MoP Report: One Week In, Is The Thrill Lasting?

Mists of Pandaria is one week old – so is the magic holding, or is Pandaria starting to pall?

  • Ben at The Asylum Wall enthuses about the MoP Pet Battle System“The speed of the battles will lend itself to filling in those small gaps of inactivity better. Waiting a few minutes for that third guildie to be ready for a scenario or LFD? Suit up your mini-gladiators. LFR queue? Pet battles. Got fifteen minutes to kill before the raid? Go.”
  • Zinn gives us a “one week in” summary, from initial feelings of overwhelm to thoughts on the daily grind“Eventhough the quests might be quick and easy, I can’t feel but think that it is unjust as some classes and specs have a much easier time with quest farming than others.”
  • Erinys has hit level 90, and gives us her view from the level cap, from dailies to Heroics to pet battles“The choice is overwhelming as is the feeling that you should ignore the “fun” ones (Tillers/Anglers/Cloud Serpents) whilst concentrating on the rest in the run up to raids and the arena season starting. “
  • Rowan Blaze returned to WoW for the Pandaren starting zone, and gives us impression from the PoV of a Guild Wars 2 convert“Another aspect of WoW (and SWTOR) that I do not miss is the competition for resources with other players. After having trained in skinning, I forgot that I was capable of doing so and turned around to a recent kill, only to find another player skinning it.”
  • Fari the Achivement Hunter rounds up her experiences with both cooking and fishing, one week in“Can I be honest? I was totally and completely skeptical about what people call “Farmville” with the Tillers reputation, but it’s a lot more fun than I expected! “
  • Kadomi has hit 90 one week in, and gives us an overview of the experience so far, from leveling zones to the rep grind“I do however not mind the old-fashioned reputation grind. In a way, that makes reputation more meaningful to me. “
  • Derevka gives us a quick overview of his experience from 85 to 90, touching on both leveling and what’s coming to be the early endgame bugbear, the reputation grind of dailies“I have to really stand up and applaud Blizzard for Mists of Pandaria; it really is probably one of their most polished expansions to date. “
  • Jed gives us his impressions too, as someone who played particularly the Jade Forest thoroughly on beta and in Live“I much prefer the new quests as they definitely convey the “we are at war” concept that blizzard has been pushing on us for this expansion. “
  • Darraxus gives a quick overview of his mid-leveling impressions“I am really enjoying the questing so far. There are lots of little interesting quests, and many have given me fun items instead of just a weapon or piece of armor. “
  • And Zellviren closes the day off by waxing extremely lyrical about MoP’s profession design. Spoiler: he’s really, really impressed“This is flat-out great design. It’s imaginative, it’s fun, it adds legitimate gameplay value to professions that many players like, and it manages to do all of that without ostracizing raiders who merely want to get their performance bonuses.”

I’m a fair way behind most people in leveling in MoP, but still – it is indeed still great fun.

So, one week in – what are your thoughts?

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The Flaws Of Mists Of Pandaria

So far, it seems that Mists of Pandaria has been a roaring success – but no expansion or game is without its flaws.

Several bloggers have been pointing out some places where Pandaria could do with more polish today:

  • Beruthiel is dismayed at the sheer number of dailies that seem to be required to compete as a serious raider“Every day I dread the daily grind. It is one of the first things I do, because I know that if I don’t I will find ways to avoid doing it. It is tedious, it is boring, it is frustrating…and for a progression raider it is required.”
  • Zellviren writes a “pros and cons” post, listing quest design and professions as pros, and the daily grind and Heroic dungeons as decided cons“They’re just… Not punishing enough. I’m not asking for a repeat of Cataclysm where the slightest error cost you your life, but some of the mechanics may as well not be there considering how lowly their damage is tuned. “
  • Stormy also does a pros and cons post, waxing lyrical about some areas of Pandaria, but less so about the leveling grind and Spirits of Harmony“I’m sorry, I know there’s a debate raging about this in various corners of the internet, but the leveling grind is too damned long.”
  • And finally, Stubborn is finding that rather than being pleased at the changes in WoW, he’s just finding them overwhelming and stressful“To be frank, I felt baffled, in the end, baffled, by definition – to frustrate or check by confusing or perplexing. It was a lot to absorb at once, and I don’t know if I even want to absorb it.”

I’m definitely enjoying MoP so far, but I’ve been looking at the daily grind post-90, and I must admit, it looks pretty intimidating. Still, with the recent JP gear hotfix, Blizzard are clearly aware of at least some of the issues.

Anything driving you up the wall about MoP?

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Happy Players, Scared Players, and Olymp – er – London Sporting Events

It’s a real grab-bag of interesting writing to round out today – from Stubborn’s terrifying adventures in The Secret World to Zoso’s parody of the Sporting Event That Shall Not Be Named, let’s go!

