After hitting level 89 in Mists of Pandaria I’ve now seen a fair bit of the new quest content and I have to say it all feels very familiar though not in a bad way…
Back when I first played vanilla World of Warcraft quests mostly seemed to consist of:
Quest giver – “Kill X amount of Y then come back and see me…”
“Gather X amount of object Y (which you loot from creature Z) then come back and see me…”
This second form of quest could be particularly annoying because “object Y” wouldn’t always drop from “creature Z” and you could end up killing 30+ mobs without hitting your required target amount (vanilla Eastern Plaguelands questlines anyone? Shudder…).
Mercifully questing was significantly improved in the Burning Crusade expansion, before being radically refined in the Wrath of the Lich King and Catyclysm expansions. So how does questing fare in Mists of Pandaria?
Mists of Pandaria questing image gallery
Phasing, but not as we know it…
Phasing was introduced in Wrath of the Lich King to make players feel as though their actions were having a direct effect on the World of Warcraft gameworld.
The problem was that any human players not in the same stage of the phased quest would become invisible: of course this kind of defeats the purpose of an MMORPG…
Phasing still plays a big role in Mists of Pandaria but its implementation is a little more subtle. Some quests in Pandaria consist of the player’s character being transported directly into a quest giver’s recollection of events which often phases you into a custom interface complete with some NPC custom abilities (i.e. sniper rifle).
Then you have the more familiar form of staged phasing where completing quests ends up permanently changing the landscape (i.e. by rebuilding a town) around you.
And in Mists of Pandaria you can supposedly still see human players regardless of what stage of the phased quest you are in (I’m still not entirely convinced this is the case though – as I’ve seen human players pop into view when I move to another quest stage).
Gadgets & Gizmos
There are plenty of unique gadgets and gizmos for players to use while questing in Mists of Pandaria. These include the afore mentioned sniper rifle, a variety of bombs, cannons, torches (for the ubiquitous “Burn the corpses…” quest), grappling ropes, a telescope and much more.
If I had to choose a definitive new quest gadget for Mists of Pandaria it would have to be the exploding barrels which players kick into foes or the exploding keg which you ignite and then roll over enemy troops. As the Pandaren love beer I guess barrels and kegs are a bit of a no brainer.
Mini dungeon and kill the boss
In Pandaria there are plenty of compact quest lines which play out like a mini dungeon complete with end of questline boss. This style of quest was debuted in Wrath of Lich King, used extensively in Cataclysm and probably even more so here.
These type of questlines are far more self contained than the sprawling, rambling questlines of vanilla World of Warcraft and they help make Mists of Pandaria less linear. Which brings me to my next point…
More player freedom
One of my biggest gripes with the Cataclysm expansion was the extremely linear nature of the levelling experience. While the quests were pretty solid, they really forced you onto rails with little freedom to just wander around the revitalised gameworld and explore.
Once you get out of Pandaria’s level 85 to 86 starting zone (Jade Forest) you have a lot more freedom to go off and hit various quest hubs in different locations, and in no particular order.
This is a big improvement in my opinion.
So far so good…
My guildmates tell me that the Mists of Pandaria endgame focuses very heavily on daily quests (something I’m not too keen on) but so far I have really enjoyed the new levelling content.
The only real negatives I can come up with are some shonky voice-acting (why would an oriental Pandaren character speak with a thick Texan drawl?), a few clumsily executed cut-scenes (largely due to the aging game engine) and a continued reliance on the old “Kill X amount of Y then come back and see me…” style quests.
I can also happily state that so far I have encountered nothing as excruciatingly painful as the “Uldum” questlines in Cataclysm – and that can only be a good thing right…?