The next expansion for the MMO World of Warcraft was announced at this years BlizzCon and it has taken me this long to decide whether I like it or not. And all I can think of is ‘meh’. A bit of a cop out I know but that really all I can muster. It has some cool features, but most of it is so uninspired and it has a definite reek of ‘fan service’ about it. I’ll go through each feature and comment as I go.
The next expansion opens the mist shrouded world of the Pandaren, humanoid pandas that live in an Asiatic setting. Now the obvious comparison is going to be made, but the Pandarens pre-date Kung Fu Panda. In fact I never understood why Blizzard didn’t sue their arses.
Introducing the Pandarens to WoW has been a rumor since The Burning Crusade and quite a few people were upset by their absence. But strangely enough that all seems to have changed, with the majority of feedback on the forums after the announcement being quite negative. I personally don’t have any problem with the idea of a panda race, it’s no weirder than the minotaur like Tauren , but I do think that introducing them after the success of the Kung Fu Panda films will bring unwarranted exclamations and very warranted claims of fan service. It’s almost like the developers went ‘Well we’ve killed Arthas and cracked the world in half but now we can’t think of anything to top that so lets just chill and bring in what the fan boys have been bitching about for years.’ Lazy but I welcome the change of pace. There’s only so many end of the world scenarios you can take and the areas look very beautiful.
With the Pandarens comes their unique fighting style of hand to hand combat, in the form of a new class – Monks! Now this I am excited about. I have always loved the Monk class in D&D and the thought of playing a Monk Gnome has got me more excited than I can express in a family friendly way. Monk Gnomes people!
The expansion also introduces the usual stuff like more dungeons, a level increase to 90, and PvP Battlegrounds. But enough about those, lets move onto the annoying stuff.
The geniuses at Blizzard have decided that those pointless companion pets that some people obsessively collect should be of some use so they’re introducing the Pet Battle System. That’s right, they’re bringing Pokemon to Wow! Although I think this is an abomination I cannot deny their blatant reasoning. Players like collecting, the asian themed new areas will hopefully appeal to the asian markets, Asians (and a crap load of others) like cute monsters battling – it’s a win/win. Now all of thos pointless pets will have some point and a whole new way to spend your time in world has arrived. I for one hope to avoid it as much as I can, but we’ll see if I can fight the temptation.
New Talent system – yet again the developers have decided to rejig the talent system in an effort to streamline the process and reduce cookie cutter builds. This is of course stupid and annoying. Cookie Cutter builds will always exist. A consensus will be reached that a specific build is the best DPS output for a class and all those who don’t use it will be both mocked and excluded. And it is annoying in that we have to yet again learn a new way of doing things. I play WoW for the escapism, lore and fun. Not to spend hours researching something before I understand it enough before I can play it effectively. My head is hurting already damn it.
So, the bad isn’t so bad that it swamps the good (Gnome Monks!) and I’m sure as we get closer and the chance to explore a new area finally becomes reality my excitement will force my opinions will change, but for now it is all defintiely ‘meh’
There is plenty of other new features, including the Dungeon Challenge system and Class changes, like the Hunter losing their ‘dead zone’ and being able to shoot point blank, but I’ll leave that for you to discover elsewhere on the interwebs.
What do you think of the new expansion? A welcome change of pace, or a bad April Fools Day joke gone horribly wrong? Leave a comment and let me know, I’d love to read your opinions.