(re: talent choices or the lack of) Having played Rift a lot now, I could never go back to something as simplified and boring as the "choices" in WoW.
Rift vs WoW talents is apples to oranges, I think. Rift can keep the talent point system because there's only four classes, and the game was designed around using talents and various builds to achieve desired results. Support and hybrids are a thing there, not so in WoW. WoW's talent system was much more solvable than Rift's - when everyone is using the same talents, then what the hell is the point of them? At least now my talents change on a regular basis, depending on what I'm in the mood for or how I like to play a certain boss fight. Currently working on heroic Lei Shen, the hardest boss currently in WoW and I have two separate, completely different ways to spec my Priest, both of which have their pros and cons. Something liek that wouldn't be possible in the old system.
I'm also willing to bet that a lot of people interested in starting up WoW are disheartened by the prospect of having to grind 90 levels while paying $15 a month for it, when other games let you do it for free. Said games also feature modern graphics, even physics, and give you something every level, whether just a talent/skill point or a new ability rank.
90 levels is a lot, yes, but there are also a huge amount of ways to speed up the process. It's really not as much as it seems, even for newcomers. I'll grant that there's not that much to look forward to every single new level - the devs acknowledge that and have it on a list of things to address. That said, you still gain abilities pretty quickly; even if it's just a passive effect it's still going to change up how you play more likely than not.
Pandaria is pretty... pretty. It's also completely not my type of content. Never been much of an Asiaphile (not meant as a derogatory term). I've watched my share of Jet Li epics, don't get me wrong, but this is just too much. The Brewmaster was a cute gimmick in WC3, but to devote an entire expansion to it was just a terrible move, in my opinion.
That's your own opinion, and that's cool. Personally, I love Pandaria. I think it's @#%^ing gorgeous, and I enjoy the Asian artstyle as a break from your standard Medieval Euro-fantasy style. Even then, it's still very distinctly WoW.
In Pandaria, completely silly villains are brought in, and we have to care about them because of "blahblah quest text blahblah" that no one reads, because you have to do a million of them to gain a level-up. Take the first dungeon you come across - the Brewery. One boss is a giant ape, and the entire fight is obviously an homage to Donkey Kong. Another boss is a giant rabbit. The final boss is a floating mask conjured up from beer...
Yeah, can I go back to fighting Defias Bandits, please?
Holy hell no. Let's see, the major villains of 5.0 Pandaria were a race of intelligent hive-mind preying mantis creatures who were the Pandaria analogues of the Qiraji and the Nerubians and who also rampage across the continent every century or so. Then we have the pieces of a dead Old God who also feed of off negative emotions, basically making them the physical embodiments of fear, doubt, anger, hatred, pride, despair, and violence and who are trying to corrupt one of the last pure places of healing and life left on this shattered world. And let's not forget the psychotic and sadistic race that had enslaved all of Pandaria under their heel until the Pandaren were able to rise up and revolt, who are only now emerging from hiding.
5.1 is when the factions finally bring their war to Pandaria, which only feeds the Sha. Dalaran finally chooses a side, and all out war breaks out.
5.2 happens when the Zandalari resurrect the Thunder King, Lei Shen, who is the one who united the Mogu into the impossibly strong empire that enslaved the Pandaren. Did I mention that he also took the powers of a Titan watcher similar to Algalon? This guy is pretty much a threat to everything.
5.3 is the lead up to taking down Garrosh, who is also managing to use the beating heart of an Old God while still keeping his head.
The villains in this expansion are fine. That first dungeon is a single silly dungeon they did for fun - every other dungeon is serious and involves taking on an army, or cleansing a monastery of highly trained ninjas from the Sha. The first dungeon most people even see is the Temple of the Jade Serpent, which is a dungeon where you fight possession of the Sha of Doubt for one of the most sacred sites in Pandaria.
The bosses in this expansion just seem so intangible. We're fighting anger made manifest. Okay, cool, except it all looks like black smokey goo. And the Horde vs. Alliance plot was never really explored until four content patches into the expansion. The expansion opens up with a pretty nice battle between the two factions, but then it's all "Well, we're in Pandaria now, and this panda dude said we shouldn't be angry, so let's kill some of the local monkeys/fishmen instead".
Three levels into the content and I'm still killing local monkeys/fishmen, cutting trees, picking flowers and meditating on whatever. I've had it up to @#%^ing here with the hippie bullsh*t, honestly. Can I please get some enemies that aren't small monkeys, bees and smokey black goo? Please?
Everything you are doing in Pandaria is for your faction. Killing the local monkeys/fishmen is trying to get you allies for your faction in a new valuable land. Fighting the black goo is so that they don't end up destroying your encampments and taking over your faction in Pandaria (Old Gods, remember?). Hell, Wrathion, the Black Prince, isn't even trying for peace - he actively supports your character because he believes that an even bigger threat than a petty war is coming, and he just wants it over ASAP. He is actively seeking for a way to grant you his power just so that you can finally crush the other side in the war and be @#%^ing done with it already - there's bigger fish to fry. I really don't see the hippy stuff you're complainign about. Everything you do is for your faction's war effort.
Re: digg's criticism on Cata's storytelling.
