Tuesday, 16 October 2012

World of Warcraft Mists of Pandaria Review Part 2

Well, here is part 2 of the Mists of Pandaria Review, in the first part I talked about the first three leveling zones, in this part I'll talk about the other three zones (Kun-Lai Summit, Townlong Steppes and The Dread Wastes), new account wide features and the new battle pets mini game. And just as a note, I was wrong, there is a way back to Orgrimmar in The Jade forest using a portal in Honeydew Village, there are also portals to all the main cities in The Vale of Eternal Blossoms, the zone for level 90s, however you don't need to be level 90 to get there, all you have to do is go to The Temple of the White Tiger when you have the quest to go there and complete a few quests for the gates into the Vale to be opened.

As I said in part 1 the environments of Pandaria are awesome and well themed and that does not stop in the next three zones, if anything they get cooler as you progress. Kun-Lai Summit is dominated by a huge snowy mountain that's surrounded by Grummle and Youngol camps. Townlong Steppes is a long slope (as the name suggests) filled with Shado-pan camps and Youngol villages. The Dread Wastes are one of the most incredible zones Blizzard have ever done in my opinion, sprawling Mantid hives around giant amber trees scatter the zone with shadowed nightmare landscapes surrounding them, it is an awesome sight to behold. One thing that deserves its own mention is The Temple of the White Tiger, which looks amazing, its a giant monastery on the top of a mountain connected to nearby bluffs by giant stone bridges, its just a shame you're only there for a little while.

Theres a lot of other new creatures that I didn't mention in the first part of the review because they were more prominent in the latter half of Pandaria. Firstly there's the Grummle, who you encounter mainly in Kun-Lai Summit, they are pygmy like mountain guides who seem content to deliver and trade goods around the area, they also believe luck comes from certain smells. The Youngol (who I've already mentioned) are descendants of the Tauren who adapted to Pandaria's environments, they are similar to the Taunka in Northrend. The Mantid are a race of insectoid humanoids related to the other insectoid races of Azeroth (Qiraji/Sithilid and Nerubians), they thrive on amber harvested from their tree lairs in The Dread Wastes and swarm (to try and expand their empire) every thousand years, the Klaxxi are a faction of Mantid that are not aggressive to you and are the main source of quests in The Dread Wastes. The Shado-pan are the Pandaren's first and last line of defense, an elite army of Pandaren that protect Pandaren society from the Mantid, the Youngol, the Sha and any other threats (I know these are not creatures but a faction, but it seemed like the best place to write about them).

As I did last time I'll give brief explanations of the next three zones. In Kun-Lai Summit the Horde and Alliance finally get Pandaren allies in Pandaria and you can expect quests for the Grummle (killing Hozen mostly) and more for Loremaster Cho. In Townlong Steppes you finish off the Youngol and help the Shado-pan hold their camps. In The Dread Wastes you try to help the Klaxxi overthrow their fear crazed empress.

There's also been quite a few more references I've found, they are: Wascally Wirmen a reference to how Elmer Fudd from the Loony tunes talks, "Neverest mountain" this one is just stupidly obvious, "comin' round the mountain" she'll be comin' round the mountain when she comes, a path (called seeker's folly) up a mountain is very reminiscent of the path to the Throat of the World in Skyrim, "a night at the Chum Bucket" a reference to the restaurant from Spongebob Squarepants, Valley of the Emperors - Valley of the Kings, a yak named Ha-Cha - HA CHA!, "like a deck boss" - like a boss, realtime strategy - the type of game and lastly a new fad of taking a picture of yourself while cowering under a shark which parodies internet memes.

Some of the very cool moments include, using Kota Kon (a giant yeti) to kill a lot of Hozen (this quest becomes a daily), a location where statues come to life with the souls but the souls rotate round the statues which means inactive statues still count towards the quests but won't fight back, troll voodoo cauldrons (with the effects of dressing you like a witch doctor to make you neutral with the aggressive trolls, drinking maggot slurry that makes you vomit, attacks that have a chance to hex the enemy and adding a 100 mastery well fed effect), fighting the spirits of violence and anger that appear as a copy of you and the spirit of hate which personifies itself as the leader of the opposite faction to yours, keg bombs that you steer into enemies and then you can just sit back and watch the carnage, when fighting fear Sha beasts sometimes the screen will go black and screams can be heard or you get the effect "fear of death" which makes it look like your health has dropped to zero or you get the "fear of heights" effect which lifts you off the ground or you get the "fear of abandonment" effect which makes it appear as if you're completely alone, a video in The Dread Wastes has the Klaxxi attempting a ritual that kills the corrupted Mantid but the empress appears and kills most of them then has a beam fight with the last before killing him and last but not but no means least killing a giant leviathan with a spear gun on a dinghy.

