Pandaria’s First Big Patch Brings War Back To Warcraft

By Nathan Grayson on October 6th, 2012 at 2:00 pm.

And also, it was YOUR turn to do the dishes last week - not mine.

As a child, one of my first Real Person (read: PC) games was Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness. Back in those days, the Horde and Alliance, well, they didn’t like each other so much. There was, I suppose you could say, a whole lot less crafting and a rather sizable helping of war. But times have changed, and so has the world of Warcraft. For one, it grew a world. That’s fairly significant. But with rather unpleasant-sounding crusades and apocalypse dragons came a certain level of necessary chumminess between the warring factions. According to Blizzard, however, Mists of Pandaria’s first major update is about to (finally) change all of that.

Patch 5.1′s looking to have some pretty serious meat on its kung-fu-capable ursine bones, but this bit’s definitely the standout:

“While members of the Horde and the Alliance have been busy exploring the exotic continent of Pandaria, Garrosh and Varian have been gathering their forces in preparation for the struggle to exert the influence of the Horde and the Alliance over these long-lost lands.”

“Players who have quested through Pandaria will find Horde and Alliance expeditions arriving in force on the shores of the unspoiled continent, bringing the tensions between these factions to the fore. New daily quest hubs and faction reputations will be available to adventurers eager to do their part in the brewing conflict.”

Admittedly, daily quests don’t exactly scream “earth-splitting war,” but Blizzard claims this is only the beginning of something far larger. In the meantime, patch 5.1 also includes a solo PVE “Brawler’s Guild,” pet battle improvements, the ability to upgrade items with Valor Points, and a continuation of the quest for legendary loot.

Patch 5.1 is apparently heading to the public test realms “soon,” and it seems like quite the thing – at least, by WoW standards. But I suppose that’s kind of the issue at this point: are “WoW standards” good enough anymore? With the likes of Guild Wars 2 and its modern genre compatriots currently taking the (non-Warcraft) world by storm, has it become difficult for you, hypothetical longtime WoW resident, to care? I’ve heard that Mists of Pandaria is actually quite good, but these days, is that enough?

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72 Comments »

  1. Rich says:

    When WoW was first announced it sounded really exciting, until I realised it was set during a time of relative peace.

    • Hazzard65 says:

      Bingo – This is what put me off from playing World of Warcraft and what bored me about the entire affair when I finally gave it a try.

      Where the hell is my war!? I want war. If I am playing WORLD of WARcraft I expect a fucking war. I didn’t get one, instead I got these effeminate, fashion conscience, OCD orks, elves and goblins running around hoarding animal body parts for their wears.

      Bullshit – then suddenly a wild Planetside 2 appears! I HAVE MY WAR – HUZZAH!!!!

  2. RandomEsa says:

    The world “pvp” events in vanilla were supposed to bring back the war in between horde and alliance.
    Burning Crusade introduced arena’s and flying mounts almost killing the whole horde vs alliance.
    Wotlk was supposed to reignite the war in between the alliance and horde.
    Cataclysm was supposed to ignite horde vs alliance with garrosh and varrian.

    There is only so many times you can again reignite the war when most of the game mechanics make it easy to avoid it. Back in vanilla it was scary to level in hillsbrad or in high level contested zones.

    • Sic says:

      WoW would probably have been better off never having had PvE servers.

      I mean, the game should obviously have been designed as a PvP game from the very beginning.

      It seems Blizzard deemed any sort of emergent gameplay too dangerous, though.

      • TariqOne says:

        I’m not a WoW fan but really? Better off by whose standards? I doubt the folks at Blizzard are kicking themselves and saying “if only we’d made Darkfall Online!”

        And then there’s the vast majority of MMO players who hate being PvPed when they’re trying to quest with their wife and casual guildmates.

        Like it or not, I’m pretty sure WoW kinda nailed it.

      • RandomEsa says:

        I really doubt that would have changed anything. PvP servers were the most populated servers ( not sure if they still are). Wow just had a plethora of new features to skip pvp combat fe: Flying mounts, neutral capitols ( dalaran, shattrath), daily islands where the guards would attack anyone trying to do some world pvp etc.

