First Impressions: World of Warcraft Mists of Pandaria expansion

First Impressions: World of Warcraft Mists of Pandaria expansion
Game Name: World of Warcraft Mists of Pandaria
Platforms: PC
Publisher(s): Activision
Developer(s): Blizzard
Genre(s): MMORPG
Release Date: 09/25/2012
ESRB Rating: T for Teen

With each new expansion released for World of Warcraft, you can only hope they get better. So far, Mists of Pandaria has.  I am now a “casual gamer”, but have been a “hardcore player” ever since The Burning Crusade.  Now with the new release, I’ve decided to climb back on the MMORPG horse.  Previous expansion like Wrath of the Lich King and Cataclysm just had no wow-factor for me when advancing my main character to max level.  MoP o the other hand has so far piqued my interest, and satisfied my eyes with the gorgeous color and detail of the Pandaren world.

Every installment pre-MoP has centered around on a main antagonist, whether it’s the scourge of the Lich king or the madness of Deathwing.  This expansion, however, seems to bring more of the peace/harmony aspect to the game and straying away from destroying the beauty of Pandaria.  Both Alliance and Horde battle it out for dominion of this realm – as well as phat Panda lewtz.  I have enjoyed the questing in mystical panda lands as well as the comical relief of the voice acting.  However, I can’t take this expansion seriously so far.  Nothing feels grave or dire anymore, and like every all I can think of in the back of my head is Kung Fu Panda.  I do feel as if the questing is moving at a faster pace.  I’m certain that the developers are catering more to casual audience with the speedy level-up and I can’t complain since I no longer have time to devote 60+ hours to any game.

The graphics have significantly improved over the years, but still don’t contend to newer MMORPGS like Rift or Guild Wars 2.  Blocky textures and cartoony characters actually work for this expansion though, giving it more of a fantasy feel.  While walking through the twisting valleys and colorful mountains of Pandaria, I have taken in the creative beauty of the landscapes.  Absorbed the uplifting soundtrack (Yes, I still play with the sound on) and have giggled over the almost offensive Panda voices.  Overall, the presentation of the game has impressed me.

As far as the gameplay, my 87 Blood Elf Shadow Priest talents have had a complete overhaul.  Though, when it comes down to it, I am still using the same hotkeys as in Cataclysm.  I have yet to experience the new Monk class, as my first goal is getting my main to level 90.  I also have yet to try the new Pet Battle system, which demonstrates how much there is to explore in this installment.

Blizzard has pleasantly surprised me with a fun, witty expansion that I can play at my leisure and not feel pressured to login every day to keep up with the world.  They have successfully appealed to the casual gamer, but I have a feeling all the “hardcore” will move over to Guild Wars 2 if they haven’t already. Is it worth the $15 a month?  Meh.

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