Not really. Turns out, it wasn’t a smoke screen. What seemed too ridiculous to be real, was real.
Okay, I still think Pandaren are a silly, goofy thing. And they come from outer space. On the back of a giant space turtle, apparently. But then I remember the
Eredar Draenai were basically space goats that arrived when their spaceship stolen space fortress crash landed dematerialized on the one uninhabited island in the whole ocean, and I guess it’s no worse than what I’ve swallowed before.
Still, I know one blogger already who has decided that they’ve jumped the shark, and I can’t say I blame him. "Past expansions have been sooo dark!" Well, duh. *WAR*craft, yo. It’s what we do.
Having said that, let’s pretend to take it serious for a second and make some observations.
- Newbie area is open for playing at Blizzcon. So they’ve been putting in some significant work already, and this probably explains a few things in other areas, such as why they suddenly decided against that undersea raid in 4.2. Bob, you’re needed in Room 12. No, I’ll take care of this, just go!
- Looks like the zones and some instances are ready for fly-throughs already. Again, they’ve had people on this for a while. This is where Cata was at twelve months after the reveal. They really are at it, aren’t they?
- The upshot of 1 and 2 is that I think the trends in subscriptions really has gotten some attention, and they really have committed to iterate faster and harder to level that out.
- To further pander to the "subs are falling" crowd, there’s the fact that they are now offering Diablo III for free with a full year subscription1. If you’re from "that" crowd, then this is proof positive that they’re worried sick over subscriptions. Either way, this truly is an amazingly potent loyalty reward.
There is a crowd that is disparaging this expansion as the marker of when Blizz officially gave up caring about keeping WoW fresh, and focusing on Titan. I’m not so sure. It sounds like some of the new features – such as "challenge dungeons" – aren’t the kind of thing you see in an abandoned property.
What DOES concern me is the movement away from the darker, gothic setting that is the foundation of the franchise. It’s really starting to look like they’re shooting for a less mature demographic. Kung Fu Pandas2 really appeal more to the child inside, and, while I see nothing wrong with that, I didn’t come to Azeroth for that sort of gratification.
There is far more to this expansion than the Pandaren, tough, and there’s a lot to digest. The talent tree is either far more complex than it looks, or has become disappointingly simplified. Battle pets seems like a cross between Pokemon and Rappelz, which may be instant gratification for pet collectors. As long as Flora’s oozling can grow horns or something she’s happy.
Sadly, this may end up being a guild-breaker for some considering the near-violent reactions I’ve seen in some of my guildies. I think a lot of people were looking for an excuse to ditch WoW for SWTOR (or whatever it is) and its Ewoks, and you gotta admit that this is a fairly polarizing choice on Blizzard’s part.
ONE thing for sure – regardless of how many emails you got from Bioware yesterday, you probably weren’t paying a lot of attention to them.