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Ready to storm the Throne of Thunder

Matthew Rossi

With patch 5.2 around the horizon, one of the things I've noticed in my guild is the energizing effect of the incoming content. Our flagging interest has been restored - we're even killing new heroic bosses that we hadn't gotten around to with recent events getting in the way. If there was an opposite to a sensation of impending doom, patch 5.2 has it in spades. An impending sense of hope and optimism? Whatever it is, it's real and I'm seeing it everywhere I turn.

Being the kind of person who usually flees from hope like a vampire flees from a subprime mortgage (they prefer to buy outright, those crafty vampires) I find this experience confusing, baffling, and a little worthy of study. I don't recall so much excitement for a patch in recent memory. So what's got everyone so excited about patch 5.2?

Dinosaur mounts.

Okay, there's more to it than that, or the dinomancers with their dinomancy (and yes, I would love to play a dinomancer) or the chance to wipe out the Zandalar once and for all, which as a Hero of the Zandalar Tribe I'm a little conflicted about. A lot more, actually. But those things certainly don't hurt.

Observation on player excitement for patch 52 Draft Title
In part, I think we're just now hitting the repetition fatigue threshold with the patch 5.0 raids. I started raiding them in early October, along with everyone else, having burned my way to 90 asap on my main. While having three separate raids to ping-pong between helped alleviate stagnation (as did keeping the full releases back for a few weeks) ultimately, we're just about at the perfect moment to switch to a new raid. I'm not bored with the Tier 14 raids yet but I think I'd get there in another month or two. I'm not sure if I'd argue that six months (October to March) is always the butter zone for a raid tier's life cycle, but I have noticed that once you start going past eight, people get cranky. With the advent of LFR, even people who don't really raid are tied to the raid cycle since that becomes their content as well through raid finder groups.

Another aspect is daily quests. No, this isn't another daily quest whine. You've all heard me complain about them, but that's not what I'm on about. Patch 5.1 added the Operation Shieldwall/Dominance Offensive quest hubs, but aside from that we've all been grinding the same reputation since late September. Patch 5.2 arriving when it does means that we're half-way through the first year of Mists, and as a result the variety of choice we're given as players is starting to become familiar to us. Even someone like me can say that I've done the daily quest grind on multiple characters now. Having the Kirin Tor and Sunreavers pop up in 5.2 means that players who spend a lot of time doing dailies not only have new dailies, but their alts will have more choice as to which dailies to do in a couple of months. It's all about longevity.

Observation on player excitement for patch 52 Draft Title

But I should also admit, Blizzard has done a really good job in setting the stage for patch 5.2. Frankly, I think this is in part due to the uniform improvement in the use of voice acting this expansion. It's much more prevalent, a lot more expansive, and overall significantly improved. The choice to use Lorewalker Cho as the narrator for the patch 5.2 cinematic trailer was a perfect example on how Mists of Pandaria has manage to use these voices to create its own voice. Even characters like Lor'themar Theron and Jaina Proudmoore have had a new lease on life with expanded dialog (and in Lor'themar's case, an entirely new voice actor). In many ways, patch 5.1 served as an excellent preview for 5.2, pointing us in the direction of the conflict to come.

In the end, though, I think the reason people are excited for patch 5.2 is that Blizzard has succeeded in making Pandaria the land both new and exotic and yet familiar and recognizably World of Warcraft. Watching the trailer in particular gives me that sense that here is a raid that is not unfamiliar to us - the huge, sweeping dungeon complex of old, one we've seen time and again from Karazhan and Black Temple to Naxxramas, Ulduar and ICC - and yet teeming with fights that are recognizably Pandarian in their unusual and interesting flourishes. Reading GuildOx's interview with Ion Hazzikostas I was struck with the idea of the scope, just in terms of how large the new raid is. I'm not even talking about the Isle of Thunder itself and how much design experience Blizzard has now. Reading Ion's commentary it's apparent that this is a raid designed by people who have extensive experience. We've seen previews of that experience realized over the past few months and now we're about to see it up close and personally.

I hate to admit it but even my tiny, coal black heart is excited.

Mists of Pandaria is here! The level cap has been raised to 90, many players have returned to Azeroth, and pet battles are taking the world by storm. Keep an eye out for all of the latest news, and check out our comprehensive guide to Mists of Pandaria for everything you'll ever need to know.

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