Through The Mist: Mists Of Pandaria Impressions

mists of pandaria impressions
Through the Mist is a regular column from Luke Le Page covering everything World of Warcraft. If you’d like something covered in a future column, drop us a line!

The Mists of Pandaria expansion has been live for just over a week and I thought it was past time for another column. Apologies for not putting one up sooner, but as you can imagine I have been spending a fair amount of time in game. (I know the feeling! – Ed)

A lot of this was covered in the Episode 43 podcast so I urge you all to have a listen to it. I felt that the launch was relatively smooth. Not having to log out was a huge leap forward compared to previous launches by Blizzard. The initial quests phased in quite well, despite the huge server loads.

The first Alliance quest in Pandaria however was bugged – a large number of people could not complete the quest. For those of you who are not aware of the Alliance introduction it involves jumping in a helicopter and completing a bombing run. I was stuck in the helicopter unable to complete the quest or even fire the vehicle’s attack move for around an hour. The second part of the quest involved destroying explosive crates on a ship that I could not see due to the amount of players stuck in the area. Eventually I received credit for a lucky shot and moved on.

That was about as bad as it got for me bug-wise, mob spawns are of course a different story, and my questing partner and I found a novel way around this by having him cast mind sear on me as I ran around like a headless chook hoping to get mob tags.

I really enjoyed the Jade Forest as a zone. I had played the very early version from the beta and it had some very nice changes made to it. It introduced us to a number of storylines that continue on all the way to 90 and hopefully beyond.

Overall I really enjoyed the levelling experience – I have to admit that I am a little annoyed that levelling is so fast. This is probably because I am a sour veteran that slogged through vanilla on a holy paladin.  The zones are absolutely beautifully designed and there is an amazing amount of immersion in the various quest lines. I got side tracked from levelling several times by chasing storylines and this eventually took me all the way into the Dread Wastes to the Insect race: the Kirk’thik. These remind me of the insects from the Star Wars universe. I am already looking forward to cutting a swathe through them in a raid environment and that is a feeling I have not gotten from WoW in quite some time.

I hit 90 relatively quickly, though nowhere near as quick as a lot of people as I was distracted by levelling a Monk, pet battles and exploration. I have to say there are a huge number of daily quests to complete and they offer a huge variety of styles so that it will hopefully take a long time to get bored of dailies.

I was reluctant to set foot into heroics immediately, so I began with a handful of scenarios. This was the first area in which I felt let down by Blizzard. While scenarios are interesting, they are extremely short and simple. They do not offer much in the way of difficulty and I feel that I will quickly become bored of them. However, the way in which they are structured (3 players of any spec) make them a good way to try and get gear when you have minimal time.

I have also completed around 5 heroics so far and I have to admit that they feel a little under-tuned. In one of my groups we managed an achievement without even trying for it, we also managed to pull 3 separate packs with no tank and no fuss. Difficulty aside I have thoroughly enjoyed the heroics that I have completed so far and I look forward to moving into raiding in the near future.

I also wanted to share this video with everyone as a form of thanks for reading, so enjoy it and have fun with your flying cloud!

Through The Mist: Looking Back at Cataclysm

Through the Mist is a regular column from Luke Le Page covering everything World of Warcraft. If you’d like something covered in a future column, drop us a line!

With Mists of Pandaria only a week away I felt like it was a good time for a review of its predecessor: Cataclysm.

The anticipation I felt towards the end of Wrath of the Lich King was immense. Icecrown Citadel and Ulduar had been a return to the epic raids of the past such as Molten Core, Blackwing Lair, Karazhan and Black Temple to name a few. The reintroduction of Naxxramas as a level 80 raid also had me extremely excited having been stuck on the Four Horsemen in classic WoW before taking a break in preparation for the Burning Crusade. I was finally going to be able to defeat Kel’Thuzad and close that chapter of Warcraft lore – not only that but I would be throwing down against Arthas himself in the not too distant future.

This is where I think Cataclysm faced its greatest challenge – how were Blizzard going to come back after having defeated Arthas, the antagonist of the unbelievably popular Warcraft 3? We had spent years working up to this culminating fight. The pre-expansion event had me fairly excited (The Cataclysm). Having also read the Shattering, the expansion’s companion novel, I felt truly immersed in the events that were taking place. My beloved zones were utterly destroyed as Deathwing emerged from Deepholme.

