Although pandaren are the masters of Mists’ new Monk class, every race other than worgen and goblins can become a Monk. The Monk is neat in theory, but it’s in conflict with WoW‘s eight-year old combat system. It doesn’t feel right for a master of martial arts to be forced into standing still while performing a whirlwind kick, or performing a rapid-punch combo that looks like something out of Dragonball Z. The moves are cool and fun to watch, but you can’t help but wish it felt a bit more dynamic.
The Monk class gets something akin to a dodge, but it only goes forward, makes your character travel way too far, and since WoW demands you manually face your target, what this means is that you’ll often dodge forward, then have to quickly turn around to face the enemy again. It’s a minor annoyance but an annoyance all the same, and it’s not as easy or convenient as dodging is in other modern MMOs.
There are also mini-boss fights that allow groups of players to take down a single monster without grouping up or worrying about “tagging” a la Guild Wars 2, but these are few and far between. Their presence, like dodging for Monks, tries to shoehorn in new concepts to an old game, but they’re not a natural progression of the game’s mechanics. That all being said, a good amount of Monks I bumped into were veteran players who said they were loving the class. If you like how WoW plays, there’s nothing to dislike about the class. Mists just won’t be winning over anyone new when other games on the market feel less static.
World of Warcraft is not a new MMO and it shouldn’t pretend to be. It needs to worry more about keeping people happy and less about drawing in new players. Making pandaren a bit too Jack Black doesn’t do anyone any favors, nor does sparse implementation of mechanics from newer MMOs like Guild Wars 2. This expansion will do its job: Existing players will likely buy it in droves and will hopefully keep paying month after month but, as new games are released and the player base leaves in drips and drabs, World of Warcraft may need more content to draw players in while also keeping existing players happy.