        • Wreckdum says:

          lol WoW PVE outnumber PVP 3 to 1. It’s a PVE game. PVP is a niche thing on all MMOs. Arena doesn’t count because they do that on PVE servers as well. We’re talking strictly world PVP here. I’ve always played on a PVP server in every game since Asherons Call. But that doesn’t change the fact that the majority of people play on PVE server.

      • socrate says:

        PvP centered game never worked and will never work in such a big world because fight tend to happen in only one spot and tend to go back and forth over and over again which make it quite boring in the end and extremely repetitive,we have countless pvp game that are set in arena if you will for that like most FPS.

        You need PvE because people don’t all play at the same time and won’t always “clash” together and also very few people actually enjoy pvp contrary to popular belief,but the stupid pvper are just extremely loud mouth that wont ever shut up,just look at Diablo 3,even the very though of balance in a game with such a big amount of diversity is impossible because they keep always adding and in the end there is so much element involved in it that its extremely improbable to balance the game.

        Making fun pvp for everyone is also pretty hard,because no one like losing.

        The really best pvp ive seen was in UO and that got changed really fast because they though they knew what was best for their customer.

        Oh and if you really think PvE for WoW was a bad decision you need brain surgery,the game would never had been that popular without it.

        • Apocalypse says:

          The Level difference is no real problem, EVE-Online and Guild Wars 2 both showed that this is not really an issue.

          WoW chose to have this huge difference in PVP to give people the chance to fell strong against lower level players and npcs. And weak against high level entities.

      • onetrueping says:

        The problem with a PvP-only MMO lies in the leveling system. As long as there is a power differential between players, there will be players who love nothing more than to grief everyone of a lower level for no particular reason. This requires no real skill, instead requiring only that the player lean on game mechanics to do the killing for them.

        A PvP MMO would only work properly in a game environment where levels and the accompanying power differential were not an issue.

      • Sapper Gopher says:

        I played on a PvP server after the first expansion came out. Both sides mostly avoided each other while playing. I mean, that other character’s within my level range, it might actually be a fair fight. Who the hell wants that?

      • Hmm-Hmm. says:

        Should have? Well, possibly. But it wasn’t. WoW is, by and large, a PvE game. Open world pvp usually came/comes down to ganking. And that’s because open world pvp was never really supported by the way the game’s designed.

        Organised pvp battles are fun, though. But hey, because there’s stuff to be had by pvping you’re not allowed to make that happen (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tbo-ydzll1Q).

  3. DSR says:

    What does “war” means? Do the same dailies(Kill 10 rats and bring 5 bear asses) every day hoping to get ganked in PvP allowed zone?

    Sounds… 2004.

    • Edradour says:

      Actually thats excatly what isle of quel’danas was and it was the most fun i had with open world pvp in wow ( only that you werent “hoping” to get ganked, you knew you would be which was why you did run around with full pvp gear all the time :P )

      good times………

  4. InternetBatman says:

    No thank you. The stories with Garrosh and Varian are dumb. The comic book Varian comes from is terrible. The idea of unending war is boring.

    • Phantoon says:

      IN THE GRIM DARKNESS OF SOME TIME LONG AGO, THERE IS SOMETIMES WAR, BUT GENERALLY PEACE, AND LOTS OF FETCH QUESTS.

    • socrate says:

      Garrosh and Variant story are really bad and obviously made up in a quick and uncreative way and yeah unending wars is kind of stupid at this point….why are they still fighting?it just doesn’t make sense anymore and look to be there just to force gameplay element.

      • Edradour says:

        Theyre fighting over a recently discovered continent which does or does not make sense if you compare it to real world history.

        By that logic almost all the wars that were fought in the past didnt make sense ( which, from a pacifistic point of view is true but sadly not the way humans think )

  5. Xaromir says:

    Cor blimey! WoW still exists? Who actually still plays that aside from bots and china farmers?

    • Brigand says:

      Why would people farm fine porcelain? I’ve never played WoW but with zany ideas like that no wonder it was such a success.

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      Carra says:

      It’s fun to log back in and see back people you’ve been playing with since 2005.

      • Phantoon says:

        I stopped being able to do that, they all quit.

        It was more than half my reason of going back every time, too.

