Posted by Kae Hutchens on Oct 9, 2012

Review – World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria (PC)

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Product Information

MSRP: $39.99

Developer: Blizzard

Publisher: Blizzard

Platforms: PC, Mac

ESRB Rating: T for Teen

Genre: MMO

I did not get really wrapped up in Blizzard’s World of Warcraft until Cataclysm hit the shelves. I quested day after day, ran dungeons, leveled up, loved every moment, and then thought…now what? Many players like myself began to feel at a loss with the game, finding that there was not much new content or things to do. My characters were the same as many others, professions maxed out, so what now? The release of the latest patch not only renewed the game for me, but for many others. This opened the eyes of players to accept the newest stretch of our journey: the new adventures that would become available with Mists of Pandaria.

Story and Visuals

After the destruction of the Cataclysm, the whole of Azeroth was changed, and a world not yet explored was not spared. Pandaria had long been hidden by mists that kept them out of sight for centuries. That was, however, until a ship ran off course and crashed into the new land. Soon after, word reached Garrosh, who then sent out a Horde fleet to intercept whatever progress the Alliance had made in the discovery of a new land.

Pandaria is a large, beautiful place. Gardens, mountains, rolling hills and trees make up the breathtaking view you will see at every turn. Pandaren architecture is elaborate and detailed. The Asian undertone that has been applied to the music we are all accustomed to in Warcraft brings a solid, yet peaceful feeling to the new world. Their ways are old and disciplined, and it shows in the way they carry themselves, and in the places they dwell.

As a Pandaren, you are neutral while on your own land. You will become accustomed to their ways and the land that they are used to. While still on The Wandering Isle you encounter both the Horde and the Alliance and help each of them. However, you will be approached with the choice : you must choose a side, and leave behind those who choose the opposing faction. Once you’ve made a choice, you board a ship to your faction’s capitol city. Then the real story begins.

Gameplay and New Features

The Pandaren race can take on the roles of many existing classes in the game, including the newest class, the Monk. Monks specialize in a lot of hand-to-hand combat and use a resource called Chi to build put the power of their attacks. This class has 3 stances to enable them to use certain abilities. The specializations are as follows : Brewmaster, Mistweaver, and Windwalker. The Brewmaster (tank class) is able to absorb high amounts of damage, increase parry chances, and drink to improve their stats. The Mistweaver (healer class) spends most of their time in the Wise Serpent stance with a wide variety of single target and AoE healing abilities. Using small abilities when healing is not necessary will increase their Chi for when it is needed. The Windwalker (DPS class) specializes in self-sufficient tactics for soloing and being able to ignore armor during a beat-down.

Higher level characters will start their journey to the new world with a call to their leaders, and are given the task of making their way to this new land. From airship fights to first setting foot on Pandaria’s surface, you will quest for your faction’s cause. Pressing further on land, some new races you encounter will become enemies, and some will become allies. The Alliance becomes friendly with the Jinyu, a fish race highly skilled in combat. The Horde forms ties with the Hozen, a monkey race.

Instead of listening to stories or reading them through quest descriptions, you are now able to “act out” some stories with this new expansion. A small quest line soon after you have landed allows you to “play” as these NPC’s telling their story, including Chen Stormstout, a Pandaren featured in the original Warcraft games.

While questing, your map now indicates people you need to speak with with speech bubbles, and items you must use with gears. Some may argue that this dumbs the game down, while others may appreciate not having to run back and forth for an item that is vaguely referenced. Regardless, the assistance for new players is welcoming, and can be turned off for those not wanting distractions on the map.

Blizzard has long been aware of many fans’ complaints that one character choosing a class specialization will be nearly identical to that of another character of the same specialization. Their new talent system allows you to choose from one of three options each time you earn a talent point. For example : in the old talent tree system, a Subtlety rogue would be the only rogue specialization that could use Shadow-Step, a quick movement to appear behind an enemy for a surprise attack. Shadow-Step is no longer exclusive to one spec, and is now available to any rogue, in addition to new talents and abilities that were not available before. The new talent system gives the player the option to make their character more unique in how their game is played.

For those waiting in their home cities for raids or dungeons, the Pet Battle System is a fun new feature in which you may train and fight your pets with critters in the wild, or against those of other players. It is a turn-based system, and every pet has strengths against some pet types, and weaknesses against others. As you level as a trainer, you gain the ability to have more than one pet available for fighting, in case one is not able to handle the opposing player’s pet. Did I mention that you can also capture critters you fight out in the wild once their health is brought low enough? All  creatures able to fight are shown on your map and are available for the taking.

In the ways of dungeons, the new crawls available for players offer the same kind of gameplay you’d expect. The new look and feel of the dungeons helps to break up the monotony of running them so often, and it’s nice to see some new scenery for a change. You’ll still be grinding through them, but it’s easier to get into a mindset that’s apart from the Hour of Twilight runs you’re used to doing. New raids and scenarios will be coming available as Blizzard gets things updated, so that’s something to look forward to.


With account-wide perks, an expansive new land to discover, and many new races to encounter, Mists of Pandaria has re-opened the eyes of players to the wonders of this world. I believe that the changes made to the game have greatly improved the gameplay experience for old and new players, though there will still be some out there who feel like it’s the same old song and dance. The new Monk class really changes things up, and I’m enjoying playing through as a healer so far. The new mechanics all come together to make the experience feel brand new. If you’re a fan of the game I think you’ll remain one through Mists, though if you’ve since dropped off the wagon it may bring you back. Blizzard has still made some hiccups along the way, but they’ve also done a lot of things right with this new expansion.

The Good

  • beautiful new landscape
  • gameplay is easy and welcoming for new players
  • more individualized character builds
  • new approach to quests and leveling
  • Challenge Modes make dungeon-running more interesting

The Bad

  • some players may find the new gameplay too easy
  • some of the new features don’t feel necessary to the game
  • dungeon queues have been ramped dramatically, increasing wait times all over again

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