I hated him for that as I am an altoholic. I loved many of the original zones, hated others. I played through them more times than I care to admit and came to love the environment of the game and this former aspect had come along and completely destroyed many of them and it was time for payback.

The event really set the tone for me as I ventured into this new expansion – there was no way I was going to let Deathwing off the hook. So I logged into my account page and race-changed my Rogue to a Goblin and set about on my journey for vengeance.

We also saw the introduction of two new races. After many years of petitions from players we finally saw the emergence of Goblins as a player race as well as the ever mysterious Worgen. I have played through both of these starting areas and must admit that I was quite impressed by the work done by Blizzard. During the Worgen scenario I truly felt that I was being hunted. The Goblin experience was less exciting for me but it left me with an even stronger desire to rid the world of Deathwing.

That was about as excited as I got during the Cataclysm expansion. My levelling experience went fairly well, I was among the first level 85’s on my server. I thoroughly enjoyed Mount Hyjal, the ever elusive Mount Hyjal that we had ran through as ghosts or by cliff jumping very early on in the original form of the game. It was finally open and it did not disappoint. The zone itself made fantastic use of Blizzards phasing technology.

My first foray into Cataclysm dungeons occurred on the first day as I headed into Blackrock Cavern with a guild group. This was a relatively positive experience and reinforced my hopes for the expansion.

Mount Hyjal was followed by Deepholme. The cutscene entry to this zone was excellent and really set the scene as we ventured deep into Deathwing’s home. This was another impressive zone, I enjoyed the turmoil within the elemental plane and our efforts to assist Therazane.

After completing Deepholme, and a few runs of the Stonecore (a thoroughly enjoyable dungeon that continued the storyline of the zone), I ventured into Uldum. I have to say this is where my experience went sour.

The zone itself was fine, though a little spread out and at times it felt a little slow. My major gripe was that the zone felt like filler. There was no real point to it even existing. Granted they tied the zone to Deathwing lore but it felt forced. I can’t say that I enjoyed Vortex pinnacle, though it was fun on heroic and had some interesting mechanics.

This lead me to the Twilight Highlands. Again the zone relied heavily on lore and led us to investigate the Twilight’s Hammer and Deathwing’s relationship with the other dragon flights. It was an interesting zone and tied into the Bastion of Twilight raid extremely well. The introduction quests to the zone, both Alliance and Horde, were interesting and I enjoyed doing them.

Overall, I had a mixed levelling experience, so much so that I still have not levelled a handful of alts that I would like to and many that I have were levelled through dungeons alone. The zones after a single completion felt tedious and I did not wish to do them again on alts. This is the first time I have ever felt that way during my time playing WoW and it was a somewhat foreign experience. If I was forced to give it a score out of 10 I would probably lean towards a 6.5 or 7. It wasn’t terrible and many zones were enjoyable while others were frustratingly spread out.

This brings me to heroic dungeons.

I don’t really have anything bad to say in regards to heroics – we began running them almost immediately as a guild in an effort to gear up for raids. I can’t say that I ever found any of them overly difficult; some were tough at lower gear levels as you would expect but I have no memories of repetitive wipes in any of them. Some of the achievements were a lot of fun to attempt and whilst I did not complete the heroic meta-achievement, due largely to a break that I will mention below and some laziness.  I still occasionally run the early tier of heroics so that is definitely a positive for Blizzard. The remakes of Deadmines and Shadowfang Keep were also fun. The addition of the Zandalari heroics later in the expansion is also a positive – I was not playing at the time these were released so I can’t speak for how difficult they were at the appropriate gear level but I quite enjoyed them at a higher gear level.  I give heroics an 8/10.

The New Azeroth

I have to say that I really enjoy the new zones. Blizzard has done an amazing job revamping the levelling experience and has made it relevant to the current content of the game. Lore-wise it is a little disconcerting that we do Azeroth and then move to Outlands and Northrend (that are effectively in the past) before returning to Cataclysm content. The other drawback comes from the levelling speed of the game. Even without Bind on Account items and Guild perks, that increased experience gain means it is possible to out-level a zone from a single quest hub. I found this a little annoying despite my enjoyment of the zones themselves. I give 9/10 for the new levelling areas.