      • Xaromir says:

        Nope, when i would log back in i wouldn’t find anyone from back then, because everyone been a lot smarter than me and all stopped playing with BC or WOTLK, well Cata was to much for me, non of my old mates still play. I find it ridiculous seeing how much attention it still gets actually. It was good, i don’t deny that, but it grew bland, and it’s somehow always the same, it took the fun out of gaming.

        • Nevard says:

          You express disbelief that anyone still plays WoW but you yourself were still playing during Cataclysm?
          Does anyone else find that weird?

          • Dances to Podcasts says:

            I find it weird that he’s posting here if he cares so little. Plus, you know, the answer obviously being ‘about 10 million people’.

          • Wulf says:

            It’s basic psychology. He’s asking for someone to make him care.

            It seems like many of his friends left with prior expansions, and the rest of them left with Cataclysm, and the presence of his friends was the one thing keeping him playing the game (I hear that a lot). Now his friends have all left, he’s looking for someone to give him a reason to stay. And no one’s being very forthcoming with one.

            It’s an old game, the franchise is getting stale for a lot of Westerners, now. I always suspected that the user-base was far more Asian with WoW than Western, anyway. The style of game is more popular over there than it is here, considering what constitutes a popular MMORPG here, and what constitutes one there. The difference is usually how much people can stomach grind.

            So I wouldn’t be surprised if at least 50% of that userbase wasn’t Asian, likely more, with Western gamers having opted for less grindy options instead. And thus, with friends leaving, people find it hard to stick around with the endless grind. Without friends, the endless grind becomes overbearing, so people leave.

            And the more people leave, the more people leave. That’s how WoW works.

            But for Blizzard fans, it’s not so bad. They are working on that Titan thing, after all, and that might be more geared at a Western audience. Unless they found the Asian one to be more profitable, of course.

          • Ergates_Antius says:

            I always suspected that the user-base was far more Asian with WoW than Western, anyway. The style of game is more popular over there than it is here, considering what constitutes a popular MMORPG here, and what constitutes one there

            Er what? What constitutes a populat MMORPG in the west is WOW. It’s the most popular MMORPG ever (in the west) by a wide margin (still having about 60% of the entire MMORPG userbase).

    • Edradour says:

      10 million people approx

      • cassus says:

        Everyone knows the 10 million players thing is bullcrap. Sure, they probably have 10 mill paying accounts, but that’s because about 4-5 million people just never got around to cancelling their subscriptions, cause the servers (between expansion packs) are empty. There’s a 2-3 month window after each pack where the servers are pretty full. Well, some of the servers are pretty full, plenty of servers are damn near empty.

        I went back in with MoP after having played GW2 for a month or however long it is, and it really struck me how amazingly old and klunky WoW is. I hadn’t noticed until I played GW2, cause most other mmo’s felt either almost exactly like WoW, or they were worse. GW2 felt a LOT better, and going back to WoW is just not possible for me anymore, which is sort of sad, because as charming as GW2 is, there’s no place like home (Stormwind) even if stormwind looks like a pile of crap compared to divinity’s reach. Also, I dropped out of WoW again after something like 3-4 hours of play. Haven’t touched it again. Just too old and crappy compared to newer games.

        I was kinda done with WoW before MoP, regretted buying cataclysm, then I just bought MoP because I’m a moron.. Will not buy the next expansion pack (probably will…)

        • Edradour says:

          “but that’s because about 4-5 million people just never got around to cancelling their subscriptions”

          oh come on atleast put SOME effort in your trollposts

  6. cptgone says:

    is the Alliance selling the panda’s opium yet?

  7. MonkeyShines says:

    I’m sorry, but I stopped reading at “daily quest hubs”.

    • Vorphalack says:

      Indeed. The MMO genre takes incremental steps forwards, but War (craft). War (craft) never changes.

    • Trithne says:

      You should’ve read on to ‘Faction reputations”. Now you can be part of the Alliance, and still have to build up rep with the Alliance.

      ..After having saved the world. Four times. Weekly.

      MMOs went from virtual worlds to strange pits of absurdity.

      As for daily quests, Blizzard have had daily quests be ‘kill an enemy player’ in the past. Good luck finding them though, since everyone rushed to 90 as fast as possible and will just fly everywhere.

