don’t really agree with them and you know what? I’m allowed to speak my mind, particularly here. We can agree to disagree, you can tell me why you think pandas are cool if you like, but please don’t tell me to quit my QQing and just quit the game if I’m so unhappy. I’ll be respectful of those who are excited, but you have to be respectful of us who are unsure or who aren’t excited. Disrespectful comments will not get approved and if they’re by someone who’s already got an approved comment, they will be deleted and the person will have their freedom to comment here removed. Remember the comment policy.

(As a sidenote, if you went to BlizzCon, you can submit a 3-5m audio file about your time at BlizzCon for Episode 39 of Blessing of Frost! Make sure it’s in by 12am ET on Tuesday morning (technically Monday night/Tuesday morning) to ensure we get it in time. Details are here!)

(Sidenote to sidenote: Head over to stopcast.net and vote for me, Kurn, in the LOUDEST VOICE ON TWITTER category! And you can definitely follow me on Twitter: @kurnmogh.)

24 Replies to “Kurn's Thoughts on Mists of Pandaria”

  1. I know Lath is really excited about the new expansion but I keep waiting to hear if this is or isn’t a joke (I presume by now that it’s not).

    Everything announced reminds me of Kung Fu Panda. Or Pokemon. And those are children’s franchises.

    I’m getting older. Most gamers are – right? I wanted WoW to stay serious. I wanted it to get mysterious. I wanted it to bring back Fel Reaver II to unexpectedly kick my ass.

    I understand what they’re trying to do with the talent trees. They’ve been trying for a long time. Unfortunately the talents you choose are all tied up in your character identity – it’s what makes you a Subtlety Rogue and not just a Rogue. It’s what makes you a Shadow Priest and not just a Priest.

    I’m a bit worried that you’ll end up choosing 5x “cool” abilities as talents. Then respec for the next fight to choose 5 different “cool” abilities. If they’re not passive that’s going to be a bit of a bitch to adapt to. And it’s starting to sound a lot like Glyphs… which I’m not attached to at all.

  2. I can say that im not excited at all…
    For me it’s like blizz is making WoW more to the playstation-generation…
    Like mmo for dummies and i dont like it!
    I want there to be challenge! i want to make mistakes so i can learn!
    I dont want that everything is given in a golden plate…
    Thats why it seems that i will roll to some other mmo (Well beta of SWToR was great)
    But time will show and i will still follow your posts Kurn…

  3. I sort’ve like that they’re taking a step back in seriousness a bit. I mean, think about it, if they keep making expansions about big villains then they have to keep making the new villain even more powerful and menacing than the last. Sure they could probably do it, but there’s only so far you can go before people start saying ‘Another super-powerful bad dude threatening Azeroth? Yawn!’ or else you fail to make the new guy look threatening compared to the old and no one gets excited for it.

    MoP is the rest between the climaxes of the WoW story, which is REQUIRED or else people will simply get so used to the climaxes that their effect of being awesome will wear off (look up the Star Wars pacing curve to see what I mean). I think this expansion is purposefully focused on giving players more meaningful choices, options, things to do, places to see and getting them out of the cities, all while giving them a short break from the usual apocalyptic stuff going on in the world, which is something I think we all could really use (especially if you’ve been around since the beginning).

    As to the Pandaren, I sorta like them. I actually like that they’re not as serious a race as the others. We already have plenty of serious races, so I think its time for one that’s a little more on the lighter and goofy side. They may not appeal to everyone’s aesthetic tastes, but you have to admit it’s at least a break from the usual angsty, dark, my-race-lost-everything-in-a-tragedy type of race. And people seem to forget that the Warcraft universe is half serious fantasy and half cartoony jokes and humor. It always has been, ever since the beginning, and I doubt that’s going to change very much going forward.

    Will I roll one? Hell yeah, and I’ll laugh heartily at their jokes, kick back while they brew and drink their own kegs of beer, take in their beautiful asian-inspired zones, and then go ahead and maul a few rabbits to death with my panda monk claws. :)

  4. I feel like while there isn’t an obvious big bad in the opening trailer that we could be the ones that sort of “create” it, if you will.

