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Review

World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria Review

  • Game release: September 25, 2012
  • Reviewed:
  • PC

Mists of Pandaria's glittering forests and engaging activities feel fresh despite the game's reliance on familiar tropes.

by

The spellbinding world Blizzard spun into existence eight years ago has been a stalwart presence in the realm of massively multiplayer online games. World of Warcraft is a pioneer in many ways, though its core mechanics seem quaint and outdated considering the inroads made by other games since WoW's original 2004 release. Nevertheless, it's still the online hangout of choice for subscribers who cling to the nostalgia factor: glorious raids of the past, milestones achieved, relationships destroyed. The indomitable role-playing game powerhouse is still a pretty big deal after all these years--and Mists of Pandaria offers another reason to cling to this familiar world.

The expansion acts as a sentimental renaissance for longtime devotees who have been there since the original WoW beta, as well as a welcoming launching pad for newcomers on the fence about committing to the monthly fee. It's simultaneously alien and traditional, with brand-new content to explore that still channels the charm amassed the ambitious project's enormous fan base.

The continent of Pandaria brings a different dynamic to the world of humdrum sameness that has permeated any number of high-fantasy multiplayer experiences over the years. When you launch the expansion for the first time, the distinct Asian flavor of the sprawling landmarks and sweeping mountain ranges get those exploration urges gnawing at you once more. Whether you're traversing the breathtaking Kun-Lai Summit or trudging through the lush Jade Forest with loads of verdant greenery dotting the countryside, Pandaria is a whole new side to World of Warcraft that reignites the spark for adventure that, for many, peaked in the days of The Burning Crusade.

The only way to fly.

But as aesthetically pleasing as the continent of Pandaria is, a fresh coat of paint can't single-handedly revitalize an entire world. It sorely needed the aid of the additional playable Pandaren race and the monk class to turn established conventions on their heads. Fortunately, nods to modernization abandon older barriers and break new ground. These changes haven't affected classic questing, which usually involves killing X number of creatures to collect Y amount of loot to exchange for Z. It's tempting to call out Blizzard for content mired in tired trappings such as these, but Mists of Pandaria exhibits little tiredness: the grind feels fresh, effervescent even, especially in the moments from levels 85 to 90.

Questing has never felt so immersive, with assignments ranging from the frivolous to the stoic, including references to the Alliance and Horde conflict that rages on--welcome, grounding narrative touches in a fantasy land filled with pandas and adventurers. No matter the importance of the quest you're picking up, there's a sense of fitting into the goings-on unfolding around you. There's the feeling that you're contributing to the machinations of how the land grows and evolves. And that's something that keeps you coming back for more long after the appeal of looting has faded.

THAT'S NO PANDA!

Unfortunately, Pandaria's social aspects are muffled by world phasing and linearity. Group questing has always been a main draw for WOW as a whole, and while Pandaria still supports grouping of course, most of the quests here feel more appropriate for a single-player session in the vein of Star Wars: The Old Republic's quests. That's not to say there isn't any room for enjoyment with friends. It simply feels like the focus has been shifted to solo questing and plot advancement. Fortunately, plenty of options for adding others to the fold come in the form of tactical scenarios requiring three players, where a group is thrust into different situations that keep things casual.

If you crave a greater challenge, you can tackle the more formidable five-person dungeons; they go by quickly if you're up for the challenge, but evoke the toughest bits and pieces of Wrath of the Lich King's boss battles to put you through your paces. After exhausting these, there are the multitude of Challenge mode dungeons to wet your adventurer's whistle, which offer rewards in the form of cosmetic gear, achievements, and more depending on your finish time. Challenge mode dungeons can test your proficiency, and are thus a fine measure of skill for players looking for the more austere side of Pandaria. Alternatively, you can explore two new player-vs.-player battlegrounds: the Temple of Kotmugu and the Silvershard Mine, both glittering and polished takes on established concepts that work well.

Riding Purple Thing Airlines all the way to Rune Town.

Past the gorgeous setting and social play are the "kung fu pandas" the game community treats with such scorn. The Pandaren can side with either the Horde or Alliance factions, but their inclusion feels no more out of place than the races that came before them. It's easy to look at the dual-hued mammals and assume there's only fluff beneath their adorable exterior, but you'd be underestimating their place in this universe. These beer-loving bears have embarrassingly frivolous conversations about their favorite brews and tell emotionally affecting tales of rising tensions between Horde and Alliance warriors. There's more to them than meets the eye. Additionally, the monk class offers deep physical combat options that draw on one's inner strength and focus on hand-to-hand prowess rather than weapons. It's a versatile class that's loads of fun to play, whatever combat role you might choose.

