What Everyone Thinks Of Mists Of Pandaria – The Weekend Edition

Shallow coat of paint on an old game, or Blizzard’s greatest success yet? What’s the verdict on MoP?

The reactions to Mists of Pandaria have been fascinating – but overall, the consensus seems to be coming in that as far as early impressions go, it’s a huge success. But how? And why? And what about the storytelling, the factions, the crafting, the accessibility?

Here’s our roundup of posts from around the blogosphere discussing all those issues and more!

General Impressions

  • Spinks covers a number of interesting bases in her MoP roundup, from the difficulty to the way the story plays out“There are thrilling set pieces where your character helps to defend a village from bandits, in classic wuxia style, or takes part in larger battle scenes, and these offer much better actual gameplay than previous set pieces such as Wrathgate (however cool it was).”
  • Neurotic Girl Gamer gives us a series of bite-sized points on Pet Battles, Panda seriousness and more“I think having cross-realm areas is a fantastic idea. I really like seeing other players when I’m out and about questing. However…It would have been nice if that had been turned off for the first few weeks after the expansion release.”
  • Gordon at We Fly Spitfires writes a thorough review of his experience of Pandaria so far“I have to say that Blizzard do make exceptionally good use of their game engine. Traversing through zones (if I can call them that), watching how the environment and landscape changes is incredibly immersive and occasionally breathtaking with some wondrous and beautiful sights to see. “
  • Alas covers questing as a group, dungeons, the scenery of Pandaria and Alchemy“I like the balance I’ve seen so far between interesting and engaging mechanics and straightforward AoE-festing. It seems like there’s a good mix of the swiftness one could achieve back in Wrath 5-mans with some areas that are a bit more challenging.”
  • Anafielle writes from the point of view of a comparatively hardcore player in a really interesting overview of the expansion and Cross-Realm tech“As awesome as it was to level with Theck, some of the technology behind CRZ concerns me. It’s just a bit too easy. Part of me wonders how large of an impact CRZ had on the race to realm first. “

Specific Aspects

  • Windsoar looks at the way that storytelling works in MoP“Just because there isn’t a label on the back of the box saying “EVIL BOSS #2438 SHALL DESTROY THE WORLD UNLESS YOU BECOME AN EPIC HERO AND SAVE US ALL” doesn’t mean that Blizzard doesn’t have the end-game in mind. “
  • Tobold considers how MoP has changed the crafting game“With an estimated drop rate of around 10%, and 10 motes needed per spirit, you only get a Spirit of Harmony for every 100 mobs you kill, and it’s not clear whether all mobs even drop them.”
  • Altclysmic also looks at crafting – and drinking – in a post about concerns with Mists of Pandaria“The World of Warcraft is full of alcholic drinks, they now have 2 races that are dependant on the consumpution of alcohol (Dwarfs and Pandaren) and even have a holiday (Brewfest) about the drinking of copious amounts of beer. “
  • Firespirit talks about the strange feeling of disconnect from coming back to the game after a long break“I started looking around, and browsing the forums. All the old names were gone. The top three (maybe even four?) guilds transferred out. “
  • WoW In The Details notes a tiny little thing – the Mists of Pandaria takeout service“At the Dawn’s Blossom settlement in Jade Forest, this lovely Pandaren is enjoying a quick lunch from a pretty familiar container. Notice the dragon logo and the gold border at the top and bottom. “
  • Fari waxes lyrical about the Lorewalker faction and the stories you get to hear“. If nothing else makes this whole trek worth it, it’s this. Loremaster Cho takes 2-3 minutes to tell you a story, and it’s more than telling! I’ll let you wait and check it out in order to see exactly how cool the storytelling is, but between his voice and the epic way that he goes about storytelling, the half hour I spent listening to stories made this totally worth it! “
  • And Misha talks about a number of MoP subjects, but most notably the rather alarming tenor of the Horde storyline“It’s a little rough, coming in with a Manifest Destiny attitude to an obviously well developed and lived in land (did we not see those ANCIENT RUINS and this VILLAGE WITH PANDA PEOPLE IN IT?) when throughout the rest of the game we have been Heroes of the Horde.”

It’s been a week now – still loving MoP? Or having a problem with it?

Read more →

“Is this a poisoned blade which I see before me, the handle toward my hand?”

WoW and Shakespeare – not much crossover?

You might just be wrong there.

Erinys at The Harpy’s Nest writes another one of her truly fascinating studies of literature and WoW today. Particularly fascinating given the occasional mutterings about WoW’s lack of strong female characters, this time she’s talking about Magatha Grimtotem, Elder Crone and architect of Cairne Bloodhoof’s death, and how her character maps surprisingly well to the most famous of all femme fatales, Lady Macbeth

“It’s her words softly spoken into Garrosh’s emotional ears which lay the ground work. She picks her moment perfectly, Garrosh, like Macbeth has returned from a great and successful campaign when he’s waylaid by his very own Crone. Both of them have new and shiny titles,

I have heard you called the Hero of Northrend, and I think that an apt title (Pg 47 of the Shattering, Thrall to Garrosh)

and Macbeth is newly called Thane of Cawdor on top of his own existing title yet both have a hunger for more. Magatha pushes the right buttons, mentioning first Garrosh’s father and then his own deeds claiming to be impressed by them, knowing that the boy inside Garrosh will fall for her flattery, especially in the light of his “treatment” by Cairne and Thrall. Just like the Three Witches, Magatha influences the events which follow. Her title too, “The Elder Crone” plays into this idea of her as a witch, a wise woman with the answer to everything, even the question not yet asked. Even those that don’t trust her, respect her abilities and her opinions.