I will not spend too much time on my raiding experience. My guild went into Blackwing Descent first and downed Magmaw with minimal fuss. Omnitron took a handful of attempts but also went down on the first night. Chimaeron was a sterner challenge and went down on the following night after a fairly high number of attempts. In the second week we moved on to Maloriak and Atramades and successfully killed them. I was not present for the Nefarian and Onyxia kill but was there for a number of early attempts. The only fight I truly enjoyed in this raid was Atramedes. I was immediately disappointed with the difficulty level of the raid. Granted my guild wiped, but it was nothing major and we overcame much of the raid with minimal fuss. I rate the first tier of raids extremely poorly: 2/10

Bastion of Twilight was a similar story with the exception of Cho’ Gall. This fight for a variety of reasons took us some time to master and to be honest I really enjoyed it despite the wipes. I can’t say much for the rest of the raid zone. I found most of it boring and simple. Ascendant Council took some time to adapt to the mechanics and coordination required, but was overcome relatively quickly.

I give this early raiding tier a pretty low score, a mere 3/10 overall. I was severely disappointed by it. After my guild defeated Nefarian and Cho’ Gall I immediately took a break from the game. This is an opinion piece and I think that a launch player who had played through every previous tier of raiding stepping back so early says more than my review ever can about that tier.  I also note that I never did Throne of the Four Winds.

Due to this, I missed all of Firelands. As a huge fan of Molten Core and Ragnaros I would love to have been a part of my guild’s progress through this raid but it was not to be. I still have not completed this raid having only returned to the game in mid Dragon Soul.

This brings me to Dragon Soul. Due to the break mentioned above I was no longer a part of a core raiding team for Dragon Soul and had to settle with sub-ins and pugs. My experience overall was fairly positive and I enjoyed the zone overall and give it a 7/10.

The introduction of the Raid finder. Well this is a debate in itself. It has polarised much of the WoW community and I personally like it. It gives casual and new players a chance to participate in later tiers of the game. The difficulty could probably use a little bit of tweaking – being able to ignore the mechanics of fights should not be allowed to happen but in general I feel it is a good way to make raiding accessible to all players. Hopefully in Mists of Pandaria we see a balance in the raid finder that is challenging and rewarding for new and casual players.

This is where people will gripe that if I found the raids so easy why didn’t I do hard modes? The simple answer is I didn’t care enough about the raids to bother with them. Very few of the encounters even piqued my interest enough to go through them a second time. My break ended up being an extremely long one and from all reports I missed an excellent raid in the Firelands and if I have one regret from this expansion it is not completing that raid or even experiencing it. The reason I returned from my break was the WoW annual pass. I was always going to play Diablo 3 and the deal was too good to pass up, it also gave me a chance to experience MoP without having to purchase it. I am sad to say that it was nothing Blizzard added to the current game that brought me back .

Overall, I think it is clear that I did not enjoy Cataclysm as much as I have the previous expansions of the game. This is not entirely Blizzard’s fault as I went through a number of issues in life that also affected my enjoyment of this expansion. Putting those aside however, I have to rate Cataclysm as the worst of WoW’s expansions so far.

My ranking structure would be

World of Warcraft 9/10
Wrath of the Lich King 8.5/10
The Burning Crusade 8.5/10
Cataclysm 6/10

Note that I rate BC and WotLK the same – I put in an inordinate amount of work during Karazhan progression which affected my experience of the raid so I rank it lower than WotLK.

Now your turn: what’s your feelings or thoughts about Cataclysm now that you look back?

Through The Mist: More On 5.04

Through the Mist is a regular column from Luke Le Page covering everything World of Warcraft. If you’d like something covered in a future column, drop us a line!

Firstly I wanted to apologise for the delay between columns, it has been a pretty busy time for me.

By now, we have all had time to adapt to the changes made by Blizzard in 5.04, and just in time with Mists just around the corner. There have been a lot of polarised opinions about the new talent system within the community, but it seems to be settling (for the majority of classes) now that people have had time to familiarise themselves with builds.