No matter how much progress you've made in Mists of Pandaria, you're never left searching for a new quest to undertake or a mission to accept. Activities find you, whether you partake in the daily quest system or dabble in the Valley of the Four Winds' farm simulation endeavors with the end result of nabbing your own cloud serpent as a mount.

Cast a fireball spell maybe!

The pet battle system feels a little too familiar, having borrowed much from Pokemon and other similar monster-raising systems, but it's a boon for players with numerous pets looking to kill some time. In fact, pet battles should have borrowed even more from its inspiration: supposedly "rare" pets aren't difficult to find, as the term refers not to the species' actual rarity, but to its quality. Any sense of discovery is diminished by the fact that clear, concise instructions on when and where you can obtain each pet are included in the pet log from the outset. This system, and others, may feel light in scope when compared to the rest of the content included with the expansion, but in some cases, your efforts are rewarded with valor points, so the game at least understands that your time is valuable. Check out everything Pandaria has to offer, and you shall reap the rewards.

There's plenty to do within Blizzard's latest labor, even if most of the new content relies on reparations to preexisting mechanics we've seen before. Rather than veering in a completely different direction and risking alienation of longtime fans, the core concept is focused on solidarity. Blizzard chose to aim for what WOW fanatics enjoy about the world itself and what could be done to improve it as a whole, even if that meant stepping out of a comfort zone filled with orcs and dwarves to broaden some horizons. A new race, an additional playable class, story-rich questing, and a menagerie of things to do work together to ensure that Mists of Pandaria is another quality World of Warcraft expansion.

The Good
Plenty of activities to keep you engaged
Pandaren race and monk class offer variety
Gorgeous expanses to explore
Challenge mode is a great way to test your skills
The Bad
Phasing gets in the way of adding friends to the fold
Pet battle system lacks the thrill of discovery
7.5
Good
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0 comments
programmer1
programmer1

Mop is the best expansion pack after Wotlk with no offence... Wotlk > mop = bc > rest ... People voting without knowledge about the mop. 8 or higher votes are from the people that who playing the whole expansion.. the rest of votes are from the people that who not that much experienced in mop expansion.. I agree with that, people are hates pandas.. Me either.. But it doesnt make this game worse or worst.. It doesnt affect the quality...

nikontou
nikontou

-Tragically scores without having played all HC until 5.4 Siege of Ogrimma,  and without consciousness  -_-...
+MoP is one of the best expansions since vanilla, i can't say that is the successor of tbc but at some point can  nearly reach it!!!
++So after so much years of my  WoW experience i can rate it with 9 out of 10!!!
.................and carefull with your rates next time please!!!

essam24
essam24

what's going on this game falling with marks here , 1st one was 9.5 and now 7.5 .sigh

chocomatrix
chocomatrix

I remember the days when WoW was the only thing i wanted to play all day.. to do all day. I actually felt immerse in WoW universe, it actually was a community, u felt part of something. It was like being on the matrix, another world. U could actually disconnect from the real world and get immersed in WoW. I didnt give a F*** about my gf, I flee out of classes to go play the game haha!! I pretended sometimes to be sick ust to be able to play, It was so satisfying to play WoW. For those who dont know what i am talking about, that was before wrath of the lich king. Burning Crusade was the best expansion ever, it changed the game completely. I dont play WoW anymore, but I definitely miss my WoW old friends and everything related with those old days. So many good memories, I cant tell of a game this days that made me feel so immersed like WoW those days did. Games now are so empty and they get emptier day by day. When will another true EPIC game come out? when will we feel part of something great again? I hope I live to see that happen again, and be part of it. All I have now are memories of great days and to be honest it ust feel great remembering those days. WoW could be still what it was, but they definitely lost their path and my approval (and I am pretty sure many think the way I do..... I think haha).

jwittwer93
jwittwer93

I hope everyone knows this expansion was a spin off. Did anyone notice there was 4 instances to level in? And most the heroics were old instances that youve all dont 10 million times. I wont disagree this was sort of a dry expansion at all, but the next expasion will no doubt bring this game back to life.

damico2171992
damico2171992

This looks lame...I've played back and forth since the beginning but after 8 years you'd think they might start to change the game in some huge way and maybe start incorporating other things that make MMORPG's more exciting rather than the same old routine of raiding till you get the best gear and PVP all day...just no fun anymore

borissa
borissa

The Great MMORPG King is dead...

Darkfield
Darkfield

I really wished that Kevin VanOrd review this, One of the very few unbiased game critics out there. It's a pity, I waited this long to be disappointed by Brittany Vincent biased opinion.

starphaser
starphaser

This expansion is a step back. Sure, old wow players might revel in the nostalgia and spend hours upon hours grinding "rep", but there's nothing for new players in Mists of Pandaria. It is a an old game that shows its age. If you want a new and fresh mmorpg experience, go play Guild Wars 2. 