Then later, she reinforces what has already been said, making sure Garrosh “does the right thing”. She doesn’t want his weakness getting in the way. It’s not hard to imagine Lady Macbeth’s words coming from Magatha’s mouth.

That I may pour my spirits in thine ear;

And chastise with the valour of my tongue

Of course she is helped by Garrosh’s personality and his fear of looking stupid. He doesn’t want to question her motives because that might highlight his own lack of knowledge. He accepts because she has offered him a prize, already mentioned, the support of her clan, her tribe and to bring the Grimtotem to heel, to accomplish something so quickly that both Thrall and Cairne never managed, of course he’s going to leap at the chance.”

It might seem strange or even ludicrous to compare WoW to Shakespeare, but the fact is, whilst the story’s of uneven quality, WoW has a massive body of narrative, and much of it (conciously or unconciously) makes use of classic archetypes and plots. Whilst WoW’s rarely in iambic pentameter, the fact is that, like the rest of Western literature, it owes many things to Shakespeare, and it’s interesting to see them discussed.

Unlike Erinys’ previous piece on this subject, discussing the similarities between WoW’s women and those of Victorian literature, this piece is a good deal more flattering to Blizzard, as well as being extremely interesting. I had no idea quite what a complex character Magatha had become, and I’m now looking forward to her future appearances a good deal!

And this comparison makes me wonder whether the Garrosh / Macbeth comparisons are deliberate, too. Could it be that Blizzard are doing something a good deal more complex – and literary – than we expected? Will Encounter 2 of the Siege of Orgrimmar be set in Birnam Wood, or the Kalimdor equivalent?

WoW and Shakespeare – any other similarities you can think of?

Read more →

WoW LGBT Pride, EULAs and Personal Stories

And finally for the week, a selection of interesting posts that didn’t fit into the main day’s topics!

  • The Lorehound brings news of an LGBT/Gay Pride event happening on the WoW Proudmoore server tomorrow Saturday June 16th – very cool.
  • Doone at T.R. Redskies looks at the several lawsuits Blizzard are facing over Diablo 3’s online problems, and asks if Blizzard have really gone too far this time“Games isn’t going to be the industry that reverses history on DRM. It will simply crash and burn on it like the others did while we, the gamers, get crap products and poor service. And as is the case with Diablo 3, we may not even get that.”
  • Vrykerion has a simple, pictorial response to anyone saying that SWTOR needs its outfits to look more like classic Star Wars“Yea. Operation after operation to get what amounts to roughly the same outfit over and over with varying shades of brown or black.”
  • And Dulfy writes a lengthy piece with a lot of useful info on the difference in storytelling styles between SWTOR and Guild Wars 2’s “Personal Stories”“GW2’s story is not exactly predefined. All the characters get a chance to fight the main antagonist at the end but how you arrive at that is molded by the choices you made at character creation and the choices you make later on as you journey further into the story. Put it another way, you can take two human Mesmers and there is a good chance that they each have a totally different personal story. “

See you all next week, and enjoy!

Enjoyed today’s posts? Please consider sharing them with others!

Read more →

Snow Crash, Love, Hate, And Dreams Of Violence – Tuesday Links

Again I see that WoW’s no longer dominating the news today. Indeed, partially bolstered by the total silence from Blizzard on, ooh, anything, we’re looking at another 5050 split today, between the scrappy contender of SWTOR (if a multi-hundred-million-dollar game can be a scrappy anything), and the tired giant WoW.

  • Cynwise writes a fascinating and extremely long post on the future of WoW as a social network“The advantage Warcraft has over Twitter is that you can do stuff with people while talking to them. You can go play a video game with people while chatting with them! You can have a real avatar, one that like moves and talks and walks and can wear clothing and kill Internet Dragons!”
  • Aldous the Boozekin is having a rare moment of sobriety as he discusses how he both loved and hated Firelands because it was so hard – and easy“Dragon Soul is, in my opinion, far easier as a whole than Firelands. I think the majority of players would agree with me here, but I could be wrong. But what exactly is it that makes it so much easier? And is that a good thing or a bad thing?”
  • Gazimoff has hit Level 50 in SWTOR, and wonders if LFD is actually essential for modern endgames“Today the MMO landscape changes at a much faster pace – in six months I could be playing Guild Wars 2, The Secret World or the Mists of Pandaria beta.”
  • And Klepsacovic at Troll Racials Are Overpowered finds that SWTOR’s choices don’t always keep up with their storytelling“Even if I really want to kill him, even if I have already rejected his offer in order to kill him, I cannot kill him. Nope. I am magically compelled to take him on as a companion.”