      • socrate says:

        im pretty sure these quest weren’t daily and were removed a long time ago for obvious reason.

        activision really turned blizzard into a money company that instead of learning and copying other stuff and making them better,just seem to exist to milk us dry,i have no trust in blizz and probably will never look at a title from blizzard with shining eyes ever again.

        Daily quest are the new way to make people grind and stupidly it work…people quit game like UO and EQ just to get away from the grind and now they put another way to do it and people still do it,goes to show that people will never learn.

        Daily quest and faction grinding for reward that will go trivial in the next expansion or big patch is one of the big reason i quit WoW…feeling obligated to log in each day to “grind” and feeling like im not wasting money or being left out and progress with everyone else is just an horrible way to do business,it become a drug and work at the same time,drug without any good effect and each of the negative effect that it offer.

        This is not how you bring pvp back,there was a private server that i tried and they had housing and territory take over with keep take over and the like,it was fantastic but sadly was closed by blizz and they never even learned from that.

      • Joof says:

        None of the new reputation would have ever heard of you or the Alliance before. They’re all people and places native to Pandaria.

  8. bakaohki says:

    That’s one ugly green panda.

  9. Dances to Podcasts says:

    “I’ve heard that Mists of Pandaria is actually quite good” Speaking of which, any chance of a Wot I Think?

  10. Njordsk says:

    WARFACE tag required.

  11. malkav11 says:

    The faction strife has been ridiculously contrived and unnecessary from day one, so I was happy to see that toned down in the face of massive world-ending threats. Ramping it back up is -not- the direction I was looking for.

    • codename_bloodfist says:

      The entirety of WoW lore sounds like a bunch of incredibly contrived excuses for balancing the factions. I liked Vanilla and TBC, but the Undead and Belfs being with the Horde never made much sense. You know, those Undead lead by Sylvanas Windrunner, who died in defence of the Alliance, now fighting the Alliance with green goo bioweapons? That’s because uh… of a misunderstanding?

      • Nevard says:

        The high elves were part of the Old Alliance but never really part of the New Alliance, she didn’t die in defence of the Humans in Warcraft III, she died in defence of her own home city.

  12. ChiefOfBeef says:

    Yeah they have promised to bring the ‘war’ back for every expansion. But it simply is not going to be possible for as long as the devs are obsessed with PvE content. The only major PvP updates was the one that made PvP-specific gear(unnecessary and further widened the gap between PvE and PvP rather than integrating them) and closed instanced battlegrounds with no effect on the actual world outside.

    Remember Jeff Kaplan’s delusional statement during The Burning Crusade period where he argued PvE was way more popular because Karazhan was statistically the most popular instance(used to justify why development focused so much on raids rather than PvP and world-based content). Except that it couldn’t possibly be true because the raids had lockout periods and the Alterac Valley battleground did not and it was on farm 24/7.

    That’s a tendency among the devs that needs getting rid of before WoW can be the game that was promised way back in 2003/04.

    • po says:

      I started playing in TBC, and while was in a raiding guild mostly doing Kara, we also did a fair bit of PvP too, with pre-raid warm ups at Halaa or Auchindoun, and guild events like duelling competitions, or rampages through alliance territory (all of which were rewarded with bonus DKP).

      However, as it is today, if WoW is a theme park game, then half the attractions have been closed down, and of whats left only the newest ones are signposted and regularly serviced. Now instead of WoW I’m favoring a themepark that has much greater diversity to it’s attractions, and makes attempts to keep the whole range of them up and running.

      Blizzard’s idea of PvP balancing is making a few ineffectual token changes early in an expansion to quiet some of the complaints about how the latest complete rehash of talents and abilities has produced a system just as unbalanced as the last, then ignoring it completely (in fact the promise that balance would be improved with the next expansion was used as an excuse not to do anything for the whole of the previous one).

      When the way battleground PvP has been designed rewards graveyard farming and honor kill farming more than actually playing games for their objectives, and world PvP comes down to which faction can bring the most endgame characters* into whatever low level zone the conflict kicks off in, then the kind of players who actually get anything out of PvP are the ones who have little regard for fair play or ‘good games’, and have no problem with balance meaning each class will get a turn at being the OP FOTM sooner or later.

      * not helped by the way players are able to freely transfer onto the larger and more capable faction, no matter how unbalanced the factions on the server get.