Agreed, wholeheartedly. But there's a reason why Cataclysm was pretty much horrible, and Pandaria isn't. The Jade Forest, the first zone you quest in, ends with the war unleashing the sha and destroying something extremely sacred to the locals. You fail to stop the resurrection of the Thunder King. Jaina can't stop the Sunreavers abusing Dalaran's portal network, and goes on a slaughtering spree against them. 5.4 features Garrosh permanently and horribly corrupting the Vale of Eternal Blossoms, a place that is of purity and healing. Did I mention that the only reason Garrosh has access tot he Vale and the Heart of Y'shaarj is because your character went and petitioned the Celestials to open it up? Anduin believed the factions could conduct themselves there, that the gifts of the Vale were worth giving the factions a second chance. Now Garrosh has destroyed it and corrupted one of the few truly good places.
Garrosh has been very well done - people want him dead because of the stuff he's done and because of the stuff that they couldn't stop him from doing. All in all, Blizzard has done a great job in creating the first real purely WoW main villain that people care about.
I also miss when you would not push buttons every 1.5 seconds. Remember when Paladins would just activate a Seal, throw out a Judgment and then let the RNG do its thing? Now you have to let RNG do its thing WHILE you're mashing buttons like a freak. Enhancement Shaman is even worse. Feral Druids may have a messed up rotation, but Shaman and Paladins are just crazy button mashers now.
So what, you would rather just throw up a seal, autoattack, and do the exact same dps as that idiot standing in the fire? Now, someone who knows what they're doing is actively rewarded with more success than someone who is just a warm body. And crazy button mashers? I disagree. I don't play an enhancement shaman myself, but I do play a Priest, a Monk, a Warlock, a Rogue, a Mage, and a Death Knight. All of them have significant differences in the rate of play, and with all of them I benefit from knowing how the @#%^ to play my class, not just standing there attacking and letting the RNG do its work. Which brings me to my next point.
And the playstyle is all the same.
Paladin: Mash buttons until 3 Holy Power, then use finisher.
Shaman: Mash buttons until 5 Maelstrom Weapon, then use finisher.
Druid: Mash buttons until 5 Combo Points, then use finisher.
No. No no no
, I can't disagree more. With my Priest, I keep up DoTs on as many as I can while building Shadow Orbs which can be randomly generated or built up at a specific rate, depending on how I decide to spec my talents. I unleash them for burst or when I'm full for a hard hitting DoT, and if so specced I can then follow up with a buffed up Mind Flay. On my Mage with Arcane I have to actively manage my mana, trying to keep it above a certain percentage until I decide it's time to go balls to the wall and spend it all. With Fire I wait for the RNG to do its thing and then blast it as hard as I can as fast as I can - but I can also force a good RNG streak with certain abilities if I need the burst. With my Monk I DPS by being steady - it's very rotational, very sustained, which is pretty much the opposite of my Priest or Mage. Balance druids are always working towards one eclipse or the other, back and forth, with no "combo point / spender" analogue.
My point is that each spec plays very differently, with its own feel. You may have handpicked some specs that you think play similar, but I can just as easily counter with specs that I think play completely differently, each with their own unique feel. As far as spec variety goes, I think that everything is extremely unique.
Being a hybrid is damn boring. Yes, I'm saying the Unleash Elements, Fire Shock, Lava Lash, Stormstrike, Earth Shock, Lightning Bolt rotation of the Shaman is boring. It's a button mashing frenzy. The old Enhancement Shaman wasn't exactly fun, either, but it did feel more epic. If Windfury proc'd, you'd basically one-shot stuff, which felt epic. Same when Seal of Command would proc on the Paladin. Now, there's no epic feeling, it's just mashing buttons and then more buttons when they activate. All for mediocre damage (percentage wise). Druids were always more of a ramp-up class, but you had shapeshifting to balance it out. Now, well, you don't.
I'm a little confused with this statement. Are you feeling that hybrids are weaker than pure classes? You miss being able to one shot sh*t all the time? I don't think the Shaman rotation is boring at all, and on all of my characters I can one shot things (or close to one shot) pretty easily, but only when the stars aline and things proc or my resources are all full or whatever.
And I actually would rather play a hybrid over a pure class. The amount of stuff I bring to a raid with my Priest is insane. I've been brought not because of my damage, which is on par with everyone else, but because of the extra healing I can provide if I needed to drop out of Shadowform. Vampiric Embrace is stilla thing, and the level 90 talents all have a damage and healing component in them which is super useful for progression. Our Shaman is amazing too, with Healing Tide totem, Healing Rain, etc. These days it's not just "the healer's job" to keep everyone up - there are times everyone needs to pitch in if they can.
I'm really not trying to criticize your opinions, guys. I'm just a little fed up with how much baseless bashing and circle jerking I see on this forum and others. Believe it or not, there are people who still enjoy the game, and people who like the direction it has gone. I really don't want to start a debate over this or that. "Don't like what we're saying, then go somewhere else" I bet you're thinking. Which I agree with, actually! In fact, this is really all that I will say on the matter, and if you guys want to keep on filling these forums with WoW bashing and "the game used to be so much better in WotLK and before" then more power too you. I just won't be reading it, and any new blood to the forums probably won't either.