Why Mists of Pandaria is a big deal

I am super excited for Mists, I really am, and I’ve been thinking about why I’m so excited. I remember being excited for cata but I don’t think it was the same level of excitement. Whether that was because I didn’t know the game as well (I’d started the January before so been playing less than a year), or whether cata just wasn’t as exciting, I’m not entirely sure. However, Mists is exciting and not just because it’s giving us an escape from the Dragon Soul, which eight months in is a little stale.

I’d been giving this some thought one night when I couldn’t sleep. I pulled my phone out and watched the Mists trailer from 2011, I then went looking for the same trailers for Cata, Wrath and TBC. That’s when it struck me about why Mists is so exciting.

What did the expansions give us?
The Burning Crusade
– Two new races (Blood Elf and Draenei)
– New Profession (Jewelcrafting) which also opened up socketing another way to enhance gear
– Flying Mounts at max level in the new continent
– Heroic Dungeons
– Arena system (with 3 arenas)

Wrath of the Lich King
– New hero class (Death Knight)
– New Profession (Inscription) which also opened up glyphs to improve your characters performance
– Barber shops to customize your character
– Heirlooms
– Wintergrasp as a world pvp area
– Heroic raids

– Two new races (Goblin and Worgen)
– New secondary profession (Archaeology)
– Revamp of the old world allowing flying mounts in Azeroth
– Reforging
– Transmogrification
– Looking for Raid

Each expansion also gave us new zones to explore, a new level cap to get too, new raids/dungeons/battlegrounds, changes to talents, class optimization, skill advances on professions, quality of life changes in storage options etc. but as they are present in every expansion they aren’t the same as new features. Now as I said at the beginning I started playing halfway through Wrath. I didn’t really understand much of the game until Cata so it’s hard for me to properly understand the impact of certain features, therefore this is written from that perspective.

Adding it up
The Burning Crusade was the first expansion and therefore whatever it added was new to the game, and theoretically not expected. With Wrath getting a new profession and flying mounts wouldn’t have had the same impact, that wasn’t new as it had happened before. A new class would have a big deal as would heroic raids. TBC introduced the heroic concept in dungeons and Wrath eventually carried it forward until ICC which implemented the toggle system we’re familiar with. However, candour forces me to add here that I don’t think heroic raids were shipped with 3.1 and rather came later. That coming later is the criticism I have about the features that Cata added. Transmog and LFR are Cata’s big features but they didn’t make their debut until the last patch of the expansion. We didn’t get excited about Cata with these features as we didn’t know they’d be in Cata.

Mists of Pandaria
– New race (Pandaren)
– New class (Monk)
– Pet Battles
– Challenge Modes
– Scenarios
– Farming

If you compare that list to the previous ones there seems to be a lot more new features here in terms of content. TBC added heroic dungeons and arenas, Wrath added heroic raids and Wintergrasp, Cata added (eventually) transmog and looking for raid. However, I’m going to be a bit judgemental here heroic modes might extend the life of content but they are basically the same thing. I know you could make the same argument for challenge modes but the motivation for them and the modus operandi are different. With normal or heroic dungeons you go for loot or points; with challenge modes you’re going for the competition and the staggered awards. Not wanting to hate on Wrath either but Wintergrasp, while different as it wasn’t zoned, it was still fundamentally a battleground albeit with a pve twist when controlled. Battlegrounds weren’t exactly ‘new’. Also transmog doesn’t add anything but just gives you a reason to run old content again.

Therefore if I’m being really harsh, TBC added arenas and Cata added LFR as the only new ‘new’ features. Mists has four such new features all on it’s own and that is why it’s so exciting.

The evolution of the game
Each expansion has built on the previous ones, what was new in the first expansion became staples in every subsequent expansion. Now it’s really hard to look at past expansions objectively as they’re older, they don’t have as many polygons, blizz has learnt a lot from them, and they just aren’t as shiny. I could wax lyrical about Mists as it does seem so shiny. However, I can see how TBC must have seemed equally as amazing. I can almost picture it (though I didn’t know warcraft even existed at the time). It was the first expansion, every change was a new kind of change. It must have been an amazing adventure.

I feel the same way about Mists, that we’re about to embark on an amazing adventure, that the future has never looked so bright. Cataclysm was a split expansion with a lot of attention on the 1-60 revamp. I don’t think that many players really appreciate how much work that must have been but it did mean that there was less new features. I don’t know if LFR and Transmog were supposed to be shipped with Cata, or if they were Mists features that got done early. Either way I think adding major new game features in the last patch was an odd decision, I don’t think that they have had the same impact.

Mists of Pandaria is adding a whole range of new features to the game, as well as building on the old staples. I’m beyond excited to think where blizz might go next as with the next expansion these new features will become part of the game staples. What will blizz dream up next? My speculation on that should be in another post but wow, just wow, the potential is incredible. The game is changing, with these many new features how could it not? I can sympathise with the people who liked it how it was as from reading features lists, and change logs, the game must bear little resemblance to how it once was. However, nothing can stay the same and hope to survive. I realise that I might sound like a blizz fangirl because I’m so excited about Mists, but I truly do believe that the game is going in the right direction – a bright future indeed.

Mists is awesome! No that’s not a proper conclusion. However, I’m thinking that Mists is shaping up to be the best expansion since The Burning Crusade. Cataclysm was like a half expansion as naturally revamping Azeroth took a lot of time and resources. I should really write a post mortem on it as it gets a lot of bad press – some deserved, some not. I’ve said a couple of times that I think we’re heading for a bright future with Mists. I really can’t wait till it’s released, as I do honestly believe that it’s the best thing that’s happened to the game since TBC. With TBC everything was new and exciting, well I didn’t feel it at the time but I do feel a kinship with that time now. Mists of Pandaria is going to be incredible and I really can’t wait. September 25th better roll round fast.