And yes, he did say "5.1, 5.2, and 5.3." Considering that splitting 4.1 and 4.2 wasn't part of their plan for Cataclysm (4.1 was supposed to be Firelands with Dragon Soul in 4.2) that could very well mean 4 tiers of content again in MoP.
Heads up: Perculia over at Wowhead just posted an interview with Dave Kosak, Blizzard's Lead Quest Designer. It's a really interesting look into some of the lore and story behind Mists of Pandaria, and how it will drive the game moving forward. Here's an excerpt:
Check out the entire interview over at Wowhead, it's definitely worth the read!When we last spoke at Blizzcon, we discussed legendary quests as well as epic ones like Veteran of the Shifting Sands--how they were a lot of fun but also took a lot of time and only a small portion of the playerbase got to experience it. The legendary questline in Mists seems to strike a good balance where everyone gets to experience something epic--and it's really exciting how it spans content patches. Can you tell us about the process behind designing something like this quest chain?
We definitely wanted to relook at legendaries and evaluate what we get out of them. People love the content, but not the guild drama that came out of legendaries. That was always a downside and we wanted to get rid of it. You need your guild to complete your legendary as quickly as possible, but for the most part, it's solo progression.
You need to be active and engaged with the game, patch after patch. The legendary will reward you for always being engaged in the game: if you've done everything, you'll be rewarded with some cool gear. We haven't figured out what the complete legendary package will look like yet--it might not be a weapon, it might be something equally legendary that's not a weapon! We'll see. But at least for patch 5.0 your'e rewarded with a big upgrade that's essentially an awesome socketed gem. And there's more to come in 5.1, 5.2, and 5.3.
It's very possible that 5.1 also will not include any new raid content or will coincide with the unlocking of the next two raids. David Kosak said in an interview with GameSpy that "We're aiming for patch 5.1 to release shortly after the game is out. "
I really get the feeling that Kosak is the weak link in the development chain. See the following quote:
"'I confronted him with my theory that one of the reasons World of Warcraft witnessed its recent subscription decrease is that Blizzard simply didn't release any new content for almost a year, and that a lot of the updates were rehashed content in disguise, and Kosak pointed out that the reworked leveling game will allow them greater freedom to work on Mists of Pandaria proper. "It is funny that Cataclysm has a reputation for not having a lot of content, and true, there were only five level-up zones for the expansion proper," Kosak said. "But we redid the entire 1 to 60 game! It was actually more content than we'd ever, ever done. But it's hard to see that if you just look at what level 80 through 85 has to offer.'"
Dave, Fargo, Dude - unless you were leveling alts, new stuff to do 1-60 was fucking useless. Just really admit that lots of time and resources were poured into the 1-60 revamp and that 80-85 got the bums rush - linear quest lines and a weak disjointed story. I'm not saying 1 - 60 didn't need a revamp, but don't go into denial and try to justify the lack of 80-85 content with, "but 1- 60" had lots to do.
Hum, Tankspot links to WoWhead - WoWhead has your interview up in full, does that not cut into your traffic?
Actually, the correction is incorrect, (but you get an A for effort) in my case since I leveled 7 alts 1-85 durring Cata (12 85s in total). What gets me, is that the revamp is an excuse that the Cata story line was nonengaging and questing was too linear. When you compare the leveling process in WoLK or BC there were many more avenues to pursue questing. Supposedly, this has changed in MoP. But to say, in effect, while we understand 80-85 was pretty weak, but there was a lot to do 1-60, when the end game has become the foucs is just dissembling.
My issue with the Cataclysm revamp, and the emphasis they keep trying to put on it, is that a lot of it feels pretty unrelated to Cataclysm.
Certainly, the overall quest flow in a lot of those starter zones improved over downright ancient vanilla implementation, but the lasting impression I'm left with after sending two alts apiece through both Kalimdor and Eastern Kingdoms, is just how little impact the world-shattering cataclysm seems to have actually had on the world it shattered. Certainly some zones got some pretty big geographic changes. Darkshore is pretty different, Thousand Needles is completely different, and there being anything at all of interest in Azshara is a pretty big change over how it existed previously. But Ashenvale? Yes, there's a volcano and four quests associated with it, but more than half the zone is just cleaned-up versions of old quests. Duskwood is exactly the same storylines, with a better implementation. Westfall had a gigantic magical crater ripped open in the middle of it, which is quietly ignored by everyone in the zone. Menethil Harbor got flooded, and the Wetlands now boast an absurd number of flight points, but the content is more or less the same.
Beyond that, most of the zones are self-contained storylines of their own, and don't have a whole lot in them to remind you of the Cataclysm. Sure, you'll remember that there was one when you stumble upon the giant hole in the middle of Stranglethorn for the first time and nearly fall in, but none of the zone's content is even concerned with the fact that the hole is there. The rift in the barrens strikes me similarly: the quests aren't actually about the gaping hole in the middle of the zone, but rather are conveniently divided up along either side of it. And then over on the other end of the scale you've got Silithus, which wasn't touched, and Dustwallow, where they added a bridge, but otherwise decided that the zone didn't need any new content (for the alliance, at least).
It doesn't help that the big bad evil boss stopped randomly nuking zones nine months ago, or that one of the new Cataclysm zones has a plot line that completely dead-ends (Vashj'ir), or that we lost out on the raid zone that should have concluded that story (Abyssal Maw sucked, so instead of fixing it they recycled ideas from it into Firelands, which still only had 7 bosses and was still a patch late...) in favour of oh boy more troll instances.
I do like the 1-60 update. It was badly needed. But I think it needed to be a whole lot better than it is, and a whole lot more related to what is supposed to be the major story of the expansion, for them to rest their laurels on it as a feature. There's just very little out there that is actually about Deathwing and the damage he did (does he even turn up anywhere apart from those two Badlands chains?), and so it's difficult to regard all of this content as a feature specific to Cataclysm, so much as something that maybe they should have been going back and updating, one zone at a time, in every content patch to date, like with Dustwallow aeons ago.