Friday, November 11, 2011

Two things people seem to hate about Mists of Pandaria (and why I think they're both awesome)

I'm seeing a lot of rage over the new World of Warcraft expansion, Mists of Pandaria (hereafter referred to as MoP) which, frankly, I can't understand. I acquired a Blizzcon Virtual Ticket and have seen the MoP Panel at Blizzcon, and I am excited.

Holy buggernuts, people. MoP looks awesome. Pandaren! Monks! Giant Turtle Islands! New, better talent system! I personally cannot wait. This new expansion is looking really good.

Unsurprisingly, there are lots of people losing their shit over the new stuff. Makes sense - it's all new, but it's new new and utterly different, especially the new talent system. And I wouldn't mind if people were being reasonable in voicing their complaints, but of course they have to scream, make threats, and generally act like a bunch of rabid monkeys.

If you know me, you know I love Cracked. So, in Cracked style, I represent the biggest complaints people seem to be leveling at the game in list form, in the hope that I can calm those who are freaking out.

1. "OMG, PANDAS? What a cheap way to capitalise on Kung-Fu Panda. This is going to ruin WoW."

I don't think any of these people realizes that the Pandaren were a race that's been around since Warcraft III (which has been around since 2002, and Frozen Throne hit the shelves during 2003), and is in no real way trying to capitalise on any fame garnered by the Kung-Fu Panda movies (which hit movie theaters in 2008). I can see where people are coming from - the Pandaren do look extremely like the titular panda in Kung-Fu Panda, but that's because their both anthropomorphic panda martial artists. Hey, maybe the Kung-Fu Panda people was stealing from Blizzard?

Then there's criticism leveled at the Pandarens themselves, which staggers me. Pandarens? Lame? I don't even have the words. Saying Pandarens are lame is like saying dragons are lame. There is nothing lame about a dragon. They are the goddamn antithesis of lame, and Pandarens are pretty damn close.

Also, they're complaining about how the whole Asian feel of Pandaria is trite and uncreative, which... wow. Where were these guys when WoW first launched, huh?

"Humans living in large European castles and a forest-y farmland? How original. Next, we'll have elves living in forests and dwarves wielding axes and wearing thick plated armour and living in snowy mountai- OH WAIT."

So, if people can handle the most overused fantasy tropes for so long, then why should they freak out when they see panda people living in lush forests with buildings that have a very distinct Asian feel to them? I don't think I've ever really encountered that in a game before.

I think that people are less worried about how unoriginal the asain panda people are, but are using that as a mask for what they're actually worried about - World of Warcraft is changing, and this change brings with it some radically different stuff. So, to hide their fear of the change and what it will do to their game, they throw hate at it.

Which segues nicely into the biggest complaint I'm seeing about the new expansion...

2. "WTF BLIZZARD! WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO THE TALENTS? Omg, this is going to ruin WoW."

I feel very strongly about this, because I had the idea first (I came up with it early september). I know this is an awesome idea because it's my fucking idea (this, for the most part, is very similar to MoP's talent tree, and the page was posted on the 24 of September 2011). I don't care if the dev team at Blizzard actually thought of it as well - the point is, late one night, I sat down and thought of ways to improve the standard talent system we see in World of Warcraft and League of Legends. I was concerned that there was no real customization - you picked a certain branch at the start, and had to deal with all the bad of that branch to get to the good.

For example, if you were a tank, you chose the tank tree and pumped points into that. If you were a DPS guy, you would choose the DPS tree. You could stand next to another player of the same class of the same role (say, PvE DPS Warrior) and be virtually identical in build and talent spec. When you got to level ten, you picked the Fury tree if you were PvE, the Arms tree if you were PvE and the Protection tree if you were a tank. That's it - there was no real choice. "I have a shield, therefore I am a Protection warrior."

League of Legends is very similar - you are forced to make a decision about which branch to take at the beginning, and afterwards all future decisions are automatic. If you're a Physical DPS, it's 21/0/9. If you're a tank, it's 0/21/9. If your a caster, it's 9/0/21. Deviations from those three builds are seen as strange and ineffective, and you can guarantee that at least 3 other players have the exact same talent build.

So, I sat there, thinking away, and then thought of an idea - a tier based 'tree', where you got a point every five or so levels. You would put that point in one of three 'talents' of that tier. You could only have one 'talent' per tier, but you could change it fairly easily (just hit the reset button whenever you want (not while in game, though)). This would give people a lot more choice in the long run, and let people choose talents that actually suited them, instead of making more of the standard builds. I thought it was a stroke of brilliance.

Then I saw the MoP talent calculator on Wowhead. It was, in essence, my idea. Then I saw the MoP Panel at Blizzcon. It was, in essence, my thinking. It was pretty freaky.

The point, though, is this new talent system is an excellent idea, and not just because it's mine. It discourages the rigid cookie-cutter builds that WoW currently has, and has the player thinking "I have a bunch of choices here. What do I want my warrior to do?" instead of having to choose the Fury tree because you're a PvE warrior, no exceptions. (Well, maybe. You could potentially be an Arms warrior in PvE, but you'd get yelled at.)

What really pisses me off about the hate centered around this is people are using the talent change as a bade for their "They're dumbing down WoW" argument, which is insane. I'm sorry, but there is no way the old talent system is smarter than the new one. I can't get my head around it - the new talent system incourages thinking about what you want your class to do, while the old one told you what your class could do. Which one is better!? Being told what you can and can't do as a Warrior, or being able to choose what you can and can't do as a Warrior?


But, it's all because it's new and different. They've enjoyed the terrible talent system WoW currently has because it was there since (kind of) the start (and lest we forget the talent tree shortening in Cataclysm), and now the devs are replacing it with a new, different, ultimately better system, but because it's new and different they're freaking out and going all Doomsayer on us.

At the end of the day, I can't really blame them. It's human nature to be averse to change. I understand. But trust me when I say the new talent system is definitely a change for the better. I know that when Mists of Pandaria rolls around, I'm not going to be a Fury Warrior, or a Arms Warrior, or even a Protection Warrior - I'm going to be my own damn Warrior. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the opposite of dumbing down.

That is smartening up.

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