    I remember what the developers said about the Horde and the Alliance basically showing up and destroying this idyllic land. I remember the parts about the negative energy that gets released when people do bad things (which I assume we will be doing plenty of). I can’t help but put on my tinfoil hat and think that we could possibly “create.” the big bad with all the negative energy that we are putting out there or by us destroying the Pandaren continent.

    Obviously, I don’t have it too well thought out, but I kind of look forward to seeing just how we contribute to the ultimate plot line of the next expansion. If they stick to that storyline of the players ending up trashing the place, we could very well have an expansion that would really make us accountable for the things that we do. Maybe more so than any other expansion previously. I’m kind of excited about it.

  5. I’m not happy, to be honest. The focus on Horde vs. Alliance makes me worried that we’ll be forced into more mandatory world PVP, even with the so-called PVE “challenges”. And with the gutted talent specs with the quick change, I’m now wondering if it’s a way to force people into roles they don’t feel comfortable in. I half expect a patch in MoP that’ll have tier gear change its stats, abilities and bonuses whenever you switch from Tank to Heal to DPS. (“You wear plate, Pally…just suck it up and start tanking!”)

    On the other hand, I’m now also wondering if this means one of these expansions, I can tell Varian and Garrosh to ram their jingoistic sabers up their Twisting Nethers and game mechanically cut away from Horde or Alliance.

  6. I retired from raiding a few weeks ago, and my subscription finally ran out last week, so for me, it’s not a question of “Will I be playing the next expansion?” But when I read the official announcement, I burst out laughing. All I could think is that the game has officially “jumped the shark”.

    My kids, however, are totally excited about pandas. Why wouldn’t they be? They’re teenage and pre-teen girls. I haven’t promised them I will reactivate the kid account come MoP.

  7. I guess I will play the advocate for the expac.

    I admit I am excited and from a business standpoint and a design standpoint I can understand Blizzard’s decisions.

    From a QoL improvement – keeping people in the world and not running back to town to train, for some people is really important, in the race to be max lvl asap can make a difference to some.

    Also gutting the talent trees and making it “easier” to talents, makes it more approachable for all to play. A lot of the comments about the “noobbness” of the talent trees are coming from individuals who raid on a a consistant basis etc (from my perspective)

    Blizzard is a business and to cater to a larger portion they are going to make it easier for them, not us the raiders imo. Besides they are also making it easier to change talents as needed.

    I like challenges as well, but I I can understand where they are coming from, and looking at some of the choices, I can already imagine their is going to be some min/maxing going on.

    Hate it or not, MoP appears will be bringing the most activites for people to do outside of raiding.

    1.) PVE scenarios
    2.) Challenge Dungeons
    3.) Pokemon….
    4.) Dailys possibly giving VP
    5.) Increase in World PvP

    They are addressing a lot of things people have been griping about.

    I did play the warcrafts RTS and I loved the Pandaran Brewmaster as a hero for hire. Could the actual model be a little less cute and more feral, yes, but then again it is still in development.

  8. Many of the changes for “Quality of Life” or additions (Non-Combat Pet Combat) seem to me to specifically alter what this game offers as a PC game in favor of more console oriented changes. All of those things could be part of an XBox UI. WoW is a PC game. I don’t understand why Blizzard would take the advantages a PC offers and do away with them. WoW can’t compete with consoles in terms of simplicity and look. Consoles can’t beat a PC in terms of the complexity a PC can offer.

    As for the other “offerings”:

    1) Pandas. They look silly.
    2) PVE Scenarios. Look to me like PvP but with PvE AI. So its just PvE.
    3) Dungeon Challenges. If I wanted to stop progressing through gear I’d stop improving my gear.

    The other stuff (5 more levels, new zones, etc) looks alright. I wonder if those things are enough to keep me playing. My initial reaction was to purchase SWTOR on Friday.

  9. MoP will dedinately be I kinder, gentler expansion. Looks like they’re going down the world pvp route as well(Rift). Now with dumbing down our talent system to the level they did, bums me out. Part of the fun of this game was doing your research, through blog sites, videos and chatting back and forth with other players. However time will tell and nothing is set in stone yet….fingers crossed.

