It’s actually real. It wasn’t a wind-up.

I had an early night last night, and I woke up this morning feeling awful. I’d fully intended to go back to bed after the children had gone to school, especially as my husband’s taking time off to have Man Flu everywhere. I wasn’t even going to check my e-mail… but there it was. I didn’t believe it at first, and went to Battle.Net to double check. Indeed, there was no mistake.

So here I am, in the Beta.

That’s my (now L4) Female Panda, up there. I’m going to need a while to decide on what my opinion is, before anyone asks me what I think of everything I’ve just seen and will see in the weeks ahead. I’m not prepared to rush to any hasty conclusions so soon into the process. What I will say, and what is abundantly clear just from the 90 minutes I experienced is that Blizzard have worked very, VERY hard. Although there are quite obviously a great many recognisable elements from the game I know that exist in the Starting Area, this is a new place and it looks that way, just as the Draenei and the Worgen starting areas were clearly a distinct experience.

I’ve already queued P up to be transferred to the EU server, with gold, bags and heirlooms. Until she arrives, I’ll be poking about the starting area with all the many MANY other Pandas, will be sticking in screenshots where I think there’s something of note to look at, and trying to be as dispassionate as possible about what I take in. For now, let’s have some pictures and some initial impressions.

Starting Area: Click for Bigness.

There’s nothing too complicated in the Starting Area that I’ve found so far. I’ll let other people spoil you for what actually happens but there isn’t anything at all taxing as you begin. The biggest difference you’ll see between this and Live is that, as you level, there’s no need to train. Abilities appear on your action bars as you are informed you’ve picked up a new level. I suspect this may cause some issues with custom UI’s… ^^

An Amberleaf Scamp causes trouble…

AoE looting is available from the off, gathering fans, and there are plenty of spawns to go around (in fact it’s a struggle to get away from certain places) but it is very clear we’re in Beta Land: many animations are frozen, and I’ve seen a fair number of blue and white cubes around the place. I’m also betting that some of these name plates are going to change before we make it to release:

I think I get the ‘it’s a girl, put a bow in his hair’ references
I saw in the Press Tour interviews… ^^

There’s lots of little things too, probably best at this point we do the bullet point doobrey:

  • Choosing your character look has become far more fun, and is far more detailed from the off
  • Panderan female hairstyles better be available for other Female races!
  • Music is suitably ‘relevant’ but is very clearly Blizzard’s doing: yes, you will think you’re in Kung Fu Panda, but no it’s not as bad as that might sound
  • All the animations for moves, plus running and jumping are polished and feel natural
  • There are some absolutely gorgeous buildings and settings. Clearly a great deal of thought has gone into making the Starting Area unique.
The Rows. Note the tower made out of barrels.

However, for me at least, the biggest surprise came with my Vanity Pet.

Warbot out (as I can) and there’s his pet bar… ^^

As soon as I could locate a mailbox I pulled out the selection of Vanity Pets I knew that would be waiting, including the Warbot (which I can only use on PTR’s because it was never available to Europe but I snagged one before they imposed the rule) Only when I’d been mucking about for a few minutes did I notice that a) I had a pet bar for him and b) he obeyed the basic commands. Using the ‘move to’ button gave me a green targeting circle and I could send my vanity pet to a specific location. Is this the start of the Pet Battles Functionality into the UI?

I have some Real Life to take care of today, but once that is done I’ll throw myself back into the Beta for another play about. For now, I leave you with some bonsai:

I really do need a plan, don’t I?

3 thoughts on “[BETA] The Unbearable Lightness of Beta

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