Wednesday, September 26, 2012

My First Day in Pandaria

Months after seeing the majesty of the Jade Forest on the beta for Mists of Pandaria, I finally made my first foray back onto the island yesterday. I picked up the basic game at the local game store at midnight, but because we live on the east coast I wasn't going to be able to stay up until 3 AM when the expansion went live. Instead I went to bed because unlike some others I did not have the luxury of taking any time off work to play. I did manage to leave a bit early though, and all the way home I couldn't stop chanting, "Pandas Pandas Pandas Pandas!"

Eating a hasty dinner, my wife and I logged in together. She had actually already gotten to play, but spent the time leveling professions, waiting for me before actually heading to Pandaria. Elionene is and will always be my main, so along with Lal, we got sent on a special mission for the King of Stormwind to the mysterious new found land in the south. I enjoyed the quest set up quite a bit. I'm excited to experience new stories and lore again. 

I won't spoil any specific quests or things here for those that may have not have seen it all yet, but we played well into the evening and made it probably 65% of the way to level 86. In that time, I feel like we'd barely made a dent into the Jade Forest having just arrived at Dawn's Blossom before we stopped. In that time we had defeated horde forces, befriended two new races of people, and fought off an invading force of a third new race. And that was just the beginning of the zone.

As I said before when I was in the beta, the setting of Pandaria is beautiful. It's seemingly endless and so full of color. The Pandaren villages are bustling with activity, and there's always something to new and interesting around every corner. I found myself content just to look around and click on various NPCs to see what they had to say. One of the meditating Pandaren in the first village told me, "You are only good for ordering food at restaurants and spending your guild's money!' That made me smile. Later on, at Dawn's Blossom, a little Pandaren girl showed me she could burp. It was most impressive. 

One particular area had me in awe at the design. The Den of Sorrow is a small cave with water shrines inside, and a waterfall as well. A main story line quest takes you inside, so you shouldn't have to worry about missing it. The calm atmosphere of a haunted cave with the sound of falling water was so peaceful. Speaking of the sound, I was sure to turn up my music volume while playing, so I could enjoy the wonderful music in the new areas. One of my guild members was thrilled to hear a string duet in Pearlfin Village that was wonderful indeed. If you happen to be in Dawn's Blossom stop by the local inn, The Drunken Hozen, for what must be some of the best music ever composed for World of Warcraft. I heard several different songs upon leaving and entering the inn over the course of the night. They were all great.

The quests flowed smoothly from one to the other, and I have to say I'm enjoying the new quest reward system where everything you get is good for your class and current spec. As a hunter, spec doesn't really dictate gear choices that much, so that was one less thing to worry about. None of the items were upgrades to my normal Dragon Soul gear yet, but as we continued on the stat difference started to close. One quest even gave us a new vanity pet!

While there were plenty of the regular kill and fetch quests, there were a few other quests that stood out. A set of three or so quests have you reliving a story as three different story tellers. Along with being fun and different, there was a small story reveal that propelled you onward. I thought it was really cool. If you want to make sure you don't miss it it's part of the quests in Pearlfin Village, which you should arrive at shortly after leaving the first Pandaren village of Paw'don, and involves the Alliance NPCs from SI:7.

I'm looking forward to continuing the story tonight, and maybe try our the first dungeon of the zone, Temple of the Jade Serpent.  I ran it during the beta, but it wasn't quite the same as running it with a guild group at level with quests. As I've done in the past, I plan to write a lore post about each dungeon, and how it fits into the overarching lore of Pandaria and the World of Warcraft. Happy hunting, and see you in Pandaria!