Mists of Pandaria has been out for two weeks now. In that time I’ve leveled Jana, Traxy and Saxsy to 90. If the achievements are any guide, between the three of them I’ve done every quest in every zone except for the Dread Wastes (more on that later). I’ve leveled jewelcrafting, tailoring, mining, blacksmithing, herbalism and alchemy to 600. Plus I’ve played the auction house for a bit. I’ve run a few scenarios on Jana, but I’ve run only one dungeon, no heroics and no raids. I think I’m qualified now to write about what I’ve liked and disliked so far.
- Mage survivability. Holy smokes does this differ from previous expansions where leveling as a fire mage meant running for your life from a mistimed pull. Jana and Saxsy have three defensive moves (frostjaw, frost nova and dragon’s breath), two of which also serve as damage-enhancing abilities. Then there’s the now always available evocation with its heal upon completion and the long term cooldown of mirror image if you get into trouble. In total what was in Cata and Wrath a relatively poor soloing class has gotten to the point where it can down mobs with five to six times their health without any major problems. I like it.
- Li Li. It took them a while, but Blizzard finally recognized that Dornaa was one of the highlights of Children’s week. Here Blizzard did Dornaa one better by giving Li Li a wicked sarcastic personality while maintaining a sense of wonder. If you didn’t have Li Li out when you collected water for Mudmug or killed Mothra in the Silken Fields, you missed out. More than once I found myself wanting to respond to her and one time I actually did (Li Li: If you couldn’t tell, I was being sarcastic. Me: No s—-.) I wish I could take her everywhere.
- Stoneplow. I missed the Stoneplow event on Jana and Traxy because I skipped ahead. From what I can tell, you have to complete almost all of Krasarang and Valley of the Four Winds to get it, and I’m glad I did. In it you play a pivotal role in defeating the bugs (I forget what they’re called) from invading the Valley of the Four Winds. There’s a bit of whimsy to it (delivering beer to troops? Really?) but the game did a really good job of portraying the battle, and an even better job of making me feel like I was changing things. It’s the closest thing to the Wrathgate Blizzard has done since. It falls short of that, because the characters involved aren’t as well established and as far as I can tell there’s no major lore pivot point, but it represents to me what Blizzard should be aiming for.
- Grummles and Luckydos. I love the humor of the Grummles. More than that I love the idea of the Luckydo. There’s one Luckydo in the fights against the Hozen that basically quadruples your damage, so I always try to look for it. I’d love to have Luckydos in raids, even if it’s only on trash mobs.
- Ore. Holy smokes there is a lot of it. It’s to the point where if someone “steals” a mining node from me I don’t feel all that upset; I just fly to the next one that’s twenty yards away and mine that instead. I also like that the lowest level ore provides optimal prospecting value. I’m glad I didn’t have to level Traxy to 88 just to find ore with a decent chance of rare gems in it.
- Night Elves. From what I can see, the Night Elves are actually playing the biggest role in Pandaria as far as representing the Alliance and engaging the Pandaren diplomatically. I was going to gripe about the lack of gnomes, but then I expanded it to gripe about the lack of worgen and draenei, and then it hit me that after the Jade Forest there’s practically no organized alliance presence other than the kaldorei. I think this is a throwback to Outland and BC, where the presence of alliance races other than Draenei within Outland was relatively minimal. I like it, but I suspect this will change.
- Scenarios. So far I’ve enjoyed them, and I feel like I can put my survival moves into play. I don’t feel like they’re a dps race, which I now think is a good thing.
- The Tillers. I was skeptical at first, but I really do like the idea of actual farming for cooking materials. Much better than forcing you to kill lots of mobs for them.
- The Jade Forest Ending. Yes, I saw it from a mile away. It seems very forced rather than something that evolved from a story. Why do the Horde and Alliance choose the base of a sacred temple for their battleground? Moreover, there was no sense that I played a large part in the events. Unlike Stoneplow, there’s a real case for your character saying “Hey, this is a sacred place to the Pandaren. Maybe we should fight elsewhere?”
- Zhu’s Watch. The treatment of terminal depression within the game as part of the Sha makes sense. I just wish it were as easy to cure in our world as putting on a monkey mask. This hit uncomfortably close to home and I did not enjoy it.
- Learning Jewelcrafting Designs. This has become a pain in the rear. A friend of mine complained about PvPers having to PvE or vice versa (a worthy complaint). So far in trying to get my Potent Vermilion Onyx I have learned about twelve different designs for that gem, some of which no one would likely use. It is a bit quicker than the previous method, where you got one design every three days worth of dailies, but it feels frustrating because of how random it is. The cost of mats is also considerably higher. (Alchemy would seem to have a similar problem, but because discoveries happen with each craft, you can pretty much get everything by crafting some otherwise useful elixirs or potions.)
- Rep Grinds. I like dailies, I really do. In this I differ considerably from some other people. But Dailies seem to be the only way to get rep from certain factions, which is a change from Cata’s buying a tabard and running dungeon option. I don’t like that there’s only one way to do it. I don’t like that there’s an absolute limit as to the rep you can gain each day. And I don’t like that none of the questing you do to get to 90 gets you anywhere with any meaningful faction.
- Positional Bugs. Sometimes a quest object or a mining node or a corpse will prove impossible to click on as intended. From what I understand this is because the server and the client disagree as to the location of the object itself. The cure to this problem is to log out and log back in, which resyncs the client and the server as to the correct location of the object. This happens a lot, and is the most prevalent bug I’ve found.
- Theramore. This continues to bug me.
In all, there’s more to like than dislike and I’ve enjoyed the expansion so far. I haven’t yet jumped into heroics and raids, though. Hopefully I’ll like those but I can’t be sure yet.