One thing I didn't emphasize enough in the first part of the review is how Mists is geared towards fun and takes a much more lighthearted approach than the previous expansions. Here's some of my favourite funny moments: a Gnoll pirate captain with Gnoll decoys (that he calls "mirror image") that are really bad puppets in barrels, when Kaz'tik the manipulator's greatest weapon rumbles from the ground and you're expecting a giant looming monolith but instead a dog sized bug flys over to it's master, Huggalon the Heartwatcher who is a Northrend earthen with a large bow on his head, a mean, smelly, stabby, angry yak (as if just one of those things isn't bad enough), a guy using four fishing rods at the same time, the Chuggernaught a Pandaren that shouts "yeah BEER!", you find a Stanzaed scroll one Pandaren thinks it describes how to make a weapon to solve the Mantid problem another thinks its a beer recipe (it was the former), a Paladin glyph that gives an ability that lets you contemplate the meaning of the light and lastly the sea zones Lonesome Cove and Shelf of Mazu (in The Dread Wastes) are filled with currents that will actually push you along.

Before I move on to account wide features, there's a few things I've noticed. Firstly on races other than the Pandaren if you're a Monk to make your jab ability a staff jab rather than a fist jab you need to unequip and re-equip your weapon. A lot of lore in Pandaria will come from large bamboo scrolls scattered throughout the continent that when read give an exploration achievement. To fly in Pandaria you need to be level 90 then you can buy the Wisdom of the Four Winds for 2500g. Mogu spirits you will sometimes encounter have the classic banshee skin but with a Mogu's face. And lastly minor glyphs have been made more fun or convenient, my two favourites are a druid glyph that allows a party member to ride on my back when I'm in travel form and a Death knight glyph that makes my army of the dead ability summon a range of different undead rather than just ghouls.

With Mists Blizzard introduced a lot of new account wide features, the big one being that mounts you buy on one character are then available for all of your characters, however you do still need to buy the required riding skill on all characters, you also still cannot use the opposite factions' mounts even if you have them. Some achievements are also account wide, its mostly the ones that give titles, as titles are also now account wide so you can show off all your amazing feats on all your characters. Battle pets are also account wide, so you can play with your usual team of pets on any character, the quests for battle pets are also available on all your characters no matter which one actually picked it up.

The new battle pets system is practically a whole new game within World of Warcraft and finally gives an actual use for vanity pets. Varzok and the Alliance equivalent (I'm afraid I don't know what their name is) act as your trainers, teaching you how to use and battle your pets. You start by learning the basics of battles, then once one of your pets reach level 3 you're sent back to Varzok to learn how to catch new pets, with that done your sent off to fight some NPC trainers "cough" Pokemon "cough". When battling pets you have several options you can do during a turn: you can use one of your pets abilities, pass your turn, swap your pet for another in your team or forfeit the match, if the opponent pet is a wild pet you can also try to capture it if it is under 20% health. A clearly visible green paw icon will hover over a wild pet that you can battle and can also be set so it shows on the mini map. During a battle cheesy battle music (that's very reminiscent of old Gameboy music) will play. Capturing new pets can be very tense, as the trap will teter for awhile before it either successfully captures or fails to capture a pet. If you defeat one of the NPC trainers that Varzok sends you to defeat you'll get a pack of pet supplies, but these are not always useful. Your pets can be revived with a power you get after learning how to battle, using pet bandages from pet supply packs or you can get them all revived and healed at a stable master for a small fee. When battling pets your pet's speed decides whether it will attack first or not. Swapping a pet during a battle means both pets will get XP if you win. Pets are sorted into types such as beast or humanoid and each type has a type its more effective against and one that its less effective against, such as mechanicals doing more damage to beast types, an undead type will come back to life immortal for one turn before dying again (not anything about being better against another type but its great anyway). My own pet team consists of Grunty the Murloc Marine, a Personal World Destroyer and a Ghostly Skull. So if you didn't catch my very subtle hint earlier, the battle pet system is essentially just a World of Warcraft version of Pokemon.

Well first I'll apologize that this has been another long post, but I hope it was worth the read. I'm now level 90 and have finished the six main zones of Pandaria and I can safely say Mists is awesome. Its funny and cool and I can't wait to do the level 90 stuff like the dailys and dungeons. The battle pets are brilliant and provide something new to do and account wide features make playing new characters that little bit easier. Yes the game has its faults, but its still an incredible expansion and if you disagree you're just wrong.

Oh and

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