Friday, April 6, 2012

The Mists are Inspiring

Cherry Blossoms
Back when it was announced, I signed up for the WoW Annual Pass. My key purposes for doing so were to get an in-game mount and Diablo III (when it was released), and it was all for the low low price of telling Blizzard I would play their game for another year. Something that was a pretty safe bet. Along with that annual pass came a free invitation to play in the Mists of Pandaria beta when it started, which it did recently. I was not planning on participating much in the beta because I didn't want to spoil myself, or bother with bug reports. That didn't stop me from installing it as soon as I got the invite though.

After installing, I tried to make a pandaran monk, but I logged into about 150,000 other pandaran monks in their starting zone who also got invites this weekend, and the game crashed shortly after that. This being a beta, I was prepared for this. Since the game hadn't fully downloaded, I let it sit for awhile and went to watch TV. Then I get a message from a guildie who happens to write about WoW for a living, asking me if I'd run a dungeon with him because he needs some input for his piece that's due soon. Let's see... midnight? Check. Work night? Yeah, check again... Sure. Why not?

I copy over my main, my hunter Elionene, and log into Pandaria where the other 150,000 people who got their invites at the same time as I did are just starting their adventure in the Jade Forest. I try to adjust my video settings, and the game crashes. I make a note and log back in. I meet up with my guild mate and we form a group and queue up for the first dungeon, Temple of the Jade Serpent. The first thing I notice is that I have no macros or key bindings. I was expecting no addons, but I'd forgotten about the macros and things, so I take a few moments to set up the vital ones. (Later I read a neat trick at WoW Insider for copying over your saved stuff from your real account, along with some other nifty beta advice.)

Apparently the first boss is dead or defeated when we log in. It takes a second to get my bearings and then I realize I'm in a huge library. It's impressive. We find our way to the rest of the group and we fight off a stationary water boss (who I'm told is similar to the Lurker Below mechanics, and I confirm this is true). I think we wiped, but the group seemed understanding, and we ran back in and killed him. From there we go through a series of hallways into a courtyard and fight off some monsters and fight another boss that turns into a dragon. The last boss is one of the Sha. The Sha of Doubt to be exact. I told the party I wasn't sure we could beat him. I didn't know why, but I was very doubtful it would happen. I'm still wondering if they ever got that.

Cloud Sepents
We did end up wiping to him twice. The healer (a pandaran monk healer who kept placing these huge statues everywhere) couldn't heal through some of the damage. Something clicked in the third go round, maybe we overcame the doubt, and we won. So that was fun. I was distracted by my macros and key bindings being off, and I wasn't getting very good frame rates, probably because I was still downloading game information in the background.

After that, I ran from the starting area to the center of the zone where my guildie showed me a pretty awesome bridge. And it was on the way there that I realized how beautiful this place was. It was lush and green with flowers and trees everywhere. Epic stone statues, and the Temple of the Jade Serpent towering above it all. My guild mate showed me the Dawn Bridge. A very long bridge with scenic viewing areas built in. It ended at the top of a hill with a breathtaking view of the temple. I couldn't help gawking at it. I was inspired.

To write again that is. It's been over a year since I've posted anything here about Warcraft. I've thought about it many times, but nothing seemed interesting enough, and I took the time to play other games and do other things. My guild progressed through Cataclysm at a fairly good rate. We've beaten all the normal content, which for a bunch of friends raiding together is really all we wanted to do (with a few exceptions).

Dawn Bridge
But seeing the beta, and what we have to look forward to in Mists of Pandaria, got me excited about WoW again. I never gave it up, but I was logging in mainly to interact with the people in my guild, and lead a few raids to clear content, or level an alt with my wife. I wasn't compelled to write about any of that like I was when I saw cloud serpents being ridden through the azure sky from the top of a skinny mountain that I'd walked to across a serpentine bridge. I kept thinking how the last couple of expansions were pretty bleak. Northrend was cold and foreboding. The Cataclysm destroyed much of the existing world. This is the first time in awhile we've seen some places that are flourishing and vibrant.

It feels good to write again. I plan to continue to do so, whether it's about the beta or lore or anything else. I've also included a few pictures of some of the sites I saw. I hope you enjoy it. Thanks, and have a good morning.

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