  10. While I am not happy with all the changes that are coming I understand them, and I understand where they are coming from. Blizzard is a business and they are in this to make money. Raiders such as us are a small subset of the game. Blizzard is more interested in making the majority happy so that’s what they are going to do, and that’s what I look at this expansion is all about, how to make more people happy and interested in the game. The majority of my small 10 man only guild is not happy with at least the talent changes, but if I look outside the guild I have more friends that are happy and looking forward to it than not. I myself may retire again, but maybe not, I will wait for the expansion and decide then.

    By the way I have been lurking on this site for more than a year and I came here because I was looking for information on how to spec, gear and play my Paly and someone pointed me this way. Glad I did. I like how you write and I like how you say you feel. Hell I would stick with your blog even if you leave wow and move on to other MMOs.

  11. As someone who IS really into the lore, I’m not very excited about this xpac. We’ll see, but it just seems too silly. Humanoid pandas CALLED pandas, pet battling, a new class with abilities taken from a badly translated kung-fu film and bad sound effects to match. I could totally see the alliance vs horde thing as a major theme, but only if it’s done as a proper war and not more of the “escalating hostilities” thing. Fighting over pandas in psuedo-eastern architecture isn’t doing it for me.

    The actual game system I’m not so sure on, I kinda like the direction, I kinda don’t. I always thought compelling gameplay was making the right choices at the moment you need to make them, noy having chosen the right talents weeks before becuase you looked them up on EJ. I don’t like the “choose 1 of the 3” style, I’d much preferr to get all 3, but they share a CD or something forcing you to choose which on the fly. I llike the way that forbearance forces you to choose between LoH or bubble for instance. BUT, at least the way they’re doing it is making all of them do similar things, but you get to pick the one that matches your particular gameplay, so I’m not entirely unhappy with it.

    I disagree that it’s a bad thing for new players to not have bad choices. Anything that makes the game more intuitive is better for the community as a whole, and the good players will still stand above the bad and the mediocre players. I really REALLY wish class trainers were just that. Many RPGs have a tutorial early on. Wow sort of has it in beginner tooltips, kinda sorta not really but almost. Beginner tooltips are nice for new players, but I think a proper tutorial that gave new players a true base knowlege about specs and roles and what stats are important would help more than anything. You’d still have the people that just don’t pay attention, but it would help a LOT, and if they were doing things wrong then it would conclusively be their fault instead of them just not knowing to look around the web for outside of game knowlege, somehting that doesn’t occur to everyone. A note about how much knowlege is available outside the game would, I think, be the single best advice on one of those loading screen tips.

    Players shouldn’t be “allowed to be bad”, the bad players will always be bad no matter what and their performance will reflect that, but the new-but-willing players will be better off for it.

  12. Elladrion brought up another theme I find disheartening. The whole “Pandaren are peaceful and the Horde/Alliance is imposing WAR on their culture.”

    The last thing I want out of World of WARcraft is utopian anti-war moralizing.

  13. Got the Live Stream for the first time and loved it,
    A lot of bloggers have similar views to you and that view is fair enough however from the large group peopleI play with the majority are looking forward to it. Sometimes I think since people have been playing this game for many years it wouldn’t matter would bilizzard did people wouldn’t be happy.
    We play a game (that some may say is a bit cartoony)with space goats / gnomes / undead etc and people keep going on about pandas… really?
    What I got from the live stream of Blizzcon is after watching the panels I came away with the impression that Blizzard seems to try and put changes in the game that most will be happy but with 11 million subcriptions it is hard and haters will hate.
    I love your podcast Kurn and listen to it everyweek (stop busting majik’s balls) but I have decided to maybe stop reading the blogs I subscribe to as there is too much negatitvity in them the last few months in them and I still love playing the game.
    yes you are allowed to be unhappy and no I won’t tell you stop whining

  14. I remember levelling back in vanilla, and I just chose talents because they sounded good. A lot of them weren’t, they were rubbish, but I didn’t know that at the time. I also remember things like +1% hit and +4 spell damage that I started finding on items at level 60. I had no clue what difference they made, seeing as none of my previous levelling gear had any of it. I can disticntly remember thinking ‘+1 to hit? What possible use can that be? I hit everything now anyway. Why would I want an extra 1% chance to hit?’

