Pandaria Beta: Closing Thoughts

The beta approaches the final stretch:

Pandas everywhere!With the release date for Mists of Pandaria less than two months away and the expansion data already starting to download, it’s safe to say the beta will be shutting down soon. Now seems a good time to give my final thoughts on my first experience of playing a beta.

In truth, I didn’t actually do that much in the beta, largely out of a desire to not spoil the new content for myself. I mostly just tested the class changes on target dummies and in a few Cataclysm dungeons, and leveled a brewmaster monk up until about level twenty. I haven’t played at all in several weeks

However, I was quite active on the forums, giving my thoughts on the class changes, and I’ve kept up with all the patch notes.

The classes:

My destro warlock setting herself on fire in the Mists of Pandaria betaI mostly confined my testing to the classes I know well — mage, warlock, and paladin — and monks. I didn’t bother doing any testing with my rogue; nothing’s changed, so what would be the point?

On my paladin, I focused on trying the improved retribution spec. I’ve never played ret on live, but it sounds like everything I dislike in a DPS spec. However, the streamlining in MoP has made it fairly fun. I don’t exactly love it, but it’s interesting enough that I’ve decided it will replace protection as my off-spec, at least while leveling and possibly beyond.

I’m pretty happy with paladins in general in MoP. We have an awesome talent tree with lots of fun choices, we’ve got great visual effects and animations, and everything plays pretty well. I regret holy no longer having a baseline reason to use judgment, but the selfless healer talent somewhat makes up for that. The loss of auras hurts, but they were never a crucial part of gameplay, so it’s really just a loss of nostalgia.

I feel a bit more mixed in regards to warlocks. I liked the new destruction initially, and I still like the concept, but the later removal fel flame from the rotation has made it very mindless.

My destro warlock demonstrating the glyph of verdant spheres in the Mists of Pandaria betaIt seems Blizzard is okay with demonology only using one button in metamorphosis, which is just all kinds of backwards and a big disappointment. Still, it’s a unique spec, and it’s still appealing enough that I’m excited to play it.

I like affliction aside from haunt only lasting eight seconds, but that alone is probably enough to turn me off the spec. Although those verdant spheres are tempting; I always wanted to play a blood mage…

The warlock talent tree is a bit shaky, but every tier has at least one option that’s both useful and fun, and they recently buffed grimoire of sacrifice to once again make petless a viable option. Overall, I’m reasonably happy with how warlocks turned out, though I’m happier when I forget all the little tweaks that would have made them even better.

Most mage changes have been for the better, largely, but it still lacks the excitement the class had in Wrath, and I’d just rather play my warlock at this point.

My Pandaren monk using life coccoon in the Mists of Pandaria betaI have mixed feelings on monks. Windwalkers are fun but feel so similar to rogues it’s hard to even call them a new class. Mistweavers are the opposite extreme — they’re so unique they make my head hurt. Brewmasters are in a nice sweet spot where they feel fresh but not so different as to be confusing, and they’re a fun spec in general, but I was never a big fan of tanking.

I’ll need more time playing a monk on live to decide exactly what I think of them.

Final thoughts:

Ultimately, I found the beta more frustrating than anything. Actually playing it mostly involved coping with bugs and groups that struggle to complete even the simplest of content. Imagine the kind of stupidity you find in an average PUG, and then add classes that haven’t been tuned, everyone lagging, and people playing classes they have no experience with.

Some Pandaren monks in End Time in the Mists of Pandaria betaThen there’s the frustration of seeing your hopes and expectations for your classes not be met. This was especially painful in regards to rogues. I and many other rogues have been providing extensive feedback on what needs to change with the class since the beta began (and even before), and virtually all of it has been disregarded.

Warlocks, while a bit better off, have still had their disappointments. Why the hell does Mannoroth’s fury still exist? (And what the **** is chipotle anyway?!!?!) In all my years of playing, I’ve never once needed bigger AoEs…

Not that I think Blizzard never listens. I’ve actually seen several good examples of them doing so; the recent change to grimoire of sacrifice is pretty much everything we’ve been asking for. But there will inevitably be times when they choose to take a different path from the one you’d like, and naturally, we want Blizzard to do whatever we say.

I’m glad I participated in the beta, but I don’t think I’d play another, even if I had the chance. It’s too much an exercise in frustration and disappointment.

A low level Warsong Gulch match in the World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria betaIt’s not that I blame Blizzard. I just don’t the constitution for something like a beta. I’d sooner just wait for the finished product.

That Warsong Gulch match with two whole teams of panda monks was pretty hilarious, though.

New article:

My latest post on WhatMMO is Real Life vs MMOs. Be honest; you’ve compared the pros and cons of life versus games at some point, too.

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