Over the next week or so we will be logging our experience in the latest World of Warcraft expansion, Mistsof Pandaria, telling you what we like, dislike, and the general feel of the panda expansion.
I get home a good 5 hours before launch and still have my WoW install from Cataclysm, relief was the feeling at the time, who wants to install six games worth of World of Warcraft, lord knows how long that would take Unfortunately that relief was short lived, the patcher decided to ignore the game disc in my dvd drive and proceeded to download 9 gigs worth of content. Praise the lord for a fibre optic, just a couple hours later the full game was downloaded and I was free to enter the world of Azeroth and prepare for the impending panda fun.
Upon logging in I was greeted by a messy UI and virtual bags full of random crap. With no recollection of value of said crap I let it be and started organising my hot bars. The process is hard to describe, imagine owning a house and leaving it for a year and returning to a mess, you don’t remember where anything is and you keep looking for things that are no longer there. Where is my consecrate What is this new ability? OMFG I have an Ashbringer!
Yes I clicked the “spell” button and my Paladin did some cool kneeing animation with his sword but then is happened, the sword transformed into an Ashbringer, the sword I had immortalised as a lore nerd and massive WoW fan. The sword only appears for something like 15 seconds and is obviously not the real thing but hell what a moment, I texted my friends to tell them, it’s moments like these that you can only get by avoiding all the details and playing the Beta Avoiding all the Pandaria news was probably worth it for that short moment of ecstasy.
10 minutes until the big launch and my UI is messy yet functional and I find myself looking at the world map with the realisation that I have no idea how to get to the misty panda land. A quick chat with an old friend reveals some information, apparently when the clock hits 12 every one (level appropriate) on the server will receive a quest to board a ship and fly to Pandaria. No server restart, no need to relog, just stand there and get a quest. It sounded too good to be true but sure enough as the clock struck 12am CET a quest came up on the right hand side of my screen and before you could say panda love I was on my way Pandaria.
I can only speak from the Horde’s point of view but Mists of Pandaria starts with a bang. The Horde zeplin warship thingy-ma-bob arrives on the eastern seaboard of Pandaria and settles just above the foresty green Jade Forest. It seems the Alliance were a little quicker and are already setting up camp on the ground. Ensuing quests involve bombarding the Alliance with cannons, taking to the ground for some face-to-face combat, and launching fireworks to quell any aerial threat.
Immediately things feel familiar, I have been here before, this is my old bed, it feels comfortable, this is the way MMO combat works. For all its frailties the combat in World of Warcraft is smooth, responsive, and just feels good. Whilst the feeling of familiar combat felt good, having to chase after mobs and compete with other players for kills did not. My jaunt into the world of Guild Wars 2 had got me used to working with other players, grouping to complete tasks together is not necessary in the land of Tyria, the game is designed to be played with other players but it seems that WoW is still built to pit players against one another. Some of my less savoury thoughts on launch night included; That’s my quest mob! Don’t you dare touch that quest item! Quickly grab that mineral node before some other fucker gets it. It seems to bring out the worst in us but WoW is a dog-eat-dog virtual world.
Thankfully mobs, items, and harvesting nodes were on quick respawn timers so there was enough virtual meat to go round, unfortunately I was unable to complete one quest which involved killing four named NPC’s. The mobs in question would appear on my mini-map for quick moment before disappearing in the cluster fuck they had briefly entered. I told myself that I would come back when it was less busy but as it happens the area went through a phase change upon completion of another quest which seemingly means I cannot go back, the completionist inside me died a little upon the sad realisation.
The Jade Forest had opened up but it was getting late, Day 0 was done and it felt good to be back in Azeroth and exploring the misty panda land.