The first thing I did with 5.04 was log all of my characters in and assign their new talents. Having played the beta quite a lot, I was fairly familiar with where I wanted to go with each character so it didn’t take me long, I would like to mention that a lot of players on my realm where struggling to grasp these new talent trees at first.

Still, I had something of a learning curve actually putting the new talents to the test using Blizzard’s Looking For Raid function, I won’t get into the merits or lack thereof regarding this feature but it definitely served my purposes well when it came to trying out their new builds outside of a guild raid. It took a little while for me to really get into the rotations, having only really played a handful of dungeons on beta – most of my time had been spent levelling various classes and exploring. Once I found a rotation I was comfortable with, I barely noticed the differences. Sure there are a few new abilities such as Dispatch to work into rotations, but it seemed to be a fairly seamless merge into the new system.

I noticed, as did most classes, a fairly strong increase in DPS. This of course is because most of the new abilities and talents are attuned to Level 90 stats. With our current stat budgets we’re at the top end of performance for this expansion and will likely see lower relative dps at 90 than we are currently seeing.

I have also enjoyed the changes to Holy Paladin and I am tossing up on who to level first and progress into raiding for MoP.

So how did your experience of 5.04 go? Are you enjoying the changes or do you hate them? Did it have any  effect on which characters you want to level?

Through The Mist: Patch 5.04 In-Depth

Through the Mist is a regular column from Luke Le Page covering everything World of Warcraft. If you’d like something covered in a future column, drop us a line!

With patch 5.04 just around the corner, I thought it would be good time to take a look at some of the changes that are taking place before the launch of Mists of Pandaria. The patch notes can be seen below and as you can see there are some major changes coming.

Perhaps the most exciting part is the pre expansion world event involving Theramore. This looks to be an exceptional event. Personally I have elected not to go on the PTR to test it so that I can fully enjoy it when it goes live.

The change that will have the greatest impact on gameplay is obviously the changes to talents and I encourage everyone who intends to play to check it out beforehand so you can get an idea on what talents you want to take.

I have also included the update, which can be found below the patch notes, that details how currency is going to be dealt with.

Apart from the major gameplay changes such as talents, there are a number of excellent Interface changes. The queuing system has undergone a much needed overhaul and all queue types can now be accessed from a single menu.

The removal of ranged and relic slots has been a fairly contentious issue throughout the beta and for hunters it means that their ranged weapon will now fill the “weapon” slot and no other weapons are usable. As a Rogue I am obviously a fan of any change that stops Hunters rolling on Agility-based weapons!

Theramore of old – we will miss you!

It is also important to note that with this patch, all of the races in World of Warcraft will be available to players no matter what level of access they have. The Pandaren however will remain locked until the official launch of Mists of Pandaria and then become available to all players. The Monk class will only be available to people with access to the expansion. I have yet to find any details on whether this will be the same for Death Knights (with Wrath of the Lich King access) or not.

My personal favourite in regards to the changes is account-wide achievements. I played extensively in classic and the Burning Crusade on my Paladin, it was not until very late in the Burning Crusade that I elected to change mains for guild purposes and so I do not have any classic raiding reputations at exalted. With this change all of the work I did on my Paladin can be transported across to my Rogue and I will be rewarded with a huge increase in Achievement points to display on my main. While this by no means affects gameplay in any way it is a nice gesture from Blizzard and enables people who have changed mains for whatever reasons, or simply altoholics to have all of their work displayed in one place. (An interruption from the Editor here: WOOT!!)

We also see an increase in the number of character slots. You can find the details in this interview with Tom Chilton. The character slot response is at about 1:20 mark of the video.

The patch notes:

Patch 5.04

Welcome to the World of Warcraft Patch 5.0.4 Public Test Realm. We thank you for testing Patch 5.0.4 with us, and ask that you participate in our PTR Feedback forum and our PTR Bug Report forum.

Your feedback is greatly appreciated.

Please note that PTR testing is restricted to World of Warcraft game accounts that do not have access to the Mists of Pandaria beta test. You can find more information on this here.