Exquisite
Exquisite

I'm just going to wait for them to come out with their next mind-blowing MMO:

World of World of Warcraft.  

You control a "real world" nerd as he struggles through lame part-time jobs to buy subscription time so he can upgrade his World of Warcraft characters.  World of WoW is fraught with danger, such as horny girlfriends, angry bosses, gold selling hackers, and crazed WoW developers that make onerous gameplay changes your characters' characters must quickly adapt to.

stranac30
stranac30

Because of these BLIZZARD OF COMMENTS AND REAL GAMES Deteriorating.

Nexozable
Nexozable

Gotta love these hater comments,

 

PEOPLE WANNA FEEL COOL TODAY.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guild Wars 2 sucks. 

Ringx55
Ringx55

It's disappointing to see this expansion get a lower score than ever Cataclysm. Almost all of the WoW fans I know of agree that MoP > Cata.

dbnewman
dbnewman

OK. Had quit wow. Was curious about the expansion. picked it up. played for the few weeks since launch, and just quit again. More due to time constraints,as opposed to the fact that I wasn't enjoying myself. I was. Just had to spend more time with work and life than an MMO. 

 

I kinda feel like this review really didn't cover all the content in the expansion. yes there are quests. and yes there are dungeons. and yes you can level up to from 85-to-90. BUT that's really on the the first 15 percent of the content that's in the expansion. Sort of just the Prologue. Kind of like a nice little standalone rpg stuffed into a wow wrapper. once your done, then the real end game content begins. That's the stuff that's going to take you a few months to complete. (if that's your thing) 10 or so factions to reach exalted status with. a few hundred new achievements to go after. at least 6 new raids to beat with your guild on heroic. several up coming content patches.  farming (meh, yeh I know, but, hey it's in there blizz took the time). the new npc friend / buddy / best friend system, vanity gear to find, wandering heroes, the bizarre multi-branch cooking tree, etc.

 

I would give the expansion a slightly higher score. (8.5)  But i would also point out that this review seems to be a little anemic. For the amount of time that it took to get it to press, it seems it could have been a little more comprehensive, not just a quick first impression.

TrueProphecy22
TrueProphecy22

Um... WoW hasn't been catering to group adventuring for at least two or three years.  I'm not entirely sure why this review seems to point to that as a flaw introduced in Pandaria.

SkaiNett
SkaiNett

I see Gamespot has a sense of humor. Outstanding visual design? Hah! Good one.

gamefreak215jd
gamefreak215jd

So the only RTS worth playing now is none other than Starcraft2.Hope they won't disappoint us in the near future.

TheFreeloader
TheFreeloader

I don't know why Activision Blizzard isn't doing more to get people excited for MMO's again. WoW is a good cash cow and such, with a large userbase and presumably low costs overall. But still, their subscriber number is declining, where it should be growing since the potential market is growing as they expand into new  geographies. It just seems like a big opportunity they are missing by not keeping investing in such a historically profitable part of their business. Surely they cannot believe that MMO gaming is just a fad which will pass.

cyborg100000
cyborg100000

You can't freshen a game like this up. You'd need to change the entire game from the core, something a few tweaks and changes in an expansion won't fix. So why people expect this great Xpak that'll keep them playing for more than a month again I do not know. Move on.

cephas90
cephas90

"....but evoke the toughest bits and pieces of Wrath of the Lich King's boss battles to put you through your paces"

 

LOL cause Wotlk was HARD right?~!

Dezuria
Dezuria

I've been playing, but not having a great time.  MoP added nothing fresh and new, just tons of grinds. daily quests/rep grinds, heroic runs, and then raids.  same old thing.

 

Next expansion needs to freshen things up a bit more.

Gaggar10
Gaggar10

I really miss warcraft 3 , come on blizzard you went from an original and awesome rts to this panda s*** wtf!!!!!

Hurvl
Hurvl

83 on Metacritic, looks like the eternal truth of reviewers praising a game while ordinary gamers say it stinks and accuses reviewers of being bought or simply retarded. Good reviews are good for business, so that means that WoW will not go under anytime soon no matter if people wishes it.

