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Expanding Endgame Choices: How Mists of Pandaria changes everything

Matthew Rossi

In the past year, even before Mists of Pandaria went into beta, we've been seeing an expansion of options for players in World of Warcraft that have broadened our idea of endgame content. Endgame content can be described at its most basic as stuff we do when we're at max level, and patch 4.3 added not only the Raid Finder (which is absolutely endgame content) but also transmogrification (which is content for everyone). It revitalizes older content that was once endgame; it gives players from the level 17 twink to the 70 running BC raids to the new level 85 something to do that in no way actually amplifies a character's power in any way. It breaks with the mold of what we think endgame content is supposed to do.

Mists is bringing more of this. From the Pet Battle system, to a mass of hundreds of new daily quests and a removal of the limit on daily quests, to specifics such as being able to level up your own farm and improved Raid Finder support for each new tier of raiding, what we're seeing is an emphasis on broad content -- things people who play for six to 10 hours a day can do but which are also accessible in smaller bites for people with far more limited play time. You can hit up the buffet, do some Pet Battles, run some dungeons, or work on a reputation, or you can pick one aspect of the game and work on it. Do you really want to develop your fishing? Are you completely disinterested in anything but PvP? You can go as deep or as wide as you wish.

As someone who has no interest in Pet Battles, fishing, or having my own farm, I think this is fantastic.

Let me be frank. I play WoW to kill things. That is what I'm here to do. I like killing pretend pixelmonsters, and everything else I do in game -- the farming, the dailies, the rep grinds -- are all just means to the end of stabbing these beasties and letting their digital gore spread forth like a lake of blood that happens to have some equally fake loot bobbing on the surface. That's it. That's all.

But making it so people who love to farm, who are super happy to just zone out grinding up mobs or picking flowers, giving them something to do is aces in my book as long as I don't have to do it too. Taking out head enchants to make grinding reputation a choice, instead of "I have to grind this one first, it has my head enchant"? I'm down with that. Giving people who love FarmVille the option to play it in World of Warcraft? Awesomesauce.

You guys go do that, gather up those mats, make those pots and sell them on the AH. I'll be buying them with the gold I grind up daily so I can go kill me some pixels. Everyone's happy, because everyone's doing what they want to do, not what they feel they have to do.

If you want to grind up Anglers rep because you love to fish, that's fine by me, since I will never, ever, ever, ever do that. Never. Never ever. No. There's no amount of gold or prizes that could get me to do it -- and that's great.

The more I think about this new philosophy, one that designs and implements multiple non-competitive advancement paths with entirely different kinds of rewards, the happier I am with it. Running challenge-mode dungeons for cosmetic rewards? I love this idea. You may not. You don't have to do it. There's nothing at stake besides bragging rights and cosmetic appeal. If you want to get your character geared up fast for raiding, challenge modes offer nothing extra for you. So you never feel forced to do them.

This design diversity is a beautiful, beautiful thing. Long may it continue. I'll be over here, doing the exact same stuff I've done since day one -- running dungeons, raiding, and generally murdering any unfortunate NPC I can get away with for sweet, sweet loot. But now, at last I know the people doing it with me are there because it's what they want to do.

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!

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