Mists of Pandaria: UI Updates

If you've been nervous about how Blizzard intends to handle the item squish that Lead Systems Designer Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street discussed in a developer blog back in November, worry no more -- we saw the solution in action first-hand at the press event. We also saw a few other notable UI updates and additions, such as the full implementation of the new talent pane, a new buff tracker, and a revamped character creation screen.

Mega Damage

Rather than compressing item levels and retuning seven years' worth of content, the developers appear to have opted to go with the concept of Mega Damage, replacing a bunch of spare 0s with a K or an M where appropriate. When killing mobs in Pandaria, my four-digit damage was not compressed. If I hit something for 3,000 damage, it displayed as 3,000 damage. However, five-digit numbers and higher were compressed. 30,000 became 30K. It's a very simple solution and should have very little impact on your gameplay overall.

Here's Ghostcrawler's explanation of the Mega Damage solution from that old dev blog:

The first solution could include changes like adding commas and the like to large numbers. We could also compress all of those 1000s to Ks and all of those 1,000,000s to Ms, much like we do with boss health today. Internally, we have been calling this the "Mega Damage solution" because instead of your Fireball hitting for 6,000,000 damage, it would hit for 6 MEGA DAMAGE (queue the Arcanite Ripper guitar solo).

If we can make numbers such as floating combat text and boss health and item stats a little easier to read at a glance, then maybe we can endure numbers increasing exponentially for many digits to come. Now there are some very real computational limitations. PCs just can't quickly perform math on very large numbers, so we'd have to solve all of those problems as well. Even today, tanks can hit the ten digit threat cap on some encounters.

Talent pane

Observant readers will know the image above is not from the Mists of Pandaria game client but rather from the official World of Warcraft website. That's because we weren't allowed to take our own screenshots. However, the in-game talent panels matches it exactly, besides a few talent updates that the site does not yet reflect.

To respec, you no longer return to your class trainer and pay a lump sum of gold. You swap out talents exactly the same way you do with glyphs right now. You purchase an item, spend that item to clear a tier of talents, then pick the new one. If you only want to change your level 45 talent, then you only change your level 45 talent. Forgetting one does not cause you to forget them all.

Buff tracker

The buff system has been simplified to eight core buffs. At all times, all eight buffs are collapsed into one icon that notifies you how many of them you have. When playing a mage solo, after casting Arcane Brilliance on yourself, your icon will display 1/8. If you're partied with a priest who casts Power Word: Fortitude as well, your icon will display 2/8. If you need to know precisely what you do or do not have, you can hover over the icon and a dropdown window will show you a list of each buff with a check mark next to the ones you already have.

All eight buffs are labeled as follows:

  • Stats

  • Attack Power

  • Spell Power

  • Critical Strike

  • Stamina

  • Attack Speed

  • Spell Haste

  • Mastery

In Mists of Pandaria, even without mods, it will be easy to tell if you're missing a buff in a raid. If your icon displays 7/8, simply hover over the icon and yell at the slacker who didn't cast Attack Speed.

Character creation

When you create a character in the current game, you choose your race and class and then you choose your physical appearance by scrolling through the various options with the arrows you see in the image to the right. That isn't quite how it works anymore.

In Mists of Pandaria, you choose your race and class the same way as you always have, but the appearance options are broken down differently. You choose a category (such as Hair), and then that category expands into a full-sized bar on the screen. That bar is filled with thumbnails displaying the various options. So rather than scrolling back and forth through each individual option, trying to find the one you want, you simply click on the thumbnail that looks best to you. It makes the process much more user-friendly.

Additionally, in the bottom right-hand side of the screen, there is a small gameplay video for your chosen class so you can see a little bit of how the game plays in action before you settle on it. This system is likely familiar to those of you in the Diablo III beta, because Diablo III currently has the exact same system.

It's open warfare between Alliance and Horde in Mists of Pandaria, World of Warcraft's next expansion. Jump into five new levels with new talents and class mechanics, try the new monk class, and create a pandaren character to ally with either Horde or Alliance. Look for expansion basics in our Mists FAQ, or dig into our spring press event coverage for more details!