Now that we’ve covered the Pandaren starting area I’d like to talk a bit about the experience starting from the Cataclysm level cap up to level 89, the limit in the current version of the MOP beta.
Where as a young monk in training we endeavored to rescue the island our people lived on, which also happened to be a turtle, here we begin a fight against a malevolent force known as the Sha, essentially evil spirits which both feed off of and generate negative emotions. Perhaps most prominent of these emotions is hatred, something which also happens to be in no short supply among the Horde and Alliance fighting over who will possess the new found land making me curious to see if this factors into the story at some point in the future.
Our battle is not solely against the Sha themselves however, but also those controlled by the Sha such as the Yaungol (Basically Tauren) and Saurok (Lizard People,) in addition to the conflict between Horde and Alliance, as well as their allies and with others such as the Hozen and Virmen. Finally, given the prominent martial arts aspects of the expansion what with the inclusion of the new Monk class, a number of quests also involve challenging yourself to become stronger with the expected amusing parodies of the genre.
As with the Pandaren starting area, the new regions are quite beautiful to look at with a number of forests, plains and mountainous regions. As far as the actual leveling experience, I particularly enjoyed the humorous tone which the vast majority of the quests take on, although this does make it a bit hard to take the actual story behind the expansion very seriously given that at least 90% or more of the dialogue and content is poking fun at itself rather than truly emphasizing the seriousness of the enemy. Of course none of this is new to World of Waracraft, but I would say that this expansion feels particularly this way.
In addition to the prominent humor, MOP gives us a few new quest types such as one in which you play the role of sniper, supporting an ally dwarf as he makes his way through enemy territory by taking out the approaching enemies from afar. MOP also brings a welcome new feature in the form of bosses that provide quest credit to any player who participates in the battle before the boss dies, rather than solely the first player or team to tap the mob. This new feature makes it much easier to get quests done in crowded zones and encourages a measure of cooperation even across factions as every player stands to gain.
Despite the fact that the beta is missing a considerable amount of content which is still under development, including key features such as the pet battle system, I would say that I’m already rather optimistic about what Pandaria has to offer.