Panda Parley #1:
With the release of Mists of Pandaria the “Panda Prep” Blog has been discontinued and the “Panda Parley” will replace it. This blog is dedicated to discussing all things Panda, especially when they do not fall into a different Blog Series. I will be discussing many of the first impressions of the game which will exclude raiding.
The first thing one will notice when they get plunged into the Pandarian conflict is the visual aesthetics of the new island. This place is visually stunning. Each and every zone has a unique but cohesive look and feel with the rest of the island. The oriental scenery is breathtaking and without a flying mount until 90 you will be forced to take it all in. In this case I don’t mind being forced and I will look forward to seeing more of the world as I quest on alts.
This is the next thing you notice about pandaria. The soundtrack is amazing and is currently one of the top sellers on itunes. It has some every relaxing and mystic sounds as well as some classical flair. I am someone who respects but rarely enjoys classical music and this soundtrack has got my ears locked. Turn down your game effects sound and set music to 100% then ENGAGE!
Leveling Time (6.5/10)
Admittedly the time to get from 85-90 was probably a little long. I say that because it took me 22 hours and I used a few tricks to speed up the process. The average player is taking 30-35 hours to level currently. This is a significant time investment, one which I do not mind at all. My belief is that the first character on your account should take plenty of time to level, however, subsequent alts should not. Currently there are no BOA items that will help you from 85-90 and I already am well into levels on a second 90. With 8 other 85s to level (my monk now included) I would like to see a leveling time commitment on the order of 15-20 hours without using leveling tricks.
So the questing in MoP is mostly standard. Blizzard sprinkled in some very fun quests such as marmot punting and a really neat RP scenario with mini games but they are few and far between. Mostly far between the “go gather 50 of these” and “kill 20 of those while you are at it” type quests. Gathering and kill quests seem to plague the leveling process and come in predictable packets of 3-4 at a time. The only advantage is they will take you to each corner of the new zones so that you will experience it all. I would have liked to see some more interesting quests thrown into the mix but having 1-2 unique quests per zone will have to suffice.
5 Man Dungeons/heroics (8/10)
The normal mode dungeons are very easy as you would have expected. If you hit them with full BiS gear (from DS) then they were absolutely laughable and even on my poorly geared alt they are doable but take a little more time (and dps that can do more than 9k #Badexperiences). Similarly, when in a guild group, the heroics glide very easily. When in a random they have seemed to move along mostly well. Again, the only time I have been frustrated is if the DPS are abnormally low for their item level and the fights take a long time. If you are a dps queing randoms for normals or heroics you have my sympathy, as the que will take 30+ minutes. If you are a hybrid I strongly recommend grabbing that OS gear and queing for it. You will be able to get your MS DPS gear from the heroics much faster with the fast ques. Some of the mechanics in the 5 mans are interesting and will certainly present much difficulty more in the challenge modes. Overall the heroics fill the niche that they are intended to fill and will be wrath style AOE pulling for the epic 480+ item level group.