Don’t forget to vote for the People’s Choice Awards !

Read more →

“Lols we all just DPS” as game design, Bioware PR concerns, and HUGE as a story element

Yep, it’s time for today’s great posts roundup!

  • Gazimoff read posts earlier this week about eliminating the Pure DPS classes in MMOs, and he thinks we should do exactly the opposite“Think about it – there’s no longer a burden of responsibility for a tank to get boss positioning pixel perfect, or for a healer to make sure their spells land spot-on every time. Instead, everyone becomes personally responsible for their own health bar. You die, your fault.”
  • The Noisy Gamer is watching Bioware’s PR response to bugs, and is worrying that it sounds a lot like EVE’s Incarna response“Now, in fairness to BioWare, CCP deals with a committed player base of techno-geeks who love watching the devs kill bugs. SWTOR just launched and players will find it easy to walk away after their first month so BioWare may feel they can’t admit to mistakes and are willing to see 5-10% of their players walk away after their first month as the lesser of two evils.”
  • And Lono of Screaming Monkeys feels sorry for players who see the pitch-perfect expanses of Hoth in SWTOR, and can only think about how they slow their levelling“Yesterday, though, a fellow adventurer was making her displeasure known to all in chat by complaining and how all that travel time and wasted space was a big waste of time and ressources. All those things interfered with the leveling!”

Do you love SWTOR’s use of space? Are you worried about Bioware’s bug treatment? Would you play a DPS-only MMO?

Read more →

The tragic stories of Northrend's instances

Northrend’s getting more than a little old now for most of us. Let’s be honest, we can recite Deathwhisper’s entire spraff from memory (“this shall be your FINAL! RESTING! PLACE!!11!1oneoneone”). We can navigate the skies of an entire continent without once looking at anything other than BBC Online. We have an entire call-and-response worked out for every boss in Crusader’s Colluseum.

And so it’s nice to read something that makes me look anew at the old dungeons.

We had just downed Ormorok and we were passing out loot when, for some reason, his full name caught my eye. Ormorok the Tree Shaper.

Digest that for a moment. Tree Shaper.

Have you looked around the area where we fight him?

Oh, look. Trees.

All the trees through that area…all glowing white, with their crystalline leaves and decorative etchings. Ormorok made those. Probably with his bare hands. And they’re probably not the only trees in Northrend (or even all of Azeroth) that’s he’s responsible for having made.

He’s not a brute. He’s an artist. And his work is amazing. But he got dragged down by Malygos’s insanity and now we have to waltz in there in kill him.

Saniel of Primal Precision has a great post on the tragic bosses of WotLK, from Omorok to Loken, thinking about the little details of the game’s fiction rather than just their tactics. And it’s a really interesting read, making me think about all the other little twists of detail, subtle touches, and subcreation we often miss because we’re obsessing on our DPS meters and that irritating tank.

Sure, sometimes Blizzard’s storytelling has all the subtlety of a hammer to the gentlemen’s regions. But for every dodgy speech from Tirion, there are a dozen little touches in naming, in the environment, and in obscure little corners of NPC dialogue that can make us look at those old dungeons with a fresh eye.

What’s your favourite “fresh eye” moment in Northrend?

Quote taken directly from Saniel’s post.

Primal Precision’s homepage is here

Read more →

The tragic stories of Northrend’s instances

Northrend’s getting more than a little old now for most of us. Let’s be honest, we can recite Deathwhisper’s entire spraff from memory (“this shall be your FINAL! RESTING! PLACE!!11!1oneoneone”). We can navigate the skies of an entire continent without once looking at anything other than BBC Online. We have an entire call-and-response worked out for every boss in Crusader’s Colluseum.

And so it’s nice to read something that makes me look anew at the old dungeons.

We had just downed Ormorok and we were passing out loot when, for some reason, his full name caught my eye. Ormorok the Tree Shaper.

Digest that for a moment. Tree Shaper.

Have you looked around the area where we fight him?

Oh, look. Trees.

All the trees through that area…all glowing white, with their crystalline leaves and decorative etchings. Ormorok made those. Probably with his bare hands. And they’re probably not the only trees in Northrend (or even all of Azeroth) that’s he’s responsible for having made.

He’s not a brute. He’s an artist. And his work is amazing. But he got dragged down by Malygos’s insanity and now we have to waltz in there in kill him.

Saniel of Primal Precision has a great post on the tragic bosses of WotLK, from Omorok to Loken, thinking about the little details of the game’s fiction rather than just their tactics. And it’s a really interesting read, making me think about all the other little twists of detail, subtle touches, and subcreation we often miss because we’re obsessing on our DPS meters and that irritating tank.

Sure, sometimes Blizzard’s storytelling has all the subtlety of a hammer to the gentlemen’s regions. But for every dodgy speech from Tirion, there are a dozen little touches in naming, in the environment, and in obscure little corners of NPC dialogue that can make us look at those old dungeons with a fresh eye.

What’s your favourite “fresh eye” moment in Northrend?

Quote taken directly from Saniel’s post.

Primal Precision’s homepage is here

Read more →