Mists of Pandaria: Everything you need to know

Josh Augustine at

Changes to your class

Everyone's talking about Blizzard's changes to the Talent system, but let's get real: MoP changes way more than your talents. Every single class is different from what you're playing now. It was impossible to try out all of the classes extensively in the limited time I had with the game, but I'll talk about what I saw (mostly Monk and Warlock), and I'd encourage you to check out your class on Blizzard's official MoP talent calculator, if you haven't already.

One interesting thing I noticed while playing the Monk (which may or may not be carried over to other classes by the time MoP launches), is that I could fire my ranged abilities whether or not I was in range of my target. If you're out of range, the spell still goes off but doesn't hit anyone. We noted a couple weeks ago that Guild Wars 2 does this and we felt it added a nice level of skill to the combat. I hope this becomes more wide-spread in WoW as well.

The biggest change to how talents work at this event is that you'll be able to swap out individual talents at any time and any place. Swapping a single talent for another just costs a consumable, similar to how the Glyph system works now. And Glyphs! Oh my word, every one of 'em is changed and almost all of them are super interesting. Here are some of my favorites that I saw:

  • Warlock (minor): allows your Felguard to equip a random two-handed axe, sword, or polearm from your inventory whenever it's summoned.
  • Druid (minor): whenever you shift into a feral form, your hair style and color is changed randomly
  • Warlock (major): Demonic Fury no loner reduces damage dealt, and instead reduces damage taken. Also, your main demon form attack now taunts enemies. I used this for some pretty solid off-tanking in a dungeon run, but it's definitely not enough to make you a full tank.
  • Druid (minor): Lets you shift into tree form (visually) any time you want. I'm not entirely sure how this one works, but the guy behind me was freaking out and shouting about how much he loved it.
  • Warrior (minor): Whenever you crit, a small flock of doves shoots out from you, like a John Woo movie.
  • Monks didn't have access to glyphs in this build.

 

Sadly, Unsettling Porcupine is not a new druid form.

Changes to my class

Enough of that general class talk. Let's get into what really matters: how did they change my class? Most of the Warlock spells worked differently, but maintained the same theme as the existing spells (Corruption is a DoT, etc.), and every demon pet got massive plastic surgery, taking advantage of the game's newer high-res models. Your Imp is now a Fel Imp, and Singe Magic is now an AoE magic debuff removale for your group. Voidwalker's become a Voidlord who looks like a real tank now, with a disarm and a personal shield that keeps himself healthy. The felhunter pup has morphed into a floating eyeball-squid demon called an Observer, but maintains the Felhunter's spells. The succubus has retired as well, replaced by the less sexy Shivarra, with all the same spells. The old Felguard is now a Wrathguard, and looks to be available to all specs of warlock.

That brand new class: Monk

Awesome, warlocks will continue to rule. But let's talk a bit about the new Monk class, because it's pretty freakin' radical. Going into this event, I wasn't very excited about Monks, but I walked away from my time playing an 85 Windwalker (melee damage) Monk fairly impressed. The core mechanic of the Monk--build up Chi by spending energy on combo-builders to execute finishers--felt like a more focused version of the Rogue combo-point mechanic, with more options for how you want to spend the Chi points you build up and some very cool reactive elements.

If nothing else, Monks are incredibly fun to watch. I started most fights with a Flying Serpent Kick, which sent my pandaren flying through the air, leg outstretched in classic kung fu pose. I hit the button a second time to slam to the ground, damaging and slowing anything beneath me (the ability has a max range of about 40 yards), and started building up some Chi with some basic Clobber attacks. I unleashed the Chi with a Fist of Fury attack which sent my fists into a E. Honda-like blur in front of me that damaged and stunned all the hozen in front of me. The little monkey freaks were begging for more, so I busted out a Spinning Crane kick that sent my Monk into a swirling roundhouse kick tornado that lasted for 5 seconds. Once I land, all three enemies were pretty beaten up so I threw out some Blackout Kicks to finish them off.

Not pictured: the 10,000 victims of his last Spinning Crane Kick.

That was my favorite AoE combo, but I was only using 1/10th of my abilities, so I started messing around with others. The craziest I found was Touch of Death, which will instantly kill any NPC that has less health than you. It's on a 1.5-minute cooldown and costs 4 chi, but still--that's insane!

Another cool mechanic: each monk spec is able to summon a giant statue that helps the Monk do his job. Windwalker Monks (melee DPS) create a tiger statue that sends a spirit tiger to charge your target and deal damage to it every time you use a certain amount of Force (Monk's energy). Mistweavers (healer) summon jade serpent statues that will toss small heals out everytime you deal damage and works like a Priest's Lightwell ability, letting groupmates click it to receive a HoT. Brewmasters (tank) throw down Black Ox statues that AoE slows enemies and can be clicked by groupmates for a shield that absorbs damage and boosts that Monk's heals on them.

Still not convinced you want to give Monk a shot? How about these awesome mechanics:

  • Monks now have an auto-attack.
  • Windwalker Monks have a Muscle Memory skill, which gives them a 1% critical chance buff every time they jab an enemy from behind, which stacks 100 times and lasts 30 seconds and gets totally wiped when you leave combat.
  • Windwalkers also get a passive called Afterlife that creates a healing orb on the ground anytime they kill an enemy that grants XP or honor, which looks like yellow mist and heals the first friendly player that runs through it.
  • Mistweavers' healing spells focus on bouncing between players and flowing all over the battlefield.
  • Mistweavers drink different types of tea for different benefits, like restoring mana or boosting heals
  • Brewmasters toss their best keg of brew at their enemies (like Gragas in League of Legends) with Drunken Haze. All enemies hit get drunk and have a 3% chance to hit themselves for 14k damage anytime they attack. The debuff stacks 3 times.
  • Brewmasters have tons of avoidance abilities like Shuffle, Guard, and Recoil to bypass damage for short windows of time and can divert damage from groupmates to themselves.
  • Best of all, Brewmasters can slip into the Stance of the Drunken Ox, which causes all incoming damage to Stagger: you take 50% immediately and 50% 3 seconds later.