Continuing our look at World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria we delve into the expansions levelling zones.
So much of World of Warcraft is about the end game; raiding dungeons, and, player vs player can all be done at sub level 90 but they truly come alive once players have capped their characters. A good chunk of every expansion is the journey through new zones, a once familiar world grows to new depths and for a while at least, makes an experienced player that knows the game like the back of their hand, once again feel small in a slightly bigger world.
The Jade Forest
The Jade Forest is the opening zone of Pandaria, its green hills are home to the Hozen, a comical race of baboon like monkey people. The Hozen’s rivals come in the form of the Jinyu, a fish like race that walk on land. As with any Warcraft rivalry the Alliance and Horde take opposing sides and the same is true in the Jade Forest. A strong theme of the zone is faction rivalry but the Panderan are present to host neutral quest hubs, two of which are kung fu panda style monasteries that play a big part towards the end of the zone.
Questing wise little has changed, the majority of tasks involve killing 10 of X and collecting 20 of Y. The unique moment for us came during a Horde quest line that tasked us with listening to a number of scouts, instead of reading boring quest text we were treated to playable flash backs with the story told by a Hozen that does not mind bending the truth. The quest line is not only funny but a great way to get players involved with story.
The zones main story culminates at the Jade Monastery which opens up a neat little questing feature that has been emphasized in MoP. Every new dungeon gets its own little quest line, in the case of the Jade Monastery you get to go inside and meet some of the inhabitants and masters before things go bad and require some five man action.
Ultimately the Jade Forest is a decent a zone to level in without perhaps reaching epic proportions. The story of the zone is handled well with a weave between faction objectives and learning the lay of the land and the ways of a different culture.
Valley of The Four Winds
Valley of The Four Winds sounds like a really epic place which is why it is perhaps a little disappointing to learn you will be spending a good chunk of your time tending to farms and killing super sized rat bunnies.
When you are not evicting vermin and plowing the land then you will be assisting Chen Stormstout. Chen is a Pandaren that has only just arrived in Pandaria, it turns out that the master brewers family are also brewers of beer and he is keen to get involved. The quest line wraps up nicely at the Stormstout brewery which happens to be full of quests and an ideal second new dungeon.
Away from the main quest line is the Nesingwary safari, Hemet and his son will have you hunting beasts once again in a quest line which has been present throughout every World of Warcraft expansion.
Whilst Valley of The Four Winds is a levelling zone it is also the hub for everything cooking. There are a whole load of new Pandaria recipes to learn and even a Farmville esque plot of land that lets you plant your own vegetables and even sought after resource.
As a levelling Zone Valley of The Four Winds is a little bland, the cooking hub and the end game daily quests make it stand out and certainly a place to return to at the level cap.
Kun Lai Summit
The Kun Lai Summit is situated towards the north and is stereotypically the snowy zone of the expansion, it is said to house the tallest and coldest mountains in all of Azeroth, a feat that the Lich King thought he held.
It is at the Summit that war in Pandaria hits home, refugees are flooding in from the West fleeing from a Mantid attack in the Dread Wastes whilst the numerous Mogu ruins are teaming with angry lion guardians.
The start of the zone really feels alive, the yellowy fields to the south are full of conflict with NPC’s from both sides going at it hammer and tong. Towards the snowy north things get a whole lot quieter with quest hubs almost hidden in the hills.
The native dungeon is the Shado-Pan Monastery which oddly enough does not feature the same host of pre-dungeon quests found in earlier zones.
The Kun Lai Summit is clearly a take on the Himalayas and as questing zones go its pretty good, the zone is large and features a number of interesting quests that use unique items and tops things off with a cinematic quest line.