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WoW Mists of Pandaria - Ale is my bear necessity

My personal view of week one playing World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria

I have been a World of Warcraft player since late 2005. I have played the classic WoW (aka Vanilla WoW) and The Burning Crusade, The Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm and now Mists of Pandaria expansions. The only time I didn't play high-end raiding was back in Vanilla as my first character ever didn't manage to reach maximum level (60) before The Burning Crusade expansion came out. Back then I did like the game but didn't put that much effort into it.

Nevertheless, I can easily say that World of Warcraft is, by very far, the best game I have ever played and that pleases me the most as a gamer. I have played many games in many genres, from FPS to RPG, passing through Adventure games, RTS and other genres, in several platforms such as PC, Console and Mobile. But no game has ever gave me nowhere near the joy of playing as WoW does. At some point, I did play too much, but nowadays I found a relaxed, casual approach to WoW, yet still competitive and rewarding. I do play often, but I don't spend that much time around the game as I used to.

Making a retrospective of my World of Warcraft experience compared to what the first week of the latest expansion has been, I would have to say that Mists of Pandaria surprised me. I mean, one of the things I liked the most about this game is its lore. I totally LOVE WoW lore. The whole world experience and the stories of each of the game's most notable characters is just amazing and passionately immersive. Bearing that in mind, it was with great surprise and a bit of disapproval that I found the new expansion was related to a somewhat "minor" part of WoW lore: The Pandaren. I mean, the only character or mention of the race in wow lore with some consistency was Chen Stormstout, a roaming Pandaren hero that popped one day on Durotar and crossed paths with Rexxar and eventually decided to help the Horde out. That's the (very) short version of it. Hence, making a whole expansion related to such short lore seemed to me a bit like "ok guys we ran out of ideas" and an attempt from Blizzard to take advantage of the good publicity around "Kung-Fu Panda", trying to reach the Asian (read Chinese) market. Therefore, being such a fan of WoW lore I looked at this "WoW meets Kung-Fu Panda" approach with a lot of suspicion.

I mean, look back:

  • Classic WoW we had fantastic story that was actually three stories in one, as Adam Holisky brilliantly explains in his article for WoW Insider, but to cut it short, we would have to defend the whole Azeroth of the past and emerging threats, trying to avoid the Old Gods to take back power and control of the planet after the Lich King has been pushed into the northern lands of Northrend and left the "evil-throne" without a king;
  • In The Burning Crusade, Illidan Stormrage and his group of buddies influenced and corrupted by the Lich King are the bad guys and we, as Azeroth's Heroes needed to put an end to that and to the resurgence of the Burning Legion, led by Kil'Jaedan;
  • The Wrath of the Lich King, quite obviously, happens when the Lich King himself feels strong enough to just come forward and try to unleash his power completely, destroying all life on Azeroth and convert everyone to his undead army. Again, it was our duty to stop him;
  • The Cataclysm had a very big challenge. Whilst the previous three storylines all talked about and went around Azeroth's biggest threat, The Lich King, now that in WOTLK we managed to kill the bastard, now Blizzard had to find another big baddie, but bad enough to be in par with LK. I think the choice of Deathwing, the Aspect of Death was a very wise one and in line with the lore, as it went back to the very foundations of the world, back to the day of the Aspects, a group of guardians created by the Titans, those who actually forged Azeroth. Deathwing was a corrupted (evil) Aspect, so it was a very big baddie indeed. I loved the lore, the whole expansion was very positive especially in gameplay terms, the only thing I believe Blizzard failed a bit was the final encounter. Yes, Deathwing's fight was just... how to say it... well.. stupid! Yes, that's the term. It was stupid. Sorry Blizzard, I love you guys, but the fight was indeed stupid and disappointing. Nevertheless, the whole expansion rocked, in my opinion;

Then Mists of Pandaria came out. As mentioned, my expectations weren't high (and still aren't), yet from the first week of play, I must admit that the new continent is absolutely amazing, fantastic landscapes and some really well designed storylines. The lore of Pandaria actually makes sense and it fits properly into WoW lore, but more like an extension, or an untold story that is now being unveiled. The mistery (pun intended) surrounding Pandaria and its inhabitants fit nicely into Azeroth.

I liked leveling to 90, as much as you can enjoy leveling when you have played the game for 7 years and leveled all classes from 1 to 60, then 70, then 80, then 85 and now will have to level them all to 90. But leveling is smooth, with a lot of choices to make and cool storylines to follow. Still to see how raiding goes, but at least, the heroic dungeons feel good, at least as good as TBC and Cataclysm ones.

Next week we'll be going for our first attempt at the new raids and I will report back with my opinions on it. In the meantime, "Stay away from the Voodoo, Mon!"... :)

Mantikoreh, The Immortal
Mantikore, my main character, after first week of Mists

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