  • Account-wide Achievements, pets, and mounts
    • In Patch 5.0.4 and beyond, the majority of your character’s Achievements, pets, and mounts will be shared with your other characters. Please read: Bringing Achievements to the Account Level, by Greg “Ghostcrawler” Street


  • World Event: Attack on Theramore Isle
    • Warchief Garrosh, obsessed with assuring the Horde’s supremacy over Kalimdor, launches an all-out attack against Jaina’s island home of Theramore. Though valiant Alliance defenders rush to repel the sudden onslaught, they’ll soon find themselves unprepared for the terrible scope of Garrosh’s true plans…
    • In the Public Test Realm, we will be testing this event at specified intervals. Keep an eye on our PTR Feedback forum for more details as they become available.


  • AOE Looting
    • Area of effect looting comes to World of Warcraft with this patch. After killing a group of enemies in close proximity, when you loot one of their corpses, the loot window will include items from all of the nearby corpses for which you have loot rights.


  • BattleTagsupport in World of Warcraft
    • Players who have enabled their BattleTagwill now be able to:
      • See BattleTag friends in your friends list.
      • Add and remove BattleTag friends.
      • Send BattleTag invites to other players via right-click.


  • All classes have been updated with a new talent system, improved abilities, and spells (accessible throughout levels 1-85). Your character’s talents have been reset.
    • Many old talents have been converted to specialization abilities.
    • Druids now have access to a fourth class specialization: Guardian.
    • New spells are now learned automatically. Class trainers are only needed to change talents, glyphs, class specialization, or to utilize the dual specialization feature.
    • All characters now take 30% less damage from other players.

Currency Conversion

  • Coming soon.


  • Spell Penetration has been replaced by PvP Power on existing items.
  • Head enchants removed
    • Enchants that modify the gear in your head slot have been removed from the game. This includes older head enchants of every type.


  • Relics, ranged, and thrown items
    • The slot in which ranged, relics, and thrown items were previously equipped has been removed. All weapons should now be equipped in the weapon slot.
    • Ranged weapons, including wands, have been adjusted to be more powerful.
    • Ranged weapons no longer have a minimum range.


  • The glyph system has been updated. Many class glyphs have been added, altered, or moved to different glyph types.
  • Prime glyphs have been removed.

User Interface

  • There is a new user interface for your mounts and pets.
  • Character creation screens have been updated.
  • Buffs have been consolidated in the UI.
  • New roll results frame added. This new feature can be accessed by clicking the word “[Loot]” in chat, or by typing “/loot”.
  • The PvE queue frames have been unified. You can now queue for dungeons, raids, and other queue-able content in one handy place.
  • Vendors now offer item filtering.
  • Spellbooks have been updated to reflect changes to core abilities, and now include a brief overview of specializations.
  • The Dungeon Journal has been expanded with information on all pre-Cataclysm encounters.
  • A new help system has been added to many frames. You can toggle this on and off by clicking the “i” button in the upper left corner of the frame.


Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

The currency conversion coming with Mists of Pandaria is going to happen in three stages, and this is how we plan for it to progress:

With Patch 5.0.4 on August 28

  • Valor points will be converted to Justice points, and Conquest points will be converted to Honor points.
    • Neither of the resultant currencies (Justice and Honor) will have an enforced hard-cap at this time.


  • The current Arena season will end.
  • Players will no longer be able to earn Valor or Conquest points (bosses will drop Justice, Arenas will be closed).
  • Items formerly purchasable for Valor/Conquest will be available for Justice/Honor.

With Mists of Pandaria on September 25

  • Valor can be earned again.
    • Characters can earn up to 1000 Valor per week, and carry a maximum of 3000 Valor.
    • Daily quests, random Scenarios, random Heroic dungeons, and all levels of raiding will reward Valor.
    • Valor will be used to purchase ilvl 489 gear in Mists of Pandaria.
      • The Klaxxi, Golden Lotus, Shado-Pan, and August Celestials factions will sell this gear.
      • Revered reputation with each faction will be required.
  • Conquest will become earnable.
    • There is a cap of 4000 Conquest points.
    • Arenas and Rated Battlegrounds reward Conquest.
    • It will be used to purchase ilvl 483 gear from Pandaren battlemasters on the Great Wall.

With Mists of Pandaria, Patch 5.1

  • We currently plan to upgrade the Valor system as Ghostcrawler described in Mists of Pandaria Looting Explained in the 5.1 patch, allowing you to upgrade your gear using Valor points. We’ll have additional information once Mists of Pandaria launches and we get closer to the 5.1 patch release.

