In all seriousness, a combination of wanting to spend time with my long-time online friends and playing World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria has brought me, Molsan, back to WoW after a ten-month hiatus. There’s something to be said about an addition to or a new version of a game that resurrects your basic love of the game while exceeding your expectations as a new product and experience.
MoP has offered something that previous expansions didn’t: hope. Blizzard has taken a cue from Bane, from The Dark Knight Rises:
I will feed its people hope to poison their souls.
Blizzard, though the Mists of Pandaria, is feeding its players hope, luring them into the mists, only to turn around and crush their pixelated dreams. Okay, maybe that’s a stretch, but this is the big difference between MoP and previous expansions. There was always the tease of “what evil lurks.” We weren’t prepared for Outland, Arthas was waiting on his throne for us in Northrend, and Deathwing soared between heaven and hell all over Azeroth.
Mists of Pandaria has offered players… a new beginning. A fresh start. Forests and sprites. Pets and flowers and more fish. Right? That’s it… just the same game that we’ve been playing for eight years? I, along with the veterans of the game, know that this will not last for long. However, it’s a welcome change after years of beginning your journey with death and destruction.
From a technical standpoint, Blizzard continues to be humble with their game design, particularly from the questing perspective. They have incorporated lessons learned and as well as brand new ways to tell a story and engage players. For example, the “Scouting Report” Grookin Hill quests for the Horde were awesome. Each step of the mini quest line was unique and challenging, but had just enough hand-holding so that the instructions and expectations for each quest were easy to understand.
I’ve also noticed that there’s been an increased amount of quests that include voice acting. Blizzard prides itself in having a tremendous amount of audio goodness and you know they were going to show Bioware how it was done. What I liked about the voice acting in MoP is that it’s used when it can enhance a quest experience. It’s not used as a marketing and game play crutch the way Star Wars: The Old Republic did.
MoP offers a mixture of familiarity with new, epic experiences. It offers more of what we love about this genre, giving players young and old a chance to play the game however they like. While the game balance and war between the casual and hardcore rages on, there truly is something for everyone. I also have to give credit to Blizzard for one of the smoothest expansion/patch launches of all time. I had no downtime at all as the game polymorph-panda’d into MoP. Their model of upgrading the game to a major release just before the launch of the expansion continues to be successful.
It is the same game. But better. That’s why we love it.