Pandaria Remix Impressions

Pandamonium Mists of Pandaria Remix launched last week, and it's been an... interesting experience. The husband and I were quite keen on another opportunity to level a pair of characters together in a different context and agreed to create a shaman/druid pair. Even though I knew what I was getting into, I was rather startled by the height difference between us when I first logged in. Also, neither of us could believe that he managed to snag the name "Bearie".

Timerunning characters start out at level ten on the Timeless Isle, where you're given a few introductory quests to explain the most important Remix-specific mechanics to you as well as a bit of lore to justify the whole thing, though I didn't pay too much attention to the latter to be honest. Something something time travel... I'm just treating it as a spiced-up version of Chromie Time.

Then you're spat out at the start of the Mists of Pandaria campaign and off you go! If questing is what you actually want to do... because the dungeon finder also unlocks almost immediately, including heroic dungeons, which struck me as kind of absurd, but I figured maybe jumping into those straight away makes more sense if you're on a subsequent character who has some bonus cloak power right from the start.

We did however jump into normal dungeons right away, and did also try some heroics later. Mostly I was reminded of how odd it is that places like the revamped Scholomance and Scarlet Monastery are considered Pandaria dungeons when they have absolutely nothing to do with that continent; they just happened to be redone during the Pandaria expansion. Gameplay was enjoyable as at least initially, enemies actually seemed a bit tougher than in regular retail dungeons, and we actually wiped a few times when we over-pulled. Overall though, incoming damage seemed a bit confusing and random, with my husband's bear sometimes going for long stretches seemingly without taking any damage at all, and then suddenly requiring spam-healing while his health bar bounced up and down like a yo-yo. I don't know if that has something to do with the mode's special gems or is just scaling strangeness... I forget that compared to other MMO devs, Blizzard are actually comparatively inexperienced when it comes to scaling content to groups of all levels, and I read accounts of raids getting wiped by certain mechanics doing way too much damage if they target characters of a specific level, as well as general complaints that characters get significantly weaker as they approach the level cap, which would certainly be on brand for Blizzard's current approach to scaling.

But I'm getting a bit ahead of myself. While we spent a lot of time in random group content (including scenarios and raids, which are actually levelling content in Remix), we also did some questing, which triggered a peculiar kind of nostalgia in me. I only played Pandaria during its original release for less than six months, and while it was better than I'd expected it to be in some ways, I wasn't all that impressed in others. At the time, it basically just reaffirmed to me that retail WoW was a completely different game from the one I originally fell in love with and that I was happy to move on. On the other hand though, the whole reason I picked up MoP to begin with after originally swearing off WoW in Cata was that my husband wanted us to play together (at the time, we had only just become a couple, I was unemployed as a result of my move, and it was something to do together), and revisiting that part of the game rekindled fond memories of the early days of our relationship. I was kind of surprised by how well I still remembered certain quest lines even though I only went through them that one time over a decade ago.

Whenever my husband and I take on a project like this, his passion is like a sprint while mine is more of a marathon, which leads to a certain degree of conflict, as he wants to play 24/7, while I still want to do other things on the side even when I'm having fun with the new project. We probably would've hit level 70 already if he hadn't caught a bug that kept him from wanting to play games for a few days. As it is, our characters are "only" in their 60s... after clearing only about one and a half zones worth of quests, but the group content pays out well in terms of experience gains and power.

When you first start out, levelling doesn't feel that different from "normal" retail in terms of speed and power, but the XP bonus on your special cloak adds up over time, and gear pieces come with more and more gem slots that allow you to equip wacky extra effects, ranging from extra movement abilities to all kinds of passive shields and sources of damage.

And it's... been surprisingly fun! I say surprisingly because I've long given WoW grief for making the levelling process too fast. The reason for that is that I feel - based on how WoW itself trained me to view things back in Vanilla - that levelling should be about more than just making your numbers go up. In the original game the process synergised well with exploring, doing professions, running dungeons... basically doing a little bit of everything. As levelling was sped up, all of that fell by the wayside, but I still wanted to do it, and that conflict between my desire to see more of the world and the game always pushing me onwards long before I felt ready to move on lies at the heart of my frustrations with modern WoW's levelling.

With that in mind, I was kind of positively surprised by Remix's approach to this, which is to simply remove all worries about out-levelling content and get rid of all distractions. The scaling may be a bit wonky in places, but everything is scaled from 10-70 (with the exception of some dungeons and raids not unlocking until you're a bit higher level), so you can level any way you want and still continue to earn rewards from all the content once you hit 70.