  13. Auru says:

    Incoming wow’s attempt at wvwvw combat from guild wars 2.. i’m calling it now :P

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      BathroomCitizen says:

      Isn’t already there in place a server vs server system in WoW? I could be wrong, but my memory is telling me that I’m not!

  14. pupsikaso says:

    That orc’s beard is immaculate!

  15. Salt says:

    You know the cliché about when will video games make us cry?

    Just today a friend that’s playing Mists of Pandaria told me one of the quests made them cry (Horde-only quest series in Krasarang Wilds, following the Dawnchaser group). So there’s that.

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      That’s sad, why did he cry?

      • Salt says:

        Spoiler warning.

        A Tauren couple and a handful of followers have all had prophetic dreams of a holy land hidden in Pandaria, and have travelled there searching for it. They landed at the shore of a most unpleasant jungle, and the pregnant Tauren is taken ill. Her husband is racked with guilt that he shouldn’t have brought her, or should have delayed the trip.

        While you’re there she goes into premature labour, and you try to help them (by killing X mobs and gathering Y items). Despite your questing she dies in labour, but her twins survive.

        If you follow the quest lines then over many hours of play you will travel with the survivors to Kun-Lai Summit and meet with the celestial guardians of Pandaria. Together with Prince Anduin of the Alliance (son of the warlike Wyrnn) you convince them to allow the general populace access to the Vale of Eternal Blossoms, which sure enough is the holy land they were looking for all along.

        If you want to argue semantics, it was the story of the game that is emotionally moving rather than the mechanics of the game.

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      PikaBot says:

      2006. Mother 3. Cried like a baby. That is all.

    • Zarunil says:

      Did he have to kill 600 mobs or gather 500 quest items?

  16. Cryptoshrimp says:

    I always wonder why they want to do this. I like WoW. I like the setting and most of the lore. But the Garrosh and Varian storylines are so -bad-. They appeared from nowhere during Wrath, did a lot of stupid things and mainly distracted the plot from the main bad guy.

    In Cataclysm they had to pull a reason out of their arses why the two factions should fight in the face of a HUGE WORLD DESTROYING DRAGON. Garrosh turned into a mildly likeable character for a while before they blew up Theramore (which is a terrible idea) and made the Old Horde cronies his advisors (which is another terrible idea).

    Gaaah, impotent fan rage.

  17. ShinRyuuken says:

    The Scholo, Scarlet and Ragefire remakes are really neat. Their addition of a Brawler’s Guild is pretty cool, though hopefully in the new area there’s another Circle of Blood thing (I can’t recall if there is). I’m always a sucker for quest hub progression and what not, so as much as I don’t like Pandaria, I am probably going to pick it up by Christmas. I just hope, that if this expansion is really supposed to be about war, that they stick to it. Cataclysm was partially about war, but then we all had to come together to beat Deathwing.

  18. ghoststalker194 says:

    As much as I love GW2, it lacks a certain charm that Wow does have. I think the game still has quite a livespan ahead of itself.

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    BathroomCitizen says:

    I’d really like the Warcraft series to return to its RTS roots, but that will be an unfulfilled wish for a looong time, as long as Starcraft keeps churning out expansions and invading competitive multiplayer gaming.

    Give me my Warcraft back!

    • vivlo says:

      ;( so true… that picture has awoken my nostalgia of warcraft III, which “heroes and armies” mecanisms i’m kinda longing for.

      • Edradour says:

        just, if they were to make wc4 right now it probably wouldnt be what youre imagining :X

  20. Caiman says:

    I asked my folks last night what they thought of MoP. They told me they haven’t bought it, and don’t plan to. They’ve put literally tens of thousands of hours combined into WoW since launch (they’re retired, they love it). For them not to buy MoP is truly the End Times. They did say it was partly because MoP was so focused on the endgame which they can’t stand anymore. I’ve no idea, I stopped playing WoW after BC exposed the Skinner-box a little too openly.

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      jrodman says:

      My friend asked me to join him for the levelling since he wasn’t into doing it alone. I basically said no.

      He bought the game and a month of time in my name. Now I’m trying to figure out how to avoid playing it without seeming like a jerk.

      • Nevard says:

        He’s the jerk for trying to force you to play a game you don’t like, just don’t do it.

