[video games] Mists of Pandaria: shrinking verticals for players to meet on a fair ground

First time I buy a Blizzcon virtual ticket. I really wanted to see first hand what the developers would do, or could do, now that WoW is bleeding customers and facing real competition. I don't regret it, I'm impressed by the unpopular decisions they are making. I just hope they will hold the bar...

Caring for a diversity of players

While so many players are focused on the appropriateness of pandas, the real shattering is the game design changes. Blizzard clearly want to address different kind of players by adding new interesting and rewarding activities at end game (PVE scenarios, Challenge Dungeons, Pets slower tactical game and collection, exploration, new PVP mods...).

Shrinking verticals for players to meet on a fair ground

The biggest earthquake is the Challenge Dungeons. For the first time Blizzard is reconnecting all end-game players in a fair game based on skill and teamwork only, not individual stats. All players entering the Challenge Dungeon, new 90 or old veterans grinders, will see their stuff normalized. Being time rich is no longer an advantage, only pure skill and teamwork abilities.

Even better, Blizzard will reward skill and teamwork with valor points, leaderboard and aesthetic skins which will mean more than epic raid loot which can often be acquired by time commitment. I expect the Challenge Dungeons to be very popular especially for gamers playing also FPS or RTS (players expecting fair PVP or coop).

Interestingly Blizzard don't stop at the end game ... and is now decreasing the stats curve of the leveling game...

Q: Will you be making any changes to how stats work?

Yes. [...] players’ stats have begun to inflate exponentially [...] In order to combat this and bring statistics back to earth -- or Azeroth, as it were -- in Mists of Pandaria, we will be “flattening” the statistic curve [...]. In practice, this means that upon the expansion’s release, the numbers [...] will be significantly lower than you’re used to seeing across the board, from level 1 to level 85. It’s all relative, of course -- enemies’ and bosses’ stats will be reduced as well [...] this also means the difference between each level between 1 and 85 will be less significant, so you may find that an enemy 5 or 10 levels below your own will be a little tougher to deal with than it was before.

It means Cataclysm (and a little Wolk) will still be world "relevant" after Pandaria release. Blizzard can now introduce world boss there without the mobs around being a joke for level cap players and enabling a wide range of character levels to go after it.

I'm impressed by Blizzard willingness and ability to re-scale all NPC and players stats and make sure it's still balanced. It also shows courage knowing it will be unpopular at the begining (the big number in the middle of your screen always going up ? will be much less bigger).

The Challenge Dungeons and the stats decrease are a big deal, it partially address my problem with current MMORPG and will hopefully spread to other MMORPG:

The talent system 2 (more verticals hammering)

It's so simple and efficient that Apple could have designed it (honestly), other MMORPG will adopt it.

Why it works?

You have your class core abilities and spec abilities. Everyone in a class/spec have those abilities, so you know what to expect on your e-sport channel or Battlefield or Arena or Challenge Dungeon etc.

THEN you have the interesting part, you are given self expression and choices to make. Either because it fits your play style (you prefer a short teleport to a speed increase?) or to fit a particular situation (you want magic mitigation instead of physical mitigation against a caster boss).

Blizzard is doing this by FORCING you to choose talents in domains you couldn't consider before just to have the optimal tree. You may be forced to choose one mitigation, forced to choose one mobility boost, forced to choose one crowd control, forced to choose one type of buff, etc. AND you can change your talent choice between each fight.

It should particularly play well with PVE scenarios (often no predefined role) and PVP (much easier to comment your personal talent choices than to unfold your talent tree).

There would much to talk about all they revealed this year. I didn't expected them to already take some stabs at the tyranny of verticals and it exceeded my expectations:

Mists of Pandaria, count me in.

#videogames #blizzcon #MMORPG
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