The Mists of Pandaria beta is underway. With none of our writers having access to the beta, there won’t be too much coverage here at Hydramist. Although an attempt will be made to keep you up to date with any new PvP related details. The problem is the major secondary sources, which have beta access, scarcely seem to cover PvP. This is an issue because, while still in the early days of beta, Blizzard should ensure PvP is given a thorough testing. While it would be great to see a wide range of people who are mainly interested in PvP invited to the beta, Blizzard should at least ensure the crème de la crème of PvP gain access as soon as possible and especially once level 90 is unlocked.
There’s a myriad of changes involved with MoP. These include the dispel mechanic, resilience, interrupts, fixed mana pools, new abilities, new talents and an entirely new class. In fact, the number of new abilities added to the game dwarfs that of every other expansion. The new class won’t just be a balance issue in its self either, but it’ll also be an issue when combined with other classes. We also have a new Arena and the two new Battlegrounds. All of this needs testing thoroughly.
The problem with previous betas is the failure to listen to and act on feedback. Instead of been testing grounds for new mechanics—in terms of PvP at least—they’ve been displays of outright pointlessness at times. There’s certainly been attempts to give feedback such as the state of Death Knights and Retribution Paladins in the Wrath beta or the outright diabolical state of Discipline in the Cataclysm beta, but all too often such pleas have been ignored and a galore of problems have made it to live. Indeed, it seems the first month of any new expansion is when PvP is tested, not on the requisite betas.
There’s an issue this time round though in the form of the annual pass. The Cataclysm beta proved amusing when I came across a video of some keyboard turning clicker struggling to kill a mob underwater and almost drowning. This person got access to the beta. His feedback must have been riveting. Yet, with the annual pass more people like this are going to gain access over those who would be more ideal. The beta has become a showcase of MoP rather than a testing ground for the forthcoming expansion.
This was announced at BlizzCon and, in fact, leaked beforehand and presumed, at the time, to be a new map for 4.3. The wording in the Press Tour coverage seems a bit suspicious with no one mentioning the arena by name, but we can probably assume it’s still Tol’Vir Proving Grounds. Indeed, the screenshots provided at BlizzCon showed a near, if not complete structure:
This Egyptian themed arena features four golden statues reminiscent of the Pillars in Nagrand. In fact, the entire map is based off Nagrand—easily the most balanced arena in the game. Hopefully this signifies the end of poorly designed arena maps and a realisation by Blizzard that 3v3 combat is what matters and not new and quirky designs that ruin said balance.
Despite its location suggesting it was intended to be released in Cataclysm and the fact it’s a retexture of Nagrand, both points can be forgiven. Firstly, retextures are not necessarily bad when it comes to arena. Indeed, we get a simple yet balanced design and a nice change of scenery without certain design flaws giving one team a massive advantage over another. Secondly, Blizzard gave a nod to balance by basing the design off Nagrand and, furthermore, the mere existence of the map will provide less chance of RoV.
Speaking of RoV, one step towards impressing the PvP community would be the immediate removal of this map or, at least, an indication that the abomination will no longer be present in Mists of Pandaria. In fact, while other arena maps have their faults, the thought of RoV is what implanted a state of worry within me when “There will be one new arena at launch” rather than “Tol’Vir arena will be added at launch” was mentioned on MMO Champion.
Now it’s highly probable the new map they’re referring to is Tol’Vir, but there is a worry Tol’Vir might have been scrapped by Blizzard in favour of once again “innovating” and providing PvP players everywhere with nightmares for years to come. As stated though, it’s highly likely that they are referring to Tol’Vir and we probably shouldn’t worry about some wacky new unbalanced design plaguing the scene come MoP. It’s only mentioned here to state: Blizzard if you are thinking about it, stop right now and get back to work on Nagrand 2.0.