        • Hmm-Hmm. says:

          Exactly. Instead of conceding to the fact that he will have to play something else with you or play WoW on his own he resorts to.. what.. bribery?

  21. nimzy says:

    I quit a month after Cataclysm came out. For a long time I thought I would be done with the whole business. But in the back of my mind the fact remained that I had wanted to play as a Pandaren in WoW since I first met one in Warcraft 3. So despite the cheesiness that came alongside MoP’s release, I went back to take a look and leveled a Pandaren Warrior from scratch.

    From someone who has been playing since 2005, the game is almost unrecognizable. There is an overwhelming amount of things you can do now, from farming (actual agriculture) to achievements to crafting, many requiring multi-day expenditures of your time but no more than a few minutes of those days. Talents are now simple trinary ability choices and it is now possible to level as any specialization, even healing. The ancient crafting system groans under the weight of three expansions’ worth of useless materials that must be collected to get to the recipes available in MoP (bizarrely, they added cooking recipes that allow one to go from 1-600 without ever leaving Pandaria). Guilds are no longer close-knit communities, they’re a set of perks and, shades of EVE coming through, an easy way for an uncaring guildmaster to harvest money from your efforts. Questing is so streamlined that aside from the setpieces you’re never out of the action for very long. Dungeons have also received the streamlining treatment: not only are they easier to navigate and have fewer trash to kill between boss fights, there are now detailed instructions for each boss encounter so you won’t even have to go look up strategies online. Oh, and monks are crazy, I can’t wait to try one after I hit max level on my Warrior. I’ve spotted several things swiped from other MMOs, namely that silly “outline-on-the-ground” AoE warning that Secret World is famous for. Their solution to make exploration more rewarding certainly has its benefits too: now rare spawns give you all kinds of goodies for killing them, even more than before, and simply exploring out of the way and frequently-overlooked areas has a chance to net you interesting weapons and items worth some gold at a vendor.

    It feels really, really, really strange to be playing a game that has been around as long as WoW has. I doubt I’ll be subscribed by the end of November, but for the next month I’ll be busy exploring the picturesque corners of Pandaria.

  22. MortalWombat says:

    Gosh, when I think back to Vanilla WOW… it had such a sense of wonder and mistery. Beating Deadmines for the first time is still quite high on my list of gaming experiences. Definitely higher than beating Illidan (although that was cool too, i have to admit).
    As for renewing the war… I think after having neutral capitals for so many years now everyone grew so accustomed to their “enemy” that everything they introduce now will just feel like an npc event rather than something which affects the player. And as so many have already said here: separating PVE and PVP gear just hurt…
    WoW is really more of a Farmville-like obligation rather than a game that you play with… I don’t know if it used to be like this during vanilla and TBC but I definitely outgrew this kinda game. I value my spare time too highly nowadays. Nothing against mindless fun, though, as long as it’s… well, fun.

  23. Edar says:

    I will say yes, I enjoy GW2 and WoW for different reasons. WoW has a charm that is unique to certain games. Blizzard put this charm in all their games, I feel this charm in the first Warcraft game and I’m glad that I still feel it in MoP. This charm is what keeps calling me back, not the latest and greatest gear.

  24. Faxanadu says:

    Hillsbrad foothills. Remember that tug of war? Alliance would push Horde back to Tarren Mill, Horde would push Alliance back to Southshore. Countless people, limited only by server lag, would fight a WAR for hours on end.

    Blizzard never tried to make it an actual part of the game. Instead, they added guards. Every patch, always more guards. After countless patches, in Cataclysm I stared down on my dead character, one-shotted mid-air by an NPC, in an empty world, and I, I just closed the game. …they say in MoP they want players back into the world.

    I don’t believe them.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      Who knows, at some point, there may only be NPCs instead of players, staring at eachother until the end of days.

  25. Yor Fizzlebeef says:

    How… how does that orc eat with those tusks right in the front of the jaw? It would’t fit into that tiny space, it would just go all over the place!
    Why do I keep coming up with questions like that?

  26. killuminati says:

    I thought that reading the article I couldfind anything about open world PVP zones, I dunno why honestly.. it ended up as always, with one of the many “wonderful” Blizzard idea that culmintes in: rep grind and daily quests.
    Oh well I left WoW one year ago.. back to GW2 and many others..