So far this expansion, my play has been extremely casual in World of Warcraft. I’m in my second year of university, and, in between assignments, a social life and a part-time job at weekends, I don’t get a great deal of time to play.
When Mists launched, I cruised at a leisurely pace to level 90. I didn’t rush at all, and spent time reading every quest to soak up all the lore and get a sense of the story of Pandaria. I completed each dungeon at the points in which they felt appropriate (with regard to quests and story). I never once felt bored, or that I needed to rush to get to max level. I simply enjoyed the experience.
Once I reached 90, I initially felt overwhelmed with the amount of content available. There were heroic dungeons and scenarios to run, a farm to tend to, and an almost insurmountable number of daily quests. I didn’t know quite where to begin. Luckily, I had friends who could guide me on what I should do first, as well as sites like WoW Insider to help me along.
That initial, overwhelming feeling subsided after a couple of days. Eventually it all became familiar. I knew exactly where to go to do work for the different factions of Pandaria, I knew how many Valor Points you need to acquire to purchase the next upgrade for your character, and I knew which factions offered which rewards.
Again, like the levelling experience, I never once felt rushed upon hitting 90, or that I needed to be somewhere faster than my method of play was getting me. With no guild pressuring me to get the best gear as fast as possible, I was free to enjoy the content at my own pace. It liberating, to say the least.
The dailies in Mists of Pandaria are fantastic. Every day I read MMO Champion and see blue post after blue post responding to a seemingly endless barrage of people whining about daily quests. I just don’t understand it. I think they’re a great activity to do while waiting for a Raid Finder or heroic dungeon queue to pop, and allow you to continue that solo, questing experience that is normally only enjoyed once every couple of years as you level up to a new expansion’s level cap. They’re varied enough that they don’t feel too repetitive, and the rewards you receive as you increase your reputation are genuinely rewarding.
In my opinion, Raid Finder was probably the most exciting thing introduced in Cataclysm, if only because it allowed casual players like myself the ability to see and enjoy (if only to a very minor degree) the raiding experience that established guilds had been experiencing for years. Whilst Dragon Soul was disappointing to me, I felt the introduction of Raid Finder was a sign of great things to come. And I wasn’t wrong.
Raid Finder in MoP is, like all other aspects of MoP’s end-game, refined and polished. There is a definite sense of progression; each slice of Raid Finder has an item level requirement, meaning you must complete heroic dungeons and acquire Valor gear to get the item level necessary to move up the ladder to the first part of raid finder, then run raid finder until you get the item level required for the next part of raid finder. The new way loot is distributed in Raid Finder is a little frustrating, but I understand why they did it.
Let’s not forget about the other chunks of end-game content! There’s farming, which is something I didn’t think I would enjoy or want to do, but which ended up hooking me straight away. There’s Wrathion’s Legendary questline, which makes you feel like a badass, and provides you with more incentive to go and do daily quests and Raid Finder. There’s Archaeology, which has been greatly streamlined (to the point where it only touches on the borders of ’chore territory). There’s Pet Battles, which I’ve only scratched the surface of, but that I would gladly invest lots more time in if I actually had it to invest.
The speed at which they are producing new content, and the transparency they are showing with the community, coupled with the polish and refinement they have displayed in every aspect of the game I’ve played this expansion is highly impressive. Thanks to Raid Finder, I am genuinely excited for Patch 5.2 and beyond. I can’t see myself ever dropping my subscription (or even taking a break from the game) this time around. As a casual player, I can honestly say that Mists of Pandaria is by far the best expansion Blizzard have ever produced.
I was instructed that the best factions to start with if I wanted to unlock gear upgrades for my character would be the Golden Lotus and The Klaxxi. I did these two, along with The Tillers first. I gained Exalted with The Tillers fairly quickly, with the Golden Lotus just before Christmas, and with The Klaxxi just last night. I’m now working on The Order of the Cloud Serpent and Dominance Offensive. ↩
When I think back to the announcement of Patch 4.2, I remember feeling no excitement whatsoever. I’d just quit raiding because it was taking up too much of my time. I never played during Patch 4.2, only coming back a few months into Patch 4.3. ↩