Do you have questions or comments about currencies in World of Warcraft? Please let us know in this discussion thread.


Through The Mist: World of Warcraft Pet Battles

Through the Mist is a regular column from Luke Le Page covering everything World of Warcraft. If you’d like something covered in a future column, drop us a line!

This week I logged in to take a look at the new pet battle system coming with Mists of Pandaria. Prior to logging in I was not particularly looking forward to this feature and it was something I looked at as a time waster while waiting for queues to pop and raids to form. However, I was pleasantly surprised with the feature. As I mentioned a few weeks ago in my overview of the major changes Pet battles does not offer us anything ground breaking in terms of new MMO technology or gameplay, it is simply a mini-game that is extremely fun.

To enable the feature we need to learn about pet battles from Varzok in Orgrimmar. He can be found near the flight master.

Once we have learnt the ability we now have to find some critters to fight. We can do this via our mini map – attackable critters appear as a paw on our mini maps and are spread generously throughout the world:

To attack on these critters we simply click on them. We begin the battle with just 1 pet slot and can unlock more as we progress through levels. At level 5 we receive our 3rd slot and can then queue to fight other players, though we can challenge players to a pet duel at any level in person.

As our pets progress in level, they unlock new skills and eventually we can capture the critters that we are fighting. Each pet has 4 stats: Health, Power, Speed, and Quality.  Health, Power and Speed increase as your pets level up.  Quality designates the overall strength of your pet’s stats and will vary on every pet that you catch.

We also have the option to rename each of our pets individually – this is helpful as we can capture multiple types of one pet as we battle across Azeroth. It also allowed me to officially rename my Panda from the original collector’s edition to the name by which I have been referring to it for years.

As mentioned above there is nothing mind blowing about this new feature, it is in fact very much like the classic Pokémon games from the Nintendo Gameboy. It is highly addictive and a lot of fun to play and after having played it on the Beta I have spent close to 5,000 gold on pets on the live realm, ready to be levelled as  soon as the feature is released.

Through The Mist: Level 85-90 Experience Points

Through the Mist is a regular column from Luke Le Page covering everything World of Warcraft. If you’d like something covered in a future column, drop us a line!

Last week I looked at the Pandaren starting area and I had hoped to preview some of the higher level content for you this week. Unfortunately the first zone we enter for Mists of Pandaria, the Jade Forest has only been reopened fairly recently after a major overhaul and I have not yet had the chance to replay it.

First I’d like to direct current subscribers to the following information regarding the recent Blizzard security breach. I encourage all current subscribers to follow the steps suggested by Blizzard in regards to account security. This breach also limited my game time last week as I could not for the life of me locate my authenticator for the hotfix so I apologise in advance for not being very content oriented this week.

The pre Mists of Pandaria patch (5.0.4) is also now available via background downloader and the pre expansion event will not be publicly tested.

There’s also some interesting information regarding the use of Blizzard’s recruit-a-friend system for levelling a Monk.  You can see here that Monks using this feature WILL be able to receive realm first achievements. Though using the Scroll of Resurrection feature to have an instant level 80 will not allow realm firsts.

Recently it was discovered that the experience required for levels 85+ was increased significantly in the Beta. There were also a number of changes to the pre-85 levels you can see the conversions below:

These increases seem fairly significant, however my own experience on the Beta has shown that the experience received for killing mobs as well as completing quests shows a significant increase in Mists of Pandaria, we also know that these are not finalised numbers (source).. Though it was some time ago, Level 85-86 took me less than 3 hours in an extremely crowded (and bugged) zone early in the beta. Unfortunately given the overhaul to the Jade Forest mentioned above, I cannot currently comment on this with great detail. A quest in the Valley of Four Winds for example gives 141,900 experience points, so the overall increase is relatively minor when put in perspective:

Next time I’ll take a look at The Jade Forest once again, the small amount of play time I had this week showed it with a significant visual overhaul. I also intend to offer a preview of  the new Pet battle system.

Through The Mist: A Tour Of The Wandering Isles

Through the Mist is a regular column from Luke Le Page covering everything World of Warcraft. If you’d like something covered in a future column, drop us a line!