    Why did Blizzard even put bad talents in the trees in the first place? You only have to look at the current Holy Paladin tree to see useless talents for holy there. Why are they there? If I was a new player, I would be assuming that Arbiter of the Light was something I should be taking, seeing as it’s on the first row of the talent tree. Surely this is bad design rather than player fail.
    Not only that, but Blizz’s constant juggling of talents and changing what talents are useful and what aren’t is a major pain in the ass. I only have to leave my warlock on the shelf for 6 months to find my build is now sub-standard, or my rotation is no longer correct because they have changed talents since I last played. Talent trees are a mess, and they badly need another shake up. I would love to see them disappear entirely to be honest.

    Since vanilla I have learnt about hit, expertise, spell power, haste, caps and god knows what else. None of that was obvious, and it still isn’t obvious today. Of course it’s a lot easier to find out about them now, but as a new player you shouldn’t have to be looking things up on the internet, especially as poeple keep saying WoW levelling is faceroll. No wonder we see people in wrong specs wearing fail gear and playing bad rotations. It doesn’t mean new players are dumb, rather that the mechanics of the game are obscured, and new people really don’t know they are doing wrong (any more so than I did back in vanilla). I really don’t see why you should HAVE to learn the difference between good and bad talents. Why not have these things already fixed so you don’t have to worry about them and can concentrate on playing the game rather than theory crafting?

    As for training new skills/spells. What a complete waste of time. Give them to me automatically when I ding. I don’t think you learn anything more by going to a trainer. All you do is move your location on the map, then get them. Why is that different from learning them on the spot? I’m so for this change.

    Funny that you were dissing the ‘bounce’ racial. My first thought was – cool, Pandaren popping traps on Ragnaros!

  15. Niel: Their is a differance between cartoony and silly. Anime is cartoony, but it can tell everything from silly comedies to drama to horror. Look at the 90s batman cartoon, it was on occasion silly, but it was very stylized and generally had a very serious tone. The cartoon treaded itself as real within the context of the fictional setting that it existed in. Planet Hulk is another recent gem, a stylized cartoon about a big green guy that gets sent to an alien planet and forced to fight as a gladiator. Looked at that way, it seems a silly concept, but the movie takes the story seriously, treats the characters as actual chracters and not charicatures, and uses the medium of cartoon to tell a very well done story (and I normally couldn’t care less about hulk).

    Wow is very similar. It has cartoony characters and larger than life heroes, but it has always treated them as actual people that exist within that setting. The genius of wow was the moments of levity, the occasional breaking of the 4th wall and the wink and the nudge to you, the player, while maintaining that settings integrity. Space goats seem silly when you say it like that, but an alien culture that broke away from their brethren to become exiles becuase they recognized the cost of fantastic magical power they were being offered would corrupt everything they stood for, and now fight a losing battle against those very brethren, now corrupted into demons intent on destroying life. That’s not silly, thats compelling storytelling.

    I worry that wow has gone too far past this serious storytelling with moments of levity. i worry that blizzard is adding too many jokes, too many over the top races, too many zones that are nothing but a long, bad pop-culture referance (damn you uldum, and damn you Harrison Jones). I love the cartoony aesthetics of wow, it’s like playing in a comic book or a saturday morning cartoon. But the story has been what has kept me interested for all these years, and I see the tone of that story changing dramatically in ways I don’t care for.

  16. @Elldrion

    we do not know the full story behind Mists yets, for all we know it can be a very good story. I know at this point it looks loopy but I still feel they can pull it off.

  17. That’s the one thing I miss about pre-Cata leveling. Getting new ranks of your spells. The fact that they all scale with you is def nice, but it feels like forever between getting new abilities now, even if they’re not useful, it ‘feels more fun’. I put talent points in this too, so now with only a talent every 15 levels, dinging isn’t what it used to be, other than ‘closer to cap’.

  18. I really think you’re looking at the talent changes the wrong way. In a nutshell, here it is for me:

    Old talents: go to EJ/blogs/wow forums/find guide and spec correctly. Very very little wiggle room in talents, even for healers, who have the most. Essentially 0 wiggle room for DPS.

    New talents: look at talents. Think about how you play. Think about which of the three abilities you would prefer to have, and why. Make a conscious decision to give up two other good abilities in favor of a third.

