Monday, March 19, 2012

Mists of Pandaria NDA Lifed - Massive Information Flood

Last night at midnight, the NDA for World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria has finally lifted. With it, interviews were held and massive influxes of information were released to the masses of awaiting players. In this article I will go over some of the information found, using the (TL;DR of) relevant sources above and giving my own analysis and opinions on what the statements could entail. This means that while it looks like only one source covers some specific topic, it is likely multiple sources covered it at some pointde. In addition, I may deliberately skip over some statements because they were clearly established prior to this interview (such as Warlock changes) or they're not of great significance. With that said, let us begin:

What To Expect
Here's some things you can expect in Mists of Pandaria according to a few sources:
The final patch of Mists of Pandaria will be the Siege of Orgrimmar! Both factions lay siege to the city to bring Garrosh down and end his reign of Warchief. -MMOChampion
Garrosh will be this expansion's final boss. -Wowhead
Aside from the massive controversy that will spark from this statement (as Garrosh lovers and haters duke it out on the forums), I think this is an interesting path to take in design decisions. Suddenly, a major town becomes a raid instance, with PvP targets as bosses. I'm hoping this implementation works out well and that we see plenty of raids or scenarios (we probably will) similar to this prior to this final patch.
Eleven character slots will let everyone try out a monk. -Wowhead
An 11th character slot has been added. -MMOChampion
I was personally hoping to have the "character slot" cap completely abolished and instead have the account cap be the true hard cap (50 characters total per account), but I'll take what I can get. At least I won't have to delete a character to make a monk. However, this may present an issue for people who want to level on the realm they've grown up with but suddenly can't make more characters without opening another account - an issue that has resulted in severe boredom even at the present time. Maybe they'll implement it later.
A new faction lets player have their own farms in-game. They will be able to manage livestock and more all the while gaining reputation. Other factions will offer other activities, from raising a serpent to become your mount to defending outposts for dailies. -Wowhead
The Tillers faction will let you run your own farm! The farmer's market will provide daily quest to improve your farm every day, you will be able to clear plots of land and plant things like cooking ingredients, herbalism nodes, gifts for NPCs to build your reputation... etc.  -MMOChampion
I am rather fascinated by the idea. I really hope there's some serious dynamics beyond the current level of design (such as with Firelands dailies having a rather small pool of dailies and some phasing that creates an illusion of dynamic dailies). We'll just have to wait and see (and pray it isn't remotely similar to Runescape's farming system *shudder*).
Cooking will have four specializations allowing for customized food. -Wowhead
I can't exactly say I'm surprised by this idea. After all, the Pandaren have a racial related for food buffs and it seems culinary achievement will be more important than before (Pandaria is big on that thing, it would appear).