This week I will be taking a look at the Wandering Isles, the new starting zone for the Pandaren and the Pandaren in general. The zone offers us a new introductory cut scene, which I will not describe so that you may enjoy it on launch night.  Suffice to say that this zone known as the Wandering Isle has begun to move erratically and it is up to you as an adventurous and gifted Pandaren to discover the reason for this.

The Pandaren are World of Warcraft’s first neutral race and as such the starting area is quite serene with some amazing new scenery. The entire zone has a strong Chinese feel to it as one would expect given the lore behind the race. Due to its neutrality, the starting zone does not have mailboxes, meaning that until the area is complete players cannot use their BoA items or send bags and supplies to their new Pandarens. This has been the focus of a lot of discussion in the beta but overall it has proven to be a sensible decision on behalf of Blizzard. The zone is rich in lore and the visuals are absolutely stunning and there is no surprise that Blizzard want players to be immersed in every aspect of the Wandering Isles.

Last week I described the Pandaren as bobbly and I stand by this description. To me it feels similar to the bobbing motion that a character has when they are riding a Raptor mount. In a way it suits the physics of the race but personally I find it distracting.

There are a number of interesting racials for the Pandarens to enjoy and these include:

Epicurean: Your love of food allows you to receive double the stats from Well Fed effects.
Inner Peace:  Your rested experience bonus lasts twice as long.
Bouncy: You take 50% less falling damage.
Quaking Palm: Strikes the target with lightning speed, incapacitating them for 4 seconds.

Onto a tour of The Wandering Isles:

Starting area

The first few quests follow along the lines of those that were introduced with Cataclysm and focus on teaching new players how to equip items and use their abilities.

While this is somewhat annoying as a seasoned player, it is brief enough to be tolerable knowing that it will help new players to the game learn their characters.


Next up is a handful of quests where the player is trailed by Master Shang Xi as they attempt to complete their training. This series of quests also introduces us to a new protagonist the Hozen who we will also meet in the higher level zones to be previewed later.

The Hozen have some nifty little attacks such as the ability to jump on the players head (similar to the Kobolds) in ToGC.


We continue along these lines until we reawaken the spirit of fire, upon completion of this quest we learn that Shen-zin Su is in pain. While there is little hint as to what or who Shen-zin Su is, we are whisked off to awaken the remaining elemental spirits, whose absences are being felt to varying degrees across the Wandering Isle, in order to communicate with it.

The quest line follows this approach, with various side quests that have us dealing with the Hozen, until we have gathered the four ancient spirits together. After this we learn that Shen-zin Su is an enormous turtle and the Wandering Isle is affixed firmly to his shell and the might creature is in pain due to a thorn in his side.

Shen-zin Su

We are now sent to investigate this injury to learn that an alliance airship has crashed into his side. This is the first time the Pandaren are exposed to the battling factions of the Alliance and the Horde.

After completing a series of quests for both factions and finally healing Shen-zin Su with their assistance, we return to the spirit of Master Shang Xi where you are required to select a faction. After selecting the Horde I was teleported to Orgrimmar where Garrosh Hellscream gave me a fairly cold welcome and put me through a quest that sets the tone of the expansion.


The Wandering Isles was an interesting zone, I was just shy of level 12 upon completion of the quest for Garrosh Hellscream and I feel that the levelling was well timed. I never felt too strong for my opponents or too weak and I am glad that BoA’s are not allowed in the area. The zone itself was visually stunning and the quests combined with the environment reinforced the sense of discipline and lore of the Pandaren race and Monk class. There is a fair amount of walking involved in this new area which in future may become annoying for now it allowed me to enjoy the aesthetics of the zone.

Through The Mist: MoP Overview

Through the Mist is a regular column covering not just the new expansion but pretty much anything else of interest in the game. We’re thrilled to welcome Through the Mist’s writer, Luke Le Page. Luke is going to writing the column regularly, starting with an overview of the upcoming Mists of Pandaria expansion. Welcome Luke!

As this is my first piece I was having some difficulty in determining how to start it. Blizzard have managed to do it for me by announcing the release date for World of Warcraft’s fourth expansion; Mists of Pandaria. This also leaves me with a lot of content to cover and not much time in which to do it. Mists will hit shelves and for the first time in the franchise’s history be available digitally on September 25. The digital version will enable players to log in the second that the servers are ready and eliminate the need to wait in line at various retail stores for midnight launches. Thurday’s press release also detailed the different version of the game and can be found here.

