Of course I don’t want to state the blatantly obvious, but I must: Blizzard’s latest World of Warcraft expansion is out. Mists of Pandaria seems to have delivered – contrary to earlier concerns regarding a lack of story.
Before moving into my thoughts, I feel I need to explain some aspect of reality in order to let you all know how these articles are going to proceed over the next few weeks. One of my favorite thinkers on the relationship between the individual and civilization, Sigmund Freud, presented what he called the “pleasure/reality” principle. What this theory says is that there is a part of us that craves pleasure at a primal level, think of this as the two year old that exists within all of us. Think of this as that person who eats dessert first.
Sadly, reality comes along and tells us to set aside our passions and desires to live capriciously. Reality says that we need to set aside our desire for immediate gratification to suit the desire of civilization. Thus, we become discontent with civilization, playing by its rules, contrary to what we want as individuals.
It is in reality where I have been stuck. It has been a long time since I have written and a long time since I have been able to sit down and spend some time in Azeroth. Even with the release of MoP, I have not been able to spend more than a couple of hours a week on the computer.
Reality, it seems, bites.
Regardless, I am now on my way into Pandaria. The mists parted, Abbysomone made her way there, and increased her skills one level.
Speaking of one level, when the first large patch came out and we had to retune our characters, the new system seems to leave quite a bit out. I am still a fan of the old “Vanilla” system where there were many choices. A player was given more options to make their character’s strengths more specific to their style of game play. Now, it seems we are more and more stuck with a cookie cut-out character.
Yes, there were those wasted choices just to get to that one talent, but it required a bit of thought and creativity. Sure, there was looking at the Armory and copying characters. But, again, it fostered experimentation and a thoughtful approach to creating both an ideal character and one that suited an individual’s play style. I am not so sure about other games or MMOs out there and how leveling works. But, when I first entered Azeroth those many years ago, I enjoyed the time and research it took to get just that right balance.
Many of you can recall how expensive it was in those days. I can’t quite remember how many times my friends and I would go back for re-training to see if one balance of skills worked over another. When a PVP fight or dungeon fight didn’t go right, the first thing we often did was engage in a discussion about builds. We would go back, retune, then fight again.
That is not to say that the older system was perfect. How many talents did we have to collect in order to get that one talent we needed? With a more focused and specific talent system that is currently in place, every choice does really matter. But, with fewer choices comes fewer unique builds.
Maybe I am wrong. Greg Street, Lead Systems Designer for Blizzard, sees it differently. He notes that the new system is intended to eliminate the cookie-cutter approach to character building. But their main focus this time was to make every choice matter. And when fewer choices are presented, then every choice does matter. Especially, in this case it seems, for PVP.
In my mind, that is where player choice in talents takes the most heed, those of us who primarily PVP in the game. Specific tunings do matter here. Snares are 80% useless in raids, as there is not much need anymore for crowd control in boss fights, though some are present. But in a battle ground? You bet your sweet-bippy that a snare has meaning.
So, here we all are on a new continent and exploring it to our heart’s content. Fulfilling our roles for which ever faction we belong – to make sure that the opposing faction does not get more of that landmass. I feel like Blizzard has taken pages from the age of explorers with a modern mindset. We are in a new territory doing our best to get the natives to side with us against them. They have resources we want and need. They have land we want and need. And we will do whatever it takes to make sure the other side does not get more than us.
The question before us in reality is just that: How do we defend ourselves? With the scourge, the Dark Portal, Arthas, and Deathwing taken care of we are free to explore, again. With the mists parted, we move into uncharted lands and adventures – exploring this new civilization.
As you make your way about Pandaria, What do you think of the new talent system? What about the story, is it one to keep you going?
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