    This will make it harder to tell, at a glance, if someone has done any research, sure. But if you’re seriously considering an app, in the interview now you can ask things like “why did you take stab instead of slash?” Good players will have reasons for their choices.

  19. I was thinking about your talent statements, and came here to write essentially what Elldrion already wrote. :-)

    When Blizzard eliminates the player’s ability to make the wrong decision as part of character customization, they eliminate your ability to judge that player in a static mode. Instead of inspecting them and realizing that they took the wrong talents/glyphs or are wearing the wrong gear/gems/enchants, to judge them you have to view the person in action (target dummy, or some type of group content).

    Even now, a static inspection isn’t foolproof. I can look up a ret spec, put on some ret gear (I have a set for when I have to do dailies, but usually keep 2 holy specs), and then do horrible dps because I hate ret, I don’t practice it, and in general I’m terrible at any melee.

    I will always be a bad ret, and the talent changes aren’t going to fix that. A good player takes more than looking up the right spec on EJ, they also have to know which buttons to hit when, and have that ingrained into muscle memory. They have to have their UI set up to show them relevant information in a timely manner. They have to be able to anticipate the encounter script so that they know when to start a huge Divine Light in anticipation of the huge hit the tank is about to take (and then cancel cast when he dodges it somehow).

    These talent changes aren’t going to change the separation between a good player and a bad player. They simplify the existing system – any serious endgame player only has a very small number of choices in their talents, and all of the rest are mandatory.

  20. We don’t always agree, but this time: YES. I was talking about Blizzcon with my friend who was watching the feed – she was super excited and I was very much meh. I kept expecting someone to tell me the pandas were a joke. Seriously, pandas?! I was a big fan of the Cataclysm talents (I can actually do my talents alone now, without having an addon to remember the right ones!), but this looks *way* too simple. They could grow on me though, and things might change by next year. Poke-pets sounds fun and I like the idea of challenges… but I keep going back to seriously, pandas?!

  21. I’m looking forward to MOP. I really think the changes to talents is an excellent step forward. I haven’t adjusted respeced my talents on any of my players in a a patch, I’m personally looking forward to being able to looking forward to going into a raid fight and having the chance to set up my 6 talents and have those decisions have a meaningful effect on how I perform. It will be a better way of demonstrating my ability as a player than how the talent system currently functions.

    I have not seen enough of the pandaren to come to a conclusion but in my experience with blizzard they aren’t going to be oversized gnomes and goblins (ie silly)

    And I am optimistic about the raiding content. I look forward to badguys contained and developed while we level in pandaria as opposed to people we have been dealing with since the RTS games.

    Right now with the limited information we have I am optimistic about MoP. Even with so many features that are throw away for me. (Pokemon and challenge modes.)

  22. I get the feeling that this may be WoW’s last expansion. Most of us know that Blizzard if currently working on their new MMO called Titan. It would make sense for Blizzard to take their most skilled and senior designers and put them on this new project possibly leaving WoW with a skeleton crew. Since there is no “end boss”, I have a feeling MoP will be content patch after content patch until Titan is ready.

    I for one will not be playing MoP. I was lucky enough to play SW:TOR on a beta weekend and had a great time with it.

  23. Kurn, thank you so much for posting this- this was a well thought out post that expresses a lot of how -I- am feeling about the expansion, much more eloquently than I’ve been able to thus far.

    Like you, I’ve -never- had to be sold on an expansion- I’ve loved this game and wasn’t worried about the future. Cata has probably been my favorite expansion so far, with the increase in raid difficulty compared to Wrath (I was was just flat out a bad player in BC…)

    But- bouncing panda people who like to drink beer? Pokemon? :

    I just feel completely unenthused by this expansion, and for the future of the game. I’ve been angry over changes before- the great crit nerf for holy paladins back in early Ulduar, for example, after I spent so long making sure everything had crit! But those changes elicited ANGER, INTEREST, PASSION of some sort…

    MoP just… doesn’t have anything that compels me. They’re taking away talents, they’re making everything idiot-proof, but the idiots will just find other ways to be idiots. I feel a great big, flat ‘meh’.

    For the first time since I’ve started playing, I’m looking at other MMOs, and that’s depressing.

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