Masenkoe
Masenkoe

mmm girl look at dat fl0p

Bladin84
Bladin84

@chocomatrix I totally agree dude, although for me the peak was in vanilla WoW, but honestly I have more fun just remembering my time playing WoW than I have actually playing any game now. Isn't that just sad...but yes nothing has been able to capture that desire just to be online in WoW...even if you weren't doing anything just to be there and be a part of it. I truly miss that.

lilmcnessy
lilmcnessy

@chocomatrix Was so fun when you had to do everything yourself. I remember the days when you spent half your time looking for a group for Black Rock Depths

mindpurge
mindpurge

 @damico2171992 

 

You do realize you on't get the best gear right, unless you litterally play 8 hours a day every day? THAT'S why this game is still fun. Because you ALWAYS have room to progress, there's almost always something better.

 

WoW is like ANY OTHER GAME, you get new things, equip them, be stronger. The exception is that Blizzard have the best game devs in the business and can create a world that SO many love and just want to step back into.

 

GW2 can't do it, SWTOR can't do it, EQ can't do it... No one can... except for Blizzard, and just that speaks volumes. These are facts, not opinions.

 

tunnelrat99
tunnelrat99

 @Darkfield o I see because someone doesnt agree with you they are biased? Get a life dude

Scarab83
Scarab83

 @starphaser Or you could be a normal person and play more than one game at a time.

johnpombrio
johnpombrio

 @dbnewman 

 This is definitely better than other expansions as db has said. The ability to do stuff without "teaming" up is a big draw for me. There is a TON of stuff to do but only after lvling up. Brought me back into WoW addiction, hook, line, and sinker.

Suaron_x
Suaron_x

Group questing doesn't work well in MMOs.  It seems that there's never really anyone online at the same time who needs to do the group quest you want to do, unless you are powering through the initial wave after the release.  As with you, I don't see how single player questing is a flaw in this review.  However, I see nothing in this review to really pull me back into WoW since leaving after the Lich King

_el_Greco_
_el_Greco_

 @TheFreeloader I think everything you've said is debatable...  Sure, they've lost a bit off the top of their subscription base, but you have to remember that they're bringing in way, way more money with WoW than any other MMO developer out there.  With regards to the potential market for MMOs, it's all pretty stagnant right now, (it's not like back in the mid to late 2000s when every company was announcing their MMO which would supposedly replace WoW).  This is part of the reason why WoW itself is so dull and seems to be cruising at such an inadequate pace (that and the fact that the game engine itself is old and can't suddenly be upgraded to 2012 standards).  Ultimately, I think that Blizzard is now focusing entirely on their unannounced mmo in order to prepare themselves in the manner that you've described.  I definitely agree that MMO gaming is not just a fad that will pass.  But it's currently at its lowest point in history in terms of novelty.  And to be honest, I don't see MMO gaming becoming fresh again any time soon; not even when Blizzard releases their new one.  It will be very interesting to see how it all turns out though...  It's hard for me to imagine Blizzard revolutionizing the market, especially nowadays when it seems like they're at their lowest in terms of freshness.  But I suppose we'll have to wait and see.  I'm crossing my fingers for a Blizzard revival.

acelogan1989
acelogan1989

 @buccomatic ahhh . . .Another post from sir buccomatic . your post always consist 2 things : Praising Wow , or Bash other mmo.maybe playing the same game for 8 years damaging your brain cells.

phatsanta
phatsanta

 @buccomatic buccomatic man I love you and your crazy and trolly posts. You make yourself sound so stupid but I know its for the lawls.

northArrow
northArrow

 @Dezuria

 I"m not sure why you're saying "next time" if you're not having a great time why waste $15 a month PLUS the cost of an exansion? Cut your losses and find something fun

PoinT_To_Blank
PoinT_To_Blank

 @mindpurge  @damico2171992 But do you seriously still think that after 8 years, you want to be doing same thing that you've been doing every day, over and over and over and over again. For me it seriously needs to change... It's like being served the same meal every time you eat. Sure it tastes great, no doubt, but 8 YEARS?!?! I mean you have to get bored with it eventually -.-

Darkfield
Darkfield

<p>@tunnelrat99 @Darkfield it's clear to me you neither played the game nor know any better to spot the obvious flaws, so there's no point in arguing with a guy who is as clueless as you are.</p>

stranac30
stranac30

 @tunnelrat99 I tried the Chinese? ati century there was clearly said that because of these comments on gamespot and other sites bllizard real bad game and so has to continue, unfortunately.

FkThisName
FkThisName

 @northArrow  @buccomatic when your entire life has been wow, its difficult for them to see what the rest of the world has to offer in comparison.

World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria More Info

First Release on Sep 25, 2012
  • Macintosh
  • PC
World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria is the latest expansion set for WoW and takes place on the new continent of Pandaria.
6.5
Average User RatingOut of 516 User Ratings
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Developed by:
Blizzard Entertainment
Published by:
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Genres:
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Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
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Blood and Gore, Crude Humor, Mild Language, Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol, Violence