In a few days, the current expansion will fade for most players as the past comes calling in Draenor. Out with the old, and in with the new as it were. But before we head off through the portal again, let’s look back on the last two years shall we?
Mists of Pandaria by all counts was not a bad expansion. It was certainly better than its predecessor. It doesn’t come close to Wrath (still the pinnacle), or the Burning Crusade. But those first two expansions were both home runs, so to be fair the measuring stick is high if you want to reach those accolades.
First up, the villain was clear from the beginning. We knew Garrosh was going to be the focus of our end game and the way we got there told a good story. Landfall on Pandaria was an interesting turn of events as we were almost instantly introduced to the Sha, the proverbial secondary villain of the expansion. As the two slowly intertwined, things got very interesting.
We received a new race and a new class for the first time. Up until Pandaria, it was one or the other. Pandas were not popular when the expansion was announced. When they were played, however, they seemed to be seen in a different light and have passed Goblins, Gnomes, and Dwarves in popularity. They also had the unique opportunity of choosing which faction to join, rather than be saddled with one right out of the gate.
The expansion seemed to be truly catered to the casual player. From farms, to a plethora of rares, to dailies out the ying-yang, there was plenty to do if you only had a short time to log on. Plus Blizzard later introduced the Isle of the Thunder King, the Brawler’s Guild, and the Timeless Isle. For better or worse, these three features were successful.
Oh yeah. There was this one other thing that seemed to do alright. Perhaps you’ve done it once or twice? Pet battles. There was very mixed thoughts when this feature was introduced, but almost the moment it went live it was a huge success. It continues to be, and is one feature that probably won’t slow down any time soon. Whether it’s a time-killer before a raid, or you’re the Pokemaster of Azeroth, it seems most people have a reason to battle and are doing so to a great length. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no different.
But where Mists has a hard time ranking amongst the expansions is for every positive step there was one sideways or backwards. I’ve mentioned before that I never really felt connected to what was going on in Pandaria (aside from Garrosh’s antics). Zangarmash, Dragonblight, Uldum. Three examples of zones where I was hooked into what was going on within it and made me play that much harder, so to speak. They made me want to be there. Pandaria, despite visually astounding, did not ever have that effect on me. I know for many players that’s not a huge deal, but there were more than few who agreed with me. Perhaps it was a lingering effect from launch where I wasn’t that interested in the game to begin with.
I wasn’t alone either. The game sold 2.7 million copies in its opening week, which was over half a million less than Cataclysm. To be fair, many players had a bad taste in their mouth after Cataclysm and may have been hesitant to jump right in again. Unfortunately, statistics tell us there may have been more to it than that as the game saw more than 3 million players leave in the two years of Mists. There’s been a slight spike in the last two months, and it will be interesting to see what happens on Wednesday/Thursday.
So what else may have caused the decline in players? Many of the things that the expansion did right, to be honest. The new monk class, in my opinion, brings a somewhat fun class to the table. I remember when it was announced I was somewhat excited as I could swear I heard the class would be the first to go cloth for 40 levels and then switch to leather. But that’s neither here or there. For whatever reason, the class did not take off and currently takes up about three percent of the player base.
The casual options were also their own worst enemies. For most players, it became a case of almost too much to do. Yes, you could do little things here and there as time allowed. Unfortunately you just never seemed to have the time to do it all…or at least as much as you wanted. I know for a fact many people were not happy with gated questing, particularly as it pertained to cooking reputations or the farming.
I’m not going to harp on the negatives because despite how things went, Pandaria wasn’t a bad expansion -just as I said earlier. It was just a mixed bag, so to speak. For each of us, mileage will vary. When I think back on Mists, I won’t miss questing throughout it. But I will fondly recall that it brought us scenarios, pet battles, Hozen (!), Pandaren, the Brawler’s League, and the Warchief Vol’jin. So the good outweighs the bad. Do you agree?