So with the official launch of the expansion today, I decided I wanted to discuss my first impressions about the expansion. The first thing I did when I logged in this morning was to start on the quests leading into the Jade forest. I have only see the Horde side cutscene, but I was immensely impressed with it. The story for MoKFP starts before you leave Orgrimmar, and it starts with gusto. I played through to the second quest hub before taking a break, and the Jade Forest was a decent zone. It didn’t really stand out for me off the hop.
After that, I created a Pandaran Monk. Before I give my thoughts on it, I should say that I was fairly indifferent to both the Pandaran race and the monk class in the time leading up to the expansion. I know a lot of people were stoked, but it never really interested me. On the other hand, I didn’t think that either the class or the race were out of place. Anyways, the starter zone for the Pandaran is a lot of fun. The quests are set up very linearly (with the choice of doing one before the other). The biggest problem with the starter zone, in my opinion, is the lack of a mailbox. Now, I realize that the Pandaran don’t have a faction at this point in their progress, but that should really be irrelevant. The easy way to fix this is to declare all Pandaran as outside both factions. Heirlooms are exempt from faction restriction mail, so they could send / receive the heirlooms and mail them to either faction. This way a pandaran getting started could benefit like the rest. I’m not sure what the ultimate reason for withholding the heirlooms is, since you can put everything on as soon as you arrive at a capital city.
I played up until level 12-ish, which is right after you chose your faction. I was a tad unimpressed with the decision that ultimately leads the two factions of pandarans to join either side. To me, it didn’t feel like a compelling enough reason that these people would abandon their heritage and traditions so easily. But, that’s really a small story nitpick that is a small stain on an otherwise well crafted and interesting story.
As for the monk class, I was really pleased with the playstyle. It was fun and engaging, even if there was a bit of button mashing at times. Figuring out what the best rotation for building chi and then unleashing it takes some time, but generally you get the hang of it. The energy and chi system is also very straightforward as well. Unlike runes, which cool down over so many seconds and some turn into death runes which are used for other things, you either have chi, or you don’t. To be fair, it’s the reverse of the DK system, since the DK base is the runes that build runic power, while the monk is energy that activate chi bubbles. Each chi bubble can be spent on abilities that require chi, some cost 1, some 2, and others 3 (at this point I have one ability that fits each of those, I’m not sure if there are more later).
But while the monk uses energy (like a rogue or cat druid), the chi system is unlike the combo point system in a number of ways. The most obvious way is that if your enemy dies while you’re at a positive number of chi, you keep the chi and use it on the next attack or it slowly decays over time. Combo points tend to be wasted (most of the time). I chose the windwalker (dps) specialization for ease of leveling. I’m sure both the heals and tanking specs will be as equally interesting.
After that, I went and finished off the Jade Forest questing on Kor, which took me the better part of the rest of the day. Well, I finished all the quest achievement progress markers except for the one at the big temple. I’m apparently missing a quest or quest chain there and I’m not sure which it is. Anyways, the zone picked up for me as I pushed outward and I started to get drawn into the story, even though I was trying to skip through (I’m in a hurry to 90). The story towards the end of the zone was pretty cool, and I’m sure most will find it interesting.
Later on, I found a cooking trainer that sells recipes from low level right up to 500. This is undoubtedly the fastest way to level cooking there is, although it is a tad expensive after a while. Each pattern gives five skill up points and stays orange until it turns grey, at which point there is another recipe to takes its place to get you up to the next one. Provided you have a bit of gold (recipe materials can all be purchased from the vendor right there and cost about 1g per individual piece. This feature is something I’m happy to see as it frees up a long and tedious time sink into a succinct way of getting caught up.
Finally, after Sy started to get some achievements, I decided to go give the pet battles a try whilst waiting for dungeon queues (Kor is back to ATMs for leveling). I was immediately hooked on the pet battles and thought they were really fun. I can see them getting really old really quick. The battles tend to play out fairly repetitively. You use the same button repeatedly and wait for it to die. I have a feeling that it will lose its draw for most people after a while.
The first dungeon I got in was the Temple of the Jade serpent. The dungeon looked great but there was a whole lot of extra crap going on that I think is going to make people hate it (oculus anyone). So there’s a boss mechanic in there where the boss is surrounded by a fountain with ankle deep water, and he shoots a jet out that rotates in one direction throughout a part of the fight, or summons adds. Anytime you touch the water you take damage, so it’s suicide to stand next to the boss and try to hit him. BUT IT’S ALSO HARD TO RUN IN CIRCLES AND DO ANY REAL DPS. I’m telling you right now, this mechanic is terrible. I hated it and I can’t imagine you won’t either.
The second dungeon was the Stormstout Brewery. Again, beautiful dungeon. There is a boss mechanic in there where the room floods with ale and you swim around. Also note that you should click the bubbles off to the side to stay alive.
Anyways, all in all, happy with the expansion and annoyed by a few things. It’s time to get back on the road to 90, so in the meantime,