I will start by summarising ten of the major changes to be found in the upcoming expansion and unpack them in more detail on a weekly between now and release.

Character creation:

There have been a number of complaints over WoW’s lifespan regarding character customisation, which was partially addressed with introduction of the barber shop where players could, for an in-game fee, change the look of their characters. This was advanced further with the recent introduction of transmogrification – which allows characters to transmogrify their equipped items into something entirely different. This feature was warmly received and has seen a huge differentiation in the items that many people display on their characters giving them a more unique feel. Despite these other additions the actual character creation had not changed since the initial launch of WoW and it was past time for this feature to be updated.

While the changes in Mists are by no means ground-breaking they offer an exciting new feel to making a character and I have spent some time on the beta playing with the new functions.


The talent tree has received a major overhaul. Veteran players will be familiar with having to adapt to a number of changes with the release of past expansions, but the new system is something completely different. We still see the 3 major tree’s for each class, but it is the talent trees themselves that have seen the major changes. Players will now receive a talent point every 15 levels giving them just 6 talent points overall. Each tree has 6 tiers with 3 choices per tier, offering just 18 talent choices in total, however only one talent in each tier can be selected. Many of the old talents are now incorporated into abilities passively and are acquired as characters progress through levels. This change has seen a lot of discussion across various message boards but when people ask me what I think of it I describe it as ‘less is more’. These changes can already be seen on the PTR.

Pre-release world event:

I will not go into any real detail on this as I do not wish to spoil it for anyone but we all love a great in-game event and the Mists of Pandaria launch event is set to be excellent.

Shared Zones:

This is one of my favourite changes to the game in its life span. MoP will see the introduction of cross-realm zones where players from multiple realms will be able to see, interact and play with one another.  This will help solve the issue of sparsely populated levelling zones and shows promise towards the introduction of a fully shared game world where guilds and friendships can be formed across realms.

Account wide mounts and achievements:

This feature may not impress everyone but for me personally it is a major selling point. I have well over 100 mounts on my Rogue, including a number of rare and no longer attainable ones, so it is nice to be rewarded for this hard work on all of my characters. This feature is still being worked on but it looks promising for release

New Race:

In this expansion we see the introduction of a new race, the Pandaren. The Pandaren come with a rich back story and breathtaking new starting zone, which I will preview prior to release, and is available to both factions. I was quite impressed by the dynamics of the Pandaren race, though their movement felt somewhat bobbly to me.

New Class:

MoP will introduce us to the class of Monk. The Monk is a new melee class with the ability to fulfil all three roles in the game i.e. healer, tank, dps. I will preview the Monk in full prior to release but so far I have found it an extremely fun class to play.

Pet Battles:

This is an extremely fun mini-game. I hate to bring up another game but many readers of this site will be familiar with the high demand for a Pazaak mini game in SWTOR and the disappointment that accompanied its exclusion. While Pet battles is not Pazaak it seems that Blizzard have taken note of the demand for mini-games and decided to try their hand at it and the result is a lot of fun. Again this is by no means a ground breaking advancement of the modern MMO, it is simply another way to have fun in the game.

Challenge modes:

This is a feature I am extremely excited about. This feature sees the introduction of challenge modes to dungeons where players will race against the clock to complete instances as fast as possible. Rewards will vary based on the speed with which the instance is cleared. Gear will also be normalised to a level appropriate to the dungeon ensuring that challenge modes remain difficult throughout various tiers of gear. The only downside I see to this is that it encourages “zerging” of the challenge mode as the rewards are based on speed and not the difficulty of content.

New Zones

Lastly we have the customary introduction of new zones. We see the introduction of eight new zones in Mists of Pandaria and all of them are breathtaking. If, like me, you enjoy exploring the world, MoP offers you spectacular scenery to enjoy and explore.

This is by no means all of the changes that are coming with Mists of Pandaria and I will attempt to cover everything I can in the time until release I felt that these 10 points were the major changes that have me excited to play.

Over to you: have you been involved in the beta and if so, what have you enjoyed the most?