  • Stubborn discusses The Secret World’s success in producing an unsettling and even terrifying MMORPG“In the game’s first haunted house, there’s intermittent periods of shrieking, laughing, and crying just on the edges of your hearing. The ambience is truly horrifying – not scary – but unsettling to the point that it can be distracting.”
  • Zoso considers the possibilities for some MMORPG Sporting And Athletic Events That Aren’t Connected To London Or The Current Year At All““On to the actual sporting events now. First up: Archery. Now the bidding was particularly fierce for this one, wasn’t it Barry?” “It certainly was, Clifford, and it looks like the committee have hedged their bets slightly by awarding Archery to: All Of Them! Or, to be technically accurate, Almost All Of Them, Apart From A Few Of The Modern-Day Or Sci-Fi Ones, Though Even City Of Heroes Has Archery Powersets””
  • The Grumpy Elf brings up an intriguing possibility – what if the cross-faction Pandaren are a stalking-horse for being able to take most WoW races cross-faction?“Could we ever see an alliance tauren or a horde dwarf? It might be possible if the pandas are a test to see how one race would work on both sides of the fence. “
  • And The Godmother looks at people complaining about reputation being tied to daily quests in Mists of Pandaria with some bemusement” Professions will require you to have reputation that you can’t simply go and slog out with multiple dungeons. Placing a time constraint means the world won’t be flooded with 1001 Jewelcrafting Mounts in the first month, and I for one think this is a good thing. “

Seriously, I’m taking no chances with discussion of the Olyp – er – thingies. After all, if you’re nearby, you can actually get yourself arrested for not looking happy enough

Enjoyed today’s posts? Please let other people know about them!

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Dailies, Dungeons and Choices

Hey, everyone! I’m back from my week off, refreshed and renewed – thanks to Johnnie for holding down the fort in my absence.

As I’ve been reading back over the last couple of days in the blogosphere, the common thread that’s struck me is a lot of very interesting, intelligent discussion of some fairly high-level game concepts. It seems that change is still in the air, and people are looking at old concepts with “the future’s coming” eyes…

  • Nils has a really interesting piece on daily quests, focusing on the idea that dailies are driven by a fear of lossBy introducing an artificial limit of how often an activity can be conducted per day (/week), Blizzard also introduces a potential permanent loss. If you don’t do a daily today, it will be lost forever. Thus, you feel like you really should do the daily.
  • Straw Fellow has been considering randomised dungeons, and asking whether they’d help preserve a game’s longevityRandom dungeons would require a bit more attention than normal ones, as you couldn’t reliably predict the next encounter or puzzle. Randomized loot means there is potential to find an upgrade for everyone, unless you outgear the content of course. The track record of success with randomized dungeons is fairly high already, and the random nature ensures a good level of re-playability at least.
  • And Tobold’s been considering the issue of choice, and just what a game needs to offer to make a choice meaningfulIf the option to make the “wrong” choice disappears, then that is not really a choice any more. It is like the “choice” in a MMORPG whether you want to accept the quest to kill 10 foozles, or whether you want to those foozles without a quest and miss out on the quest reward.

What are your thoughts? Hate random dungeons? Feel that SWTOR will offer genuine choices? Love dailies? Put ‘em below!

All quotes taken directly from the respective blog post.

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Badges suck, Draenai confuse, and Pandas (presumably) Kung their Fu – the roundup

Lots of good posts today, and I’ve already selfishly taken up one spot talking about people getting their legs broken for Diablo III swords. So, it’s that time again – time for an awesome post roundup!

  • Pandas. Srsly. The Dead Good Tanking Guide has an, erm, dead good piece on the “Mists of Pandaria” possible expansion. “The gloom that has wrapped around me with Cataclysm has lifted, just a little, since thinking about what “Mists of Pandaria” could imply.” They actually make it sound good!
  • Cynwise continues the new trend of “playing WoW with your kids”, talking about just how confusing Azuremist Isle actually is, all the major time boo-boos, and what could be done about it“Dad, what do you mean they changed some parts of the story but not others? How can a story work like that? Why didn’t they change it to all fit? What are development resources? Why? Why?”
  • Big Bear Butt achieves the impossible – he actually makes the Firelands daily quests sound fun “And they’ve got this blazing phoenix flight form too, it makes me swoon with desire. Have you seen them flying around in that form, leaving blazing contrails across the sky?”. (Bonus points for making one quest sound absolutely filthy.)
  • Kurn is having an absolutely fascinating dilemma – she’s starting to think that voice chat actually makes her a worse player. “I still feel as though my play is lacking and although I have all this other stuff to take into consideration (raid leader stuff, etc), I’m not convinced that it’s not just pure laziness stemming from voice communication being available to me.”
  • And finally, Procrastination Amplification makes me facepalm with the news that in SWTOR, all loot will be purchasable with badges – “All items that bosses can drop will also be available in stores for badges? This is the epitome of boring loot. Do you know how people say that if you never take any risks you never get the chance of good things happening to you? “

Do you love badges? Understand Azuremist Isle? Still hate the idea of pandas? Find voice makes you smarter? Or just not want spiders to spew their sticky fluid on you? Comment below.