Prime glyphs have been removed and many new vanity glyphs have taken their place. -Wowhead
Although it has been mentioned Prime glyphs would essentially be baked into the abilities they improve, I don't believe it was made clear what would be implemented in its place. Now, there are a slew of new glyphs to replace them.
There will be more mounts and less color swaps for different rewards. -MMOChampion
I guess this means a lot more work for them, right? Hopefully they can hold true to this statement.
The Lorewalkers will urge players to explore the world around them by providing cutscenes and rewards. They will help flesh out archaeology into a more rewarding profession. -Wowhead
This sounds like an interesting idea. A definitive issue is that people just sit in town, in their queues doing next to nothing. Maybe this, along with several other incentives, will have people running around actually doing things.
Monks had their auto attack added back in and were much more developed--see our monk section! -Wowhead
 I was kind of hoping they'd keep the "no auto attack" thing in, but given the reasons for removing the unique mechanic, I guess it might be better this way. I am NOT going to analyze the rest of the Monk stuff because, while I could guess how Monks are going to work, I think it's better to wait until the Beta.
The new LFR loot system will allow everyone to roll individually. The highest few rolls will win an item from the boss. Upon winning a roll, if the boss has an item that you can use, you will win it. If not, you will get some amount of gold. It will only be in LFR to begin with, but can be added to other parts of the game later. -MMOChampion
LFR looting will be reworked--individual-based rolls like in Diablo. Completing additional objectives in WoW--such as a number of daily quests--will give players a buff allowing them an additional roll (that does not impact other players). -Wowhead
These changes to the LFR system can be summed up like this:
  • When a boss is defeated, everyone will roll.
  • The top rolls will win loot relevant to their specialization and class (or gold if they don't need it). This means several players can win the same thing without stealing loot.
  • Participating in other activities in WoW will reward you in LFR. You get additional "bites at the apple" per se.
Overall, while it's not quite like my own ideas to change LFR (some of which will still be relevant, as this only concerns loot), I will admit this definitely has a good chance of working at removing a large amount of loot drama the current LFR system practically breeds.
AoE Looting has been added. -MMOChampion
This is possibly one of the best things I have ever read. World of Warcraft's mob looting system is pretty outdated at best now and while they did try to improve it somewhat, it didn't work out too well. It also made farming much more of a chore than it already is. On the other hand, this change may make farming far more simplified (and potentially an enormous windfall for gold sellers), but we'll see.
There will be nine level 90 heroics for players as well as three raids with 14 raid bosses and three difficulties. There will be an additional two world bosses. -MMOChampion
First tier of Pandaria raiding will have 14 bosses, available on LFR, Normal, and Heroic difficulty. -Wowhead
Also keep in mind that there are six new dungeons in Mists of Pandaria. Besides that, I am surprised by how many bosses will be available on release, especially considering they will all probably be completely original, sans a potential Vault of Archavon-style boss, but that still leaves 13 potential bosses. The best part is they will be available for everyone, making good on the fact LFR is going to be here to stay (and hopefully more prone to acceptance since it will be around since the beginning of an expansion). The addition of world bosses also makes me pretty happy. There actually have been some in Cataclysm and I am glad to see there are going to be more.
In Challenge Modes, the vast majority of players will most likely earn a bronze medal even if they are a relatively unskilled player. After a player earns all the medals at the Bronze level, they will be rewarded with an achievement and title. Completing all of the Silver medals will earn a set of spectacular gear for transmogrification, and completing all of the gold will earn a unique epic flying mount. Challenge modes will be available for the six new dungeons at launch. -MMOChampion
Challenge modes will grant realm first achievements for ranked completion times, in addition to the already planned transmogrification rewards. -Wowhead
I am glad to see Challenge Modes be further fleshed out. They are now far more rewarding and I'm sure people will be eager to try to get the best times in a dungeon. I can't wait to really see what it's like but so far, the incentives for doing Challenge Modes are great. 
Pet battles are WoW's first true minigame. They will not count losses, will be light-hearted and anonymous, and they will have everything mentioned at BlizzCon including rare varieties of existing pets. -Wowhead
PvP pet battles are going to be fun and causal, only tracking the number of wins and not the number of losses. When fighting another player, you cannot see the other players name or communicate with them. -MMOChampion
Pokemon statements aside, the only real thing worth noting here is that losses won't be recorded, so I guess now people can't judge each other for failing at Pet Battles. Also, I'm really hoping Pet Battle dueling with other players will still be around because with the way Pet Battles are described, dueling with players you know may not be compatible. Also, I'm wondering when Blizzard will discuss "wild pets."
The Defense of the Ancients battleground concept was scrapped; world PvP objectives were added. Control areas of Pandaria to increase your faction's conquest point weekly cap. -Wowhead
I'm saddened by the removal of the Defense of the Ancients battleground idea. I thought it would've worked out well. The idea of making control points in Pandaria extremely important will make for some interesting world PvP, however (I hope).
Cloud Serpents are the Pandaren's mount of choice. You can raise your own by doing 20 days of daily quests. -MMOChampion
Order of the Cloud Serpent: Ancient order of flying warriors: will teach players how to train cloud serpent to become a mount (similar to Wintersaber grind) with enough reputation. -Wowhead
Another mount grind? Not too bad. I really hope the Cloud Serpent isn't a reskin of existing Wind Serpents, however.
The valor point system will be entirely revamped. Players will augment their gear and upgrade levels using them. -Wowhead
I actually like the idea of upgrading gear in this matter. It does exist to some degree (see: Dragonwrath and Fangs of the Father quest lines), but to see it in such full force could be a cool idea. Also it might cut down on saving gear in the bank.
There will not be an item squish in Mist of Pandaria. -MMOChampion
I was sort of anticipating the item squish. Aren't the problems already apparent? What are they going to do instead? I understand it may be a daunting task, but I can't really see another solution (without causing numerical issues, and I'm not talking about players with hundreds and hundreds of thousands of health).
There are now seven zones, up from five. This was done to add more content to the game and give players a less linear progression path so that leveling for a second or third time isn’t the exact same. -MMOChampion
I'm pretty glad to see the addition of more zones (this is not counting the Pandaren starting zone either, so Pandaria itself will have seven zones). This is about as many zones as Burning Crusade or Wrath of the Lich King, and they will be just as cohesive. I am hoping it will make the leveling experience much better. In addition, it's not possible to use flying mounts to tear through the content like Cataclysm either, which I personally support.
There will be one new arena and two new battlegrounds at launch. -MMOChampion
As you can see here, the battlegrounds are fully fleshed out. I am actually interested by the concepts of the battlegrounds (Silver Shard Mine sounds like several TF2 objectives fused together) and hope they work out well. I can't say much about the arena, however. I'm still pretty annoyed by the Dalaran Arena (those damn boxes...). Maybe it'll be some flat earth or something.
The Pre Mists of Pandaria Patch will be roughly two weeks before launch and bring simple rewards. It might involve a scenario with Theramore and the Alliance vs Horde theme. Chen Stormstout might also come to the local cities and get players excited about what is coming. -MMOChampion
This is a pretty big one, I feel. The fact the pre-patch will come so shortly before the expansion release means that the expansion may be coming soon  and also probably the fact Blizzard doesn't want people to get disappointed and/or bored while waiting around a few months for the true expansion release (something that's happened in the past), especially considering the promised content is likely to be similar in size.


And that's about it for my analysis of what Mists of Pandaria will bring. I know I missed some of the announced changes coming in Mists of Pandaria. Therefore, I urge you to check out sources to further fill yourself in on what Mists of Pandaria will have to offer as of now. Until then, I guess it's time to wait until the beta test. Also, did I mention the female Pandaren was revealed?

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