After the good stuff, now the things I’m not sure or worried about. The outright disappointing things, I’ll talk about in another post.
Pandas as a race: We’re getting as the main selling point a race that started as an April fools. That is somewhat silly, literally. I never understood what the thing with these drinking pandas was. I concede that some players got really worked up about those pandas, so I guess it might work for them. I’m a bit worried that the whole panda focus we’ve seen yesterday makes for a one-trick-expansion though. That would be the last I want.
edit: If Blizzard is aiming for a more light-hearted expansion, I can get behind that. A lot of the great conflicts that we fought out in the past, against the Lich King, against Deathwing, but most of all, against each other, made the world a less likable place. If all I see is dreariness, what is there to fight for (instead of against)? If they succeed in making the world dear to me again, then that’s a plus.
Pandas as a race for both factions: Obviously somebody at Blizzard thought that pandas are so supremely awesome that nothing would be able to stand their ground against them, and whoever would end up with the not-panda would be annoyed. Huh. Like when Horde got the elves, and Alliance got some retcon space goats? And Horde got the goblins, and Alliance some weird werewolves? Even as someone who always played Horde, I feel for the Alliance routinely getting the short end of the stick when it comes to new races. I wouldn’t have complained if Horde would have gotten some ersatz pandas this time.
On the other hand, this will then be the first race that will be available to both factions. That raises interesting questions. One of the reasons why races are bound to factions was suspected to be PvP; at least, that’s what I heard. (It also fits well with my “PvP is the root of all evil” mantra, so it’s easy for me to believe.) The silhouette of a character already gave away their allegiance. This will go out of the window. Maybe that’s the first step to freer choice of faction/race combination? Maybe some EQ2-style betrayal? I’m probably assuming too much though. If anything, it would probably be an extra battle.net shop option for transfers.
Talent revamp: It looks like Blizzard really likes the way they’re doing talents in Diablo III; so much that they’re now porting this to WoW. It’s really a mixed bag (that’s why it ended up in this post, right?): on the one hand, it emphasizes interesting choice, and choice generally is good. (We recently had that discussion on several blogs. See Psychochild, Tobold. Yes, I’m paraphrasing the results. *g*). On the other hand, it feels like it clamps down the players in an even more rigid system than the talent revamp we got last time around. And Blizzard fundamentally redoing the whole talent system twice in such a short time means they’re obviously not happy. Will we get yet another one after this? By going the D3 route, Blizzard put all their talent eggs in one system basket. Let’s hope that basket works. And for two such different games at the same time.
Removal of ranged weapons: That felt very odd. There will be no ranged weapon slot any more. Warriors and Rogues will throw their weapons. Wands will be come main hand. Hunters are the exception, and will instead not have a melee slot any more. Does that mean they’ll have to hit the enemy over the head with their bow when it comes close? No, it seems minimum range will be removed too. Yay for point-blank bow shooting.
This is an example how Blizzard is going for fundamental changes more and more these days instead of minor fixes. Back in the good old days(tm), warriors, rogues, and hunters could equip ranged weapons. Priests, mages, and warlocks could equip wands. Paladins, shamans, and druids could equip… nothing in their ranged slot. That was considered the “hybrid tax”. And it was the reason hybrids ran around with Egan’s Blaster. Then, in patch 1.10, they got relics to equip in that slot. It was a fix to give hybrids something to do with their empty slot. Compare to today, where they merge melee and ranged slots, merge ranged weapons into melee ones, and work around that. Which one is better? I don’t know. I personally could do with a few less sweeping changes these days; we already had enough in cataclysm. On the other hand, I know that I might be prejudiced when it comes to that topic. But it seems we’re going full circle on this one, because relics are scheduled to be removed from the game again.