All quotes taken directly from their respective articles.

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How to get to Mount Hyjal in WoW – if you’re lost, we’ll show you the way

Mount Hyjal was the first Cataclysm zone that most players encountered while leveling from 80 to 85. For those players who skipped the zone, though, it may not be immediately clear how to get to Hyjal in Cata. With the addition of the Molten Front daily quests in patch 4.2, Hyjal is once again a vital waypoint in most players’ day-to-day lives, so here’s a simple guide to getting there.

By far the easiest way to reach Mount Hyjal is to use the convenient portal located in Orgrimmar or Stormwind. The portal is free to use, and offers instant teleportation to Nordrassil Inn in Hyjal. There’s a slight gotcha, though: if you haven’t yet completed the initial few quests which start the Hyjal questlines, the portal won’t be available to you. So, work your way through the opening of the Mount Hyjal zone if you haven’t already – the lead-in quest is ‘Warchief’s Command: Mount Hyjal!’ from Warchief’s Command Board in Orgrimmar or ‘Hero’s Call: Mount Hyjal!’ from the Hero’s Call Board in Stormwind. It’s worth doing – for one thing, you’ll need to have completed virtually the entire Hyjal questline in order to get access to the Molten Front dailies, so it won’t be time wasted even at level 85.

Once you’ve completed enough of the Hyjal questline to activate the portal, you’ll find it with the rest of the Cataclysm zone portals: on the hill just north of the Valley Of Wisdom in Orgrimmar, or on Eastern Earthshrine island (northwest of Stormwind Keep) in Stormwind.


Other ways of getting there

While the Orgrimmar/Stormwind portal will usually be the quickest way of getting to Hyjal, you can make your own way there instead if you want . For Horde players, Orgrimmar is still the closest major Horde town from which to fly. Alliance characters will probably find it easiest to get a boat to Rachet and fly from there.

If you are crazy or stubborn enough to fly to Mount Hyjal, be aware that – as the name suggests – it’s a really big mountain. Once you hit the edge of the zone, all you’ll see is a bleak gray cliff-face. You’ll have to fly vertically upwards for quite some time before you find a point at which you can enter the zone.

Getting back

Prior to patch 4.2, the return journey from Mount Hyjal was bit of a pain, especially for Alliance players. If your hearthstone was on cooldown it was quite a trek. Luckily, return portals to Orgrimmar and Stormwind have now been placed just outside the Nordrassil Inn, so the return trip to your capital city is a piece of cake.

Return portals to Stormwind and Orgrimmar outside the Nordrassil Inn

Return portals to Stormwind and Orgrimmar outside the Nordrassil Inn

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Holiday cheer

So, both Rebecca and I are on holiday this week, meaning that posting’s going to be a bit sporadic. There will still be new stuff, but probably not every day. After all, there’s this “outside” thing I hear is pretty this time of year.

So, have a great week, I’ll see you through the week, and we’ll be back next week with your regular daily awesomeness from the MMOSphere.

In the meantime, I present you two quick but cool links – Scribblings on the Asylum Wall is questioning whether a grind for 685 – yes, 685 – Marks of the World Tree is really great game design, and in happier news, Spinks is discovering that actually, the RIFT endgame is kinda awesome.

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How Funky Are Your Quest Rats?

The idea that MMO quests need a bit of a make-over because they’re all the same is a popular theme. You know, they’re all about killing X number of rats. If you’re lucky you’ll also need to collect Y number of juicy giblets from said rats*. Well, Ysharros says sometimes your bog standard rat-killing can actually be quite fun.

She’s highlighting the daily quests you get as Alliance in Twilight Highlands. Quite an interseting read for me as it is, given I’ve only seen the horde equivalents. It does sound like the Alliance got by far the better, more personable dailies here – favouritism! Kidding. But anyway, Ysharros says that she’s actually been enjoying doing them every day.

Before you accuse me of being a lush — which may well fit but isn’t the point under discussion — I’m just saying that there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with killing 10 rats, or guzzling 10 beers. What’s bad is when 90% of what you do is literally going out and killing 10 foozles. Inject a little humour, make people’s screens go a bit squiffy for 10 minutes, and suddenly the 10 rats become a social occasion and not a chore.

It’s a funky way of putting it but Ysharros has a point here: it doesn’t matter if quests are all of the same type, it matters what the developers have done to flesh them out.  It feels like a blindingly obvious point but kudos to Ysharros for pointing it out – maybe it took getting drunk with dwarves to realise it. Heck, I had fun just reading Ysharros’ account of what the alliance get to do for these quests.

What do you think – not convinced, and MMO quests are all the same, or is Ysharros right and if the rat you’re killing has character doing so can turn into a social event?

_Quote taken directly from Ysharros’ post

You can find Ysharros’ Stylish Corpse homepage here_

*Quite why or how they have giblets, we’ll not speculate. If wolves can carry Tarnished Plate Legs, rats can have giblets.

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