The game starts you out with huge bags so you'll never have to worry about pausing to make room (though the sheer amount of gear that is showered upon you does require the occasional bag clearing break - however, you never need to look for a vendor, as you can dissemble everything at any point, anywhere). There is no loot other than quest items, Remix-specific gear and Bronze, the special currency, so you never have to think about what to vendor and what to mail to an alt. The auction house and mail are entirely disabled, in fact. So are professions (with the exception of fishing for some reason, though this also only just yields more Bronze), which was initially a bit disappointing to me as I was hoping to pick flowers and skin things while making my way through the zones - even if the materials were just going to be virtually worthless MoP-era stuff - but it certainly helps to keep you focused. Daily reputation grinds are also removed or drastically reduced - our Order of the Cloud Serpent egg literally hatched the same day we picked it up instead of requiring days and weeks of care, and the farm at Halfhill is entirely inaccessible from what I understand.

It's a strange case of "less is more" for me, where even though I like the traditional approach of having all these different things to do and think about, it's not much fun if the game doesn't really support that way of playing anymore, so I was surprised to actually find myself appreciative of the devs simply taking all that stuff out of Remix. It's like they were going "Look, we're not even gonna pretend that there's any point to levelling professions here or whatever... just focus on the stuff we did put in for you to play around with" and I can actually respect that.

I initially wasn't planning to level more than one character through Remix, but considering how fast our shaman/druid duo has been flying through the levels and that there are almost three months of the event left, I might end up going through it on another character or two. I'm also planning to keep playing my shaman at the level cap though, to revisit more of the content while earning more Bronze to buy transmogs and mounts.

There was a bit of a kerfuffle in week one around an "exploit", as seems to have become the norm with these new event/server launches for Blizzard. Frogs on the Timeless Isle were apparently insanely good for farming Bronze and stats, allowing people to power-level their cloaks to have stats in the thousands within a day. Blizzard quickly hotfixed this of course, which then led to a bit of an outcry from people who were complaining that they could now never "catch up", which was just absurd to me, considering that there is absolutely nothing competitive going on in Remix. Any power gains are only temporary for the duration of the event and won't carry over into regular retail, and PvP is another thing that's entirely disabled, so an overpowered "frog farmer" literally can't hurt you. If anything, having a character like that in your group benefits you... I had to laugh earlier when I queued for an LFR wing and was baffled to see all the bosses die within seconds - the entire thing was done in something like five minutes, most of which was taken up by NPC roleplay conversations. I loaded up Recount to see what was going on and in our 20+ person raid group, one guy had done 70% of the overall damage, another had done about 20%, and everyone else was sitting somewhere between 0 and 1%. Froggers I suppose! I just thought it was incredibly funny and was rather amused to be given such a "boost".

I can understand why Blizzard wanted to stop everyone from getting so insanely OP within less than a week, but I personally saw no harm in letting those who already had it keep their power - but I guess that might've been too much fun, so those cloaks are due to be nerfed now and everyone else will just get some bonus Bronze. Either way, I'm enjoying the mayhem.


  1. That picture is hilarious. It reminds me of my late wife and myself - I'm 6'4" (193cm) and she was 5' (152cm) even. Thanks for the unexpected smile this morning. :)

    Yeah, scaling has been all over the place. There were trash mobs in LFR Throne of Thunder who's dots would tick more damage than a non-Frogger character had. So it became pray you could get one attack off before you would die. At least Blizzard has been quick to fix scaling issues -- they have been learning with this event and that's a good thing.

    FYI: Fishing is in Remix because you need it to level your Anglers rep. I haven't bothered with that yet, but may since there's a mage only toy with the Anglers and my first character is a mage.

    Speaking of first character, I was only going to do one, but with that new 40k bonus for hitting 70 on a character I will likely level a few more and pick up the world boss mounts I don't have.

    I'm fine with (and am glad) they nerfed the frog farmers. This event is about fun leveling and a cosmetic cornucopia, not abusing systems for power-chasing. When you see a tank basically carrying an entire raid with no need for any dps or healing, that's depressing. (It also can make it harder to get into normal raids for the neck item.) That said, some of the mechanics they added -- mostly Slay -- can make raids hilarious as bosses will get insta-killed at 10% because almost everyone has Slay in a tinker slot.

    1. I agree that it's positive that they are working on improving their scaling tech with this project. I do hope that what they learn from this in general will lead to some improvements for the live game too.

      Thanks for the heads-up about the Anglers, though I still think it's interesting that they chose to keep those in while throwing the Tillers out.

    2. I think they put the Infinite Bazaar where you would have some of the Tillers (and, of course, all the cooking stuff). It was probably easier to just sand that part off of the event since there were a number of individual reputations attached to the farm.

      I suspect they want folks more engaged in the world and in group content, as well. Making Remix look as busy as it actually is had to be part of their design. I don't mind since I can always do the farm with my character(s) once the event is over.

      I think they will apply some of scaling to the Retail level process as time goes on. Being able to stay in a zone and complete quests is, as you rightfully point out, much more satisfying than constantly having to move on.