|Kun Lai Summit. An impossibly beautiful vista.|
I'm writing a review of Pandaria, one week in, as part of what I'm hoping might become a permanent gig for a Proper Grownup Website, and I find myself unable to pin down exactly what it is that has made the last seven days probably more immersive an experience than any of the previously released expansions. I've woken up with the Jade Forest musical 'themes' in my head for the last three days, and I'm more than aware of the fact that the rest of the people I'm playing with are having real trouble working out what to do next. Some haven't even made it to levelling at all, instead choosing to pet battle, or make a farm, or both. It doesn't help matters that two of our primary tanking-types has effectively vanished, I believe with a number of people we thought would return who have instead decided to move their lot over to GW2. It's easy to forget in the almost constant stream of complimentary press I'm seeing currently that other games are still available, and being played as an alternative to Pandas.
For every person who has come back to Warcraft, there are those who have departed, and right now it is difficult to accurately ascertain exactly how many people are playing to begin with. @oliviadgrace highlighted an article on Warcraft's disappointing retail sales which has subsequently been updated because, amazingly, the original writer singularly failed to consider the impact of digital downloads. This makes me wonder: how many people will download the game but never end up playing it? I'm betting far more than would make the effort to walk to a shop or order online: I've still not made it past the loading screen with GW2 simply because I don't possess enough hours in the day. I will be cancelling my TSW sub for the same reason this month and both of these games were digital purchases: don't get me wrong, I'd really love to play more of both but in the end its not realistic. However I've parted with cash for both of these, both sit on my hard drive. How many people have bought Warcraft digitally and are in a similar situation to me with these other games?
More importantly, what kind of people are likely not just to be swayed back to the game, but perhaps tempted to try it for the first time...? I know of at least one person reading whose mother has been tempted by the look of Pandaria: I am sure there must be others. The pet battles and farm aspect is making the most unusual and unexpected individuals drop everything and immerse themselves... and we've not even looked at 10/25 man raiding yet. Challenge Modes are still the Great Unknown Quantity: people are doing five man heroics in less than 15 minutes :O How hard are they? Is their challenge aspect enough to sustain interest through an entire Expansion? Will they be made progressively harder? How many people are seriously gearing up and considering going for a Server First this time around? There are still more questions than answers this early in the 'day': all I can do is judge what I see and what I'm hearing. I'm yet to read anything other than an overridingly positive view of MoP (if you can point me at negatives, I'd love to see them) but after just seven days we're still very much in the Honeymoon period...
There are still too many variables to consider in my small sleep deprived brain. For now my biggest problem is stopping myself cleaning up every dead, skinnable mob left behind by the levelling masses in the Jade Forest and valley of the Four Doobreys. I made 1500g at the weekend without killing a single mob that way and frankly, the never-ending stream of raw materials shows no sign of reducing. Money's just lying around, ON THE GROUND, and I need to be making it. Once that dries up, it might be time to start considering more of the long term implications of this black and white fluffy invasion... :D